Leadership is all about being yourself and demonstrating personal authenticity rather than learning some formula from a text book. Aspiring leaders therefore need to be true to themselves. Real leaders are also open and willing to reveal their weaknesses. There is often a misconception that those in leadership roles need to be stronger and/or more superior than those under them. Obviously they do have to be well educated and competent in their field in order to lead the organization in the right direction in regards to its production. However, as far as human nature is concerned, those holding leadership roles are affected just as much as anybody else. When one is able to admit his/her vulnerabilities/ weaknesses as a human being, this resonates with others confirming that the leader is a person first and foremost and not merely a “role-holder”.
As leaders, when we reveal our true selves, it can allow others to feel more comfortable and makes us more likable. This can result in increased organizational motivation to help each other out and not want to let each other down. This what true teamwork is a about. True leadership is therefore much more than a demonstration of strengths. Real leaders acknowledge their shortcomings and use them in ways to create a healthy, comfortable working environment with team driven objectives.
Good leaders always rely on their ability to read situations. They develop a feel for an environment, and interpret soft data without having to be told. They know when team morale is patchy or when complacency needs shaking up. There are three levels of situational sensitivity, each of which has its own specific skills:
Effective leaders are continually learning about the motives, attributes and skills of their important subordinates. They get to know their people through formal and, often better, informal contact such as when traveling together and/or team events.
Effective leaders read their teams as a whole. They analyze the compound balance between team members, the tension between the tasks and processes, and how the team builds its competencies.
Finally, they are concerned with defining the cultural characteristics of their organizations and keep their finger on the pulse of the organization’s climate.
It sounds cliché to say that leaders need to care for their people. Ever noticed the skepticism in the workforce upon seeing a manager return from a people-skills training course with new, sudden concern for others? This can create a negative feeling amongst one’s following because they sense that the concern isn’t really and will likely be short lived. The bottom line is, genuine concern is difficult to display because it always involves some personal risk. Genuine care means putting others interest before your own and doing whatever it takes for the benefit of your followers. This is a rare commodity that is much easier said than done. The bottom line is, no leader really knows how they will react to these types of situations unless then experience them for themselves. Until those times come, just remember to be genuine and true to yourself. You are in this leadership role for a reason. Trust what got your there and never forget that your weaknesses are not a detriment, but rather an opportunity to connect to your followers and increase organizational moral. Being true to yourself is the same as being true to your followers. The result is true leadership.
If you are considering mentoring someone younger and/or with less experience, here are some things to ponder before taking action:
1. Is mentoring for you?
Most effective mentors truly, deeply enjoy helping other people grow and develop. Make sure you’re likely to enjoy the process before you take it on. Make sure you have the time and flexibility. If your schedule is already overloaded or you’re under stress, you might want to consider holding off on a mentoring commitment until things are a little less hectic.
2. Make sure you know what you bring to the table.
A jack of all trades is a master of none. Do not feel pressured to mentor people in all aspects of life. It is important to know and understand what you are good at and where your experience lies. In his book, Winning, Jack Welch says that “There is no one right mentor. There are many right mentors.” From your perspective, that means you don’t have to do everything. You aren’t the only place that your protégé should get help.
3. Know which individuals you can relate to and impact the most.
The bottom line is, mentoring should be a pleasant relationship for both parties. Try to find the younger you in others. Search for signs of your former, inexperienced self. When you find and recognize these signs, it is likely that these are the people who you can most effectively impact. Use your past as the lesson plan. Both your successes and failures are valuable to one’s you are mentoring.
Mentoring can be one of the most rewarding/impactful jobs one can take on. However, make sure you are able and willing to make the time commitment, along with giving 100 percent of your effort. The worst thing one can do is to just have one foot in the door. This gives off a vibe that you don’t consider it a priority and it could have negative implications on the ones you are mentoring. Understand that this process is about having a genuine, positive impact on others which they in turn, can pay forward to the next generation. Also, keep in mind that mentoring others doesn’t only mean that you give your knowledge to others. There is a common misconception that mentoring is one-sided. In reality, the amount you receive is just as much if not greater. Mentoring can open your mind and introduce you to so many amazing and inspiring stories and people. You should both grow and develop. And you should both make a friend for life. Mentoring isn’t just a job. It is a job of fulfillment and true, lasting impact.
