Leadership! Why is it so hard?

Denise CooperAchieving Goals, Career Success, Employee engagement, Leadership, Managing DiversityLeave a Comment

people-network1It’s just that simple. You matter and relationships matters in big and small ways. Every time you think

  • I am not getting enough from my people,
  • My team is not aligned,
  • I am withholding my contribution(s) because I don’t feel appreciated… or I’m misunderstood or feel attacked;
  • I can’t get anyone to buy into my ideas, hire, promote or pay me more;
  • I need to change this culture but everyone resists, or
  • We’ve talked and talked about our strategy but no one is making it happen

you have a leadership issue that is an opportunity. But is it worth it?  Ask yourself, “Is this worth me changing my priorities to take care of it?  Do I care enough to solve this issue?”

Trust me, I’ve led teams as well as been a member of them and there were times when the other priorities were seemed more important than wrestling with people issues. There were times when it just didn’t seem like a good idea to take on someone

  • who’s verbally lashing out at you,
  • not delivering on expectations,
  • taking feedback (that they asked for) personally, or
  • causing confusion that resulted in others procrastinating and giving poor results.

But that doesn’t change the opportunity presented and the choice(s) you have to make.

Every bit of growth comes from the interactions we have with others. Those who irritate us provide us with the gift of growth and increased awareness. When you find yourself irritated by a team member ask yourself:

  • Am I ready to receive the gift?
  • Do you want to learn how to achieve different, potentially greater results than ever before?
  • Are you willing to stop holding yourself (and others) to your standard of perfection and
  • Are you ready to ask for some help that will surely benefit you and those around you?

There are times when the answer is no. I’m not making a value judgment on a decision to say no, not now, not ever! Each of us has the right to decline. So I’ve learn to stop beating myself up because I’m not ready, willing or able to lead in this moment. I know that a part of my growth is allowing myself the option to just accept the fact that today… I’m got other things to do or I’m too tired and just don’t want to deal with this now.

This week I came face to face with that opportunity. Being truthful, I wanted it to come and when it did it wasn’t easy to take the lesson to heart.  As with all learning opportunities, my first goal was to get it, master it and move on.

This morning’s backlash was particularly stinging because a person on my team with whom I struggle with is someone I genuinely like and the fact that our relationship isn’t easy impacts not just my success but that of all the people on the team. I had to decide whether to step up and grow or step back and watch, hide or run.

In my head I know I’m no different than anyone else.  Every team has to go through the cycles of forming, norming, storming, performing and I add reforming. I’ve seen it and so have you. When the storming starts people on the team feel compelled to take sides, dig in deeper and perform in spite of the uncomfortableness until it becomes bearable or not.

The next stage performing is assumed to mean performing better except that’s not what happens at all. What happens depends on how each person chooses to be in relationship with the team as an entity. The team’s performance can range from poor, mediocre to high.

To achieve high performance, each person has to identify their personal opportunity for growth and then choose to say yes to the process of growth. Each person has to identify what is their personal lesson and find a way to develop individually and as a member of the group regardless of the decisions of the other members of the team.

What it means in real life is both I and my team mates have to be present and work on our leadership presence together. We have to find a way to learn without diminishing our colleagues. In real life, they have to step in to help me and the other person to be in relationship that is productive for all of us.

Coaches, trainers and HR professionals toss around the word presence like it’s widely and commonly understood. Executives talk about having executive presence. They talk about having presence, executive or otherwise, is something that the other person either has or doesn’t. They can’t describe it but they know it when they see it and often take no responsibility for the impact their presence has on others.

John Baldoni in an article called What It Means to Lead With Presence for Fast Company gave a brilliant description of not only what is presence but how it affects others.

Character lies at the root of strong leadership presence. It is not a nice to have; it is a must have. But character is not an attribute that leaders possess; it is fundamental to the way they act. Character emanates from thought, word and deed. Leaders prove their character when they insist on accountability for themselves and for those they lead.

…Presence is projection not simply of power, but of sincerity, values and conviction. And as such it is something that leaders can use to leverage their influence in order to make themselves heard, understood and followed.

I am not looking to be the leader of our team. But I am sincerely working to be the best influencer and thought leader in the area of personal and professional leadership.  I am fully committed to using that thought leadership to help others ready to embrace their leadership and find incredible success in a constantly changing, fast paced, evolving world.

Today, we live in a world where new ideas and ways of doing business are changing so fast you can become an expert or thought leader in a few years. The pace of change is so rapid that I believe the only way you can find joy, happiness and success is to cultivate your skills as a leader with presence.

This morning session was truly a wonderful gift and opportunity for me to learn and ultimately practice what I preach.

Thanks for the blessing. (I think)

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