Challenges of Leadership
Whether you have been in a leadership role for a while or you are just stepping into one, you are inevitably going to encounter a series of challenges along the way. From budget related issues through to the enormity of organisational shifts, your leadership role will be clear at times, and at other times it will be a seemingly uphill battle.
The challenges leadership presents are many and varied. However, many of the highs and lows have to do directly with people. When your team is solid and behind you, the tough times will not seem as exhausting and the successes are sweeter as they are achieved together. Conversely, a team that is fractured, divided or unhappy will be in constant shortfall in terms of performance, communication and support. If your team is more like the later, there inevitably will be a variety of organisational and personal issues to blame for the current mood.
The Total Person Concept®
When you are leading people something key to remember is that you are not only leading the business portion of the person – you are leading the entire person with all their individual quirks and personality traits. Each person in your organisation is a complex, unique individual with many roles to fill in life. Understanding this, it is easier to comprehend how certain issues that have arisen in the organisation may have something to do with both the career portion of the person and the personal portion of the person.
Separating Organisational and Personal Problems
Much of the challenge of this portion of your role will have to do with being able to ascertain what are the organisational issues and personal issues, and how to handle them both with equal care. Approaching this part of your job with a willingness to listen, understand and offer assistance yields more positive results than demonstrating a primary intention to punish and enforce rules to return the team to a position of strength and productivity.
You must be prepared to treat causes rather than symptoms or risk the problem reoccurring later down the track. Use some basic techniques to come to the source of the problem and ensure that you move forward handling it correctly:
Be a good listener
Set aside a time to speak directly to the team member alone. Allow to team member to speak without interruption, even if you disagree with some of what is being expressed by them. Many complaints and grievances to do with organisational and one-on-one issues will resolve themselves when people are given the opportunity to discuss them.
Ask carefully phrased questions to ensure you are able to learn the real cause of the problem. Ask questions like these:
- When did this problem begin?
- Who else is affected?
- What do you think the cause is?
- How would you like to solve the problem?
- What resources are available?
Through asking good questions, you communicate that you are not unfairly pre-judging people or situations, both organisational and personal.
Do not argue
Present any information that you can give to the team member in a calm manner, not an argumentative one. By first asking questions you have potentially disarmed the argument or tension brewing in the background. If the issue is an organisational one, your point of view will be more persuasive when you demonstrate that you can see their point of view.
Any personal issues that have been brought in to the work space can be discussed more openly now without falsely attributing them to something to do with the inner workings of the company.
Make sure you understand
Repeat back to the team member what you now understand the issue to be. Make certain that the team member goes away with a firm belief that you have heard their complaint or request for assistance, and that you are going to do something about it to assist.
Gather additional information
If the issue is an organisational one, investigate what the team member has said, check the validity of the claims and refer to the employees statements throughout the background check. Consult with higher management before making a final decision.
For a more personal issue, from depression through to internal team member arguments, determine if there is an organisational policy for assisting the team member through it. Endeavour to develop a plan with the team member to overcome the problem.
Explain your decision
If your decision is distasteful to the team member, take the time to explain it clearly to them and answer any questions. Team members may not always agree with your decision, but you will maintain a stronger working relationship if you stand by your decision and remain tough but fair.
Thank the team member
Express your genuine appreciation for the person’s willingness to communicate openly about their issues. Your thanks will encourage more open communication in the future and will create an atmosphere where everyone feels able to express their issues when necessary for the betterment of the organisation.
Interested in tackling the challenges of leadership head on? Find out more about the Challenge of Leadership program from LMA and improve your leadership, management and empowerment skills.