Most business owners and people in power positions would like to consider themselves as strong, competent and effective leaders. The ones who get it right, understand the importance of developing their skills even after they have been awarded a leadership position. However, unfortunately there are those who choose to halt their growth after reaching the top of the hierarchy.
In my opinion, leadership training and education is something that needs to be practiced on a consistent basis. It helps one unlock his or her full potential and creates an overall atmosphere of equality amongst an organization. If the same methods are being learned and implemented from the top down, it helps create unity and respect amongst all hierarchical levels. The bottom line is, effective leadership is firmly at the core of sustained success.
Two main arguments against leadership training may be: 1) it takes up to much time, and/or 2) it cost too much financial resources. The second part is a very silly argument in my mind, but one that a number of organizations may present. With that being said, aspiring leaders always have the option of open learning. This process allows one to gain leadership training outside of standard business hours. Open learning requires one to study during their own time and at their own pace, moving through a training course and/or other form of education at whatever pace suits best. This means that one can structure their learning around their current life commitments. However, in order for this method to be effective, one must be fully committed and convinced that consistent leadership training is vital to the organization’s success. This often involves submitting to the fact that we don’t know it all; along with setting aside one’s ego ( which isn’t an easy task for many people in higher-up positions).
Most people in the leadership realm are familiar with John Maxwell. He has build a career for himself as one of (if not the most) successful and followed leadership developers. On his podcast, he referenced leadership as being a journey, not a destination. And according to Maxwell, “Consistent growth is key to great leadership. Your family, your organization, and your team depend on it. Most people just look at growth as a season or a means to an end, but good leaders don’t stop growing.” This statement further proves the importance for constant growth and development while striving for and/or holding a leadership position. The bottom line is, growth is a necessary process for consistent success, competence and credibility. When one chooses to stop growing, their days are numbered whether they realize it or not.
It is a common belief that management and leadership are the same role. While it is true that often a manager also plays the part of the leader, these two roles are truly separate in function and in the way they add to the success of a team or organization. By understanding the difference between management and leadership you will become more effective in helping others see what lies ahead along the path towards success.
To understand the difference between management and leadership, consider the construction of a new road. To build that road there are workers, machinery and tools which are all essential in the roads construction. Managers help ensure those workers, machinery and tools work together in the most efficient way possible. A manager makes sure those workers are properly trained, competent, motivated, rested and have a clear understanding of the tasks needing to get done. The manager has the same mindset in regards to the tools and the machinery. He or she has to make sure that they are working correctly and that the workers are able to use them efficiently and safely. This is the role of management in a nutshell. On the other hand, a leader makes sure that the road is going in the right direction before the construction begins. That leader also monitors conditions to ensure that the road under construction is still the correct one and that the organization isn’t putting efforts into the wrong place while wasting time and resources.
How does this affect you as a leader? Are you spending your time managing people when you should be making sure that the road ahead is the correct one? As an effective leader, one must present a clear vision and a trail you are willing to walk on first and foremost. While there are times when it is appropriate for a leader to fill a management role, it is crucial to understand the difference between leadership and management so you can be effective no matter which role you happen to be acting in. If you are a leader overseeing other branch managers, it is important that you provide them with the correct perspective so they may be effective in their management role. Don’t manage the managers. Lead them.
If you are not in a formal leadership role, it is also important that you understand that when a leadership opportunity arises there is a difference between being a leader and managing the effort. Even if you end up filling both sets of shoes it is key to understand the difference in roles in order to fill them effectively. If, on the other hand, you learn how to lead by showing people that you are walking down the right road, you will become a natural leader and will be able to help your team find their correct road to success.
It is human nature to want to be recognized and admired by others for our good deeds and accomplishments. Attention is often a driving force of motivation for a vast majority people. Not to say that there is anything wrong with this mindset because many use it to their advantage as far as accomplishing great things. However, who would have ever thought that we would come to a point in history where the level of your impact and status would be measured by the number of random people who click a virtual “thumbs-up” symbol in confirmation of what you do or have done? It is truly an amazing time to be alive. While social media certainly has its benefits and pros, we as a society have become obsessed with attention and are confusing it with what true impact actually is.
