I love working with emerging leaders. They possess an energy and focus that set the tone for organizations in ways that goes unseen. They bring themselves to their roles each day with a growth mindset that seeks answers to the bigger questions in the organization often reserved for those who operate in higher levels of the organization.
This go to bed tired and wake up hungry approach is positive and motivating in the beginning, but often when coupled with impatience a tension begins to develop on the team. It’s when the emerging leader becomes that “guy or gal” the tension intensifies and results in stress.
In many cases the young leader has little context to understand why the tension exists. Up to this point everything they have touched was met with good tidings of great joy and now they are experience avoidance and strained communication. This often triggers the emerging leader to internalize and isolate themselves and they begin to lose their edge.
It is a time when the emerging leader requires support and direction and that usually happens within the first 100 days of a new hire or new role. All too often most businesses lack training for their managers. A new manager needs training that positions them and sets them up to win in their role as a manager. Not to mention, giving them much needed support and direction.
The leader experiences high levels of stress as they attempt to manage the uncertainty in their role and the result is they quit on the inside and they just follow the flow into the current of the status quo, or they quit on the outside and begin the process of looking for somewhere else to work. Either way the organization is impacted on multiple levels and in many cases loses momentum as the energy of the emerging leaders finds his or her way off of your bus and on to another.
The challenge for emerging leaders is seeing this as an opportunity to grow rather than a reason to quit and the key to pushing through the quitting point is effectively managing stress.
Here are six stress busters that will provide you with the needed margin to make it through the “in between”.
- First, give yourself a break. Really, we are much harder on ourselves than we should be. Exercising some self-compassion is a much needed skill as you travel into your leadership journey.
- Next, have a big picture mindset. Stretching the stressful moment against a much larger picture will provide balance to the uncertainty your managing. Seeing it in context will make it smaller and easier to quote Sir Paul McCartney, “Let It Be.”
- You also need to nail your routines. It’s easy to be distracted and unproductive in seasons of challenge which affects a leader’s confidence. Your routines that produce value added with results will give your confidence a boost and give you some much needed personal momentum.
- Having distractions can give you traction. Every leader needs a list of 10-15 mind breaks or what I call 5 minute vacations, that break the pattern of worry and overthinking. Be original and quirky, having control over those small strategic breaks will unleash your creative beast and a sense of self governance. One of my favorites was a quick 10-minute nap under my desk. It takes me back to the days when my dad would say, “I was just resting my eyes.” Just make sure your nailing your routines and adding value, then slowly work in a few mind breaks so you don’t freak people out when they see you laying on the floor in your office or the conference room.
- Make sure you focus on progress and not perfection. Progress is your friend and perfection is your enemy, especially as you work though seasons of challenge. Perfectionism will cause what I call, “high energy procrastination” where a leader works hard and fails to accomplish anything. What happens when a leader is focused on perfection is the depth and detail of the work slows progress and creates mental fatigue. The leader cannot produce it today, so they delay it till tomorrow and then it must meet with approval of someone so the leader can feel validation for all of this hard work. The problem is those small doses of validation are like a drug and soon meeting a deadline takes a back seat to getting “feel good” feedback. Nothing gets done and when the leader is held accountable it’s met with surprise and resentment.
- Focusing on progress will take the pressure off, as you reflect that your season of significant growth as a leader happened in the midst of those trying and uncertain times. You will find your competence and confidence has grown and you will also realize that the next level comes conveniently wrapped as a new season of challenge and uncertainty.
Welcome to the wild, wonderful world of leadership.