It’s not easy to be a leader right now…
But it doesn’t have to be this hard
It’s not easy to be a leader right now. But it doesn’t have to be as hard as we make it.
Most leaders think their job is to make their people happy, to have answers to their questions and to solve their problems. Right? Seems reasonable enough.
Except for the fact that this job description is entirely unreasonable. And the pressure we put on ourselves in trying to fulfill it actually inhibits our ability to lead effectively. Let’s unpack this.
I am supposed to keep everyone happy. How? For one thing, everyone wants and needs different things to be happy. Secondly, you don’t have the power to make anyone happy, except possibly yourself. Sometimes. And third, happiness is not our baseline. It’s an emotion that comes and goes, just like frustration or sadness. Setting happiness as the standard pretty much guarantees a culture of toxic positivity. Better to welcome the emotional honesty of your team—without trying to fix their feelings—and insist on telling them the truth in return, even when it might be hard to hear.
I need to know all the answers. Nope. No one does. No one can. Most of the issues we are facing today don’t actually have answers. These issues are both new and complex, which means you’re figuring it out one best guess at a time, just like the rest of us. This is good news! If you aren’t supposed to (because you can’t possibly) know the answers, you can relax and get curious about what’s possible, for yourself and for others. Invest your energy in finding the right questions, and be ready to welcome insights and ideas that challenge the status quo as well as your comfort zone.
I have to solve all the problems. Let me know if this sounds familiar: “It’s all up to me.” “If I don’t do it, it won’t get done.” “I’m the only one who can do it right.” Every high-achieving leader I know hears this voice in their head. The pressure it creates is immense, but let’s be real—so is the ego boost. Effective leaders must beware of becoming too identified with achievement. If in your mind, your value is equated with your results, little room remains for the contributions of others, or for your own vision. So you aren’t actually leading, you’re merely achieving. Solving all the problems yourself might feel like success—or security, anyway—but it doesn’t scale.
Look back over these three limiting beliefs. Does one of them feel particularly yours? Or do you carry all of them in your work, in your life? Which one can you start to release this week?
Leadership is easier than we think it is. If we can only get out of our own way.