In today’s day in age, we have developed the mindset that likes and followers are the same as making a positive impact on society. The leadership development niche is no different in this ideology. Due to social media, there is an overflux of information and competition in regards to people trying to build a brand and/or get their message across. This means that there is very few new information out there. Basically, every piece of content we see has been portrayed by someone else at some point in time and in some way shape or form. We as a society just choose who we listen to based off of who is more successful in terms of finances and recognition. That being said, this has created a mindset in people believing that they have to do whatever it takes to stand out in order for consumers to listen to them and consume their content rather than that of the rest of the competition. Here is where the issue lies. This lusting to stand out has contaminated our morals in regards to what true leadership is all about. Impact without recognition.
Now of course, I understand that if people want to make a living as an influencer/leadership developer, then yes they need some sort of recognition. That being said, we can’t fall into the trap of letting attention be our driving force of motivation.We have to learn to be content with impacting the lives of our followers without expecting recognition and praise in return. The well-respected leadership expert, John C. Maxwell says, “In the beginning (of his career) it was all about me, my goals, and my success. Slowly I realized that I was not on earth to see how important I could become but to see how much of a difference I could make in the lives of others.” Now, I’m not ignoring the fact that Mr. Maxwell has made a famous and lucrative career as an author and leadership developer. It is clear he has been recognized for his impact. That being said, we need to use his experience as our model. The bottom line is, when your main motivation is to make others lives better, the attention will come naturally whether you like it or not. If that’s the case, then why go searching for it? Unfortunately, that has been the mentality that many of us have developed in today’s day in age.
If we want to be true leaders, we have to put impact first. We have to be okay with not getting attention and not being recognized for every good deed we do. However, this is surly easier said than done. In a world where everyone is trying to get ahead and leave their mark, it is easy to get lost in the shuffle. But, I challenge leaders to say “Who cares” about getting lost in the shuffle. Make impact your number one priority and be at peace with whatever comes afterwards. Deep down each and everyone of us knows our true motives. So, what is yours? Are you willing to impact without attention?
We live in a day and age of social media entrepreneurship, personal branding, mastermind courses and financial gurus. Thanks to the power of social media, Everyone has the power and the opportunity to have their voice heard. That being said there are some who are more heard than others. I’m talking about those we like to call experts or, in today’s terms, “Influencers”. The term “Influencer” is so new to the English language that not even spell-check has recognized it yet. Naturally, these influencers are the ones who others want to manipulate or follow due to their social media popularity and financial success. They have mastered the social media algorithms and found a way to make a living from their product, service or strategy. These people have proven that with the right mindset, planning and resources, one can create so-called financial freedom eliminating the grueling 9 to 5 lifestyle.
These influencers take advantage of their success and rightfully so. Most offer their content in forms of courses, podcasts, webinars or videos, where they claim to teach others how to grow their presence and impact in order to gain financial freedom just like they have done. While that seems like (and often is) a very honorable and helpful for service to provide, the problem is that the system is overloaded. We are now at the point where we are constantly being bombarded by ads on the various social media platforms while influencers try to convince us to purchase and consume their content. Let us not forget that while their intentions may be in the right place, the number one priority for most of them is to make a profit from these services. That being the case, it is important not to simply jump at every offer we see just because someone is displaying a lavish lifestyle and financial freedom. The solution here is to be specific in the type of influence you are looking for. Decide exactly what you want do and who you want to learn from. Then commit by focusing 100 percent of your effort on said person’s teachings/content. Do not let yourself become overwhelmed with various content from a number of individuals. While you may think that you are doing the right thing by consuming a wide range of success stories, perspectives and recipes for success, this is often a recipe for self-destruction, misdirection, confusion and insecurity.
The key, like I said before, is to know what you want for yourself and make a decision about who you want to follow based on those wants. With the amount of influencers that we have on today’s social media platforms there is likely someone who fits what you’re looking for. The main problem in my opinion is that most people simply don’t know what they want. They just know that they want a lavish lifestyle with freedom to work on their own terms without a strategy to get there. Most people just want the result and don’t consider the work leading to the result. It’s important to take the time to do your research and avoid being seduced by ads that flash in front of our computer screens and smart-phones simply because they contain a person standing next to a mansion or a Lamborghini. Don’t let yourself get caught up lusting for others success. Focus your attention on your success and a specific, high-value skill that you want to develop. After that, find one maybe two individuals that you feel like can help lead you in the right direction. Then focus solely on those individuals and what they have to offer in terms of their content.
