“It’s unbelievable. I’ve explained this to her twice in the last year. He has to be reminded about the same report… again. Why am I dealing with the same challenges and issues this year with my team that I was last year? AAAAAAGH!” Have you ever been here? It can seem like a bad workplace version of the movie Groundhog Day. With the same problems & conflicts flying up in your face and eating away precious time, it can be incredibly frustrating and overload us with stress. So what can you do? What should you do?
Stop Complaining About Being the Leader.
That’s right, stop whining. You’re the leader. Leaders lead. Having a pity party because things aren’t running smoothly with a “Stepford Wives” staff is a waste of time. Yes, you’ve told them, showed them, explained to them, modeled for them. You’ve written procedures, left instructions and offered counsel. Yet sometimes it just doesn’t seem that all your efforts have even broken through their epidermis, let alone found root in their mind. You’re irritated and disappointed. We get that. But now is the time where you are needed most to lead. Publius Syrus said, “Anyone can steer a ship while the sea is calm.” So stop being a crybaby about it.
Decide If You Really Do Want To Be The Leader
Stop and consider this for a moment. Are your problems mounting because your team doesn’t want to follow, or are they because you don’t want to lead? The Peter Principle states that the members of an organization where promotion is based on achievement, success, and merit will eventually be promoted beyond their level of ability. Is that what has happened with you? I’ve crossed paths with people who were in leadership roles that were excellent in their craft or field, but were terrible in leadership roles in that arena. They had been so good at what they were doing that someone thought it intelligent to put them in charge. Many times this works out great, but for others it’s a disaster.
You need to decide for yourself whether or not this describes you. Trust me, if you don’t decide and it DOES describe you, someone else will ultimately decide you aren’t the right person for that leadership role! It might be a supervisor, the consumer or even your spouse, but someone will ultimately let you know. Do the self-assessment now and avoid the pain later.
Step Up or Step Out
So you’ve thought it through and come to a conclusion. Maybe you hate being the leader. You don’t like the stress, the conflict, the constant teaching of some of the same lessons over and over. Let me be the first to give you permission to leave. Get out. Find a new job, a new role or a new life. You’ll be doing yourself and your team a favor. Don’t let your pride or your salary stand in your way. I’m not suggesting you walk out the door today, but start purposefully building an exit strategy.
But wait, maybe you’ve decided that you truly do want to lead. Great! So do the things smart leaders do when faced with the kinds of challenges we’ve mentioned. Look for the root cause of the repetitive problems. Seek counsel from wiser and more experienced leaders. Make sure that you’re communicating instructions, expectations and accountability matters clearly. Focus on being proactive rather than reactive. These are all probably things you already know. So do them. Suck it up. My guess is that when you do, you’ll find you aren’t the leader you thought you were – you’re so much better!
Do you have any advice or words of wisdom for a whiner?