‘Tis the season for reflecting, on the year that’s been and the one that’s to come. 2016 has been a full and thrilling one for me personally (Hello, pregnancy!) and deeply challenging for so many of us all (Goodbye, icon after icon… sad face.).
Here are the biggest areas where I’ve seen business leaders struggle and thrive this year. May you find insight and hope in others’ journeys and take heart. We’re in this together.
- Life Change – Navigating huge personal transitions and leading big business change.
- Emotional Management – Managing strong emotions when they are intensely passionate about their vision/organization/project.
- Team Leadership – Supporting growing teams while honoring personal needs for renewal, growth and sustainability.
- Personal Well-being –Repair broken relationships with their own well being in a comprehensive, meaningful way. This theme underpinned the rest of these challenges.
This year, my clients have recovered from cancer, moved parents into assisted living homes, faced new challenges raising special needs children, moved across the globe, lost spouses, and ended marriages. For each person, it’s taken all they had to withstand the pressures and intensity of these life transformations.
Unfortunately, their organizations demanded an equal, sometimes greater, intensity toward their contributions as leaders. These same individuals led multi-million dollar strategic investments and actively groomed the next generation of high-potential talent. They cared for their teammates and stood strong in the face of leadership vacuums. They managed global teams creating breakthrough innovations that will change the planet. Literally.
And they do this all on the same tank of fuel.
Sadly, these brave folks have been hammered by two storms: the one inside their own bodies/hearts/minds and the one inside their organization. With the exception of a notable few, they didn’t get much sympathy or support. Sometimes, their work colleagues didn’t even know what was going on, other than noticing the extra bags under their eyes and slower-than-normal response times.
My clients struggled to hold it all together – as we all do when we’re battling personal change and business change at the same time. I wonder, is this our new norm?
Many of these talented leaders also spearheaded some vital and exciting new initiatives for their companies that they care deeply about. When they faced resistance and challenge, their frustration often leaked out in the form of defensiveness, irritation, or edginess, despite their best efforts to hide it under a mask of professional restraint. (These are the same folks dealing with loss, grief, trauma, recovery, and tectonic change.)
One can only hold so many big emotions at any given time. Passion takes up just as much weight as anger. So, what happens when someone pushes us too far? How do leaders hold it all, communicating genuinely and professionally at the same time? Even the best of us need occasional help learning to navigate these strong feelings, especially in the workplace.
In 2016, my clients were challenged by the capacity of the team beneath them. In order for the leaders themselves to grow, their teams would have to grow – as individuals and as a collective. Comprehensive team development, coaching, and mentoring, as well as managing personnel transitions can take exorbitant effort and focus.
Notice: does team leadership take up 80% of your headspace or calendar? Should it? Find the right allocation of time and energy for a focus on team growth: this will produce a strategic differential for you. For some of you, that may mean reducing the noise a dysfunctional team is demanding by making some hard decisions or critical investments. For others, that may mean significantly upping your focus on your people – thoughtful investments here provide serious ROI for your leadership down the road.
As you take the next couple of weeks to reflect, take stock, and recharge, here is a framework from my partners at Yoke Consultancy that can support your thinking. To use it, score your level of satisfaction in each well-being category from 1-10. Add up your total score in the center circle.
From here, prioritize the category that you believe will make the biggest difference for you next year – be sure to factor in your personal values, leadership vision, and work/life goals. Designing your work and life around the principles that matter most to you, the things that sustain and renew you, and the ideals you hold most dear, will set you up for the ultimate win: sustained performance and fulfillment.
When you’re ready to help make sense of it all, I would love to help you find your path (or stay true to it). Happy traveling, sojourners!
Model: © 2016 Yoke Consultancy Limited.