It’s a joke.
The guy in the furniture shop told me that this sofa would easily seat 5 people without any problems. Then it occurred to me. I don’t think I know 5 people without any problems. No sofa sale.
No seriously, it is a joke.
But it is no laughing matter when you face the 5 most common leadership problems and don’t know how to fix them.
Fear not. Help is at hand. You will find solutions so fast that you will have plenty of time left over to find new problems. Ready?
You want to value an open-door culture. Yet there is so much foot- traffic coming your way, you are strongly considering installing a revolving door. You want to be available to staff but we all know a minute is never a minute. How do you maintain “openness” but still have time to lead your organisation?
Desperate: Lock yourself in a cupboard for 30 minutes: turn off your mobile to avoid looking insane when someone hears it vibrating and finds you there clutching your coffee and laptop.
Quick fix: Block time for “open door” drop-ins, scheduled appointments and black-out time.
Longer fix: Create a strategy for building decision-makers at all levels. Staff who are confidently able to think for themselves have no need for a constant check-in.
No one likes facing conflict but as a leader, you will face difficult conversations with customers and staff alike. Be it an angry customer complaint or having to hold a member of staff accountable for poor performance, it is likely to increase your heart rate when you think about how to deal with it.
Desperate: Schedule a time to deal with it first thing the following morning. It buys you time to prepare and takes away some high-emotion heat.
Quick fix: Actively listen to the customer without interruption and then give a time-frame in which you will investigate and resolve matters. Or actively listen to the member of staff give their account and reschedule a follow-up within 48 hours to give you time to consider it.
Longer fix: Consider ways in which you can develop the skills necessary for managing your own response to difficult conversations and conflict. Once you feel more confident dealing with these issues, it will no longer cause a problem for you.
It is that nagging doubt in your head that tells you that you really don’t know what you are doing. Any minute now, someone is going to discover that you are woefully incapable and have mistakenly been given the leadership position. Yes, this is something all leaders face.
Desperate: No one has found out yet – keep on doing what you are doing!
Quick fix: Brainstorm all the great strengths you have and things you do as a leader: you will be surprised at just how big an impact you make. No one else was given the job but YOU.
Longer fix: Join supportive leadership networks and keep developing your awesome leadership skills, as well as your confidence. You’ve got this!
Every day there are more things being added to the to-do list than are being ticked off. You work constantly and always feel like you are barely catching up. Everyone has an agenda that needs to be met and you are left juggling workload by deadlines.
Desperation: If you really aren’t going to meet deadlines, now is the time to select who you are going to inform that you need an extension. Communicate, don’t procrastinate.
Quick fix: Look at the to-do list and pick 3 things that really are a priority – only focus on these 3 tasks until they have been completed.
Longer fix: Re-organise your workload into categories: urgent, important, delegate, holding, drop. If you complete the urgent and important, you can move onto a holding task. If the holding task has been sat there for more than 2 or 3 weeks, it needs to either be delegated or dropped.
You are great at looking after your customers and staff. You pride yourself in putting them first, but what happens to them if you fall? Who will look after customers, staff, and the business if you are not fit enough to lead?
Desperation: Stop right now. Make sure you have been fed, have a drink, get a comfort break and “step away” from work. Research shows that having a rest makes you work more productively – so this is time well-invested.
Quick fix: Carve out some protected time when you are going to spend time on yourself doing things you enjoy. At least one evening a week and some time at the weekend is essential for good physical and mental health.
Longer fix: Work on your mindset with a leadership coach to develop longer-term goals and gain a different perspective on how putting yourself as a priority is beneficial for the whole organisation you lead – and of course, you will be much happier, too.
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