I wonder how many will look at this title and think to themselves “I don’t want to admit that I am afraid of anything." If you are in leadership or moving into leadership, like all of us, it is a question you will grapple with. But like so many other things in our society there is an expectation of control and confidence, so we push that question down, deep into our psyche. We have come to believe that leadership should unpack quickly like everything else in our society. The reality is that growth as a leader comes in baby steps and becoming comfortable with this question is the first step to becoming the awesome leader you want to be.
Dealing with Doubt
The reality is that overnight successes are rarely that. They are the culmination of years of hard work, trial and error and most of all perseverance. The truth is that many of us are not comfortable leaders. We suffer from “imposter syndrome,” that nagging doubt that we are only playing the role of leaders and that if people really examined our leadership closely they would know we are frauds. We focus only on the things we feel confident about and so often what that means is we can generate awesome reports or studies, manage the paperwork and so on but struggle internally to master the "soft" skills around managing the performance of the people on our teams.
Different Strokes for Different Folks And The Masks We Wear
Some folks will compensate for these feelings through bluster and bragging. Some (many) will compensate by using promotion as a means to distance oneself from dealing with staff and becoming “paper busy.” (I have seen supervisors who are just a door down from an Operations Center who never set foot in that room.) And some will try one approach or another looking for ways to find balance in their leadership. Whatever the case may be, comfortable with their leadership, many people are not. And we hide behind masks when we are not.
A New Skill Set
To be fair it is not your fault. We live in a digital era that is governed by industrial revolution era leadership models. What does this mean? Companies are set up to bring people in because of their technical skills and when they reach the top of their pay band or grade the only option left to giving them a raise is to promote them into leadership. The net result is someone gets moved from a place of technical expertise to a position requiring an entirely different set of skills, leadership skills.
How Do We Prepare Leaders?
Typically, the only training or preparation for this role is the example set by the person who previously held that position. (Let that sink in for a minute.) Many companies spend a lot of time working on issues around succession planning at the C – Suite and Executive leadership levels yet give little thought to similar processes for leadership at other levels.
It is true too that companies now have started utilizing leadership training programs to help in this process yet fail to connect the program with the objectives of the company and the actual needs of its leaders. For many it is a prerequisite to take a leadership course as part of moving into leadership but these courses are often only an HR version of “pencil whipping,” a checklist to say that it has been complied with.
Confronting Our Fears
How much thought has gone into helping that new leader understand the company goals and objectives? Or how many get training on dealing with that difficult employee (and we all have them) who will rob them of time and energy? Do they show them how to know they have had a good day or that their team has had a good day? Have they received grounding in knowing the core components of leadership? Or, have they been shown how to confront those aspects of leadership that they are afraid of?
These are the things we are going to explore for the next while on to how to become an amazing leader by confronting those fears. These tools are not new or necessarily unique but they are effective. Performance Leadership – Think About It!