Being a leader means navigating the good and bad times. Ideally, everything runs without a hitch, and your job is easy. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. It’s up to leaders to fix problems when they arise, but research shows 77% of businesses1https://www.zippia.com/advice/leadership-statistics/ report a lack of leadership.
These bumps in the road can be difficult, but you’ll be a more effective leader after guiding your team around them. Let’s dive into leadership challenges and how you can use them to become a better leader.
What Are Leadership Challenges?
Leadership challenges are the obstacles leaders face, such as hiring and laying off employees, greenlighting and canceling projects, and stress in their own lives. Your shareholders may demand you lay off 100 workers to meet next year’s budget. Another example is your leadership role requiring long hours, taking a toll on your personal life. These challenges test your leadership skills and put you in tricky positions.
There are two types of leadership challenges—internal and external.
An internal leadership challenge is a problem that arises within yourself, coworkers, or the organization. These situations typically require direct action from you to resolve. For example, suppose two coworkers disagree about a presentation’s details. You can sit them down, directly hash out the issues, and come to a resolution.
External leadership challenges are typically more out of your control. They may stem from your industry as a whole and not your company. Say you run a car dealership. Your business has dealt with semiconductor shortages that shorten your supply, and this is beyond your control. Still, you must help your employees understand it and explain the problem to customers.
What Common Leadership Challenges Must You Prepare For?
Leaders worldwide face challenges daily. They take on leadership roles because they’re supposed to know how to fix it. Let’s look at 21 examples of leadership challenges and how to navigate each problem.
1. Recruiting talent
Leadership challenges often arise when it’s time to bring new people on board. Recruiting is exciting for your company because you meet potential new coworkers and see wonderful faces.
You need to identify the skills necessary for the position you’re hiring and pit them against the applications people have sent in. Then you have to manage the recruitment process by advertising the vacancies, conducting interviews, and hiring the chosen candidates.
Recruitment can get expensive, so showing leadership during this process is crucial for your business. Research shows companies spend about $4,700 per hire2https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/benefits/pages/shrm-hr-benchmarking-reports-launch-as-a-member-exclusive-benefit.aspx on average.
Suppose you lead a paper supply company, and you need to hire a salesperson. How do you use leadership to recruit talent?
During interviews, use your leadership skills to inspire confidence in the candidates. For example, try sharing success stories from current employees. Suppose you’re hiring for a grocery store’s corporate headquarters. Talk about the worker who started as a cashier and worked their way up to the vice president of marketing.
Ursula Burns began her career at Xerox as an intern in 1980. In 1999, she became vice president of global manufacturing and company president by 2007. Who’s your next Ursula? Instill confidence in your employees and share success stories at your workplace.
Pro Tip: Employ your leadership skills to recruit the best talent. During recruitment, guide the team through the interviews and determine what qualities fit your group best. Use our behavioral interview questions: 10 Behavioral Interview Questions to Reveal Someone’s True Personality
2. Retaining talent
Retaining talent can be a problem at many workplaces, leaving leadership wondering how to fix the problem. The Great Resignation has made employee retention harder, with 4 million Americans3https://www.zippia.com/advice/great-resignation-statistics/ quitting their jobs monthly. So, how do you overcome this obstacle in your office?
Your colleagues want a leader who fits their needs. Retaining employees starts with fostering a positive work environment and making people feel respected around the clock. Creating this environment starts with you leading by example.
For instance, look at Microsoft. CEO Satya Nadella has incorporated positivity into the tech company’s culture. He has pushed for diversity and empathy for employees, fostering an environment where people feel respected and empowered. Thus, Microsoft’s retention rate increased and now ranks ahead4https://www.comparably.com/companies/microsoft/retention of competitors like Apple and Oracle.
Pro Tip: Use leadership skills to keep your employees long-term. Acknowledge your employees’ work individually and specifically. For instance, instead of simply saying “good job,” specify what exactly impressed you: “Your presentation was really persuasive because you backed up your arguments with solid data. Good job on that.” This lets them know their efforts are seen and appreciated.
