Is leadership really that tough? Of course! Being a leader is a difficult job. This article will show you various leadership challenges and how to overcome them.
Now, as a leader, you tend to shoulder responsibilities that require lots of time, effort, and skills.
Whether you are heading a business or just leading a few people at work, it is crucial that your mind and body are prepared to face the challenges of leadership.
It’s also important that you know how to handle or overcome leadership challenges.
Leadership Challenges and How to Overcome Them
Here are some challenges leaders face and how to overcome them.
1Never-Ending Pressure And Stress
One of the many challenges of leadership you will face and perhaps try to overcome is pressure.
You are one of the first persons who will be subjected to it in your team.
All the pressure your team receives also falls back on you and you are expected to deal with all of them.
2Difficult Team Members
There will be always one bad apple in the basket that can spoil the whole bunch.
It sounds like a cliché.
However, it is a constant factor in business.
You can always blame the HR department for letting that guy in, but it will be pointless.
Your immediate reaction toward this kind of person is rehabilitation.
It is your task to handle them kindly and reform them.
You cannot fix ‘spoilt’ apples, but you can fix problematic people.
However, some people, no matter what you do, will be just bad.
You have two options on overcoming challenges like this;
You can either reduce yours and your team’s exposure to them or just let them go if you can.
3Culture And Diversity
Nowadays, you should now be more mindful of culture and diversity.
Most leaders have to walk a thin line to get through work without offending anybody.
With the current surge of political correctness in society, a leader has to be mindful and sensitive with every word and action he or she makes.
It gets much worse if there is a cultural or ethnic division in your team.
Gossip and communication problems easily arise from either side and it will be your role to make peace between opposing groups.
In leadership overcoming challenges like this one can be tricky but luckily, easy.
First, you should never forget that it is your responsibility to help people to settle their differences outside work and prevent them from affecting business operations.
You should also establish a workplace culture that they are comfortable with and set the tone of your work environment.
Your team may have different perspectives and beliefs.
However, in your organization, they need to set those aside and focus on the culture you have established instead.
4Reputation And Respect
Depending on how you acquired your position as a leader, the number of people who like and respect you will vary.
As a leader, some individuals have multiple reasons to disrespect your authority.
Those individuals may believe that they are much more suited than you to be the leader.
Some of them may not like you as a person.
And a few of them just are not inclined to follow a leader.
This is one of the delicate challenges of a leader.
Truth be told, it can be difficult to earn the respect of people who are actually disrespectful.
Always remind yourself that even though you need to get some respect from them, it is not your duty to make them proper people who can respect others.
In any case, don’t let that get you down.
Your goal is to lead your team to success, not to be their friend or idol.
Still, always focus on the big picture and tackle that matter of them not respecting you or treating you properly later on when your plate isn’t full anymore.
The important thing here is that you do not get tossed around.
Do your job, and let them do theirs.
If they act on their dislike and disrespect toward you and their action results in negligence and insubordination, then it is time to take the necessary appropriate action.
It must be nice to be someone that is as powerful as Donald Trump.
You can just let your mouth produce the words, “You’re fired!”
But sadly, you are not Trump, and you will have to undergo multiple legal issues if you do that to one of your guys.
There will be lots of reasons and instances that will cause you to let someone go.
It is just one of the many challenges and problems with leadership that you will have to learn to overcome.
If you get yourself into that situation, make sure that it will be legally okay.
If you need to deliver the news yourself, do not be angry or rash.
Also, just in case, never show an expression of relief and joy while the person is still in front of you.
6Delivering Unfavorable News
As a leader, you might be in the top or middle management.
Either way, delivering bad news to your superior and/or subordinates can be difficult.
In an organization, failures, and setbacks happen.
And as a leader, you are expected to avoid those and lead the organization to success.
People always assume the only news you have got is good.
Unfortunately, as much as you want to, Murphy’s Law is there to make things harder for you.
To reduce the chaos that the news can cause and the negative reaction you will receive, deliver the news minus the suspense and drama.
Just say what it is in a straightforward, matter-of-fact manner and be detailed and specific.
Follow it up immediately with an action plan to reduce the effects of the bad news.
7Focus And Work Hours
When dealing with challenges of leadership and trying to overcome them, it can be difficult to maintain your focus.
You should also consider the fact that distractions can move you away from getting things done.
Additionally, working more hours is not the key to compensate for the time you were distracted and unproductive.
Don’t fret about getting distracted and losing focus when dealing with challenges.
You’re only human.
Additionally, if you find yourself fatigued from working too hard, cut yourself some slack when you suddenly get off-track.
Do not overcompensate too much.
There is always tomorrow.
A century ago, working 10 to 16 hours for six days was the norm.
Obviously, that didn’t work out because companies and employees became inefficient.
This led to the compulsory 40-hour workweek schedule.
According to the American Time Use Survey, it only takes 45% of an employee’s work time to get things done. The remaining 55% is spent doing things unrelated to work or idling.
Basically, this study’s result implies that you can get your job done efficiently in three hours and a half.
But this does not exactly give you a reason to stop completing your work hours.
Again, you’re only human.
Efforts to overcome setbacks, stress and challenges with leadership can create loads of negative emotions that can heavily impact you.
They can also suck out all the motivation you have.
Because of that, you must do everything you can to motivate yourself.
To do that, you must first see and remember all the good things happening around you.
Then, make it a point not to dwell on those negative emotions.
The next step is to create and find solutions for those setbacks and stress triggers.
Find the things that are not working, and focus on fixing them.
Also, remember that the feeling of isolation is normal when you are a leader.