It is important to remember that everyone has an agenda at the end of the day. Money, like it or not, will always be the number one priority that motivates most individuals. Don’t simply take on the mindset of a consumer. Understand that these influencers are who they are because the general public consumes their content in high numbers. That being said, it is essential that we have people to learn from and model throughout our journey. It is even more important that we do our research and focus our attention before clicking “Buy Now” or consuming content based simply on the end result. Don’t let yourself get overrun with information and don’t let yourself self-destruct. There is a fine line between self-development and self-destruction. Focus your attention on what you want to do and adapt a less is more mindset in regards to who you choose to learn from.
To most people being a leader in their field is something that is striven for. Nearly everyone who yearns for success seeks to earn the title of a leader. As a leader we have control over various situations and we have a chance to leave our mark. While this may sound all well and good, the bottom line is that the act of ‘leadership’ standing alone can go in a lot of directions. What I mean by this is that even though the term leadership sounds like a positive and prestigious word, is often acted upon in ways that are the exact opposite of prestigious and positive. Throughout the history of mankind we have had our fair share of ineffective, corrupt and divisive leaders. While they may have held the knowledge, personal skills and possessed the revealing presence in order to gain a leadership role, once they begin to make decisions, it was clear that their morals were not in the best interest of their following. They were instead more geared towards self-benefit with the ultimate goal of being seen as powerful and important.
We don’t have to dig very deep to find these type of leaders in our history. Look no further than the likes of our most well-known dictators such as Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and so on. While these are obviously very extreme examples, They definitely justify the idea that simply being a ‘leader’ does not mean that you are being effective or having a positive impact on your following/society. As a society we have put the idea of being a ‘leader’ on a pedestal where many people are simply striving for the title of ‘Leader’ while disregarding or underestimating the actual responsibility once the position is acquired. In other words, some strive to acquire a leadership position solely for the personal benefit and status that comes with it. I believe this is why a lot of leaders have failed in the past and continue to fail.
Instead of leadership standing alone, I believe this term needs to be expanded upon. Effective leadership is the key. Effective leaders are the ones who are going to prioritize making a positive impact on the following above all else. Effective leadership is selfless leadership. This is also a reason why it is not easy to find true effective leaders. We as humans are selfish by nature. This means even the best of us at one point or another make decisions based on our own personal benefit, and rightfully so. However, leadership positions require a selfless mindset. This mindset must also be instilled within the members of your following stemming from your words & actions.
How is this selfless mindset developed? This comes when you begin to realize the power of the term legacy. Merriam-Webster gives two definitions for this term and they couldn’t be more polarizing in terms of the concept of effective readership. The first definition is quite deceiving as it states: a gift by will especially of money or other personal property. This is not at all what we mean by legacy in regards to effective leadership. Money and personal property are deviants in our quest to lead in an effective manor. They are certainly are important to an extent. However, they should serve not as our main focus, but as a result of the positive impact we make on others. Essentially, money and valuables are simply a ripple-effect of effective leadership. The second definition states: something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past. This is truly what effective leadership is all about. That “something” in this definition withholds the true power of the term legacy. Our “something” is the positive impact we leave behind for others to follow. The bottom line is, we will all die one day and all that will be left behind will be the memories that others have from us. All the worldly success & money is all well and good and definitely shouldn’t be shunned aside. Nevertheless, when we finally come to terms with what really matters and accept that our legacy is at stake, we create peace of mind and a will to do right by the people who put their trust in us. Effective leadership is responsibility. And by accepting that responsibility we carve out our path towards leaving our “something” behind. In turn, this creates true fulfillment & legendary status for the next generations to follow.
