What major challenges are leaders up against these days?


What major challenges are leaders up against these days?

Part of the series:

Ian Watson and Elizabeth Lovius riffing on life as a leader


– So, Elizabeth, what do you think leaders are up against these days?

– Leaders are up against a lot of competing priorities which creates an enormous amount of feelings of stress and pressure and what should I be doing? They’ve got to look after people, they’ve got to look after results. They’ve got to operate in a changing world, in a changing environment. I’d say one of the very common things that leaders experience is a sense of overwhelm and where should I be focusing my energy.

– Mm-hmm. So there, and we’re talking about leaders, entrepreneurs, these are people who, they’re passionate about what they do, usually. They’re looking maybe to make a difference in the bigger world, not just in their own company. But often they find themselves getting either overstretched or bogged down or going through some kind of transition phase. They have to expand rapidly, this kind of thing, yeah?

– Yes.

– And, obviously, that has an impact on things like personnel and you know staffing and so on so forth. But individually, what do you find when you speak to people, what do they actually struggle with internally?

– I think they really want to find a way to do the right thing, both for themselves, for the people that work for them, and for the company that they work for. I think most people are well intentioned, but I think especially leaders, they feel the burden of responsibility of that. I think that’s true.

– Yeah.

– And they’re often finding themselves having to navigate uncertainty and change. And I know that that’s something that you are really interested in and have done a lot of work with over the years, people in transition and change. What do you think really helps people in that kind of situation, that transitional situation.

– Yeah, there’s a couple of things I’ve seen. One is that people often get frightened by the unknown. That’s one thing that I have noticed. And there’s a tendency to want to stay with what you know, stay with what’s familiar, despite the fact that there’s a requirement to go into the unknown. You’re expanding your business. It’s unknown. It’s unknown territory. So that’s one thing, handling that fear. You know, having a relationship to that natural fear or anxiety that might come up around the unknown such that it doesn’t get in the way. It doesn’t stop the person from doing what they need to do. Another thing that I’ve seen is there’s a kind of almost like a death and a rebirth that has to happen. Someone’s going through a major transition in a way they have to let go of maybe a way of operating in life that might have served them well up to this point but it might not be up to the job in terms of what’s required now. Often that happens, obviously, when people go from let’s say one position in a company to another. And suddenly they’re required not just to put on a different uniform let’s say but also a different approach, a different attitude. Has to bring things, different things have to come forth from within that person that they might not have had to made use of before. They might not even know that they have that within them before. So it’s, it has to do with connecting with the deeper potentials that people have inside of them and being willing to step into that space without any guarantee. Because you can’t predict ahead of time how it’s going to work out obviously.

– And how do you help people and leaders in that situation? How do you help them do that?

– Well, what I know for sure is that everybody has got a place within them that they can connect to that’s already there where they can know that they’re okay, first of all. Where they can feel at peace within themselves. Where they can settle down, and they can forget about whatever’s on their mind at least momentarily. And they can come back to a place where they have a certain clarity, a certain certainty. Some people would call it just an inner knowing that this I know now. You might not know what’s needed next week or next year, but there’s a way that people can learn to navigate by getting settled within themselves, just getting present and seeing what they can do now in this moment. That’s one thing that I’ve found helpful.

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