Leadership isn’t easy or everyone could do it. Some talented people make it look easy, but we often don’t see all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to make it look this way. Most leaders struggle at some point and have to learn some difficult lessons along the way. Experience can be the best teacher if you are open to learning. I’ve observed the following 25 ways (in no particular order) that leaders tend to get themselves in trouble:
I feel fortunate to have made it this far in life. Not everyone gets to have this much time. As we age it becomes more obvious that time is finite. I wish you well on your own journey and that the time you have left is well spent.
Life is about habits and behaviors. All time represents is a series of moments and actions stitched together that seemingly always exist in the present. We can reflect on what we have done in the past, think about what we may do in the future, but we can really only ever control now. Part of my job is observation. Sadly, my best case study is often myself when it comes to areas of needed improvement. I never cease to amaze myself with what I consciously do wrong and regret later although I am getting better. I am also certain my human experience isn’t unique. You may catch your self doing some of the following things over the course of any given day that inhibit rather than promote feelings of self-satisfaction and happiness:
am back from a week long business trip to theBahamasat the Atlantis Resort. It is a very impressive venue. I cannot imagine how much money was invested to create the experience. It literally is one of those rare “spare no expense” properties. There was a TV show you could watch that documented the attention to detail in the construction process and I was blown away by the vision and commitment of the main developer. You don’t get to stay in many places like this in your lifetime. In addition, I haven’t met many people as nice as the local Bahamians.
All the above being said, I was very disappointed by how poorly the operational side of the business was run.
There is nothing wrong with having strong opinions but always remember this doesn’t mean you are right. There is a difference between a fact based opinion and experiential opinion. In one case you are actually using hard facts and objective data to state you position. In the other case, you are relying more on subjective experience and personal beliefs to make your point. The dangerous thing about experiential opinions is that they are grounded solely on the personal filters of the advocate. They are also based on a singular and usually somewhat stunted view of reality. Being louder and more passionate about something will certainly garner attention, however, once again this doesn’t mean you are right and very often means you are rude, close-minded and/or a poor listener.
Naturally, so much of what we read about leadership and personal development is focused on us and how we can improve as an individual. There is no shortage of resources or ideas that one can adopt and apply to their own lives. I’m happy that for anyone who is interested in living a meaningful life that there is a bevy of material at their disposal. What I sometimes find missing in this quest for self-improvement is a focus on the other people in your life. We can spend so much time looking inward that if we are not careful we will miss opportunities to reach outside of ourselves to make a real difference. It is never just about you.
I’ve always like the idea of new beginnings. My mom used to say that every person has 4 seasons to their lives and each one is an opportunity to reinvent yourself and use the wisdom gained up until that point to make better decisions. As I age, I understand more of what she meant. I also believe that within these seasons there are natural changes such as completing your schooling, getting married (maybe more than once), having kids, becoming a homeowner, embarking on a career, being at the peak of your career and having responsibility for other people, caring for aging parents, having your own kids move out and start their own lives, becoming a grandparent, retirement from work and navigating our “golden years” that just seem to happen and lead to new beginnings. I do respect the fact that not everyone opts for all these changes but for the most part they are common experiences shared by most of us.
I am worried that many of our leaders have become way too tactical and reactive these days. Instead of seeing the big picture they are getting mired in the details and forging ahead with actions that will have less than optimal impact on the problems/challenges they are trying to address. Actions should never drive strategy. Strategy should drive action. There are also rarely simple solutions to complicated issues. Sometimes you need to step back and actually think through what you are doing before you do it (especially in times of crisis).
We all reach a point where we have to make decisions based on imperfect and sometimes even contradictory information. There is no “perfect” decision. Whether it is who we hire, when we enter new markets, how much to invest in new products and technologies, when to expand or contract a business relationship, or any other number of issues, leadership ultimately comes down to judgment. In addition, in our personal lives we will all hit crossroads, where the decisions we make will literally have an impact on the rest of our lives. There is always the risk you may make the wrong decision, but you try to mitigate this risk through sound judgment.
Everyone needs positive role models in their life and this experience shouldn’t end with childhood. As we go through our lives we will often stumble across unchartered territory. There will be times when there are no easy answers or doing the right thing won’t be as easy as it sounds. It is during moments like this we need to have something or someone to fall back on.
We all need to be inspired every once in awhile. Leaders especially need to find sources of inspiration because the very nature of their role is to inspire others. There are many ways to trigger inspiration but you must always find it within yourself.
Life can be difficult at times. Whether it is business related or not, the people around you need to know you care about them.
Emotions aren’t bad they just need to be appropriate to the situation and managed accordingly. In my experience, people often won’t trust or have other concerns about a leader or colleague who is devoid of emotion and seemingly stoic in all situtaions.
What you decide to focus your energy on is a choice. Even in the most difficult of situations there is a potential “silver lining” if you are looking hard enough.
Always make non-work time for yourself, even if it’s in bits and pieces. Everyone should strive to be multidimensional and explore all aspects of who they are and what they enjoy. Both breadth and depth are important in the development of any leader.