You can even set up a weekly or monthly “Employee Spotlight” highlighting an individual’s accomplishments, contributions, or unique skills. This celebrates achievements and allows the team to better understand and appreciate each other’s roles.
Want to show more empathy to your employees? Read our guide on how to be a compassionate leader.
3. Establishing Culture
For many employees, the workplace culture matters as much as the pay or the work itself. Research shows 46%5https://builtin.com/company-culture/company-culture-statistics of job seekers say company culture is essential when applying to a business.
Leadership plays a significant role in the culture. The same study reveals 91% of American managers say a candidate’s fit with the culture matters as much or more than their skills and experience.
Establishing a great workplace culture is a tricky leadership challenge example because it shows what the business stands for. An organization with a positive reputation will have a wider applicant pool when hiring new employees.
Google has an excellent reputation for its culture because it gives free meals to employees and has an on-site gym. Patagonia provides on-site child care and engages employees with outdoor activities. These tactics make employees happy and lower the risk of burnout.
Pro Tip: Find ways to use leadership and improve the workplace culture. Ask your employees what perks they want to see in the workplace. They may say free snacks, a health and wellness program, or flexible working arrangements.
4. Ethical dilemmas
One of the most challenging leadership examples occurs when ethical dilemmas arise. Are you willing to bend the truth to protect your company and possibly your job? Would you instead tell the truth and face the consequences as they arise? Ethical dilemmas challenge you as a leader because your choice could have significant ramifications.
For example, say you’re a physician at a hospital. One of your patients needs a blood transfusion, but they deny it on religious grounds. The nurse assigned to the patient wants to conduct the transfusion anyway.
Do you authorize the nurse to proceed and save the patient’s life? Do you respect the patient’s wishes and risk their death? The leadership challenge here is only one of many healthcare workers must deal with daily.
Pro Tip: If you face an ethical dilemma, consult fellow leaders on how they’d handle the situation. Gather as much information from both sides as possible and weigh the ramifications of each decision.
5. Change management
President John F. Kennedy once said, “Change is the law of life. Those who only look to the past or the present are certain to miss the future.” Kennedy makes it sound easy, but change is difficult.
Companies change often. Some employees may resist change, so it’s up to you and the leadership team to guide everybody.
For example, suppose you run a large grocery chain. You acquire a rival company in the area to increase your market share. The acquired business now has to change to fit your policies.
This process can be intimidating, so it’s your job to implement proper change management tactics. If not, you could face high turnover rates and stretch a tight budget.
One change management plan you can follow is Lewin’s change management model. Here, you’ll unfreeze the company by preparing the acquired one for changes. The change process involves training the new workers to your expectations and policies. Then you refreeze the workers once they’re on board and embracing your company culture.
Pro Tip: When it’s time for a change, use change management processes to display your leadership skills. Guide the new employees and convince them your policies are worth staying for.
Read on to find out more: What Is Change Management? The Ultimate Guide in 2023 (scienceofpeople.com)
6. Motivating the team
Employee disengagement has become problematic in the U.S. Research shows only 32%6https://www.gallup.com/workplace/468233/employee-engagement-needs-rebound-2023.aspx of workers are engaged. Using leadership skills to motivate your team and increase engagement is critical.
Imagine you run a sales department for a software business. Your colleagues are working hard, but they’re showing burnout. Their sales numbers reflect this feeling.
How do you re-motivate these employees to get them back on track? One tactic is to encourage them to take time off for vacation. You should also monitor their workload to ensure they’re not overwhelmed.
Workplaces that encourage time off often see motivated employees. For example, Salesforce—a cloud computing company—gives employees paid time off for volunteer work. Google motivates employees by letting them spend 20% of their time on personal projects at work.
Pro Tip: When productivity dips, find ways to motivate your employees. Encourage breaks and time off, promote self-care, and provide resources and support to reduce the risk of burnout.
And of course, read these juicy tips: 20 Awesome (& Fun) Ways to Motivate Employees (scienceofpeople.com)
7. Delegating tasks
Trying to be Superman can quickly get tiring. That’s why delegating tasks is critical for leaders. It’s a struggle for hands-on leaders, but delegation is necessary to foster a productive work environment.