Don’t let the accolades that come with owning a leadership role become your main motivation. Don’t accept being just a “leader”. Don’t let the title alone control your motives. Don’t let leadership stand alone…
Throughout my leadership journey I have realized that not all are aware of the idea of being double-minded. In fact, I have also fallen guilty at times to it’s temptatious ways. That being said double-mindedness is one of the most toxic actions one can partake in with regards to effective leadership. In the Bible (James 1:8), it describes a double-minded man being “unstable in all his ways.” Unstable leadership is destined for failure. That being said a lot of people in leadership roles are unaware of their instability. Often times this is not easy to detect via self-reflection. As aspiring leaders, we really have to make it a point of emphasis to fight against double-minded actions. I’ve come to learn that double-mindedness is a double-edged sword in the sense it can involve both decisions in and outside of the workplace. It is crucial that aspiring leaders understand the toxicity of double-mindedness, while focusing their attention on making stable decisions that will help solidify their leadership’s effectiveness both in their own life and amongst their following.
Personal Life Double-Mindedness:
Aspiring leaders must understand, accept and embrace that effective leadership involves making sacrifices. One of the biggest issues I have come to realize in regards to holding leadership roles is the fact that so many people want to have it both ways. By this I mean they want to have the title of “Leader” however, they are unwilling to make the necessary sacrifices to their personality and personal life outside of the workplace. It is important for us to accept that we are responsible for living a lifestyle that serves as the example for the rest of the group to follow. This means sacrificing various short-term worldly pleasures in order to maintain credibility and the long term respect and trust of our following. Contrary to popular belief, we cannot just be a leader when we want to. We must live an effective leadership lifestyle. This means making sound, responsible decisions not only within the workplace, but outside of it as well. I found that there are many leaders who succeed in terms of production inside of the workplace. However, despite that production, when the day is over they go about living their lives in a very toxic and irresponsible manner. While they may be able having success in their business life, the truth is they are living a double-minded, unstable lifestyle destined for eventual internal and/or external failure. That’s not to say that one shouldn’t and enjoy themselves outside of the workplace. We must simply accept the responsibility that certain sacrifices will need to be made in order to lead in the most effective and genuine way possible.
Side Note: Trade Double-Mindedness for Open-Mindedness:
In my opinion effective leaders need to be open minded and great listeners. Setting pride and ego aside play huge role in regards to earning respect and trust amongst one’s following. Many people unfortunately have a misconception that effective leadership means being demanding and needing to always have the answers. Where in reality it is the exact opposite. Effective leaders understand when their knowledge is lacking and they understand where the weaknesses are. They then take action to improve on those weaknesses while seeking advice and the opinions of others who are more qualified and or have more experience. Setting pride and ego aside is a crucial step towards developing respect. If we choose to trade double-mindedness for open mindedness, we set ourselves up for high-quality opportunities such as new innovative ideas from team members along with the development of healthy team chemistry and moral.
Work Life Double-mindedness:
Work life double mindedness deals with the decision-making done within the workplace. It is vital as effective leaders that we are very stable and decisive in our decision-making. This is not to be confused with simply making quick decisions that lack necessary research and input from others. Being stable and decisive involves making decisions with a purpose. And once a decision is made, going about it with 100% effort. One of the biggest tests of of an effective leader will come when adversity strikes after important decisions are made. Often times when people see initial negative outcomes, they immediately want to change. While this may be necessary at times, it can also be a double-minded trap. The bottom line is, people in leadership roles are expected to make important decisions. It is important we make these decisions with conviction while trusting that the outcome will result in how we originally perceived. Those who are double-minded in their decision-making may not even realize it in the moment. However, they are likely to be seen as unstable and untrustworthy in the eyes of their followers. That being said, it is vital we choose conviction over double- mindedness in regards to our decisions. There will be times where changes are necessary. Nevertheless, it is important we do not become erratic in our decision-making every time adversity hits.
In summary, there is no doubt that double- mindedness is a dangerous (often subconscious) temptation. Despite this often subconscious nature, recognizing and avoiding double-minded decisions will go a long way in enhancing our leadership credibility both within and outside of the workplace.
