10 Common Leadership Challenges to Avoid

leadership challenges

We all know that person in our life who is a natural-born leader. It doesn’t matter what role they’re in, people just gravitate toward them and look to them for direction and guidance. It’s like they’re not even trying. It just happens. Seeing examples like this can make it seem like leadership skills are either something you have or you don’t. But that’s just not the reality. Leadership is a skill that can be learned.

Many new managers find themselves in a position of leadership before they feel they’re ready to be there. And many of these people are too afraid to admit when they’re struggling, so instead, they try to buckle down and work harder in order to produce better results. While the work may be getting done, this strategy is not making you a better leader or helping you improve the situation.

Part of the problem is that many of these new leaders think they’re the only ones struggling with these certain challenges. But the truth is there are some challenges that most leaders struggle with. Especially at the beginning of their leadership journey. Here are some of the common leadership challenges that we see and hear about on a regular basis.

1. Poor communication

Communication is one of the most important skills for a leader to develop. It’s important that you learn how to listen to your team and how to properly pass along information to them.

This isn’t about simply telling people what to do, it’s about making sure people understand why and how to do the work. There are different styles of learning and properly communicating information means you need to learn how to tailor your message to the individual(s) that you’re working with.

When you start to pay attention more to the information and the way you’re communicating, you may find that some of the problems and challenges with your team’s production are simply from miscommunication.

Make sure your team knows that you’re open to hearing their feedback as well. Remember, communication is a two-way street.

2. Failing to realign when necessary

In business and life, we constantly need to make adjustments when things don’t go as planned. Having a proper plan from the start is important, but being able to realign and pivot when needed, is an overlooked skill.

Look at how many businesses suffered last year during the pandemic because they kept trying to stick to the plan they created for the start of 2020. A global pandemic came along and some leaders didn’t know what to do once their amazing plan for the year was blown.

That’s why, at SPEARity, we spent a large part of last year offering free training to help local Milwaukee businesses (and others that we connected with online) learn how to move from panic to pivot and beyond.

Hopefully, every year is not going to bring something as catastrophic as Covid, but the reality remains that challenges are going to surface from time to time that derail your plan. You can either panic or you can realign your plan and continue moving forward.

3. Forgetting about company culture

Your company culture shouldn’t be on auto-pilot. And it shouldn’t just be whatever happens happens. Effective leaders are strategic and purposeful about creating the culture they want within their company.

Companies that make company culture a priority are rewarded with employees who are excited to work for the company. You’ll find that your employees are more connected to the company mission, more connected to each other, and more engaged in their work. The right company culture helps employees move from just showing up to do the work to caring about the work they do.

4. Being too prideful

Pride is a thorn that many leaders struggle with. When all eyes are constantly on you and things are going well, it’s easy to start to get a little big-headed. Many times the leader is the one who gets the credit for the success of their team. Don’t let this go to your head.

Remember that you wouldn’t be where you are today and accomplishing the things that you are without the members of your team. Imagine for a minute that everyone quit on you at once but you were expected to continue churning out the work that your team has been accomplishing. This is a good reminder that you’re not accomplishing it all on your own. Don’t let your pride get the best of you.

5. Imposter syndrome

On the other hand of being too prideful is struggling with imposter syndrome. This is something that I’ve heard every leader mention they struggle with from time to time. As you grow in your leadership skills and your company continues to expand, it’s easy to find yourself in situations that are unfamiliar. And in times like these, it’s easy to feel unqualified and not ready for the tasks at hand. You’re no alone.

6. Burnout

Burnout is a common struggle for leaders. There is a lot of pressure and responsibility that comes with being in a leadership role and it’s not to be taken lightly. That makes it easy to fall into the trap of working too much in order to help you and your team be successful.

Your intentions are good, but your mind and body can’t keep up with them.

You need time to rest and recharge or else you’re going to burn out and be unproductive in life and business. Learn how to take care of yourself and enjoy yourself. Life is about more than work and work is about more than running yourself ragged.

7. Failing to delegate properly

One of the reasons that many leaders struggle with burnout is they don’t know how to delegate. Some leaders fall into believing the lie that “if you want something done right, you’ve got to do it yourself.” Not true. If you want something done right, find the best people for the job. And spoiler alert, the best person for each position isn’t YOU.

Not only do you need to take the step of delegating as a leader, but you also need to learn the right way to delegate. Many new leaders struggle because they delegate the task but not the resources or decision-making ability. That means your team is constantly having to come back to you for information or approval before they can complete what you delegated them to do. That’s not true delegation.

8. Not knowing how to get employee buy-in

The goals and plan you establish for your team are only as good as the level of buy-in that you get from employees. Setting goals at the top and passing them down to your employees isn’t going to work. And just telling employees what to do without helping them see how their role fits in the bigger picture isn’t going to work either.

Decades ago, this approach is how most companies worked. Each person showed up, did their job, and stuck with the company until they retired. Life isn’t like that anymore and the business landscape has changed. Employees want to work with a company they can align with now. It’s your job as a leader to help them do that in your organization.

9. Making the right hires

Hiring is not an easy task. You have to learn how to balance the personality of an individual with the skills and knowledge they possess. Sometimes the better hire is actually the person with less experience. Sometimes the best hire is the person with years of experience. Making the wrong hires, and sticking with them, can negatively impact the productivity and morale of the entire team.

10. Distractions

There seem to be more and more distractions that come up as new technology is developed. Our phones notify us non-stop. You got an email—ding. There’s a new text—ding. The mailman dropped off a package at your front door—ding.

No wonder it’s become so hard to stay focused.

If you want to be productive and effective as a leader, you need to learn how to recognize what is a distraction instead of a help. Then, you need to eliminate the distractions.

How to be a better leader

If you can identify with the challenges above, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. All leaders struggle with obstacles. And when you overcome one it’s normal for another one to pop up.

As mentioned above, leadership skills can be learned. You are capable of being a great leader even if you don’t feel that confident about it right now.

Our SPEARity business coaches in Milwaukee are experienced in leadership development. They work with up-and-coming leaders. They work with established workers that want to grow. And they work with people identified in organizations as having leadership potential. There’s no limit on who can benefit from working with a coach if they’re willing to put the work in.

If you’re ready to grow your leadership skills, contact us today.

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