One of the first things you learn as a leader is that the buck does stop with you. It's your responsibility to steer the ship and to deal with the challenges that will inevitably crop up from time to time. That's just part of the deal!
Some issues are almost inevitable for every leader, and it's up to you to prepare for them. Here are five of the most common challenges you are likely to face.
1. Learning the Difference between Being Respected and Being Liked
People may not always like leaders, but they should respect them. It's your job to make decisions that benefit the organization, the team, or the project. Not everyone will be happy with that. But if you try to please everyone, you will inevitably fail in your job. Choose being respected over being liked.
2. Office Culture
Sometimes office cultural issues can get out of hand. An office can become a hotbed of gossip and rivalry if not carefully managed, which can undermine everything you are trying to achieve.
Set a good example, and don’t gossip or encourage gossip. Make it clear that talking or criticizing colleagues behind their backs will not be tolerated.
Strive to create a positive atmosphere based on pleasant, open communication.
3. Dealing with Failure
Failure of some kind is inevitable. There will be a deal that comes unstuck or a product that flops. Maybe your project overruns its timelines, or an external event might jeopardize the whole thing.
You need to help your team deal with failure, analyze what went wrong, and move on.
4. Communication Issues
Human communications can be fraught with problems. People can reply to an email in the heat of the moment, not think things through before they snap back with a smart or angry comment. Or maybe someone is too anxious or scared to be honest about whether they can meet that deadline or not.
Be prepared to have to step in and smooth things over from time to time. Be clear in your communications about what you expect, what’s acceptable, and what’s not. And stay calm if things go off the rails.
5. Staying Focused
When you’re the top guy, everyone wants a piece of you. Everyone wants their priority to be your priority. Part of becoming be a good leader is learning not to get distracted from your primary purpose.
It’s your responsibility to stay focused on the project, the team, and the organization. You need to deliver the outcomes that people expect of you. Keep your eye on the prize and your hand on the tiller!