Being a leader is a lot of hard work. Some leaders are born; others are made. Not everyone gets into a leadership role the same way. But what every leader does have in common is the challenges they face. Many obstacles come along with the part of being in charge. Here are some common challenges of leadership and how you can avoid them.
Challenges of Leadership
Great leaders share similar qualities. They have excellent people skills; they know how to communicate effectively. Leaders have organizational skills, and they can meet deadlines. And it’s crucial that leaders know how to deal with conflicts, as you are responsible if members of your team aren’t getting along.
More than that, the best leaders are dedicated to their roles. They embrace their responsibilities and uphold them to the best of their ability. Real leaders take pride in doing their job and in helping their team improve. You have to convince your team to see your goal and work to help you achieve it.
When you step into a leadership role for the first time, it can be intimidating. You realize there’s so much that goes on behind the scenes that you’d never been aware of. Things that you’re now responsible for completing. But over time, you gain enough experience to be able to juggle all the different tasks without bowing beneath the weight.
It’s not surprising that some people become overwhelmed in their new positions because they weren’t prepared for all the challenges that are part of the package deal of being the boss. Most people think bosses have it easy. But true leaders work the hardest on their team. They become adept at overcoming any challenges that they may encounter, including:
- Communication barriers
- Workload management
- Unpredictable circumstances
- Poor team organization
Types of Challenges
Even the most experienced leaders face obstacles. But they have the experience to be able to defy the odds and overcome these challenges rather than being broken by them. If you want to be in a leadership role, you should be aware that it can be challenging.
There are numerous issues you may run into in the role of leader. Some of these situations might be due to yourself, such as attitude or personality. While other problems might be situational, meaning they have arisen due to an event or another person. What makes a leader great is that they find a way to resolve the conflict and move forward with their mission while keeping their team on track.
The following sections are some of the common challenges that many leaders face in their careers. Of course, there are so many more that didn’t even make it onto the list. Being a leader is a big deal, and it requires a lot of hard work and dedication. Not being able to overcome challenges such as these can affect a leader’s ability to do his job correctly, or even at all.
Lack of Experience
There might be times when you find yourself in a leadership role without being prepared for it. Maybe you were promoted due to sudden staff changes. Or you might have volunteered for a position to help out, even though you weren’t qualified.
If you’ve never been in charge of managing a team of your peers, you might struggle in your new role. Being a leader is a lot of responsibility. The primary goal is to inspire and motivate your team to see your vision and help make it a reality.
For people with natural charisma, the ability to talk and charm people, this might not be too difficult. But for others who have never been in the spotlight, they may find it intimidating to have all the attention focused on them.
You also have to know how to keep your team focused and on schedule, so the project gets completed correctly. If you let everyone do their own thing without communicating with each other, and you, you could end up with disastrous results.
How to Overcome the Challenge
If you find yourself struggling in your new role as a leader, consider enrolling in leadership training classes. Here, you’ll learn how to improve essential leadership qualities like organization, problem-solving, conflict resolution, time management, and communications. You could always check with your place of employment to see if they offer any vouchers or credit for course completion.
While dealing with the day to day issues of your job, the most important thing you can do is improve your communications and organizing skills. If you lack these two crucial leadership components, you’ll never survive at the top. Remember that your team is made of human people. They have feelings, emotions, and qualities that make each of them different.
As a leader, it’s essential to know the people who work for you. When you make a person feel valued, they put more effort into their work. Talk often with your team as you work together on projects. Learn what makes each of them unique and then figure out a way to apply those individual skills to their position.
Adjusting to the Role
When you’re in a leadership role, you’re often treated differently by the staff than you were when you were an equal colleague. It’s a regular occurrence in the workplace. It’s hard to cut loose when you know your boss is watching.
Many people struggle with learning how to act like a boss towards their coworkers. You see these people as your friends, and you don’t want to have to crack the whip on them. But as the leader, you’re in charge of making sure everyone is doing their jobs properly. If they aren’t, you have to intervene, even when there’s a personal relationship.
Complications often arise when you mix business with pleasure, meaning if you socialize or date among your coworkers. Issues that are relevant outside the office can find their way into the work environment, poisoning the air and the people.
How to Adjust to Being a Leader
As a leader, you have to be cautious with your behavior. While it’s okay to be friendly with your staff and maybe even hang out after hours on occasion, you have to be able to compartmentalize. During office hours, those people are not your friends. They are your employees, and it’s your responsibility to keep them productive.
You should make it clear to your team that it is off-limits to talk about personal issues on the clock. This avoids any ethical dilemmas that can arise, such as sexual harassment claims from outside coworkers who might be offended at your talk of partying with colleagues.
While at work, don’t use nicknames for your colleagues. You don’t have to address them formally, but you should stick to a first name basis. Don’t call one or two team members casually but address everyone else as Mr. or Miss. The same goes for how they address you. Either everyone should be formal or none unless they choose to be.
