Last week we discussed leadership failures and how to overcome them, but those big defeats only come once in a while; the daily challenges that you my face can be equally daunting if you don’t go in with the right game plan.
Your day at the office is a busy one and you probably haven’t ever taken the time to single out your biggest obstacles; the things that slow you down or lessen your morale without you even realizing it. It’s important to identify your challenges so you can learn how to work with them instead of working for them.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We need to start with identifying; overcoming comes later. Here are some things to try.
- Set Parameters
An obstacle is a detriment to your success; a roadblock in the way of your effectiveness as a leader. We aren’t talking about your employee coming in late this morning, but if he or she is late every morning and you have to waste a part of every day disciplining them to no avail, that might be an obstacle. Their lateness is a detriment to your success a leader, and your consistent attempts to right the wrong is blocking your effectiveness with wasted time and worn-down morale. Before you start identifying problems, set the parameters of what you’re looking for in defining an obstacle versus what is simply an annoyance.
- Look Around
This part of the plan will focus mostly on nouns. Scan the room, browse your meeting calendar, shuffle though old emails; are you thinking of any people, places or things that fill you with doubt or hesitation? Are too many department meetings taking up your time for no real reason? Or maybe the amount of meetings are fine but they’re always held in inconvenient places. Are any members of your team behaving in a way that is less than helpful to the overall goals of the company? You may think you would already know the answers to these questions, but once you take the time to examine your working environment, you might learn something new.
- Compare and Contrast
Once you have an idea of the factors that might be holding you back, imagine a world where those things didn’t exist. When you compare the current situation to the ideal situation, do you see vast improvement? It’s important to note that by saying vast improvement, I don’t mean you get to have time to grab a doughnut on the way to your meetings now or that you now have an excuse to fire your least favorite person. I mean do you see an overall spike in team morale, a better balanced schedule or the potential for more productivity? If so, you’ve done a good job identifying your obstacles.
- Ask Why
This may sound existential but it’s important. If what you’ve identified as an obstacle is as bad as it seems, why does it exist? If it’s a system or process that’s ineffective to the company’s production, consider why it was used in the first place or why it’s still used, despite its lack of efficacy. There might be good reasons for seemingly unhelpful things to exist, so see if you can think of any.
- Develop a Solution
This is the ultimate checks and balances system of identifying your obstacles; figuring out how to eliminate them. If what you’ve identified as an obstacle is truly in the company’s favor to avoid, now is your chance to suggest how to do that. Does an employee need to be redistributed within the team? Can you propose one longer weekly meeting to replace several shorter daily meetings? Think outside the box but within reason and be prepared to offer plenty of support for your suggestions.
So you’ve identified your workplace obstacles and maybe you realized things weren’t so bad. Going though these 5 steps can help you gain a greater perspective on your work situation. It will give you a clear picture of what might be tripping you up and how you can fix it, but it might also silence some ongoing concerns of yours with a little more insight and consideration. Perhaps you realized something wasn’t so bad and there’s already a work-around in existence, you just have to use it. Otherwise, now’s your chance to speak up.
Next time we’ll discuss ways you can overcome the obstacles you’ve identified if the answers aren’t as obvious as you may want them to be.
Do you want to motivate and lead your staff more effectively? My executive coaching services can help you hone your leadership skills and clearly define your goals and objectives.