Facing the 3 Pressing Challenges of Leadership
The first pressing challenge of leadership is focusing on the thing that matters most.
People matter most.
In one sense, you are the person that matters most.
Nurture and develop you
as much as you nurture and develop others.
In another sense, others matter most. You make others matter when you:
- Celebrate effort and progress, even if outcomes fall short. You frustrate the hell out of people when you constantly press for more without celebrating effort and progress, too.
- Honor character qualities, not just performance.
- Recognize talent. Talk about their talents and skills, not just what they do.
- Press the stagnant.
- Encourage the discouraged.
- Develop people, not just skills. Think about the whole person.
The second pressing challenge of leadership is making what’s obvious to you obvious to everyone.
Make the obvious, obvious again:
- Say it again. What gets repeated gets remembered.
- Ask about it again. What gets asked about gets done.
- Celebrate it again. What you celebrate gets remembered and repeated.
If you don’t say it, no one knows.
If they can’t see it, it doesn’t matter.
If they can’t repeat it, it’s irrelevant.
The third pressing challenge of leadership is narrowing your focus.
Opportunities and challenges exceed resources.
- Amid all the urgencies, choose today’s priorities. Include problems, products, processes, and procedures, but, do something that demonstrates people matter, today.
- Keep yourself and others in their sweet spots.
- Choose to say no to lesser issues so you can say yes to what matters most. “No” sets you free.
What are the daily challenges of leadership and how can leaders best face them?
I think learning to implement the three recommendations under Make the obvious obvious again has had the biggest impact on my leadership. I heard Andy Stanley once say; Make it memorable, memorable is portable. You do a great job of this with your one sentence nuggets of leadership gold.
Thanks Eric. I absolutely love how simple they are…now if we can just do them.
Agreed. It’s why asking yourself the right reflection questions are so important. I calendar myself a personal weekly review. I have a questionnaire I work through. I figured out if asking my team the same intentional questions works for them….it will for sure work for me. I’m on the lookout for a local person to begin building an accountability relationship with that will also ask me these questions once a week.
I am mostly challenged about the fact that I matter most and I need to regard myself in that way. I always treat others more highly than myself that today I got my assiatant flowers and a gift and she despitefully called in sick because someone told her about the suprise I was planning for her today. I have been offered the position she wanted for the past three years. In addition she has been acting on the position for three o
occasions. My arrival has been challenging both on her and myself, I was hoping to ease things between us.
I felt disappointed as I looked at the flowers and wished someone could have bought them for me.
I think for some reason I have forgotten about “me” and stopped celebrating my own victories. I study and graduate and then I forget to reward myself hoping that someone will reward and celebrate with me like I always celebrate with others.
This is by far the most aha moment blog you have written for me.
I cannot wait to share my celebration moments of me in the near future.
Hi Kel, It can be easy to lose ourselves in leadership. Sometimes we need a reminder that neglecting ourselves eventually lowers our impact and shortens our career. Best wishes and thanks for sharing your story.
Good morning Dan,
“If they can’t repeat it, it’s irrelevant.” So true. I am amazed at how often we think that someone will just get it, without clearly saying what “it” is, repeating it, modelling it, and celebrating it. I threw in modelling as I believe it can also help make the obvious obvious. Plain and simple, communication osmosis doesn’t happen so share, demonstrate and celebrate to achieve desired results, especially people results.
Thanks for throwing in modeling it. Great add.
I agree with “honor character qualities, not just performance,” but I struggle with it as well. An org that honors qualities but doesn’t have a fair, objective, performance measurement system in place may end up with people of great character (team player!) getting absolutely nothing done that contributes to the organization’s goals and objectives. As with so many things, balance is the key.
Thanks Paula. Love how you extend and clarify the conversation. Somewhere along the line someone has to define and measure something! 🙂
There are leadership tips that are valuable and then there are leadership tips that add value. I think these 3 Pressing Challenges adds value. The concepts are simple and straightforward and for the new leader they will be able to connect the points without having to draw on a great amount of personal or professional experiences. Thanks for sharing this. It will get a lot of play from this learning leader. Jim
Clarity, simplicity, and applicability are the goals around here….:-) Thanks for jumping in with a good word.
Really like the point of “Say it Again”. That is important with people. Too often we make the mistake of thinking well I already said it once, but we all like it when we are told good job. That’s why we say it to our kids and grandkids all the time. We shouldn’t forget the most basic things with the adults we work with too. Praise goes a long way with them too. Great blog!
Funny how I wan’t thinking about “good job” when I wrote say it again… thanks for going where I didn’t… cheers
Definitely appreciate that you had celebrate the successes and learnings first Dan and aligned them with attending to self. It does feel counter to what we have been taught, don’t be selfish, but by ensuring that we are at our max, we can give more to others.
While ‘press the stagnant’ does create an interesting visual, also might suggest ‘stir the stagnant’.
Your three elements with the second challenge remind me of keeping Kotter’s sense of urgency sustained. Not a false urgency, but an energy toward the bigger vision and that does need periodic reminders as we get that day to day stuff building up and obscuring our vision.
And your third point speaks clearly to the dual vision, seeing the long view yet finding something right in front of you that speaks to the heart of why we do what we do…today.
Perhaps the self-perceived urgency of daily challenges are the one of the ‘reasons’ leaders find it difficult to give themselves permission to stop, breathe deeply, and reflect on what matters.
Thank you Doc… dang, why didn’t I think of “stir the stagnant”?? Much better.
Great post. Adding value to people through encouragement and positive recognition is so important because good employees/followers who are dedicated are hard to come by. Sometimes it’s so easy to get caught up with work that we forget to appreciate those who stand by us, support us, and help us to be successful on a daily basis.
I would say another challenge is overcoming fear and doubt. Many people don’t believe that we as leaders go through that, but we do. I think we learn how to do our work scared. In other words, we choose not to let the fear and doubt stop us from leading and influencing others.
Thanks for reminding us about those challenges.
Two things are very impressive and powerful for me in the post- If you do not say it, no one knows it, and celebrating efforts and characters. These two issues are prevalent at almost all the workplaces. People do not say it, because of many factors- shifting priority, mission drift, performance than effort, de-motivation etc. And perhaps the most dominant practices is fear. If they say it, no one will either recognize it or appreciate it, so better keep silent. Organizations are more outcome oriented. They believe and practices in result. They are not concerned about efforts and characters. Even if you say it, they will say- what is the achievement or what can we get out of it.
And it has a history. Organizational trends and workplace practices, demand, competition discourage such valuable attributes. Here, top management or leaders can play role by starting their initiatives. But it is not easy, they need to challenge prevalent practices, which might be sometimes costly. Now, here comes the leadership courage and character.
And it is easy for courageous leader to sail through turbulence or inertia. He or she is the real leader who set up example rather than following trends.