Five occasions where leaders battle with the person inside


Taking the good with the bad is a prerequisite for any leader. You’ll have to do lots of things you don’t want to just because they’re required of you, but it doesn’t mean you’re not built the same as everyone else and wired in the same way. Here’s five scenarios where you’ll find yourself trying to unplug the emotional chord to deal with something you’ve just got to deal with.     

The conflict

If you’re the type of person to retreat when conflict comes your way, this is going to be difficult. Not many people take pleasure in immersing themselves in other people’s problems but as a leader, you’ll be called upon to act as judge and jury to unpick the mess. And there’s no time to play favourites. You’ll have got to know your team well and have a pretty good idea who’s just downright difficult to work with at times. Putting your emotions aside and falling on the facts is part of the art.   

Bringing the bad news

We live in a fast paced environment and businesses change with it; they merge, they partner, they restructure and they ‘streamline.’ And in any one of these scenarios, there are winners and sometimes losers. There’s nothing worse than having to tell someone you’ve formed a strong relationship with that their position is no longer viable, or, it’s changed beyond all recognition and you simply don’t think they’ll be the right fit. Delivering that news in a professional manner along with some human-like empathy – yes – it’s a tough one.      

Are you the friend or the boss?

Anyone stepping up the ranks or starting a business will feel the pinch here. For the first time ever, you’re not equal to those around you. Well – let’s be more specific about that – you’re equal as human beings but that’s where it ends. As soon as you set foot in the office, good old fashioned hierarchy prevails. It has to – nothing would get done if accountability wasn’t broken down at various levels and there was no one at the helm. But as you craft your ‘boss’ persona (because it isn’t natural for everyone), remember, it’s never a smart idea to rule with an iron fist; it’s a real killer for motivation and morale. You need to strike the balance between authority and someone people will actually want to be around. It’ll make for an awkward end of year party otherwise.     

Feedback is for everyone

As a leader – it doesn’t mean you get to dish it out all the time. Or at least, if you think that’s what feedback is all about, you’ve probably got bigger issues to think about than this one. All team members should have the opportunity to tell you how they think you’re doing as a leader. Of course, no-one likes to have their shortfalls dragged out in the open, but rather than arguing against them (or reaching for the tissues) this really is a golden opportunity swallow what you’re given and work out what you’re going to do with it to hone your skills.    

Staying positive

Leadership can be an isolating experience. At the helm of the business, no one is going to protect you from the bad news or try to motivate you when times are hard. That has to come from within. But when you hit those moments where you want nothing more than to scream into a pillow or break down in tears, please keep it at home. A team that sees the boss on a downward slide will go down with it. Remember, it all comes from the top down.