It’s tricky at the top. There are some problems that come with every leadership position – the predictable stuff: unmotivated team members, navigating organizational change, being willing to make tough decisions. This is the stuff you know is coming.
What about the other struggles? What about the internal problems that every leader will inevitably face, but few talk about?
Your position will necessarily require that you maintain some level of distance from on-the-ground activities. That distance is necessary because it allows you to maintain a bird’s-eye view and to consider the big picture, leaving the smaller stuff to lower-level management.
Executive isolation can become debilitating, which will inevitably compromise your ability to effectively lead. If your day is exclusively comprised of time in the corner office and meetings with executives, you’re missing out on what’s really happening on the ground, and your leadership will quickly become ineffective.
Make interactions with your employees a priority. This doesn’t mean you need to regularly socialize with staff, but seeing your face and feeling your presence are important motivators for employees. Ask questions about their jobs. Talk about plans and strategies. Stay connected with the whole team, not just the top tier.
People in positions of power tend to become naturally suspicious and cynical. It’s important to be mindful of this type of progression so that it doesn’t interfere with your ability to build authentic relationships.
- Remember that some acts of generosity and kindness are motivated for all the right reasons. Not everyone who shows an interest in building a relationship with you is doing it for selfish reasons!
- Your suspicions can seriously damage your professional relationships. You want to be known as a person who is accessible and genuine, not cynical and cold. Take chances, build relationships.
If you’re in charge, you’re likely to encounter few people who are willing to tell you that you’re wrong. Eventually, attaining power will create a vacuum – your dissenters will be few and far between, and when you do encounter a person who disagrees with you, you’re likely to react negatively!
Surrounding yourself with cheerleaders can feel great in the short term, but trapping yourself in a circle of “yes men” will eventually hurt both you and your organization. A real team has disagreements, and an organization needs discussion – even heated discussion, on occasion – to grow.
Collaborating with Confidence
“Teamwork” is a principle drilled into most leaders from grade school on. In practice, it isn’t employed nearly as often as it is discussed!
Collaboration can feel, to people in power, like compromise. When you solicit the opinions of others, you aren’t backtracking or showing weakness. Quite the opposite, in fact – your willingness to collaborate will be perceived as flexibility and mindfulness, both qualities that your staff and colleagues want to see in a leader.
If you’re finding that collaboration is difficult for you, consider how the visions of other successful leaders have been improved upon and even altered by teamwork and flexibility. You’ll find that true organizational growth and success are rarely steered by a captain at the helm who is unwilling, or unable, to listen to advice and reconsider.
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