How do leaders overcome challenges?
Leaders, like everyone else, must face challenge head-on. It is challenge that builds great leaders.
If there weren’t challenges, we’d have little need for leaders.
Some challenges are unique and temporary, while others are common and ongoing. And it’s a leader’s job to be able to face these challenges—to overcome them and come out a stronger, better, more resilient leader.
I’ve been advising leaders for 25 years. I know the challenges they face—and I know how they overcome these challenges.
Here are four ways great leaders overcome their challenges.
1. They treat people the right way.
Some leaders make excuses when the people they lead challenge them. But in order for a leader to overcome these types of challenges, they must understand where they are coming from.
At the end of the day, a great leader must be both respected and liked by the people around them.
Being competent at what you do gains respect. Being nice to people gets them to like you. To do both takes only a little extra effort. You don’t have to be patronizing (that won’t get you liked anyhow), but you need to pay attention to how you treat the people you lead.
2. They know how to balance.
You can’t succeed in the long haul if you don’t pay attention to the needs of the organization and the needs of people.
While both needs will never perfectly balance, a great leader understands that people need to be cared for and supported.
A great leader knows that if their team isn’t supported, they won’t produce desired results.
There are times when sacrifices will need to be made. Most people understand that.
But if you continually achieve results at the expense of your team, you’ll experience resentment and high turnover. I go into how sacrificing relationships for results can affect success here.
To overcome these challenges, it is crucial to learn how to balance. This will deliver results. You must care for the needs of your team as well as the needs of the organization. It’s a perfect balancing act.
3. They motivate themselves—and others.
Motivation is an inside job.
One of the biggest mistakes leaders make is that they wait for others to motivate them.
When a leader faces challenges, one of the most important things they can do is stay motivated.
While an employer can provide a positive environment and aid in motivation, staying motivated is something a responsible adult does for him or herself.
When a leader faces a challenge, he overcomes it by staying motivated.
There are many ways to stay motivated, but knowing your purpose is a great starting point.
While Friedrich Nietzsche is over-quoted and not a philosopher I agree with completely, I do agree with his statement that he who has a reason ‘why’ can bear almost any ‘how’.
Remember: the lower the sense of purpose, the lower the motivation. The higher the sense of purpose, the higher the motivation.
One of the biggest leadership failure points is when the “what” trumps the “why.” Leaders rarely last when they don’t have a clear sense of the why—their purpose.
Another crucial way for a leader to overcome a challenge that may be affecting progress in his team is to keep his team motivated too (I go into how to motivate others here).
4. They stay focused.
Leaders face many different demands, challenges, and things that need their attention. A great leader knows how to overcome these challenges by staying focused.
When I deliver my keynote speeches, I often mention that effective focus comes from knowing what is most important and focusing on that first. Not all distractions can be ignored, but most can be tabled until there is a better time to deal with them.
A clear purpose helps a leader stay motivated. And when they face a challenge, having this clear focus helps them make the right decisions.
Never confuse activity with accomplishment.
At the beginning of each day, ask yourself this question: “What is the most important thing we need to accomplish today?”
Make sure your team knows the answer, too.
And above all: learn to look at challenges as the real work of leadership.
(What challenges do you face as a leader? How do you overcome these challenges? Please leave your comments below.)
To learn how to be an effective leader and how to center your life around your highest priorities, consider reading my Extraordinary Living Journal – buy one, get one free!
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