All business leaders have personal struggles and professional difficulties unique to the organizations they lead as well as the markets they serve. Yet across the board we have found a set of universal challenges with which most executives struggle.
When left unchecked, these issues have devastating effects on both the leader and those around them. They kill optimism, prevent clarity, steal passion, increase self-centeredness, encourage burnout and stifle capacity to fully enjoy life.
Unfortunately the impact of these negatives reach beyond the leader to their colleagues, employees, family and friendships.
In light of the corruptive nature of these challenges, we want to share the top six challenges to watch for to help you avoid negative impacts to your business and personal life.
Business Leader Challenges …and what to do about them.
1. The Challenge of Generosity:
Most of us think the more you obtain, the easier it is to be generous. But actually, the opposite is true.
We tend to “hold on” to what we’ve worked so hard to get; rather than giving and allowing others to be blessed. In fact, psychology experts confirm that the happiest people have the least and give the most.
Proverbs 11:24-25 says: “One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.”
NEXT STEP IDEAS: What would you like to see different in the world? How can you give to it? Look at what you have and what you could give to help. Think not only about giving financially, but also giving your time, energy, and other resources.
2. The Challenge of Contentment:
We all have “one day” scenarios: we believe that one day when we hit a certain threshold, then we’ll be satisfied. The reality is, even if we achieve our one day scenario most often we’ll still not be fully satisfied and keep endlessly striving for more and more.
An unhealthy feeding of this appetite prevents rest, keeps us from being fully present with others and encourages burn-out.
NEXT STEP IDEAS: Think through how you can set boundaries and keep them, especially on the evenings and the weekends.
Here are some suggestions:
- Resist work after the kids go to bed, reserve a day on the weekend for fun, and take your vacation days.
- Get a hobby and use that restless energy. Options include: gardening, art, puzzles, sports leagues, kids’ youth coaching, etc.
- Force mental attention elsewhere by watching a movie, a Netflix series, go on vacation, or a family visit to the park, etc.
3. The Challenge of Community:
Constant work forces us away from what we need the most: a connected community and a sense a belonging. Solitary confinement is the worst form of punishment because authentic relationships are what makes us whole.
One obstacle to relationships is our increasing wealth and independence. Left unchecked, wealth can leads us to isolation and give us power to have a choice about everything. Friendships are now “optional” if they are not convenient or if “I don’t feel like it”.
When you combine this with the cultural pull of individualism, then vulnerability and engagement goes against the ideal of success. Find a sad, negative person and there is usually a lack of relational health and connectedness. If we aren’t careful, our pursuits and beliefs sabotage the very friendships meant to give them life.
NEXT STEP IDEAS: Think through how you can treat friendships like the air you breathe – an essential to life. Begin to set predictable patterns with friends around activities you enjoy — sports, concerts, etc. Consider how you can open up more and find ways to be vulnerable. And if you realize you’ve been a jerk, call three people to apologize and buy them lunch.
4. The Challenge of Encouragement:
We don’t live a culture that encourages others enough. Many leaders are too hard on themselves. And this then translates to a high challenge culture with others.
Affirmation of positive behavior actually increases a person’s strengths and cancels their deficiencies. Be positive. Have fun. Be the boss you wish you had and if you happen to be a pushover, just skip this one.
NEXT STEP IDEAS: Here are some places you might start:
- Encourage your team at least once a week
- Appreciate and affirm your team in public; and be authentic about it.
- Surprise the office with apples, as no one eats donuts anymore.
- Be happy, smile, and make eye contact with your team.
- Share how you’ve screwed up recently and what you’ve learned- it always lightens the mood.
5. The Challenge of Accountability:
Many of us don’t know how to be accountable to others or to keep our teams accountable. Both are essential for a healthy culture.
Finding someone to whom you can be accountable puts safeguards in place for you and your company. Keeping your team accountable with what we call “High Accountability and Low Control” enables your team to thrive.
NEXT STEP IDEAS: If you realize accountability is an area you need to grow into, try these suggestions:
- Be bold and ask your team to hold you accountable.
- Find friends in your network, who are complimentary (not competitive) and ask them to help encourage and hold you accountable.
- Hold yourself accountable: start a journal and review it regularly.
- Cultivate a culture of “High Accountability and Low Control” with your team.
6. The Challenge of Rest:
The world says “Rest is rust.” God says “Rest is trust.”
Your mind is going a mile a minute with new ideas all the time. With the business as your baby, it is hard to not think about it. You steal moments to check email, send a quick text and edit your to do items.
It is essential that we learn to stop and truly rest. When you are home, be home. When you are off, be off. Be present and engage.
NEXT STEP IDEAS: Choosing to rest is choosing to trust. Do you trust God to run your business while you rest? Do you believe He cares more about your business than you do?
Try starting here:
- Put your phone away or shut it off.
- Get active as it’s hard to get on your phone when your playing volleyball, swimming or playing board games.
- Have fun – the more you play, the happier and more productive you’ll be.
Thriving as a CEO
Being aware of these unique challenges is the place to start. Know what to look for and be mindful of the warning signs are crucial to keep you from falling.
When we are proactive with each of these challenges it help us to abundantly thrive and reach our goals – not only for ourselves, but for our team, our company, our friendships and our families.
Encourage another leader this month. Remember, all leaders need guidance, encouragement, and accountability. Who do you know that needs one of these three? Reach out and engage with them.