Leading can be very daunting, tiring, and emotionally, mentally, and physically draining, especially for businessmen who are new to the concept of managing people who will manage their business, but it shouldn’t be. At the very least, it shouldn’t feel that way constantly. Jodi Hume shares some of her insights about leadership decisions, myths about leadership, and the reality behind those myths.
When it comes to personal development, three things will really stretch you and form you to be better: parenting, marriage, and leadership. Yes, leadership can be challenging, especially in business, because sometimes, two opposite things can be true and valid at the same time. And it falls on you as the leader to figure out how to balance those things.
Leadership Decision in Business
Entrepreneurs will always become leaders. There’s no getting out of it. Once you start a business and your business begins to grow, you will need to hire the help of other people. And with hiring comes the responsibility of leadership.
You can’t do as a leader to always bend and shift every time something is wrong in your business, with your employees. You have to define who you are as a leader, identify which things are healthy and works for you, and you have to stick to those as a framework for leading and make sound leadership decisions.
Faulty of Leadership Decisions
When things go wrong, leaders need that discernment to evaluate how much of this was your fault and how much of this is somebody else’s fault and balancing out how you will resolve those mistakes.
There are always going to be beyond your control. But what you do have some sort of control over, you have to maximize to benefit yourself, your employees, and your business.
While this makes leadership a challenge, many myths out there make leadership harder than necessary and cloud your leadership decisions. Let’s take a look at those myths and try to pick them apart.
Myths About Leadership and Making Leadership Decisions.
1. It is lonely at the top.
While it is true that leadership can sometimes make you feel lonely, propagating this philosophy that “It is lonely at the top” feeds into the thinking that once you lead, you HAVE to be lonely. This is not really the case because you have your team to have opinions to make a good leadership decision.
Yes, it can be lonely. Because it feels like you have less people you can talk to about your problems regarding the business. You can’t go to your employees to talk about your insecurities or talk about your issues with other employees. That will be counterproductive and harmful in every way. It feels like the list of people you can go to; to process your stress and discuss the messy parts of managing a business has become shorter.
But while it can get lonely, it shouldn’t be. You don’t have to keep on being lonely when you’re at the top. You can’t talk to your employees, sure, but you need to find people, friends, mentors, peers, like-minded people who can process things with you. You also have your leadership team, who can act as your business support, and to some extent, some form of business therapy. Of course, you can’t always drag your leadership team around to talk through the emotional roller coaster of balancing things. But there are specific people you can go to for specific issues that you need help with for some processing to make a good leadership decision.
2. Being a leader means knowing all the answers.
It is one of the common mistakes that leaders make to assume that they need to have all the answers and that all of the solutions have to come from them, which is always the thought about leadership decisions. You don’t need to have all the answers!
Talk to your team. Ask for their input. They see things from a different perspective, and sometimes they put something on the table that you would have never thought of or considered. Yes, you have to provide structure. Yes, the final decision rests in your hands. But it helps to get your team involved. It empowers them, trains them to think more broadly, and eases some of the load off of your shoulders.
It is like imagining your business as a ship. You are the captain, but you need your team (your crew) to help you steer the ship. Let your crew see some of the icebergs so they can help you steer more efficiently. You can direct them easier when they know some of the issues.
Common fear #1
If I ask them for their opinion, they might expect that I will go for their suggestion.
It happens. But holding on to that fear is more counterproductive than dealing with this situation. As long as you are not the type who will ask for their opinion and then deliberately do the exact opposite, it is sometimes okay to butt heads over this issue. You are still the captain of the ship. Sometimes their suggestions work. Other times it wouldn’t.
Common fear #2
I know people are really busy, and I am not good at asking for help.
Yes, people can be really busy, but their livelihood is at stake as much as yours. They will make time. And as for the issue of not being good at asking for help, then you are in for a rude awakening. Leadership is basically all about coordinating and channelling help. You hired people because you need help. Leading means needing help. You won’t have anyone to lead if you didn’t ask for help in the first place.
Common fear #3: If I can’t fix everything, I am not doing my job as a leader.
Doing everything yourself can feel fulfilling. In a way, it gives you a sense of control. And that would work when your business is just starting. But once it grows, there is only so much you can do. You hired people because you are limited, both in time and in expertise. So, no, you can’t fix everything. Trying to do it all by yourself is not leading. It is being an individual contributor.
