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Snapping out of your leadership struggle

4 min read


Leadership can be emotionally difficult at times, and that’s natural for any human being who takes their work to heart. But it doesn’t have to be a continual struggle. If you pay attention to those times when you feel like you’re spinning your wheels and not accomplishing much, that’s where the struggle might be taking place.

There are plenty of reasons for this struggle. It might mean that you’re unhappy in your job, frustrated with all of the things that are out of your control or that you’re lacking a skill set that will help you lead at your best. No matter the reason, there are some things you can do to ease the struggle, clearing your heart and your mind for making decisions and taking action that will send you on your way to greatness:

  1. Take a break: Have you got vacation you haven’t used? Use it now! Travel and R&R are great ways to get your energy back. Turn off the devices and let that person you’ve been coaching and mentoring take over in your absence. Your organization won’t fall apart, and you’ll come back to work with renewed energy and new ideas.
  2. Learn something new: Try something out of the box. How about a class in yoga, Russian literature or a creative hobby you’ve wanted to try (Hip-hop dance? Sculpture? Playing the harmonica?). Trying a new, challenging hobby will help you to focus on something else and perhaps generate fresh ideas for moving forward.
  3. Create support: Reach out to friends, family, and colleagues who listen well to discuss your struggle. Create a mastermind group of peers to not only provide support but also for you to reciprocate support.
  4. Hire a coach: If the struggle you’re feeling has to do with a sensation of inability to move forward with goals or a sense of being “stuck,” a leadership/executive coach may be able to help you to get out of that rut in a way that is customized for you.
  5. Find a mentor: If you don’t have someone you consider a mentor, find one who may have experience in the kind of struggle you’re going through. Their wise advice may just send you on your way to freedom from whatever is holding you back.
  6. Take a baby step: Sometimes it only takes a small step to start to get out of your struggle. Break the action needed to overcome your struggle down into baby steps. How will you start? What’s the first thing you can do?Take that step and those that follow may be easier.
  7. Take care: What areas of your life outside of work require increased attention? Are you eating well, sleeping enough and getting the exercise needed to keep your mind and body in top shape? Your struggle may be eased and overcome when you take care of yourself.
  8. Ask others: Let others know what you’re struggling with and ask them for two to three suggestions on how you can move forward. You might find some illuminating advice.
  9. Observe others: Many leaders find it helpful to watch how other leaders deal with their own struggles. Better yet, observe other leaders at their best; sometimes “trying out” something you observe them doing effectively will help you to overcome whatever is getting in your way.
  10. Serve: When you struggle, you’re focused inward on yourself. Find a way to focus on the needs of others at work, in your family or in your community. Your struggle may be put into perspective for you, making it less ominous. You may begin to feel so good about serving others that the positivity you generate can shrink or eliminate your tough situation.

All leaders hit low points and struggle. Getting out of the struggle may not be easy, but there are some things you can do that might begin to help you overcome the barriers to getting beyond your struggle. What have you tried, and what’s worked for you?

Mary Jo Asmus is an executive coach and a recovering corporate executive who has spent the past 10 years as president of Aspire Collaborative Services, an executive-coaching firm that manages large-scale corporate-coaching initiatives and coaches leaders to prepare them for bigger and better things.