In the 1980s, Michael Jordan entered the NBA and tried to do it all by himself. He scored well over 30 points per game for his first few years, but the Chicago Bulls kept losing in the playoffs.
How did Michael Jordan win championships? He delegated to his teammates. Coach Phil Jackson taught him how to trust his teammates and help them score. Jordan and the Bulls won six championships in eight seasons by letting players like John Paxson and Steve Kerr take the game-winning shots—not Jordan.
Let’s think about delegation in the workplace. Say you run a manufacturing organization, and it’s time to set the yearly budget. You could take it upon yourself to crunch the numbers and do the math. However, consider letting your top accountant handle it because of their financial knowledge.
How can you overhaul the product development process? Let the department take the lead on this change.
Pro Tip: Find ways to delegate responsibilities and empower those around you. For example, you could assign a team member to create social media posts or make phone calls. Let others participate in your workflow, lowering stress levels and engaging your employees.
8. Developing leaders
Hiring employees and onboarding new team members is critical for your organization. However, that’s only the first step in the journey. The next challenge is to develop your talent and influence your company’s next generation of leaders.
It’s important to individualize your guidance for each employee because each one has different strengths and weaknesses. Leaders listen and study each worker to find ways to help them grow.
The most direct way to prepare leaders is to hold leadership training programs. Here, your employees participate in seminars and workshops to improve their leadership and communication skills. You can also informally prepare leaders by letting them lead on projects or exposing them to different areas of the business.
For example, let somebody in your sales department participate in a quality control department initiative. Let one of your promising young workers lead a product development project. These decisions empower your employees and develop them into exceptional leaders like you.
Pro Tip: Identify your employees who have displayed leadership potential. Occasionally pull them aside and offer job shadowing opportunities. For example, allow these aspiring leaders to follow you for a day. Take them to board meetings, allow them to evaluate employees, and show them your thought process for making big decisions. How do you choose whom to hire for a new position? Do you make an outside hire or promote from within? Job shadowing allows you to train the next generation of leaders by demonstrating actions—not just words.
9. Imposter syndrome
Imagine winning multiple Golden Globe Awards, Emmys, and Oscars but still feeling like you’re a fraud. Tom Hanks has said he’s felt imposter syndrome while filming movies like “Road to Perdition.”
Imposter syndrome is unfortunate because it’s all in our heads. No matter our success, we think we only made it from pure luck. This psychological phenomenon causes us to doubt ourselves, and it’s a challenge for leaders and their team members.
Suppose you’re a publishing company executive. You’ve made it to the C-suite but feel like you don’t belong. How do you overcome these thoughts?
Reflect on your accomplishments to validate your success. It’s no accident you’ve made it this far—you led the publisher to the most profitable year in company history. You’re not a fraud.
Imposter syndrome can also arise in your team members. For example, say a new hire at your publishing company has displayed high promise, but their imposter syndrome makes it difficult for them to open up. Use your leadership skills to defeat imposter syndrome. Regularly check in with the employee and reassure them of their abilities.
Pro Tip: If you experience imposter syndrome, remember your achievements. You should also help others with their imposter syndrome. Set up biweekly or monthly touchpoints with individual team members to ensure their voices are heard, and they feel like part of the team. Use these check-ins to recognize their hard work and provide constructive feedback.
Want more information on imposter syndrome (and how to avoid it)? Check out The 5 Types of Imposter Syndrome (And How to Overcome It!)
10. Advancing Technology
Technology allows us to travel safely, keep food fresh longer, and connect with worldwide friends at the push of a button. Though, it evolves rapidly. What seems innovative in 2023 may be outdated by 2028. Leaders must stay on top of technological advancements or risk falling behind.
Imagine you lead a business making software for automobiles. Your organization is famous for its GPS systems that come with many modern vehicles. However, a rival enterprise has improved upon your GPS device and implemented entertainment and safety features.
Now, you’re in a bind. You need to one-up the competition or risk falling behind.
Your company may need to rethink its product development. Monitor the competitors to see what features they’re implementing. Ask your employees and clients what they want to see in future models. Be bold and willing to risk moving away from old tactics if you can introduce new methods.