Wrap your team into some of the bigger conversations, ask them what they think. However, remember to communicate openly. It doesn’t work if you’re trying to manipulate them into reacting a certain way. Your job is to control the conversation’s direction, but don’t control the way they think. You are in charge of the hard conversations and business.
3. The myth of hustle: Burning the candle from both ends is the noble thing to do.
Leaders often think they have to grind themselves to the ground in order to say they gave it their best. Yes, entrepreneurs need to have that drive to make things better, do more to improve processes, products, service, etc. and raise the profits of the business. But you don’t have to do it at your expense all the time.
Think of it like climbing Mt. Everest. You don’t sprint to the top. You do it in bursts, pause, set up camp and acclimatize, before making progress to the top. When you don’t pause, you will feel overwhelmed by all the decisions you make to become indecisive.
Two common types of indecision could affect your leadership decisions. One is dragging your feet because you know it is a bad idea and doesn’t know how to get out of it. The second is you know it is a great idea. So great, in fact, that it terrifies you.
But there is a third type of indecision among business leaders that they are often unaware of: when you are so exhausted or depleted, physically, mentally, or emotionally, that you can’t decide. When you are at this point, it is usually a good time to pause, rest, and rejuvenate your mind so you can come back, bringing you’re A-game.
It doesn’t always have to be a weekend getaway or a week-long travel. Sometimes it can be in the form of disconnecting for a few hours, recharging your batteries by playing games, unwinding, reading a book, taking a short trek or hike.
Our brain needs rest and space, and sometimes it can feel like an indulgence you can’t afford, but they are not. They are critical. You have to be in your best shape, well-rested, to be creative. You have to be able to think and make decisions in your best state of mind.
You might think that depleting yourself is noble, but it is actually negligence to your business. You are doing yourself, your business, and your employees a disservice when running at half-mast mentally.
Most people, not just leaders, think that energy is infinite. You can’t just always grit your teeth and forge on through. When your energetic capital is depleted, take time to rest and get more capital so that you can get back to the thick of things.
Think of your energy like a fuel tank. It can be physical, emotional, or mental energy. If it is not good for your car to run on fumes, it is not good for your body and mind. The scariest thing leaders can do is to go to work, not knowing that you’re depleted and not on your top form.
It is not sustainable to manage your business when you are constantly depleted. Whenever there is too much going on that demands your attention, and it seems like you can’t possibly take a break, that is when you need a break the most. Pause and take stock of what needs your immediate attention and which ones can wait. Get yourself grounded.
You want to avoid getting to the point of “business depression” when things you used to be passionate about and bring you joy in your business no longer matter because you’re too tired and empty to care. Mind your energetic capital.
Managing people and communicating as a leader
Remember that your team has its energetic capital too. Sometimes, what we deem as misbehaviour from our employees (reporting to work late, missing meetings, etc.) is a sign that they are depleted too. It is a problem that needs to be solved, and it can be solved through healthy communication.
Assuming intent without proper communication won’t help fix the problem. Approach the subject and speak to them side-by-side (not across the table, like a principal scolding a student for misconduct) either physically or metaphorically.
Give them permissive space (empathetic problem-solving). “It’s okay that we are having this problem. Let’s just talk about what’s at the root of it and see if it is something we can get to the bottom of.” Remember that you can’t abandon your employees for the business. But, you also can’t abandon the business for the employees. As a leader, it is your job to find a balance that will meet the needs of both.
This improves professional relationships and empowers both you and your employees. And think about the loyalty this approach will foster. It also benefits your business because they get what they need, you get what you need, and the business gets what it needs. Plus, it is easier for you too, because you don’t have to figure it all out on your own.
The bottomline is, leadership can not be lonely. You are human too. You get tired, you get frustrated, and you will need others to hold up a mirror and remind you to rest. You will need to air out your frustrations and help you walk through your ideas. You don’t have to have all the answers, and you will need people you can be vulnerable around.
You also need people who can see the problems the way you do and help you pick them apart. Make sure you are asking the right questions so you can pursue the right solutions and leadership decisions you should portray.
It can be a friend, a peer, a mentor, or a professional who will help ground you and walk you through decision support. Tap with us on Instagram for more quick updates or you can join our exclusive community on Facebook.