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Most leaders don’t know the real reason. They cite meaningful things when asked what keeps them up at night, but the truth is more related to fright than what goes on in their day to day routine. The real reason has nothing to do with employee behavior, manager mishaps, or whether the stock price is down or up. The concern goes deeper, closer to what could be called a fear of being found out. Leaders worry if they’re cut out for this. Leaders worry if they can handle it all. Leaders worry about being considered a fraud. Leadership anxiety is a reality and if it exists for you keep reading so tonight you can do some real sleeping.
Am I Cut Out for This?
The question doesn’t automatically mean you have needy insecurities or a low sense of self-esteem. More likely, you’ve begun to question if the skills that got you the promotion are the ones needed for success in your new position. The simple answer is no. The transition a leader makes from task mastering and individual accomplisher to leader of others requires stronger strategic thinking. It requires a change in behavior and that causes this question. As Marshall Goldsmith once wrote, “
” and it’s true. It also makes leaders question the value of what they’ve been doing. Remember this. While you now need to do, learn, or practice new things, someone believed in your abilities, gave you a new position to prove it and believes you can do it. Are you cut out for this? Yes. How can I be so sure? Everyone has the capacity to be a leader. If you want to sleep better, remind yourself of your natural strengths, gifts, and skills and give yourself time and support to learn the new skills needed by this team and your new position.
Can I Handle it All?
Whether your company is traded publicly or is a small business growing locally, every leader at some point questions their capacity. Have you been able to handle everything else in your life and work thus far? Chances are the answer is yes or frankly, you wouldn’t be where you are. Consider chunking your new leadership position into smaller roles that have similarities to previous situations. Could you handle a difficult employee behavior based on what you handled last year with your teenager? Could you handle an unreasonable boss based on how you overcame an incredible loss that gave your perspective and empathy toward the struggles of others? Much as you handled one thing at a time in your life to date, the same applies in your leadership role. Gary Keller said, in The One Thing, that we can only do (or handle) one thing at time. While he was right, your sleep is impacted when you try to handle it all at once, not taking any action for fear of the outcome, commonly called feedback, and assuming that handling it all means we still have to be as involved in something as we were before we were the leader. That is thinking small and your playing field just got bigger.
Will They Think I’m a Fraud?
A fraud is someone who acts as if they’re someone else or takes on the persona of a different person. How could they think you’re a fraud if you begin to act as the leader? It’s when we continue to believe the actions, beliefs and behaviors of an individual performer are what is needed to be the effective leader that the concept of fraud even becomes considered. To sleep better, ask questions to learn in ways other than trial and error; take abundant action so you get the feedback faster; and lead in a style authentically true to you while considering the needs of those you lead. Your style may look different than those who came before you and different than the leaders you report to, but it will look right on you and feel right for you. There is no chance of being a fraud if what you’re doing while leading is truly being you.
Leadership anxiety exists and a good business coach can walk you through the precise solutions for you. Keep in mind that if you’re not sleeping because of how you’re leading, it’s likely not the day to day issues you face but your fear of the perceptions of how you handle them and sometimes the worry that your choices will put egg on your face. I saw a saying recently that said, “if you’re not afraid to be talked about, you’re not ready for success.” Perhaps a portion of that is true, as we also know that before you can be an effective and successful leader of others, you must be an effective leader of you.
I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great week, an even better Monday, and of course, stay contagious!
As leaders, want perfection and that is multitasking!! We need to step back and let the staff take care of the work. Or we will never see the end of the tunnel!!
Nicely said Jane and so true. Allowing employees to learn how to help, hone their skills and really develop in meaningful ways that contribute to lessening the leader workload, cannot be undervalued! It’s the leader that takes everything on and won’t let go of a thing who gets stuck in that tunnel.. and well, stops sleeping. 🙂
All leaders need help – consider a General Management & Leadership programme at the University of Cambridge Judge Business School – http://www.jbs.cam.ac.uk/programmes/execed/open-programmes/general-management-leadership/
Thank you Nigel. I appreciate your sharing of resources.