Pro Tip: Evaluate the current technology at your workplace and upgrade to newer software and devices. For example, take advantage of mobile technology solutions. These applications allow employees to use their phones and tablets to access work-related information outside the office’s network. The apps include popular platforms like Trello, Microsoft Teams, and Evernote. Mobile technology solutions are ideal if you’re a professional who constantly needs to travel for work.
11. Managing the budget
Company budgets can easily climb into the millions, but there isn’t enough money to go around. Business operations quickly get expensive because numerous departments need funding for various projects.
When managing the budget, you’ll have to make tough decisions. This challenge is common for leaders because some people will be left unhappy.
For example, suppose you’re an office manager. The higher-ups are pressuring you to shrink the budget compared to last year’s. You’ll need to make cuts, starting with discretionary spending.
Say goodbye to the party planning committee and catered food. Your cuts may reduce or eliminate lower-priority projects despite their popularity.
Pro Tip: Evaluate cost-saving measures that will positively impact the entire organization. For example, reduce utility bills by conserving energy and utilizing renewable energy devices. Encourage employees to turn off appliances when not in use and utilize power-saving mode when possible. Open up the windows for natural light instead of relying on overhead beams. Unplug chargers when the device finishes charging because they still draw power from outlets.
12. Delivering feedback
Think about a time when you had to deliver negative feedback to an employee trying their best. Even your best workers occasionally get negative feedback. The leadership challenge here can be difficult for any manager.
Imagine you manage the salespeople at a car dealership. It’s time to give a performance review for your newest employee. The associate has in-depth car knowledge but can’t seem to close their sales because they don’t push enough. How do you deliver the negative feedback?
What your employees need to hear might differ from what they want to hear. Tell the sales associate what they’re doing incorrectly and suggest ways they can improve. Providing actionable feedback is an excellent way to shore up these issues. Assign them videos and other learning resources to close sales.
Indra Nooyi—the former CEO of PepsiCo—effectively delivered feedback to her employees. Biannually she would directly let people know where they slacked but used empathy to help her colleagues grow. Nooyi’s understanding helped employees grow at PepsiCo and move the company forward.
Pro Tip: When delivering negative feedback, be specific about what your colleague is doing wrong and show them how to improve. For example, one of your employees must catch up on a few deadlines for their reports. Show them your favorite time management strategies like the Pomodoro technique or the Pareto analysis. These methods help employees focus and be more productive in the office.
And if you want to really learn how to give an effective performance review, we’ve got you covered: 13 Best Tips For An Effective Performance Review (scienceofpeople.com)
13. Giving bad news
Being the leader means you get to deliver the good news. However, one of the biggest leadership challenges is delivering bad news to team members. Your enterprise may face recalls or discontinue a highly anticipated product that failed on the shelves.
Suppose you’re the leader of a large tech business. The shareholders have left you no choice but to lay off a thousand employees and make budget cuts. A thousand layoffs mean a thousand workers may have trouble paying their bills this month. How do you deliver the news?
Leaders deliver the news by being honest. No sugar coating is necessary for a notice of this proportion. Announce the information in an appropriate setting where employees can ask questions. Express empathy and support without sounding disingenuous. Providing severance and employment assistance will soften the bad news.
Pro Tip: When giving bad news, be honest and give employees all available information. Be supportive and ready to field all questions because some decisions may be unpopular. For example, your company planned a new food product, but supply chain issues disrupted the project. Now, you have to cancel it despite employee enthusiasm. Explain to your colleagues why you had to cancel the project and what the future holds. Let the employees know if you can restart the project later or introduce a new product instead.
And when you’re delivering the bad news, make sure to check for their body language to know what they’re really feeling: 16 Essential Body Language Examples and Their Meanings (scienceofpeople.com)
14. Handling conflict
In a perfect world, we’d all get along without issue. However, with 8 billion people worldwide, we’ll disagree on things. These disagreements could escalate into conflict between your employees. Physical confrontation is uncommon but isn’t unheard of. Conflict in the workplace is one of the toughest leadership challenges you’ll deal with.
