What Leaders Know
Leadership has its highs and its lows for sure. It's a pathway of constant learning & development as we navigate our way through the complexities we face when working with people. Here is what I've come to know as a leader.
1. The most challenging part about leadership is the people
Not everyone has a work ethic or level of resilience like you. Remember you're in a leadership position because you've worked your rear end off to get there. You've fine tuned your communication skills, you've had dozens of challenging conversations, you've sat in many meetings with a variety of people, you've worked late nights, you've been under the pump at times and you've had your fair share of sleepless nights worrying over work issues. You're as resilient as hell and you work hard.
2. You need a high level of self regulation
Just because you feel like crap, you still need to smile and greet everyone with a cheery hello. No-one wants a grumpy, moody leader. They're looking to you for inspiration, motivation and direction. I've experienced an incident in my personal life in the last 12 months that enveloped me in a level of sadness I didn't know existed. Very few people would know how hard it has been and how I've felt, because I keep it well clear of work life. My personal life is mine alone and not for anyone at work to have to deal with.
3. You have to walk your talk.
This is the fastest and easiest way to earn respect. Sitting at your desk working through your endless 'to do' list (which we all have by the way) in your air conditioned office earns you zero kudos in your workplace.
The more you can get in and see what your employees are dealing with everyday, the sooner you can work with them to find solutions, and speak to them in their language about their very real challenges.
4. Everyone looks at the leader
Your facial responses are noted by people. Keep your eye rolls and glances at your fellow senior leadership team members during meetings, to yourself, someone is always watching you. You are modelling the culture of your workplace every minute of the work day.
5. The behaviour/action you walk past is the behaviour/action you accept
A tough lesson but an important one. If your staff see you ignoring something that requires attention, before you know it, they think it's okay too. A 'If it's good for her, its good for me too', attitude starts to infiltrate your workplace. Be proactive and address any issues that compromise your workplace's values and integrity.
6. It is impossible to keep everyone happy
Trust me, I've tried and it is an impossible feat. You can do everything in your power to make the workplace a positive environment to work in, with robust well-being measures in place, ample time for people to do their work and a bit of fun on the side, and someone will still complain. I've come to the conclusion that happiness is an inside job - each individual is responsible for their own happiness. One leader is not responsible for everyone being happy at work. It is a collective responsibility.