13 Thoughts for Discouraged Leaders

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It ain’t all rainbows and unicorns.

After the YouTube clip ends, after the conference is over, after the teambuilding session–there’s this other thing that happens. Real life leadership.

And it’s exhausting. Tiring. Long hours. The certainty that almost any decision you make will not be perfectly agreeable to at least somebody. Cranky bosses. Crappy work environments. It could be any number of things or combination of things, but there are times when you just get discouraged, and I don’t think there’s any shame in that. It’s a normal part of being human, yes?

You’re not some robot that doesn’t have feelings or emotions or needs or whatever. Now some of us may act like robots sometimes, but even then, underneath it all, there’s a beating heart.

Almost all of us have been and/or are discouraged. It’s OK. It’s normal. But let’s push into that discouragement a little bit. Better yet, let’s push back a little bit. Here are some reminders for the discouraged leaders among us:

1. If you’re exhausted you’re probably not lazy.

2. Leadership is draining–physically, mentally, emotionally. If you’re feeling drained, you should probably also feel proud. You’re pouring yourself into your work. In other words, your fatigue, in and of itself, ought to be an encouragement. It means you’re investing yourself in leadership. If you were simply going through the motions, it wouldn’t be nearly as tiring.

3. Leadership is a noble thing. It’s worth it.

4. Leadership is an opportunity to serve. Thanks for giving of yourself to serve your team.

5. Leadership can be vehicle to have an actual and noticeable positive impact on the lives of a group of people. What a privilege that is.

6. There are people who you’ve helped that you don’t even know about.

7. Work that matters is rarely easy. This is certainly true of leadership.

8. You have a unique leadership DNA that no one else has. There are things you offer and can offer your team that no one else could.

9. You’ve got shortcomings? Gosh, I hope so. You’re a human being. Of course you do.

10. Your perseverance isn’t just about you; it’s about helping your team as well. Then again, helping your team is probably why you got into leadership, so I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.

11. Feel like you’re running into obstacles? Be encouraged. That usually only happens when you’re moving forward.

12. Just admitting that you’re discouraged takes guts. It takes courage to be vulnerable like that. And that’s part of what makes you (yes, you) a good leader.

13. You’re not in this thing alone. You’ve likely got friends and colleagues who are either already aware that you’re down and supporting you, or would jump at the opportunity to do so if you let them you needed it. As a leader, you help so many people. Be sure to let others do the same for you.

Look, I’m not trying to be patronizing. I just know leadership’s a tough gig. It can get discouraging. Who knows–maybe you’ve been down this week. But keep your chin up, not only for the reasons above, but also because your team, your organization–and yes, even your world–needs you.

5 comments

  1. Excellent suggestions. I was a “reluctant” leader for many years – meaning I was promoted into various positions of leadership even though I never had an interest in leading teams. While the challenges are too numerous to mention, there really is no better feeling than seeing someone succeed at something you’ve taught them. Or seeing someone find the courage to reach beyond the point of comfort to achieve something worthwhile as a result of your encouragement. Corny as it may sound, those golden moments make it all worthwhile.

  2. Kaitlyn says:

    Great post. I especially love the thought about perseverance. It can be so easy to feel as if you are nagging or being too selfish in moving things forward. It’s certainly a fine line, but keeping progress and the team front of mind is a great lens to think through.

    Thanks for the day brightener!

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