All eyes turn to you. The tension in the conference room is escalating, threatening to derail an otherwise productive meeting. Your team is waiting to see how you respond to the tension between two department heads that can never seem to compromise, and you suddenly wonder how you can address this in the moment without adding fuel to any other fires. You knew this leadership position would challenge you, but it seems that every day you encounter a situation that you don’t feel prepared for.
What if instead of looking at leadership challenges as obstacles or shortcomings, you saw them as opportunities for personal and professional growth? Being a leader comes with its own set of hurdles and overcoming them is crucial for growing self-confidence in your ability to lead. In this blog, we’ll discuss five common challenges leaders face in the workplace and how to overcome them.
1. Effectively Managing Time
As a leader of a team and in life, there is one resource that is more precious than anything else: time. A good leader knows how to leverage it effectively. On a normal day, you may have hundreds of tasks competing for your time and energy, so learning how to assign priority to everything that comes your way is essential.
Start by acknowledging that you can’t do it all, then decide what tasks you can delegate to your team to complete. Tap into the power of technology and automate everything that you can in your workday to streamline your workflow. Take time to set up systems for the tasks you do often to take them off your plate.
2. Motivating and Engaging Employees
A motivated and engaged team is a productive one, and a good leader is one who enables the full potential of their team. To create a positive work environment that lifts your team members up and sets them up for success, provide regular feedback and constructive criticism and make it a priority to recognize and celebrate success.
To ensure employees are engaged, give them clear expectations and work to understand the link between their personal goals and the team's goals. Identify what they are naturally good at and motivated by, play to their strengths, and consider the ways in which they most enjoy contributing to the team. This will build their self-confidence as well as strengthen their trust in you and the company. Most importantly, let your team know that you have their backs and trust them to explore the possibilities of what they’re capable of.
3. Dealing with Conflict
Unfortunately, conflict is inevitably going to come up in the workplace. If you sense tension between two team members or hear murmurs of disagreement about a change that was made, address it. Be an active listener who takes time to understand different perspectives and find common ground between them and you can resolve disagreements before they have a chance to escalate.
4. Making Tough Decisions
How will you decide who gets promoted, when your team gets a break, which individuals will go to the annual conference this year, or what resources your team will be investing in?
Your team should be at the heart of every decision you make. Start by gathering the data and facts, weighing the pros and cons, and seeking input from other key people on your team. Most importantly, be authentic with your employees without oversharing. If you can explain to your team why you have come to a particular decision and in what ways they will benefit from the outcome, you will be able to maintain support.
5. Leading Change
Change is inevitable and usually challenging. One of the most important things you can do as the leader of your team is to be the pacemaker for innovation. It’s not enough to be open and flexible to change, you should also be one step ahead of it so you can effectively lead your team through it. You can do this by communicating clearly and involving others in the process. Keep your main goal in mind, and make sure that the change you are leading will take your team one step closer to that target. Make a habit of regularly asking for feedback from your team members and consider this input when looking for solutions moving forward.
Leadership is a learning process, and overcoming challenges is a key part of growth and development. At Front Line Leadership, our 10-module program provides new and current supervisors and managers with a toolkit of practical communication and employee development tools that reduce conflict, improve employee performance, and enhance team effectiveness. To learn more about our programs, contact Front Line Leadership!