Some leaders have trouble with making decisions, which can, and will, affect their ability to be a good leader. As the person in charge, you are responsible for your team. You set the rules, and you’re the one who has to deal with the situation if things aren’t done correctly.
If you drag your feet on making a decision, it can make your staff, and your supervisors, lose confidence in your ability to lead. No one wants a boss who stalls on giving you an answer for so long that you end up behind schedule. That type of behavior makes for a hostile working environment.
As the leader, you are responsible for your team, and it’s not a responsibility that should be taken lightly. You should always remember that you hold your team’s careers in your hands. If you do a poor job as a leader, it could reflect in their work as an employee, which won’t look good during employee reviews. You wouldn’t want someone to lose their job just because you weren’t correctly doing yours.
How to Fix It
Being a good leader isn’t just about making decisions but about making the right decisions. It won’t do you any good to be able to make quick choices if those decisions end up being wrong. A responsible person always considers all the necessary information and alternative solutions before making a decision.
What you decide will affect people other than yourself, so you have to be sure you’re making the right call. If you find yourself struggling with a decision, consider confiding in a trusted source. Often, it helps to talk through a situation so you can get an outside perspective. You see things differently.
Consider using other supervisors, your mentor (most leaders have them), or someone on your team that you think would be a good second in command. Remember that as a leader, you’ll be juggling a considerable workload. It helps to have people around you that you can rely on when you need support.
Being in charge means telling people what to do. For many people, this can be an uncomfortable situation, especially when they’re met with resistance or confrontation. A good leader knows how to deal with difficult people without losing their cool.
As a leader, you will also have to deal with uncomfortable situations that may arise, like coworker disputes. The worst move a leader can make is to avoid getting involved in a conflict that is occurring between team members. As the boss, it’s your responsibility to provide a safe, comfortable working environment.
When there’s tension between employees, it can affect productivity and morale. You must know how to deal with conflict resolution if you want to be an effective leader. You should also never take sides. Your job is to find a solution that works for all parties. Listen to all sides and encourage them to see ways of compromising that won’t go against their values.
If you want to be the best leader possible, you have to get the support of those around you. Show appreciation and loyalty to your team. Interact with them, so they see you as more than just head honcho. You want them to respect you and work together to achieve your goal.
While you want your team to see you as a person, you also want them to respect your authority. You should not have to beg or compromise with an employee to get them to do their expected work. If an employee isn’t performing his duties, a good leader will be able to intervene and get the situation resolved without conflict with the rest of the team.
An ideal team will work cohesively on projects without constant supervision. Each member knows their role and fulfills their required responsibilities. They collaborate so that the project looks like a complete piece instead of a bunch of different people working independently and throwing everything into the heap. This can only happen if they have a leader that knows how to manage his team.
Lots of Pressure
In case you haven’t figured it out by now, being a leader is a lot of work. It is a demanding job that requires dedication and resolve. Your reputation is on the line when you’re in charge. If things fall apart, it will be your head on the chopping block.
A lot of people don’t respond well under pressure. Due to this, they struggle when it comes to being in a leadership role. You have to be able to keep calm when you’re facing a complicated situation. Panicking will only make matters worse.
To be a good leader, you have to know how to respond to intense conditions. Each leadership role has different expectations and requirements, so the degree of pressure will vary. But as the person in charge, you have to worry about the work your team does, as much as you do your own. When the team fails, the leader fails.
How to Cope
When you’re dealing with the extra pressure of being a leader, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. It’s important to remember to take frequent breaks throughout the day to decompress, so you don’t get too bogged down. Go for a short walk, do a few yoga poses, or just meditate for five minutes.
I can’t stress enough how important it is for leaders to be organized. You cannot be effective at multitasking if you don’t have a system in place to keep your workload divided adequately. When you misplace things, you waste valuable time trying to find the stuff or have to do it over.
It’s easy to feel daunted when you think of all the things you have to take care of as a leader. When you keep things organized, it makes it easier to work efficiently. Things go easier, and you don’t feel as stressed out. When you see your tasks neatly written down, it’s easier to focus on what needs to get done.
Being an effective communicator is one of the most crucial skills a leader should have in her arsenal. You need to be able to convince your team to believe in what you’re saying. They have to be able to understand what you’re expecting so they can deliver the correct material.
If you can’t get your ideas explained to your staff, you could end up with projects that have to be redone. This is a waste of time and resources and can cause tension between you and your staff. After you’ve communicated with your team, ask follow-up questions to make sure everyone understands your meaning.
An effective leader encourages his team to have open communications. If there is a problem or concern, the staff know they can bring it up to the leader without getting into trouble. They know who to ask questions when there’s confusion and to talk with each other so that everyone stays on the same page.
What to Do to Improve Communications
There are plenty of people who aren’t great at communicating, so don’t feel bad if you’re one of them. Luckily, there are ways that you can improve so that you can be a better leader. Excellent communication isn’t just about being a good talker. It also means being a good listener.
