In life and work, there will always be challenges.
Challenges provide an opportunity to self-reflect and grow because you’ll never grow unless you are uncomfortable or trying something new.
As a leader, there can be a lot of pressure on your shoulders. You’re probably trying to avoid challenges as much as possible to keep things on track. But avoiding challenges could be steering your team in the wrong direction.
There are 6 steps you can take to center yourself as a leader and turn challenges into opportunities.
1. Lead yourself first.
It takes a lot of energy to do the work that you’re doing. Leading yourself starts with getting good quality sleep, eating nutritious meals, moving your body for blood flow, and understanding your own needs to improve your energy levels.
It also involves processing your emotions so that they don’t cloud your judgment and pausing to ask yourself questions like, “What is most important to me right now?”
Not making the time to lead yourself first or waiting for life to slow down before you do can lead to a lack of focus, forgetfulness, and mistakes.
If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to leading yourself, our Resilience Coaching helps high achievers create a lasting impact at work and at home. It’s a great place to start to create sustainable success.
2. Step back and refresh your perspective.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day stress of work that you may forget to step back and look at the bigger picture.
When you fail to take a step back, you risk leading your team in the wrong direction.
Are you or your team leaders in the trenches everyday helping the team put out fires? Or are you and your leadership team standing 12 feet away to survey the perimeter and everything that’s happening so that you can offer clear direction that helps the team work towards a common goal?
Taking the time to gain a different perspective by stepping back helps you build success for the company beyond tomorrow. Long-term success comes from zooming out and thinking ahead.
In our coaching programs, we help you gain a new perspective, stay honest about what’s happening, and be curious enough to find the answers you need.
A few questions that you can ask when zooming out include:
- What do we want the end result to look like?
- What challenges will we face along the way?
- What do we need right now?
- How is the team doing?
- What does the team need to succeed?
3. Realign with the original plan or update the plan.
After doing self-reflection and zooming out to gain perspective, it’s time to ask yourself if the original plan is still going to get you to your goal.
Nothing ever goes 100% according to plan. It’s okay if your original plan is no longer the best way forward. Learning from your experience and implementing those learnings will make your team (and your plan) stronger.
Some leaders can become emotionally attached to their plan because they worked hard on developing it. Having a coach in your corner can help you identify all of the lessons that your current plan helped you learn and revise your plan or develop a new one.
Questions to consider:
- Did the challenge(s) we faced along the way create a detour?
- If no, stick to the original plan.
- If yes, what is the step-by-step plan to get things back on track?
- Do we need a new plan?
4. Create achievable milestones that are clear.
A plan is not complete without clearly marked milestones.
Milestones are smaller goals that ladder up to achieve your overarching goal. If a goal is too big or too long-term, it can create stress and a lack of motivation for your team.
To help your team focus on meaningful work that moves you closer to your overarching goal, create milestones that can be reached in smaller increments of time.
You could break the plan down into quarterly goals, but three months is still a long stretch of time. If you can break your goals down into “sprints” – monthly or even weekly milestones – your team will know exactly what target they’re aiming at when they show up to work.
Once you’ve got your milestones clearly laid out, create a plan of how you’ll celebrate with your team when you hit each milestone. Celebrating achievements along the way will help keep momentum and motivation high!
5. Involve your team and help them understand the milestones.
Great leaders involve their team members in the planning process. Yes, you need to come up with the strategic plan, but you also need to make sure that your team members are on board, that they believe in the plan, and that they understand every step of the plan.
After you create your plan, revise and edit the plan to make it as clear and simple as possible.
Keeping the plan clear and simple will help your team stay focused over the long-term.
Spend time with your team or individual team members to make sure they fully understand and believe in the plan.
Answer any questions they might have, and keep an open mind to receiving feedback. Your team members are an asset, and they may have insight from their roles that you don’t.
6. Measure your progress regularly.
If you keep your plan simple and create clear milestones, then measuring your progress will be easy.
But just because it’s easy doesn’t mean you’ll do it.
Taking time to review progress can feel unimportant in the moment, but identifying a lack of progress or progress that’s going in the wrong direction early will help you create more sustainable success.
Build a system of progress review into your week so that it becomes an effortless part of your process and get ready to celebrate your team as they hit their milestones.
Remember, challenges are inevitable.
Challenges come in all shapes and sizes, but the one thing they have in common is that they keep on coming.
Challenges can look like:
- Urgent deadlines
- Competing priorities
- Client or shareholder demands
- Managing virtual teams across multiple time zones
- Family commitments
That list could go on and on because in today’s world there is no shortage of stress and things that need to get done yesterday.
So use this list of 6 steps to center yourself as a leader and turn challenges into opportunities with intentional action.
Great leaders have Coaches they trust and can support them along the way
If you’re looking for more, our coaching programs help you get to the roots of your challenges to create sustainable change.Whether you’re a leader looking to step it up in your career or you need help engaging the people on your team, it all starts with you taking action today.