As aspiring leaders in our modern World, it is vital that we understand the importance of mastering the necessary social (soft) skills in order to reach our following. Many people think the idea of having soft skills means simply the ability to communicate effectively. While this is certainly a piece in the overall content of soft skills, it doesn’t stop there. It is important that aspiring leaders understand the importance of factoring in human emotion as well. Using a metaphor,the fact of the matter is, behind each person is a story wanting to be read. We as effective leaders must become the readers of each individuals story. Unfortunately, here is where a large portion fail within their various leadership roles. A vast majority of people (especially in the corporate world) refuse to recognize each individuals story. Therefore, they portray a cold, selfish personality based solely on production and adhering to financial demands. However, most may say that this is simply being a “good business person.” While this may be true, it is only one half of the big picture. Even though leadership based solely on financial terms may bring one physical riches and personal accolades, it is likely to lead to internal poverty and lack of fulfillment. Taking the time to tap into each each person’s story will surly do wonders in one’s quest for effective, impactful leadership. The devils advocate may say something like: “Well, I just do not have the time to learn about each person’s life story, I have a job to do and that is to produce results!” While, this is surly most people’s mindset, it should be noted that it’s often not necessary to read one’s full story, often just a chapter or two is enough to prove your intentions and earn respect. The key here is to take the necessary time to scan their story and find the “touchy subjects” (chapters) specific to each individual. The reality is, we all have a past and we all have our dark moments that live within us in some way or another. These moments effect our mood, behavior, personality & actions (or lack thereof). That being said, it is our job as effective leaders to discover these “touchy subjects” and use them to earn respect and enhance our quality of leadership. This process in involves 3 Steps:
1) Be Vulnerable to Receive Vulnerable
Just like their name implies, “touchy subjects” are difficult to get one to admit or be open to talking about. Therefore, aspiring leaders need to be willing to share their own vulnerabilities to their following. Understand that this creates an atmosphere of acceptance and openness. When we are able to talk about or admit to our past downfalls, it opens the door of comfort for others to show us theirs as well.
Once we are able to tap into a “touchy subject”, it is important to use that scenario and relate it to our own experiences and express it to the said individual. If this isn’t possible, we must then be able show our respect and admiration for their courage and handling of said situation. At the end of the day, human beings find comfort in knowing that they are not alone in terms of experiencing struggle and dealing with pain. The power of relating to/appreciating the handling of other’s difficult experiences can play a huge role in earning respect and building a strong connection with each individual.
3) Use the Power of Earned Respect to Inspire
Now that we have tapped into the “touchy subject” and related it to our own life, it is time to use the power of earned respect. Steps one and two have allowed us to achieve this. After we have the respect of each individual, we are then in position to achieve greatness both in terms of business ventures and overall fulfillment. Now that we have connected with these people on a personal level and earned their respect, they are way more likely to go that extra mile in an effort to not let us and the overall group down.
Each person is a story wanting to be read. Understanding this can be a breakthrough for those looking to effectively lead in 2020 and beyond. In the modern World, personal leadership is a stepping stone towards effective leadership. We all have a story filled with “touchy subjects”. Rather than setting them aside and ignoring them based on time and production demands, let’s choose to open the books behind each individual. Whether we realize it or not, the key to earning respect lies within their pages.
The topic of mental illness is one that makes most cringe and seek to change the subject. Unlike a normal physical injury, mental illnesses have a history of being seen as a sign weakness or looked at in a shameful manner. One who suffers from anxiety, depression or a/multiple forms of OCD understands the complications of trying to explain to others just how draining it truly is. The reason for this is because mental illness, unlike physical, does not come with a wound, bruise or scar visible to the outside world. Therefore, when a victim tries to explain their symptoms, they may be thought of as crazy, weak minded, or simply feeling sorry for themselves. Thankfully, the outlook on mental illness has been drastically changing during the better part of the last decade. More and more people are confessing to their struggles with it than ever before. This is because the idea of being mentally ill is becoming less and less of an embarrassment and touchy subject due to the vast number people who claim to be affected in one way or another. That being said, the amount of people who are suffering doesn’t seem to be decreasing any time soon. It is becoming more and more of a trend to see prominent, accomplished individuals confess to their mental struggles. This begs the question: Is it possible to succeed in a leadership role while dealing with a mental illness? The fact of the matter is, succeeding in any leadership role is enough of a challenge by itself. Those who do not suffer from a form of mental illness still face two daunting battles in route to successful leadership:
1) Effectively leading oneself 2) Effectively leading other individuals
In order to become an effective “self-leader”, one must first embrace the concept of to sacrificing short-term pleasures for long-term success. On top of that one must commit to personal development and find the motivation within to acquire a goal-oriented mindset. This process is hard enough for one with a healthy functioning brain. Once they have succeeded in self-leadership, one must be able to develop the necessary social skills and character traits in order to connect with, inspire and earn the respect of each individual within their following. Only then have they put themselves in position to truly succeed in a leadership role. When one is lucky, the battle stops there. However, many face a 3rd, even more grueling challenge. The battle of mental illness. While this battle thankfully isn’t fought by everyone. It is certainly coming into play for more and more individuals. One might argue that the battle of mental illness is related to the first battle (effectively leading oneself). However, when you really break it down, it is clear that they are two totally separate entities.
