Deciding upon a leadership role has likely been one of the best professional choices you could have made for yourself, but it certainly comes with its own unique “opportunities”. Leadership is not for everyone. But, for those who understand the beauty in getting through the most difficult challenges, the satisfaction of turning someone’s warped perspective around, and the absolute delight in watching someone you have mentored blossom in front of you, it's PRICELESS.
For all those wonderful, heart-warming feelings, there is another side of leadership, which can be daunting. Change and influence can sometimes seem impossible and often futile. But, remember, it takes time for a seed to grow. It is inevitable that in the process of leading people and enforcing organizational expectations that some are going to react emotionally and that can be challenging. So, are all emotional responses from employees a bad thing? Not necessarily.
Here are a few things we may not have realized:
• Emotional responses demonstrate buy-in and enthusiasm for the business direction
• Emotional responses communicate interest and concern for the outcome
• Emotional responses show they are still listening
• Emotional responses project an interpretation of the current environment and circumstances
• Emotional responses imply satisfaction (or lack of it)
Some kind of response is better than none. It is the preparation for, and the response to, those emotional responses that makes the difference in the quality of the work environment. Remember, when a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower. We have to place some value in the response and be glad that we weren’t met with apathy, which brings about a much more difficult situation to resolve. Apathy is the equivalent of disengagement and that’s never a good response to be met with.
Our job is to have our finger on the pulse of the team. We must be constantly tending. If we are not functioning as a thermostat and consistently adjusting the temperature, we will find ourselves managing blowups. Being in crisis management mode constantly is not the way to effectively lead a team. If you have found yourself fatigued, intimidated, or resentful in your leadership role, you’re not alone. But, this perspective cannot continue because you won’t be helping anyone, most of all those who you are charged with leading. So, consider those emotions you are feeling as red flags, which indicate that you need to make a major shift. While it’s completely normal, it’s not at all effective.
As we shift into a more effective mode, we need to constantly be in the practice of tending to our garden. Get out into the workplace and ENGAGE. Your team needs to see you as accessible and transparent. Ask questions, get involved, and listen to their opinions. When engaging, be open and honest with your answers. People want to feel “in the know” and trusted, so it’s your job to create that culture. You get to choose what seeds you plant within the team; so plant seeds of positivity, trust, and abundance.
Leadership is one of the most valuable roles you will ever step into. If you open yourself up to cultivating relationships and authentically engage with those you are leading, you will start to see the benefits of this incredibly fulfilling choice. Remember, the testament of great leadership is found in those who plant trees under whose shade they may never sit. Keep planting, leader-- you are changing lives.
“If your vision is for a year, plant wheat. If your vision is for ten years, plant trees. If your vision is for a lifetime, plant people.” Chinese Proverb