|Image(s): http://www.freedigitalphotos.net" target="_blank">FreeDigitalPhotos.net|
We've all been there. Sometimes it seems like every way you turn there is another road block preventing you from accomplishing what you need to do. For leaders, navigating obstacles is not only part of the job, but also one of the most important avenues of exercising leadership.
Quite frankly, it's easy to be a good leader when everything is running smoothly; it's when the difficulties begin piling up that leadership becomes the most valuable and the best teaching opportunities for your team. That said, bumps in the road are the worst time to lose your cool. So how do you stay in control and on top of your game when it seems like everything is falling apart?
I'm a huge fan of the technique of cognitive reframing. This concept is the practice of stepping back and reevaluating challenges from a different perspective and approaching them from one that is less volatile. The most natural way humans approach situations, especially stressful ones is by evaluating the situation and acting upon it. What we don't realize is that our evaluations come from years of experience and we use those past experiences to create short cuts in our judgement to quickly assess situations today. The problem is, our minds don't naturally distinguish our poor judgements from our good ones. Therefore when we have incorrectly evaluated situations in the past we are still using those short cuts to evaluate our current circumstances - we call this "jumping to conclusions" and this is where we get ourselves into trouble.
I believe the single most valuable skill a leader can practice is to train yourself to look at every challenge as though it is the first time you have experienced it and from the perspective of how you would counsel a friend that was going through it. When we do these two things we remove the personal aspect of the challenge that prompts us to react emotionally and we allow ourselves to use our most current knowledge and experience to evaluate the problem. If we allow ourselves to handle a situation based on our experience of a similar situation we had when we were 15, we cheat ourselves and others from the benefit of our more experienced and mature selves.
Attitude is Everything
"Our attitudes are our most important assets"
John C. Maxwell
Once we reframe a problem we need to make sure we view the obstacle and the solutions in a positive light. In John Maxwell's famous book, Developing the Leader Within You he states that "a leaders attitude is caught by his or her followers more quickly than his or her actions." In all honesty, exhibiting a bad attitude is taking the easy way out and should not be an option for leaders. Our attitude is infectious and a poor attitude is poison that is extremely difficult to recover from. Positive attitude is the only environment that real solutions can be created from, so why waste time and energy wallowing in negativity?
Road blocks are "business as usual" in the world we live in, whether you are in or out of the workplace. How we approach challenges is the defining factor of our leadership ability and sets the stage for our success or failure.
It's Your Turn
Do you have any additional suggestions for positively and productively navigating road blocks? If so share them with us! I look forward to hearing your success stories!