For example, say you’re an office manager with 25 employees. One of your newest workers likes to listen to music and have videos in the background to concentrate. However, they’re disturbing two employees sitting around them.
The distracted workers have requested they lower the volume or turn off the sound. How do you handle the situation? Leadership is crucial here because you need to appease all parties involved.
Show empathy to everyone and embrace communication. You could move the distracting worker to an office alone or provide them with wireless headphones. These resolutions demonstrate you can handle conflict even when tensions are high.
Pro Tip: When conflict arises, consider all perspectives involved. Remaining unbiased and objective is crucial when deciding on resolutions. Find the solution that permanently fixes the conflict moving forward.
Here’s how to handle conflict responsibly: 9 Conflict Resolution Tips to Win An Argument Like a Jedi (scienceofpeople.com)
15. Leading remote teams
Remote work is on the rise and continues to become part of our lives. Experts say telework will comprise a quarter7https://www.theladders.com/press/25-of-all-professional-jobs-in-north-america-will-be-remote-by-end-of-next-year of professional jobs by the end of 2023. Many employees enjoy working from home, but this change presents problems for leadership teams—especially with communication.
For example, suppose you manage a remote team of financial consultants. One of your new employees has produced solid work. However, when you message or call them, they don’t answer.
Typically, you’d walk to their desk and see what’s happening. This worker lives 2,000 miles away, so that’s not an option now.
Inconsistent communication is a tall challenge for leaders. Here, you should set up a mandatory meeting with the worker. Thank them for their production but remind them of expectations for remote work. They must meet your standards of communication or risk further reprimand.
Pro Tip: Make communication your top priority with remote workers. Hold regular check-ins and ensure every employee feels heard. Schedule happy hours—when team members can socialize and take their minds off work. Plan game nights to keep your remote teams engaged despite the distance. For example, remote teams can play interactive online games like Among Us, Virtual Werewolf, and Scattergories.
If you want to learn how to lead with strength, check out: 10 Effective Tips On How To Lead A Strengths-Based Team (scienceofpeople.com)
16. Promoting teamwork
Another consequence of remote work is a dip in teamwork. Collaborating with your colleagues is challenging when they’re in a different state or country. Workplaces can feel isolating, and reduced collaboration can create stale and lonely work environments—even in the office.
Say you run a broadcast news station. You need collaboration from many sources, such as news anchors, editors, photographers, and broadcast engineers. You notice your team has been cutting deadlines too close because of a lack of teamwork.
You want to fix the problem, so you first switch the team to a cloud-based system where you share files. Here, the employees can work in real-time from anywhere—handy for journalists who are often on the go. Explain your expectations for collaboration and how it benefits the team.
Pro Tip: Foster a collaborative work environment by creating team-based projects. These initiatives require your employees to work together to find a solution. For example, start a philanthropic initiative where employees spearhead charity efforts with local groups. These initiatives allow your workers to collaborate with each other and the community.
17. Dealing with mental health
The last few years have seen a more significant emphasis on mental health—for good reason. The World Health Organization estimates 15%8https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/mental-health-at-work of working-age adults have a mental disorder. These issues can hinder productivity in the office and your workplace morale.
Mental health challenges present themselves in workers and leaders themselves. Suppose you’re a restaurant owner. You love your job, but you have numerous responsibilities on your plate daily.
On a macro scale, you need to outline your restaurant’s long-term goals and plan your strategies for the future. The daily operations include managing waitstaff and ensuring the customers have a delightful experience.
Long days and nights cause stress and anxiety in your work and personal life. How do you navigate these mental health challenges? Seek support from your friends, family, and others in the restaurant industry who understand your struggles.
Even the best leaders have moments that hinder their mental health. Sometimes, all you need is to get outside. Research shows 15 minutes9https://blog.cefaly.com/how-to-focus-on-your-mental-health-with-a-busy-schedule/ of sunlight three times per week provides vitamin D to stave depression and anxiety.
