How many complaints did you field today? How many recommendations were given to you? How many requests did you consider? How many emails came to your inbox? How many texts did you receive? How many voicemail messages were left?
On any given day there are a zillion things others need from you, but let me ask you… what did you need to hear today?
The burden of leadership is a given but it seems that the weight of it is a little extra daunting right now. A lot is being required of you. In my coaching with executive leaders of organizations of all kinds, I’m finding that there are 5 things leaders need to hear right now.
Trust your instincts.
I’m not saying trust your ego or be dismissive of wise counsel. But I do think that you’re in your specific leadership seat for this season and you need to trust what you’re sensing. Be discerning about what is right for your organization and trust that.
One of my favorite stories from the Bible is when David is preparing to take on the giant Goliath. Before he goes charging the giant, Saul, the leader of the army, gives David his armor to put on. Seems like a wise thing to do. David puts on the armor but after walking around in it for a few minutes he says, “I can’t go in these”. What worked for one leader wasn’t what would work for this leader.
Too often we look around to see what other great leaders are doing and rather than go with what we know, we try to mimic what someone else is doing.
Be discerning and trust your instincts.
Don’t go it alone.
Leadership is lonely. I’m not going to even try to convince you that it shouldn’t be that way. It is. It’s part of the responsibility, but I deeply believe it shouldn’t be isolating.
While you are ultimately responsible, you need others around you to bring insight and perspective. In my own experience, the greater my leadership responsibility has become the MORE coaching and support I need. It takes an entire team of people to keep me healthy and thriving as a leader. This team around me includes my husband, family, deep friendships, pastors, counselors, and coaches.
And honestly,… this has been hard for me. I’m fiercely independent and at times the realization that I NEED other people has made me feel weak and less-than as a leader. But more and more I’m convinced we’re not designed to go it alone.
Double-down on your team.
Your team needs you and you need them. Crisis either unites us or divides us. You as the leader have a tremendous amount of influence over whether your team is divided or more united right now.
Remind yourself of what is good about your team. Reflect on their gifts and strengths. Consider how they have adjusted and sacrificed to stay on mission over this past season and double-down on what is good about your team.
When were you collectively at your best? What values guided you and kept you aligned?
Identify the best of your team and make a commitment to keep investing in that.
(For more help with this I encourage you to enroll in our Culture Works:Values Course which will help you define the values that align your team to achieve your mission.)
Give yourself a break.
Literally and figuratively you need a break.
Some of you actually need to take a vacation or at least a day off. Most of you need to take some pressure off yourself. You have put impossible expectations on yourself and as a result, you are mentally and emotionally exhausted.
One leader told me that he feels like he has to make up for lost time. As a result he’s putting crazy pressure on himself and by association his team. I get it. I’ve done it.
You are not going to make up for lost time, you’re just going to push yourself to a breaking point.
Instead, give yourself a break. Ease up on your expectations. Revise your goals. Recalibrate your expectations.
Fight for joy.
I’m using the word fight deliberately. Everything is working against you experiencing joy in your leadership right now.
We’re not leading through an easy season. Challenges crop up every day.
You must fight for joy. You must fight for a healthy perspective. You must look for what’s good and celebrate that.
Your mindset and perspective shape the culture of your organization. Don’t let that be a burden. Let that be permission to find joy and fight for it. In their book, Rare Leadership in the Workplace, authors Marcus Warner and Jim Wilder say that, “leaders who learn to run on the fuel of joy find a sustainable source of motivation for themselves and others that never runs dry.”
Which one of these 5 things did you most need to hear today? What else would you add?
Jenni Catron is a writer, speaker, and leadership coach who consults churches and non-profits to help them lead from their extraordinary best. She speaks at conferences and churches nationwide, seeking to help others develop their leadership gifts and lead confidently. As Founder and CEO of The 4Sight Group, she consults with individuals and teams on leadership and organizational health.
Jenni is the author of several books, including Clout: Discover and Unleash Your God-Given Influence and The 4 Dimensions of Extraordinary Leadership.