In my 5T Leadership coaching practice I have the privilege of working with a lot of different leaders. They each have unique challenges, personalities, and contexts in which they lead. Leading well is hard in every one.
There are often common threads, however, among a majority of leaders – especially younger leaders – with whom I interact. They are often doing better than they perceive they are doing. Sometimes I can simply be a voice reassuring them in their calling.
Still, I have discovered that when we aren’t leading well there are usually reasons. Let me share a few I’ve observed. I think if we can find those underlying reasons we might be able to address them and lead better.
7 reasons you’re not leading as well as you could be:
You are doing the best you know how. I don’t mean that as a slam. It simply could be a reality. You only know what you know.
Shortly into my vocational ministry career I decided I needed more insight into church leadership. I went back to school and got another master’s degree in leadership.
It could be you need to go back to school, read more books, attend more conferences, listen to more podcasts. I don’t know the right recipe for you learning, but it could be time to invest in your leadership development.
You are intimidated by things (or people) you can’t control. Who really knows how to lead through a pandemic? Seriously. There are lots of opinions out there, but you’re actually having to do it – with real people. We haven’t done this before, so of course it is overwhelming. It could be you’re comparing yourself to others. I’ve also seen where leaders are intimidated by high capacity people on their team.
Bottom line – it could be you need to lower the expectation you’ve placed on yourself to know everything. Because you never will.
You have sacrificed people for process or progress. I’ve seen this one so many times. A leader is so bent on doing things the way the rules say they should that they forget leadership is really about people. Or the leader gets so caught up in growth that people become pawns in the game rather than true team members – partners in the mission.
Evaluate how you are viewing, treating, empowering, and caring for people you are trying to lead. People will always be the best asset in effective leadership.
The organization/culture shifted. You didn’t. The principles of good leadership don’t change often. The way you treat people, having good visions, strategies, and motivation. Those type things are constants.
But we must learn to adapt even our tried and true leadership practices to the cultural changes around us. Hopefully, COVID-19 reinforced that for most of us.
You refuse to ask for help. Perhaps I should have put this one first, because I certainly see it as one of the more common reasons for not leading well.
If this one pegs you, may I be a voice of encouragement (and challenge) to you. There is not a single person or leader who has all the answers. Not one. There is nothing wrong and everything right about seeking help from others.
You are facing internal pressure others know nothing about. This is a leadership quandary. Sometimes it might appear you’re not leading well – or leading at all to others. But they can’t see what you see unless they sit where you sit. You may be getting pressure to “lead more”, but there may be circumstances preventing you or keeping your from moving forward at the time. (And that might actually be good leadership on your part.)
I try to let teams I lead know some of the unseen stress or circumstances I’m experiencing they aren’t aware of, as much as I can. But you can only share so much. This is sometimes part the loneliness of leadership and why you need people outside the organization with whom you can confide.
You are struggling with something personal and it’s impacting them professionally. You can’t compartmentalize your life. It simply won’t work. The way you are in your home life will impact you at work. How you feel physically impacts your leadership. Our spiritual well-being is all a part of the way we lead others and whether or not we are at our best.
If you have struggles outside your leadership “job” get help there so you can lead better with what you’ve been called/tasked with doing.
My hope is for this to be an encouraging post. I truly love to help leaders lead better. It’s why I write this blog and record the podcast with Lifeway Leadership. If I can help you lead better, please let me know.