Leading When The “A” Game Ain’t There
If leadership was a perpetual mountaintop experience, then everyone would be successful. Unfortunately, that is not the case.
There are a myriad of situations in which we have an off-day, and the “A” game is a wish more than a reality on certain days. In fact, as I write this, I am contending with a head cold and concentrated sinus headache which makes it hard to focus. There are many factors that get in the way of us doing our best, some of which include:
- Life situations (family emergency, loss of loved one, car accident)
- Financial concerns
- Weather and it’s affect on our moods
- Daily disruptions
- Weighty news (world events, local situations, internal company happenings)
- Worry and anxiety
- Job insecurity (through various reasons)
- Doubt and feelings of ineffectiveness
All of these and many more become barriers in our ability to feel like good leaders, let alone lead effectiveley that particular day.
So how can we overcome those days in which we may not even feel like leading, or have the emotional or physical strength to lead? Try these encouraging thoughts:
- Set aside your pride and admit your weakness. Let your boss, or your team, know that you’re having an off day. You’l be surprised how receptive others can be and will support you and even uplift you in those times.
- Do your best, and allow yourself some slack. There are days where perfection is not a goal. Instead of worrying and making your concerns worse, allow yourself to have an off-day and be thankful for the work that you can accomplish.
- Take a day or two off. So many leaders don’t allow themselves to take all of their vacation time, and even don’t take a personal or sick day to regroup and reset themselves. Sometimes its necessary to take some days off to find your “A” game. When you do so, you’ll find yourself rebounding quickly rather than the slow recovery of working through things.
- Dig within yourself and grind it out. There are times to admit weakness, but other times to find your inner strength and slug out the day. Many times once you get going, your troubles, even a physical lapse, can evaporate for a time when you commit yourself to the task at hand.
- Remember the big picture. Think on the vision and mission you are working towards. Having that mental picture of your goals can sometimes diminish the struggle you’re facing at the moment, and may even put it in its proper perspective.
- Focus on others. That proverbial saying that someone else has it worse than you is quite often very true. By serving and reaching out to others, you take your mind off self and put your energies into others and their needs, and it is remarkable what you can draw from that. Your purpose can grow and you can re-calibrate what you’re truly striving to accomplish in your teams.
- Don’t complain. Letting others know you’re sick or distracted because of a personal situation is fine, but if it gravitates to complaining you will be a toxin to your team. Keep as upbeat as possible, and if you’re really down, take some time off.
- Seek counsel. Reach out to your mentor, boss, or trusted confidant (spouse, HR personnel, friend, etc). Talk through what you’re up against. These people are willing to assist you and have a commitment to work with you in your development.
- Don’t be a martyr. Don’t become so self-absorbed that you point to your struggles as a sacrifice to the team. That breeds resentment and takes away from the impact your team members contribute. Remember, your goal as a leader is to build others up so that if you’re not available, the ship can still sail smoothly.
While these thoughts may not eliminate your challenges on a particular day, they do help you to better cope as a leader. Keep in mind, that how you cope with your work-life balance sets a tone and example for others to respond to those circumstances in their life.
Allow yourself the opportunity to be fully human and lean on others from time to time. Effective leadership builds teams that support others when someone is lagging behind. Yourself included.
How else can you respond to an off-day? Share your thoughts below!