Pro Tip: Find the source of your mental health problems at work by identifying patterns and triggers. For example, do you feel stressed out by project deadlines? Does speaking with your boss give you anxiety? Solicit similarly experienced colleagues for advice. If necessary, talk to a mental health professional about your problems.
18. Diversity and inclusion
Companies worldwide are making diversity and inclusion part of their culture. Shifting to inclusive environments leads to more welcoming workplaces and broader talent pools.
A 2020 Glassdoor survey shows 76%10https://www.glassdoor.com/blog/glassdoors-diversity-and-inclusion-workplace-survey/ of workers say diversity is essential to the company they apply with. Emphasizing diversity and inclusion makes sense for any business, but it challenges leaders.
Imagine you run a construction company with 20 workers. Government data shows women only comprise 11%11https://www.bls.gov/cps/cpsaat18.htm of this industry. You want to diversify your workforce, so you start an initiative to hire more women for the job site. This decision could bring pushback from workers who resist change and resort to stereotypes. How do you change their minds?
Teach diversity and inclusion by showing the benefits. Share successes from diversified construction organizations. Emphasize that you’ll keep the same high standards while making the culture more inclusive.
Pro Tip: Give your employees an anonymous survey on diversity and inclusion to gauge their opinions. Use their suggestions to make everyone in the workplace feel included based on sex, race, religion, or other identities.
19. Displaying confidence
Leaders are some of the most confident people you’ll ever meet. What makes them so sure of themselves? It’s the experience and the belief they can achieve anything they set their minds to. Talking about confidence is easy, but not all leaders share this quality.
The lack of confidence is more prominent than you think. Use Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer as an example. Mayer has discussed her confidence struggles amid criticisms of her term. She said she felt pressure from critics and how their words negatively affected her confidence.
How do you display confidence as a leader despite criticism? Assurance starts with your body language. Standing up straight and making eye contact make a significant difference. Speak with a strong voice, and be clear with your words.
Pro Tip: Before giving a speech, practice in front of the mirror. Note how many times you pause, stutter, or stop making eye contact. Correcting these mistakes makes you a more confident leader.
Check out our article on speaking confidently and improving your public speaking skills.
20. Staying humble
Confidence is key for leaders, but you don’t want to cross the line. Too much can come across as sheer arrogance. Overconfidence can also cause you to slip and make avoidable mistakes. It’s essential to find the balance between confidence and arrogance by remaining humble.
Suppose you’re the new CEO of an automotive enterprise. You climbed the ladder by working hard and demonstrating knowledge of sales and the automotive industry. You can show humility by visiting the manufacturing plants and asking workers about their jobs. You may learn something new after engaging with an employee.
Balance confidence and humility by being a decisive decision-maker open to suggestions. Demonstrate that you value others’ opinions by being an active listener and asking questions—but be firm and assertive when it’s time to take a stance.
Pro Tip: Show humility by admitting when you make mistakes. For example, did you show up late to a client meeting? Show your team your vulnerability and admit your mistake. Improve your efforts to be punctual by setting reminders to warn yourself of the time.
21. Balancing likeness and leadership
Leaders are where they are for a reason. You know what it takes to move the organization forward. Some people might not like your decisions, which presents problems for many leaders.
Pleasing everyone is a challenging task and, ultimately, a losing battle. It’s hard to block out the critics sometimes, so you must balance being liked and being an effective leader.
Suppose you’re the president of a construction company. You’ve decided to switch your construction vehicles to electric machines, including bulldozers, skid-steer, and forklifts. The decision is unpopular among your seasoned employees. However, based on market research and talks with shareholders, you think it’s the right call.
Being liked and being an effective leader aren’t mutually exclusive. You can achieve both by building genuine relationships with your employees, clearly communicating your vision, and showing empathy for everyone’s concerns.
Pro Tip: When making unpopular decisions, lead by example and demonstrate you’ll personally oversee the next phase. As the construction organization’s president, you’ll address every challenge the employees encounter with the electric machines because you’re committed to this significant decision.
Leadership Challenges FAQs
Leaders face trouble daily, such as change management, communication, decision-making, and motivating teams. Times are tough in the workforce, and finding great employees is hard. It’s more important than ever to display your leadership skills and overcome challenges.