As touched on before, the battle of effectively leading oneself, deals with personal development and a commitment to a greater cause based on a strong personal foundation and motivation-driven goals. This battle takes on the assumption that mental illness is a non-factor throughout the self-development process. Understanding that, this means those who suffer from mental illness have double the struggle. They must find a way to effectively lead themselves while also fighting the even greater, invisible battle within their own mind. Those who have suffered from a form of mental illness understand the difference between these two battles. The bottom line is, self-development and battling mental illness are not the same struggle.
With that being said, back to the original question. How does one successfully lead while at the same time battling mental illness? Some might argue that this simply isn’t possible. Some may say that the weight of the illness along with the pressure to develop yourself and inspire others is simply to much to handle all at once. Most would likely say that the battle of mental illness must be won first before a person can thrive within a leadership role. While this may be the case for a lot of people. I believe there is a way to put oneself in the best position to lead effectively despite having the burden of a mental illness. Here are the steps:
1) Own It
All too often people feel the need and pressure to hide their symptoms and take on the “Be a man” mentality. The idea of constantly trying to be be invulnerable has been proven to be ineffective and a cause for more internal destruction. There is nothing wrong with admitting to your followers that you are fighting this invisible battle. More likely than not, a number on them are fighting just like you. This admission also creates an opportunity for open discussion about mental illness and creates a family oriented atmosphere of trust, respect and and personal connection. These are all factors essential for effective, impactful and legacy-leaving leadership. Talking about it with others can also be one of the best ways to find some relief.
2) Prioritize it
Going along with owning it, one must then commit to make healing/relief a priority. This means scheduling time in your day aside from your leadership role strictly for self-help activities. This can be meditation, prayer, therapy, keeping a journal and/or medication prescribed by a doctor. The key here is to not simply own the illness and stop there. Owning it must be accompanied with combative action. While it is a vital first step, symptoms will not go away via admission only. One must understand and accept the responsibility to treat the illness in order to proceed and sustain the necessary mindset within their leadership role. Treatment equals hope. When one has hope, he/she is giving the illness exactly what it tries to deprive them from.
3) Understand the 3rd Battle isn’t a LiteralFight
While mental illness is surly a battle. One must understand that this battle must be fought in a totally different way than typical battles. Ironically enough, accepting the symptoms and not trying to fight against them is often the best solution. Just as situations in a leadership role require a sense of calmness, an accepting state of mind and a willingness to handle adversity, the same requirements also come into play for symptoms of anxiety, depression and OCD. That being said, this idea is certainly easier said than done. After all, why should we just let our negative thoughts ruminate in or mind? The key here is to understand and accept that it isn’t our thoughts, but our reaction to them which is causing the problems within. Therefore, the idea is to change our reaction to the thoughts, not the thoughts themselves. I have learned that one’s thoughts or feelings offer zero indication to the quality of that person. It is important for aspiring leaders accept this as reality.
All in all, there is no doubt that mental illness has the potential to sabotage one’s leadership endeavors. That being said, it is important to understand that despite this extra battle in one’s journey, there are ways to navigate the storm and still succeed as a leader. This process is likely to take time while having its ups and downs. It is important for one to understand that and not get discouraged when adversity strikes. Instead of running away and hiding from it, go towards that adversity with faith because the reward is on the other side of it. The willingness to embrace the healing process is key.
The bottom line is, mental illness is real. The number of people fighting this 3rd battle is constantly growing. Those who can successfully overcome it during their leadership journey will not just have success in their ventures, but also leave a lasting legacy of perseverance for all to follow.