Updated: Apr 19
Becoming a leader rocked me to my core.
I consider myself to be a fun, loving, smart and generous person, but when I became a leader, nothing I expected happened.
It was as if the person I thought I was, had been consumed by the frustrated leader I’d become.
For me it started with little conflicts...
Why wouldn’t people just get on the page with what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go?
Once I started trying to make changes and create momentum, I felt people pushing back.
They would not say it to my face and I felt confused about how to navigate the underlying tension.
I was exasperated from the underlying push back and quickly became overwhelmed and couldn’t understand why leadership was so hard.
Although I managed to resolve some of the small conflicts (much to my relief) I still felt like the tension was taking its toll.
These early experiences set the stage for how I felt for many months to come.
The thing is, I became frustrated with my team because I felt this way.
And I was frustrated with myself for not being a better leader.
I was frustrated with the people who wouldn’t get on board and the pain that came with that.
I was frustrated with the lack of results in my team and organisation and no longer felt excited about leadership.
I was confused, so very confused.
I didn’t resemble the aforementioned fun, loving, smart and generous person I was at heart.
Instead, I turned into the leader I never thought I would be.
I was overwhelmed and I would sometimes leave a room of my people just to find a quiet spot because I didn’t how to deal with the people I was leading.
When I didn’t see bigger conflicts resolve well, I grew even more frustrated.
I knew with every cell in my body that it was not how I wanted to be, but I didn’t know how to change.
I would read books and they would help temporarily, but I still couldn’t conflict well and get my team on the same page.
I tried to get help and even had mentors but they weren’t able to help me solve the problem.
Every once in a while colleagues and my leaders would hand me books they recommended on how to become a better leader which would make me feel worse!
I felt so helpless and alone.
Because my default setting is to be happy, friendly and bubbly, I felt I had to hide the overwhelmed side of myself to my friends and family so I withdrew further.
I developed a pattern of being able to remain calm by shoving my feelings down when I felt overwhelmed, but this just created a ticking time bomb of a leader.
And when I couldn’t stand it anymore, I would shut down.
I felt HELPLESS.
Then I would feel bad and be depressed for a couple days and go back to seeming on top of things until I inevitably felt overwhelmed again.
And so this was my life.
And it was miserable.
I knew there had to be a better way, I just had no idea how to find it.
And when you don’t know where to turn, when you desperately need help and guidance, there’s only one source you can turn to: The Kardashians.
Just kidding! I happened to stumble across Patrick Lencioni’s book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team and it changed my life.
You’re a busy leader, so I’ll let you go for today.
I’ll share the rest of this story tomorrow.
P.S. I almost forgot! What’s the #1 obstacle for building a high performance team and a healthy organisation?
Hiring or failing to deal with difficult people!
Hiring difficult people—or putting up with poor behaviour from difficult people in teams or organisations we step into—makes everything you’re trying to achieve in that team and organisation 10x harder.
They take up an immense amount of your time and energy as you deal with the messes they make for themselves, for you and inevitably for every other stakeholder they’re involved with.
As an example, think of how difficult people often affect other team members or even your customers.
In other words, hiring them or not dealing with them makes everything they touch (which becomes everything YOU’RE involved in by the way) 10x more difficult.
And while that may seem bad, I believe this is the biggest obstacle because there’s an even greater hidden cost.
Your best people—the people who are EASY to lead—won’t put up with poor behaviour from difficult people for long.
So THEY leave.
As a result, you’re setting yourself up for the nightmare of needing to find a replacement for a gun team member.
As time goes by and difficult people stay and your best people leave, oh and believe me they will, your problems in your team and organisation will grow larger and larger and, more importantly, you one day end up looking back and realising you never saw your team and organisation become everything it could have been.
13 Reasons Why Managers Should Confront Difficult Employees
1. Difficult employees affect your entire workforce
Handling difficult employees is an essential part of any manager's job. Difficult employees can cause serious issues and disruption in the workplace, impacting other staff members, disrupting productivity and morale, and even damaging a company’s reputation. It is important to address difficult employees quickly and effectively before they become a bigger problem.