Overcoming leadership challenges is difficult, but there are some steps you can take. For example, you can communicate clearly with your team, seek diverse perspectives, show transparency, and learn from past mistakes.
The best way to determine your effectiveness is to look at the metrics. How has your team performed this year? How engaged are your employees daily? Get feedback from your colleagues and ask how they like your leadership style.
Improving your leadership is critical to your success. You can enhance your leadership skills by building strong relationships with employees, seeking feedback on your leadership, empowering your colleagues, and building upon your leadership knowledge.
You need to challenge your leadership skills to grow. You can achieve this by setting ambitious goals for yourself and the team, learning from your colleagues, and embracing all feedback from your colleagues.
Can Leadership Be Taught?
You can teach leadership in numerous ways. For example, you can teach leadership at universities and other learning institutes. Many colleges offer leadership degree programs for those who want to be in the next generation of leaders.
Teach leadership at work by directly mentoring employees and coaching them on leadership roles. Another way to teach leadership at work is by assigning books and articles to read. Encourage your employers to read books like “Leadership in Turbulent Times” or “Team of Rivals” by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Both books describe how presidents used their leadership skills to navigate challenging situations.
Can Leadership Be Learned?
Some people are natural-born leaders. They exhibit confidence, problem-solving, and persuasive skills at a young age. These traits can develop over time and turn you into an excellent leader.
You can also learn leadership skills. Attending seminars, shadowing your boss, and developing skills are only a few ways to boost your leadership abilities. For example, some leadership skills you can work on are communication and public speaking, problem-solving, decision-making, and collaboration.
How Can You Overcome Leadership Challenges?
Overcoming leadership challenges requires skills related to problem-solving and critical thinking. Some struggles may have complex answers that aren’t black and white.
For example, where do you make budget cuts? Your decisions will likely alienate your employees. However, you must make the best decision for your organization as the leader.
Conquering leadership challenges is, well, challenging. You can employ a few strategies, such as:
- Diverse perspectives: Making decisions isn’t easy—you need everybody’s perspectives on how to solve the problem. For example, imagine you’re promoting one of your current employees to a managerial position. It would help to have thoughts from other workers on how effective the candidates are.
- Communication: When challenges arise, it’s critical to have contact with everybody involved. Including everybody instills trust and transparency in your team. For example, if layoffs are coming, it’s crucial to tell your team the news when it arrives—no matter how good or bad.
- Flexibility: When problems arise, your approach must be flexible. New information or obstacles could hinder your current plan, forcing you to take a detour. Embrace the adversity and tackle it head-on. For example, imagine hiring a new supervisor, but your leading candidate drops out. How do you respond? You need to be flexible with plans B and C at the ready.
Can Leadership Styles Change?
Leadership styles can change over time as you gain experience and find better ways to provide guidance. For example, you may start as an authoritarian leader who switches to participative leadership over time or vice versa. Authoritarian leaders rely on themselves to make decisions, whereas participative leaders want other team members to contribute to the conversation.
Want to boost your skills? Check out our article on 8 skills all leadership trainings should teach managers.
Leadership Challenges Takeaways
Leaders always face challenges, and it’s your job to tackle them head-on. Here are the biggest takeaways for addressing leadership challenges:
- Leadership starts with transparency. If issues arise, you should be honest with your team and update them with information as soon as possible.
- Leaders spearhead decision-making, receiving credit and blame for the results. Take a measured approach toward your decisions by mapping out strategic benefits and weighing the pros and cons.
- How do you arrive at a decision? Leaders often take advice and perspectives from numerous sources inside and outside the organization. Well-rounded perspectives lead to better results.
- Leaders get the job done for their teams and build others. Develop the next generation of leaders by mentoring, job shadowing, and leadership workshops.
- It’s hard to do it by yourself. Leaders trust their colleagues and delegate tasks to them. Trusting others leads to success and decreases your stress.
Check out this article on how to be a good leader if you want to step up and show off your skills.
How to Deal with Difficult People at Work
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I’ll show you my science-based approach to building a strong, productive relationship with even the most difficult people.