There are millions of inspiring stories out there of people who have worked hard to become the best version of themselves. We often read about today’s leaders’ stories and there’s a large focus on everything that went right, but not everything is a bed of roses.
Everyone’s leadership journey is different, let’s go over some common obstacles leaders face every day.
- Fear of failure: Insecurity affects everyone, leaders are no exception. It can be especially hard to deal with when you have a large number of people depending on you. However, mistakes allow us to learn and grow. Accepting them as part of the process is important.
“It is hard to fail but it is worse to never have tried to succeed” – Theodore Roosevelt (26th President of the United States)
- Lack of communication: Not being able to openly communicate with those around you may affect productivity and lead to conflict. Many leaders sometimes feel disconnected from their team and the best way to fix it is by being transparent about their plans and strategies, encouraging honest feedback and allowing two-way conversations. Pro tip: communicating with people with different levels of authority requires you to be versatile and adapt your speech to each situation
“The difference between mere management and leadership is communication” – Winston Churchill (UK’s ex Prime Minister)
- Dealing with pressure: Managing people’s expectations is something lots of leaders struggle with. It’s essential to acknowledge your feelings in order to control the way you react, since it’s not unusual to be less patient and more defensive in stressful situations. If you let your anxiety go unchecked you may hurt the relationship you have with your co-workers.
“We discover our character through decisions under pressure” – Dan Millman (Author)
- Burnout: When someone’s truly passionate about what they’re working on it’s easy to push too hard. The truth is, if you burn yourself out, you won’t be leading anyone. Keep a healthy balance between work and life. Considering an excessive amount of work hours a symbol of dedication and courage is wrong.
“We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work, instead of the quality of the time we put in”– Arianna Huffington (co-founder of The Huffington Post)
- Delivering bad news: Leadership positions are filled with hard decisions. Being able to deliver bad news in an empathetic and clear way will allow you to find the next steps and not negatively impact the workplace’s culture.
“Better to have bad news that are true than good news we made up” – Eric Ries (Entrepeneur)
- Keeping it human: Vulnerability isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of humanity. You’re not a machine who doesn’t make mistakes. Allowing the people you’re leading to see that gives them an opportunity to remember no one expects them to be perfect, contributing to a supportive and compassionate place of work. Vulnerability is about authenticity and it demonstrates high emotional intelligence.
“A leader, first and foremost, is human. Only when we have the strength to show our vulnerability can we truly lead” – Simon Sinek (Author and inspirational speaker)
It’s not easy to be a leader. We will always find obstacles along the way that we need to face as challenges instead of problems. Being open to learn and grow from them is extremely important in order to inspire and empower others.
What better way to start your own leadership journey than through a volunteering experience or internship abroad? Visit aiesec.org to check the opportunities we have for you!