Generally, your followers are the ones who ask and expect motivation from you and not the other way around.
Accept the fact that you will be usually doing the cheer-leading for yourself.
However, do not forget that you still have family and friends who can help you out and be your very own cheer-leading squad.
In addition, if you have developed strong emotional connections with your team, you can ask them to motivate you, too.
9Miscommunications and Misunderstandings
Miscommunications and misunderstandings are two challenges of a leader that always come in pairs.
They happen because people transfer information that can fall out of context.
For example, Person A tells Person B, “Tell Person C that I need to get his report about our sales forecast tomorrow at 2 p.m.”
Person B then tells Person C, “Give Person A the report he needs tomorrow.”
As a person who heard what Person A told Person B, you can exactly understand what Person B told Person C.
Person B also perfectly understands the context of his message.
However, as Person C only received Person B’s message, he can get confused.
- What report does Person A need?
- When exactly does Person A need the report?
If Person C clarifies the information, then he will know what exactly he needs to do.
If Person C, on the other hand, does not clarify and proceeds to assume or guess what Person A needs, miscommunication, and misunderstanding happen.
This example ended up with Person C giving his inventory report to Person A at 2 p.m.
As a leader who gives out instructions, you will be prone to miscommunications and misunderstandings.
Aside from that, it is your job to prevent miscommunication happening within your team.
Remember that each misunderstanding might cost you and set up your team to fail.
Ultimately, the effectiveness of your leadership is measured by how many failures and successes you bring to the organization.
A lot of successes often equate good leadership.
A lot of failures often get you questioned by your superiors, subordinates, and yourself.
Encountering failures as a leader can set you up for a downward spiral full of self-pity.
And that is the last thing you want as a leader.
Getting stuck in a rut will further worsen your situation.
Here’s what you can do: Identify the mistakes you made, be accountable for your failure, reassess your situation, find a solution, and then move forward.
Take note that self-pity has no place in your action plan if and when you fail.
Remember that if you fail that’s it.
There’s no denying that, but instead of looking back, you should be progressing.
The world will not stop with one mistake and neither should you.
There are also other forms of challenges you might encounter as a leader in your organization.
Although they are considered as minor challenges, they’re still worth discussing.
Hence, they’ll still be regarded as challenges leaders encounter.
Aside from the big ones mentioned, you will encounter minor challenges faced by leaders from time to time.
Here are a few leadership challenges you should watch out for and tips on how to overcome them.
As a leader, your job will be under constant close examination.
If you are new to a leadership position, you might find the steady stream of feedback okay and normal.
But after a constant blast of criticisms, you might find yourself losing patience.
The best way to deal with criticism is knowing which ones are valid and which ones are not.
Always remember that if a person criticizes you, that means his criticism is open to criticism as well.
So if you hear an invalid criticism, never hesitate to shoot it down.
Of course, always make sure that you listen first before you provide your response.
Also, focus on the criticism and not the person.
Targeting the person will just make matters worse, and will just add another point that they can use to criticize you.
Never forget that humility is an important virtue to have as a good and well-respected leader.
Your humility will be challenged whenever you experience success.
It is crucial that you should never let success go to your head.
However, it does not mean that you should not celebrate nor you should refuse to take credit.
Just be modest and humble.
Remember that humility is not the absence of pride.
Humility is the realization that you are not better but not lesser.
It is understanding the true value of your actions and abilities.
Accept compliments graciously and take credit when and where it is due. You don’t need to brag about your accomplishments. If you are truly a good leader, your team will spread the word and toot the horn for you.
Changes can come from you, your team, or your organization.
In leadership, you must be adaptable to changes as you try to overcome your challenges.
You might bring changes to your leadership style over time.
Your team members might be replaced by a new crew.
Your organization may impose new policy changes.
Change is constant; hence it is a challenge you must frequently face.
But before you think about how to overcome challenges and deal with changes, you must learn how to be adaptable as a person in a leadership position.
Here are some tips that can help you overcome the challenges that come with changes as a leader.
- Be more open-minded and flexible to changes and innovations.
- Expect and predict changes.
- Always come up with advance game plans or plan B.
- Never whine about changes.
- Analyze changes and do not outright reject them.
- Never forget your perspective and direction.
- Understand that changes are not always right or wrong.
- Create your own coping mechanism to changes.
- Go with the flow and learn to change with the changing trends.
14Building And Rebuilding Teams
As mentioned above, your team might change.
So, because of that, you should be always ready to build and rebuild professional, intellectual, social, and emotional connections with new people.
To overcome this new challenge smoothly, your leadership style must include patience.
Build your team one step at a time.
Do not force them to adjust instantly or push yourself to them.
Despite the importance of solidifying your new team, never forget that you should focus on the goals you actually want to achieve.
Your new members, on the other hand, are responsible for working with you to attain that goal.
So, even if your team does not have any bond yet, everyone should understand that achieving your set goals comes first.
Conclusion On Leadership Challenges And How To Overcome Them
Learning and understanding how to handle and overcome leadership challenges will take time and practice.
However, always remind yourself that it is not just you alone who should face and learn how to overcome challenges at work.
Your team should play their part as well.
After all, these challenges, most of the time, involve them.
They can be the source of your stress, can be difficult, could be racist or disrespectful and so on.
All of those things contribute largely to the challenges you will face.
Still, never give up.
You have a long way to go.
Furthermore, if you want to become a truly effective and competent leader, you should never lose hope that you will get through the challenges.
What are your challenges with your team as a leader?
Do share your experience with us!