In the leaders’ journey, situations arise that cause us to experience uncertainty. We feel uncertain when methods employed successfully in the past no longer work, we don’t know why, and we begin to question our competency to lead.
As a person who leads others, I have times of great tension. We all go through peaks and valleys. Be encouraged. I’ve yet to encounter an individual who doesn’t experience highs and lows as they walk their journey.
For those of you going through these times today, you are feeling the tension and perhaps anxiety which bring discomfort. I get it.
Watch out! It is during these times when life and circumstance press in on us that we may make choices that cause us to lose our way.
What are the signs that we may be losing our way?
Unresolved inner conflict
Unresolved inner conflict is different than just some indecisiveness in a particular area of life and work we are thinking about. It may be caused by a traumatic event, our own past acts, or people in the past that have hurt us.
Our journey of leading will certainly attract new external pressures that will come to test us. They will push on those areas that we have not resolved and we will be tempted to say or do things that we regret.
Response: To continue to lead confidently, take steps to resolve inner conflicts as they are discovered. Resolution allow us to clearly see the path and not stray.
People make mistakes. The best leaders learn from them. If we are not learning from poor decisions, we risk losing the credibility to lead. Effective leadership requires sound judgement. Trust is the foundation for connection and people will risk following those who they feel have poor judgement.
Response: Evaluate a recent misstep with openness and willingness to change with individuals you trust and so you can experience growth.
Our team expresses concerns
When our team begins noticing behaviors that seem out of character, this should trigger us to action.
Response: Examine how our current path is fulfilling our purpose, aligning to our core values, and adding value to people.
We find ourselves taking the easy path
If we are not facing some resistance, we are probably taking a well-trodden path. Over time, this will lead to regret as we will not have built up the endurance to overcome difficult challenges that will surely present themselves in the future.
Response: Recommit to doing work that matters even when that means taking an untraveled path.
What you are doing today reflects what you will become.
Adopting values of others
If we ever find ourselves beginning to emulate people who live contrary to what we believe as I wrote about in leaders to avoid, can ruin our credibility and take years to recover.
Response: Stop this way of thinking and behaviors as soon as you recognize them. Apologize to others and ask for their help if they see a re-occurrence.
How do we get back on track?
When we begin to realize we have drifted or have even derailed the fact that we have recognized our predicament should be celebrated because now we can do something about it.
While we may feel regret for things we’ve done or how far we find ourselves from where we want to be, we can’t change the path we have already walked, but there is hope in a new future and it begins with one step. The shepherd leader accepts responsibility and takes it.
Seriously. Get quiet. Breathe. Listen.
Reflect. Walk. Exhale. Pray. Hug your family. Let them hug you back. Take in all that is good in the world; what is good in your life; what good you have accomplished. Doing these things will begin to let go the negative and bring opportunity for positive energy to flow.
Seize the moment and realize that there is hope and you will be okay.
Remember your center
Think about who you are (who you truly are) and how you got here and who you want to become. As you think deeply, what is the one word that resonates within you? For me, it is connection. What is yours?
Need help with this, you might check out Evan Carmichael’s book, “Your One Word” for guidance.
Questions may help you find your center:
- Where did you come from?
- What do you value most in others?
- What is most dear to you?
- When you felt most alive, what were you doing?
Look for your star
Who do you need to become? What is the one thing you would do if there were no boundaries and money was not an issue? How could you make change that helps the one or the many that only you can do? When you think on these things, the light you are to follow will become brighter.
At this time the destination is less important than the direction. Your star will keep you progressing in the right direction.
Living our values regardless of circumstance is what means to be an authentic leader.
What happens now?
We focus our efforts on the next best step.
Now that we have caught our breath, have found our center, and have a focal point, it is up to us to take one step in that direction. When we walk in the light that we know, we move us closer to the one we have purposed to become.
The good news is if we find the courage to take one step, we can find the strength to take the next.
When we are where we are supposed to be and focused on the right things, the genius of our creator shows up and the change we want to make becomes possible through us.
To lead well, we must lead ourselves well first.
When we know who we are, our actions will follow and we will not lose our way. People who identify with us and see a brighter future in the direction we are traveling won’t be far behind.
Shepherding: The art of becoming the leader others want to follow