Updated: Apr 5
There is nothing quite like having a leadership role to expose some of our deepest insecurities and fears. Whether it is walking through a difficult season, conflict or change it seems as though we can be exposed to our inadequacies—even if they are temporary. We rarely walk through each circumstance in exactly the same way, always learning new things about ourselves, our environments and those people around us. But depending on how we handle those around us during these seasons, we may feel isolated at times questioning if anyone is with us or on our side. These times may warrant a question or two for a leader to honestly ask themselves to grow in their leadership.
Am I a safe person to follow? Sometimes, depending on our personality structure, how we respond to circumstances can communicate either a path to you or away from you to those you lead. If you often erupt in anger or become defensive, some on the team may not want to approach with their difficulties or disagreement. Others, however, who are more aggressive may not hesitate to bring up differing opinions or present the difficulties because they want to see your response—for better or worse.
If you are this kind of leader, you may need to remind yourself that, when others are feeling differently than you, it is not a statement on your leadership or a challenge. You want to hear other perspectives and you need to hear what is not going well. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have failed, it means that a process or system may have failed.
Take time to assess how you are treating your team, ask a spouse, a trusted coworker or friend if you are safe place to approach and process things. You don’t have all the answers all the time—and when you don’t and feel insecure, it is not uncommon to react and mistreat those around you. Keep in mind it will not bring the team closer to you, it likely will keep them at a distance.
Am I a mystery? For other leaders, when we feel insecure we can hide from conflicts, individuals or circumstances and that may translate to others as though we do not care about them or what is going on in the work culture. When a leader hides from difficulty, a team can quickly feel uncovered or disregarded, even if it is not intentional. Once a team experiences this kind of absence, they tend to make up their own assumptions and narratives. It can often feel as though they band together or live separately in their own conflicts without the leader. This is isolating to not only the leader, but the team.
If you are tempted to hide from your team when it gets hard, the difficult but necessary work of taking time to listen and inquire of their insight will likely be a first a step toward your team. Share with them your thoughts and even some of the things that are not clear to you at the time. This will help you seem less mysterious, more accessible.
As we navigate different terrains as leaders there will always be moments when we look over our shoulders to see who is still with us when we struggle or feel alone. May we continue to grow from our experiences, push through our self-protection tendencies, invite our team into the journey, value their strengths and grow into our greater potential.
Leading teams can be a drain on our emotions, energy and resources. Often it can be very helpful to have a perspective from those who have led teams through many different experiences. We at UCentric Solutions, LLC would love to see how we can help you! Click here to set up a conversation with Craig to explore how we can support you.