If you have ever been in a leadership role you realize sometimes it can be lonely being a leader.
It was just a handful of years ago where I was at my wits end. Our sales growth as a team stalled out.
It felt like no matter how hard I worked the worst things became. I was in a leadership funk. It even got to the point where I felt my job was in jeopardy. I was stranded on the leadership island. It sucked! One of my friends said to me, to tough it out. Well I soon begun to realize toughing it out is what caused me to be on this island in the first place. Then my worst nightmare became a reality. I had found out that behind the scenes my replacement was being sought out. Just like being stranded on an island I felt like I had no food, no water, heck I didn’t even have a raft. It was probably some of the 3 most stressful days I have ever encountered. Now I had a new dilemma. Do I talk to my boss and let him know that I knew the future plans or do I continue to gasp for air and hope things changed? What would you do? I reached out to a good friend and colleague. He told to start trusting my intuition. Go with my gut!
I went with my gut and even though it was uncomfortable making that call to my boss at the time it was the best call I could have ever made. Everything was exposed in the open. I gave my two cents and he gave his. This conversation gave me freedom to approach my position like I had nothing to lose. What happened after that fateful conversation about my job status? 6 short months later I went from being a so performer to one of the top performers in the company. To this day I am glad this happened. It wasn’t my boss’s fault I was in that position. It was mine because I was on the leadership island.
So what can you do when you find yourself on Leadership Island?
- Believe it can be better.- Remember you were put in the leadership position because someone had the confidence in you that you can lead and get the job done. Realize it may take some time and some real change for you and your team. Your leaders truly want you to succeed.
- Get out of the office! – When I sat there in despair I realized that my office became my jail cell. Find a way to spend some more time with people and less time alone. If your primary duty is to lead and develop others your schedule should reflect it! Now I am not talking about spending more time having conversations about what’s on the latest spreadsheet. Have got to know you conversations. Get involved in volunteer groups. Find ways to develop relationships with other people who do the same thing you do, even if you don’t do it the same way. There were countless times when I simply reached out to a colleague in my company simply to connect and I would leave that conversion re-energized and renewed. (They had zero clues how valuable our conversations were and what they meant to me.)
- Take a day off! –As crazy as it may sound being available at all hour’s day for my staff, my superiors, and my clients was a badge of honor! It became one of the biggest reasons for my downfalls. Your day off should be your day off. Off doesn’t mean on-call or online; it means doing exactly what you and your family want to do with no obligations. Disconnect from you electronic leash, I mean your cell phone, ipads, etc. I realized I had angry family and friends. Friends and family who were angry at my work because of ME not saying no or at times not having the courage to say no.
- Realize you can’t be everything to everyone. Learn to say no. I wanted to be everyone’s hero. I soon learned that if I continued to be everyone’s hero I was on the path to becoming zero.
- Take a vacation– Have you time. Everyone wanted my attention. Then a mentor said when do you have Tony time. He said taking time for YOU is one of the most valuable things you can do to reenergize.
- Find a mentor/ coach– One of the biggest traps I encountered was that I thought I had arrived and figured things out. Then a mentor told me. “Tony, you realize there are other neighborhoods.” If you aren’t connecting with someone further down the road than you are I realized that you could be on the path for major troubles.
- Find a mentee-Just as you need someone who has been a little further down the road, you need to give back to someone who hasn’t traveled as far. You usually will find that you will gain as much from this mentor relationship as your mentee.
How you respond to the threat of isolation and finding yourself stranded on the leadership island is up to you. The point is change doesn’t happen on its own. You have to believe something better is possible and make a plan to alter the slow slide into loneliness. You are called to be a leader however who said you have done it alone.
Equip, Educate, Empower, and Encourage others to become better leaders!
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