Leadership is all about faith; faith in yourself, faith in your team and faith in your strategy.
I have found that one of the most difficult aspects of being a leader is keeping calm when all around me things are going haywire. Now don’t get me wrong - one of my key skills is acting like a swan, I am brilliant at looking incredibly calm even when I am not, but to be honest that is not very good for you long-term. When you have adrenaline flowing for what feels like 24/7 you are potentially causing yourself untold harm. Added to which you can’t really be an authentic leader when you are constantly putting on a brave face.
My plan has therefore been to stop using my swan strategy and start to be more honest with myself and others about how I feel, but without going too far the other way and oversharing, or being so vulnerable the team would lose respect for me.
This was going well, I found that saying what I was feeling usually helped to dissipate the feeling quicker, and I was able to be more objective too.
Lately though, one particular problem would not go away, and no matter which way I looked at it, no matter how much I analysed it, I could not see what I could do about it. The pressure was building up, I needed to fix it, and if I didn’t... well my catastrophizing was having a field day, which only served to fuel my worst fears.
Even worse was that I started to put even more pressure on myself to find the solution and another way out of the situation by constantly telling myself that, if I continued on the same track, I would be mad. In fact, the phrase “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again and expecting a different result” was almost becoming a mantra for me.
I then realised that needed to get back to basics and actually put a bit more faith in myself, my team and our strategy. That didn’t mean that I started a daily affirmation about how I could trust myself, or that I just delegated the problem to the team, or even that I started reaffirming and repeating our strategy, what it did mean was that I had a bit more:
Faith in myself – I gave myself more time to think, trusting that I know our business, myself and the problem better than most people, and that if I relaxed a bit more, gave myself more time, it would give my brain the space it needed to find a way forward.
Faith in my team – they were all too aware of the problem anyway, but I shared my concerns with them, I asked for their perception of the situation, their insights, their view, their support and their ideas until I was able to be clearer about what was possible and what was definitely not possible.
Faith in our strategy - to be honest, I was starting to doubt the strategy; such was the weight of the situation. I began to doubt if we were on the right track. And then it hit me, I had been confusing tactics with strategy. It was the tactic that was the problem not the strategy at all. Realising that gave me new hope, renewed strength and determination.
Not one of these things solved the problem, but all of these things together took me from the impossible situation, to a possible solution (or two!). Will it all work out? Well that remains to be seen, but the big lesson here for me is to just have a bit more faith!
Stephanie Morgan FLPI, Director of Learning Solutions, Bray Leino Learning
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