Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Leadership and Discouragement

Have you ever been discouraged as a leader?  Of course you have.  Here are some facts about discouragement.

1. Everyone Gets Discouraged.
Leaders are not immune from discouragement.

2. Discouragement is Contagious.
We all know what it is like to get around a discouraged person.  It pulls us down as well.  When you get discouraged as a leader, it can affect those you lead.

3. Discouragement Keeps Us From Being Effective.
When we are discouraged we are not what we could be.  We are not operating at 100% for those around us (our families, our co-workers, etc).  This is because discouragement causes us to focus on our self instead of those we are leading.  Discouragement causes us to take our eyes off of our goals, our dreams, our priorities.  It also causes us to take our eyes of the needs of those who are following us.

Following are some tips for dealing with discouragement as leaders.

1) Determine what is causing you to be discouraged. 
This may sound simplistic but many people feel discouraged and do not know why.  Identify the source of the discouragement so that you can determine what you need to do next.

2) Determine what you can and cannot control about the cause of your discouragement.

3) Take action on the things that you can control.
Ask yourself, "What could I do differently than I have done to this point to overcome this obstacle."  “What can I do now to change what is causing my discouragement?”

4) Eat right, rest, and exercise.
It is amazing how your physical health affects your emotional and mental health.

5) Encourage others.
When you encourage others, you find that the words of encouragement you give to them encourage you as well.

6) Count your blessings. 
Make a list of all the things for which you are grateful.  Often times, we focus on the one thing that’s wrong and overlook the ninety-nine things that are going well.  When you make a conscious effort to write down what’s good in your life, it helps you to put things into perspective.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Leadership and Stress

Stress happens. It is a part of life.  It always has been and always will be.  For those in leadership, stress can be especially problematic.  Because of your position, everything you say and do influences the lives of others.  Every decision not only affects the organization, but everyone around you.

I recently came across a Center for Creative Leadership White Paper entitled “The Stress of Leadership.”  Their study revealed that...

Work is a primary source of stress for leaders and that having a leadership role in the work place  increases the level of stress.

Most organizations do not provide leaders with the tools they need to manage stress.

Most leaders say their stress level is higher today than it was five years ago.

The fact is, leadership can be stressful.  Combine your personal stress with leadership stress, and you have compounded the pressure. How do you deal with stress?

Ten Tips to Reduce Leadership Stress

1. Prioritize! Don't try to get everything done at the same time. Attack the most important items first.

2. When you get interrupted by someone at work, put them on your schedule and tell them you will get back to them at an agreed-upon time. Maintain ownership of your own time.

3. Don't eat lunch at your desk, and don't bring work with you to lunch. Schedule some down time.

4. Use deep-breathing exercises or relaxation techniques to de-stress during the day. Go for a 20 minute walk every day.

5. Reduce the noise in your environment by shutting your office door if you have one. Take control of your environment.

6. Don't keep things bottled up. Let co-workers know if something they're doing is causing you stress. Address things calmly and professionally.

7. Eat right, sleep right and exercise regularly (with your doctor's permission).

8. Try leaving the radio off in your car on the way home. Many people find that the quiet helps them unwind and is a basic stress management practice.

9. When at home, don't dwell on work-related problems. Write them down, put them out of your mind and add them to your schedule the next day. Understand that there is a time and a place for everything.

10. Use peers and associates as a sounding board for discussing work-related issues and  minimize bringing issues into the family home.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

How to Productively Deal with Failure

In America we idolize success.  As a result failure is almost the unpardonable sin.  Nobody wants to fail.  It creates great stress on people.  The fear of failure can cause you to be indecisive.  You can't make decisions because you are afraid you are going to make the wrong one.  The fear of failure can make you a workaholic.  You never slow down because you're afraid of failing.  The fear of failure can cause you to lower your morals and ethics because winning is everything.

Here are three things you can do to productively deal with failure.

1.  Remember that Everybody Fails
Have you ever made a mistake?  Welcome to the human race.  Nobody is perfect.  We all make mistakes.  Everybody fails.  You are not perfect and you never will be.  You are not God.  The first step to dealing with failure productively is to accept that failure is a part of life.

2.  Realize it’s Not Fatal
We vastly over exaggerate the effects of failure.  Failing is not the end of the world.  The fear of failure is actually more damaging than failing itself.  Successful people are not people who never fail. They are simply people who get up again and keep going.

Failure is not failing to reach your goal.  Several years ago we set a goal to have an attendance of 800 on Easter Sunday.  We did not make it.  Failure is not failing to reach your goal.  Failure is not setting a goal.  Failure is not achieving your dream.  Failure is not having a dream.  Failure is not falling down.  Failure is refusing to get up again.  The founder of IBM, Thomas Watson said: "The way to succeed is to double your failure rate."

3.  Recognize the Benefits
Wise people know how to take advantage of failure.  They make the most of it.  How?

Let failure educate you.
Mistakes are simply learning experiences.  There are some things we only learn through failure.  Thomas Edison said "There is only one good idea in 100 so I want to discover the 99 failures as quick as possible."

Let failure motivate you.
We did not reach 800 on that Easter Sunday but we did have the highest attendance in the history of the church.  As a result we were more motivated than ever to reach 800. The very next Easter we surpassed 800 in worship.

Let failure build your character.
Failure has a way of maturing us.  Failure makes you less judgmental and more sympathetic to people around you.  It does not automatically grow your character, however.  Failure builds your character only when you respond to it correctly.