At Orange Leaf Consulting, fall is our absolute favorite time of the year (you know, orange leaf and all…). We’re ready to pop in a spooky movie and cuddle up with a hot latte. Pumpkin spice has entered the chat – it’s made of sugar and spice, and everything nice, right? And we think those are also the ingredients to being a great leader. But what if we add too much spice, and our teammates are afraid to work with us? Or we add too much sugar, and now they’re walking all over us? There are many fears that come with a leadership position, but with some bravery (and a little coaching), you’ll be well on your way to being more balanced.
It’s important to note that leadership and management are different (check out our past blog to learn how). As a refresh, managers focus on process, and leaders focus on people. The perfect recipe calls for equal parts of both. Even if you’re not a “manager” in your organization, don’t be afraid to lead! As an individual contributor, stepping up as a leader requires confidence, decisiveness and good timing.
When fear gets the best of us
When trying to be an effective leader, sometimes, fear gets in the way. Fear of making tough decisions, fear of not being respected, and fear of being seen as underqualified are some of the common obstacles. A brave leader recognizes when fear is getting in the way of being an effective leader. If you’re unsure of the signs, it can look like the following:
- Poor Decision-Making: if you’re fearful of making challenging decisions, hesitation can lead to making the wrong choice and an overall lack of team direction.
- Micromanagement: hovering over your team or doing their tasks for them destroys your team’s trust in you and stifles their professional growth and development.
- Poor Communication: managers who are afraid of sharing important information, discussing challenging topics, or not providing helpful feedback to their team create confusion and additional work to fix avoidable errors.
You can still be successful while also being afraid. It’s having the bravery to acknowledge and take the necessary steps to challenge yourself that will make you a better manager and leader and help develop a sustainable team that respects you.
Once you identify what you’re afraid of, here are some suggestions to overcome them:
- Take a Sales Class. Yep, you read that right. Even if “sales” is not in your job title, you sell every day. You’ve sold your employees on staying a little later or on a new project management system. Taking a sales course (like the ones offered through Orange Leaf Academy) will build your confidence and decision-making skills. You’ll learn how to make plans, be direct in asking for what you want, effectively communicate, and show more gratitude for your team.
- Practice Active Listening. Sometimes, our negative thoughts are so loud we don’t comprehend the information we’re taking in, especially when it comes to feedback. Taking notes, asking clarifying questions, and repetition can help make you a better communicator.
- Focus on the good. We usually remember bad experiences over the good. Start keeping track of and celebrating your wins. Note what was different for this win compared to unsuccessful events. Tracking your progress will help you stay motivated. Here’s some inspiration and ideas on how to celebrate more.
- Practice Self Care. We know, easier said than done. Taking up a mindfulness practice, whether it’s a daily 5-minute meditation, a walk on your lunch break or journaling, can help clear your mind to help your decision-making. Be gentle on yourself and be proud that you’re learning, growing and changing to be a better leader.
This process is not linear and it’s okay to make mistakes along the way. It requires self-reflection, patience and a commitment to being better for not only your team but for yourself. Every step you take in your journey to overcoming your fears brings you closer to being a reputable, resilient and confident leader. So, whether you’re a pumpkin spice lover or hater, we think the fall is a great time to try new things and set some goals. Even though it’s the spooky season, don’t allow your fear to trick you into failure, and instead, treat yourself to some professional growth and development and don’t forget to GROW BIG OR GO HOME®.