Good leaders know how to listen to their staff actively. They pay attention to the speaker’s word choices, tone of voice, body language, and other clues that help them understand what the speaker is saying. By taking the time to get the true meaning of what you’re hearing, you’re putting yourself in a position to have the proper response.
When you’re speaking, don’t try to use an extensive vocabulary to impress your listeners. Keep what you’re saying simple and easy to understand. This leaves less room for misinterpretation. Speak in a clear tone and be professional. Watch your body language and tone, so you don’t contradict your words with your actions.
One bad thing about being a leader is that when things go sideways, it lands on your plate. There will be moments when things seem to be falling apart around you. A good leader knows how to approach these sudden changes of events and make them work in the team’s favor.
If you want to be efficient as a leader, you have to be able to go with the flow and adjust to unexpected situations. Things won’t always go the way they’re supposed to. Anyone who’s ever had a bad day can tell you that. What’s important is knowing how to deal with a situation when it occurs.
Problem-solving is a huge part of a leader’s job. Whether you have to deal with a change in staff or a drastic change in your current ongoing project, things can get out of whack pretty quickly if the right person isn’t in charge. You have to know how to keep calm and adapt if you want any chance of getting things back on track.
Dealing with Changes
I’m not a fan of change. As a matter of fact, I hate it. But I have learned over the years that there’s nothing you can do to keep things the same way. To be a great leader, you have to be adaptive when things change at the last minute.
First off, always have it in the back of your mind that things rarely stay exactly as you planned them. This helps soothe frayed nerves that can happen when you are facing a sudden change. It’s not unexpected if you expected it.
When you get hit with the news that something is going to have to be different, the worst thing you can do is panic. When you get worked up, you lose focus, and it becomes difficult to get things done. Instead, stay calm and come up with a battle plan that will help you incorporate the new development in your original ideas.
Lack of Support
Everybody needs somebody to lean on. If you were around in the 80s, you probably know that I’m quoting a very popular song, “Lean on Me.” I’m not going to bore you with my old – and perhaps strange for some of you – music tastes. But it is a good song, in my defense.
Life can be complicated, but it is also fantastic and beautiful and crazy. But life isn’t as much fun when you don’t have people to share it with. When you’re a leader, you’ll need to have someone who you can count on for support.
If you try to go at your job alone, it can get frustrating when you come up against a problem, and you have no clue how to fix it. Without having support from your coworkers, you could run into complications trying to get an issue resolved when no one wants to cooperate.
Build a Support System
Just because you might not already have a support system doesn’t mean you’re out of luck. You can build one by finding people in your life that you can confide in. A well-rounded system is best, composed of coworkers, mentors, family, and friends.
In the workplace, you might have some things that you can’t talk about with people outside of your office. In these cases, it helps to have another staff member or supervisor that you can go to when you have questions or concerns.
Family and friends are also important to your support system. Your personal life can be affected by your work life, so it’s crucial to have a good balance. If your family and friends don’t understand your job, they could become resentful if you work too much or don’t tell them things. Even if you can’t give details, you can still talk about your emotions.
The responsibilities of a leader are often numerous. Many people find themselves in charge of large groups of people or big projects. It’s easy to find yourself buried beneath so much work you’ll never see the light of day.
Thankfully, there is a way to solve the problem of having too much to do. A good leader knows how to delegate tasks to other staff members. Now, this isn’t to say that you should assign your team every bit of your work while you play nine holes at the course. But there is nothing wrong with handing off small jobs to your staff when you’re feeling swamped.
It’s useful to have a second-in-command who can handle the minor day-to-day tasks, so you have time to focus on the big ones. It’s hard to have a staff meeting and evaluate your team’s process if you’re stuck in your office, reviewing edits and answering emails.
How to Delegate
You may feel bad when you think about pawning some of your work off to your staff. But if you try to tackle a full workload without help, you’re adding a lot of pressure to your life. A true leader is part of the team. When you inspire loyalty from your staff, your problems become theirs. If you’re struggling, your team will want to help you, just as you’d help if it were them.
Rather than demanding someone to do a task, you could let it be voluntary. Have a meeting with your team and explain that you need someone who wouldn’t mind taking on a little extra responsibility by assisting you with minor tasks.
By keeping it voluntary, you’re not forcing your will on anyone. You will also need delegation skills when you’re dividing up the workload. You want to be equal so that no one is stuck doing more work than everyone else – unless they’ve asked. You also want to play to each team member’s talents. Figure out what your team is good at and assign tasks based on the best person for the job.
Be Ready to Overcome Challenges of Leadership
Being aware that there are challenges you might face as a leader is the first step to being successful. Over time, you learn how to fall into a routine so that you can better cope with any challenges that might arise. When you know how to deal with challenging situations properly, you improve your chances of being a successful leader.