Leadership: if you have a problem, and no one else can help – maybe you need to look around you.
Published on October 27, 2020
4 min read.
When things are going well, being a leader is an exciting, invigorating role. However, when the challenges start to pile up it can feel like everyone is looking to you for the answers. In uncertain times, this can cause stress levels to spike, making leadership an isolating and lonely position. As the saying goes, “a problem shared is a problem halved”, but who can you share yours with?
Usually, the answer is right in front of us but we are so focused on the issue that, like watching a sleight of hand magician, our mind focuses in on one aspect and we miss the bigger picture.
There are a couple of easy activities that can help if you feel you are getting caught up in the details of the situation and not able to take a step back.
Here we highlight two techniques:
Firstly, taking time to regroup your thoughts can shift you into a positive, solution-focused attitude.
Secondly, your network consists of people all around you who are ready to offer support – all you need to do is decide who to talk to.
Good leaders show empathy, look after staff and encourage downtime.
We do this for many reasons, one of them being we know when staff feel listened to, are rested and have good work/life balance, they are happier, healthier individuals and are more productive and innovative.
You may be ensuring your staff feel looked after, but who is showing you empathy, looking after you, encouraging you to have downtime? If you did take time for you, would you be more productive, innovative and able to focus on leadership?
Most people in a leadership role struggle to find, or more accurately, fail to prioritise time for their own well-being.
Taking time to consider what you would like to do to improve both your physical health AND your emotional health doesn’t need to be an arduous task of self-contemplation. When done with genuine intent and with commitment, you can quickly identify some personal goals that can have a significant impact.
- First, take a look at our example Healthy Activity check list. Use this as a guide but it should be a list of activities that are comfortable with.
- Consider the activities you enjoy, that have an impact on your physical and mental health.
- Make a note of the ones you are prepared to make a concerted effort to do over the coming week.
- At the end of the week YOU judge how much time you spent looking after you.
- How did you do?
Taking the time to consider your own needs is already a step towards your own self-care plan. When you look after your physical health and mental well-being, you will come back to a work environment with more energy and increased capacity for the role of leadership.
Ready to set yourself the goal of increasing the time you spend on becoming a more focused leader?
Tips for success:
- Make this a list of activities you enjoy.
- Don’t put undue pressure on yourself to “hit your target.”
- Accept that taking care of yourself is an essential part of leadership.
- Keep you list of activities somewhere you can see them on a daily basis.
- Remember this is for your benefit.
There are times when every leader needs to look for assistance from others.
When considering you we should speak to, we all have our go-to people we use as a sounding board for our ideas or someone we know will give us the encouragement we sometimes seek.
When the situation calls for something more, how can you focus your attention on the best people to approach?
One technique I have used in the past is to look at my personal network using a priority matrix to help me open up my thinking and therefore the options I have available.
For this approach to work best, you need to be clear about the issue you are considering and be objective/realistic about the individuals you are considering asking to support you.
Before you begin, download our priority matrix
so you have somewhere to record your thoughts.
- Firstly, write down what is the situation/challenge you are looking to get support with (also consider what support you are asking for).
- Now consider the people you know that have some knowledge of the challenge you are looking at.
- For each individual, consider how easy you can connect with them and how big an impact they may have on the given challenge.
- After placing your first contact on the matrix, use this as a basis for everyone else.
At the end of this exercise, you will have created a list of people you already know, people you can connect with and people that have an impact on the challenge you are facing. From this list, it is easy to devise an action plan of who you will speak to first.
Tips for success:
- Use your judgement, this is not a precise science
- Remember, people are ready to help, you just need to work out who you are going to ask.
- The biggest impact someone may have is connecting you with someone else. This is still a major step forward.
In our always on, inter-connected world, taking time to reflect on how we are doing or on the support available from the people around us can be overlooked in favour of more pressing concerns. When this happens, it is easy to get drawn into micro managing and detailed actions whilst missing the bigger picture.
Taking time to check-in with yourself, clearing your thoughts and considering the support around you is a quick way of stepping back from the edge of a downward spiral and could be the start of something amazing.
Something as simple as taking a walk outside for ten minutes can have a profound impact on your thinking and significantly improve the clarity of your decision making.
Try it today and feel the difference….