Leadership is not a walk in the park as it requires several vital skills to handle a team or even just an individual. In this episode, Carolyn Rivera teaches us how to overcome the challenges of a leader. She walks us through some important elements that we need to use as a leader, and outlines how we can develop others. Make a difference in someone’s life by taking that step towards making them better leaders. Learn how you can do just that in this episode.
Listen to the podcast here:
Overcoming The Challenges Of A Leader
I had this amazing whirlwind of a trip but it was fantastic. I started off by visiting an amazing Survivor couple in Utah, Sierra and Joe from my season, and I interviewed them on my show. They shared what their experiences were on Survivor but also how those experiences changed their outlook on life and what they learned from putting themselves out there in the jungle and out of their comfort zone. We all love our comfort zone, but growth happens when you make that first step outside and you learn something or you experience something new. For every new experience that you have, you expand your own personal world. You hear me say this all the time, “Take that step and go try something new.” It’s an amazing experience. Even if you don’t enjoy it at that time, you learn something from that experience. After I left Sierra and Joe, I went to another past Survivor’s house, Leslie Nease, and she was on season fifteen.
On most of the seasons of Survivor, there are one or two women that are cast as that older woman or the moms. We formed a group that we call the Survivor Mom Squad. It’s for those ladies that were cast as the mom of their season. We met in Utah and there were five of us that came to the event this 2019. We had Lisa Keiffer from season nine, Leslie Nease from season fifteen, Dr. Jill from season 21, Chrissy Hofbeck from season 35 and me, Mama C from season 30. We hiked three miles up a mountain. We reached the very top, then back down. That was an amazing experience. The hike was grueling, but we did it. We whined about it along the way, but we did it. We shared great stories. Lisa owns a candy store in New Orleans and she made us eat bugs. That was gross. It was fabulous to spend time with some of my Survivor sisters and it’s a great community to be a part of.
Challenges Of Becoming A Leader
I flew to New Jersey for a girls’ night out with my dear friend Judy who’s getting married. It’s a fun-filled party week. I got home and had a little bit of time to relax. I wanted to talk about some of the challenges that we face as leaders. Any time we put ourselves in a leadership position, there are some things that we must think about and generally overcome in order to make things happen. It’s not to say that it always happens, but I bet when you hear the list, you will be able to think back to a situation where you took on a leadership role and think to yourself, “Did I have to deal with these things? Did I have to think about these things?” Any time we take on a leadership role, there are other people who are looking at us to help them understand the direction of where we’re going, what are we trying to accomplish, and how do we know when we’re done.
People want to follow and listen to others that they feel are experienced, that are not afraid to take on a challenge, and that can help others through their fears. Everyone has their own set of fears. I was watching TV and The Flying Wallendas were on. They’re this tight rope walking family. They are from the circus generations and generations of this tight rope. Nik and Lijana Wallenda walked a quarter mile on a wire strung 25 storeys in the air over Times Square in New York City with no net below. That alone is insane even for people who have been doing this their entire life. A few years ago, they were practicing this stunt. It was this eight-man pyramid when all of a sudden, somebody lost their balance and they all fell. Three of them grabbed on to the tight rope and the others fell down to the floor.
Creating A Mindset Of Confidence
Lijana was part of that and she sustained tremendous injuries. She broke every bone in her face. She has 73 screws that they had to put to reconstruct her face. That was the first time that she performed since that accident. This wire almost took her life away, but she was determined to overcome that fear and not allow it to take away her passion. She and her brother took to the wire, 25 storeys above Times Square with all those lights. You can’t practice in an environment like that. You can’t recreate where they were going to be, but they did it. They had to create a mindset of confidence. They had to ensure that they stayed focused and didn’t think about all the things that could go wrong. This is the same thing that leaders must consider every day.
As a leader, it’s your job to inspire others, to help people try new things, to learn new things in order to expand their minds. This is an amazing example of perseverance. Someone who almost lost her life to her sport, but she never gave up. She fought hard every day to get back what she lost. That’s what we have to do to overcome those obstacles. That’s what the leadership is all about. I’m going to talk about some of the challenges that you may face on your leadership journey. We wish it’s all fun and games but unfortunately, that’s not always the case. There are times when we as leaders are faced with these challenges. We will talk about what those challenges are and how you can face them.For every new experience that you have, you expand your own personal world. Click To Tweet
The first challenge that many leaders are faced with is ensuring that you are ready to be a leader yourself. You understand what it takes to be a leader and that you have the skills to be effective. It’s the ability to manage others. You’re managing work. You’re understanding what it takes to get things done. There are many skills that come into play when you think about this. Some of those skills are being able to create a vision, to do strategic planning, prioritizing, time management, decision-making. These are all the individual skills that as you move into a leadership role, you must have for yourself. Creating a vision is critical because people want to understand where you’re headed.
Readiness To Be A Leader
They need to understand the priorities and what’s going to make them successful personally. All of that links to the vision. You need to be able to clearly articulate the vision and understand how people fit into that vision. They want to know that what they’re doing matters and that it links back to the overarching goals of the organization. This is not only in a work environment. It could be something that you create for your family. It could be some experiences that you don’t have now but they’re very important to you. You need to create that vision, get people onboard and excited about where you’re headed. I had that on my daughter and her husband. My daughter had to convince her husband to travel around the world for a year. That was her vision.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s in the workplace or home, you’ve got to have a plan. You’ve got to have this vision. You have to understand what the steps are that you need to take to gain the result that you’re looking for and then how do you prioritize what is most important. Prioritization is sometimes the one thing that gets people crazy. If you don’t understand your priorities, you can be focusing your efforts in ways that will not get you where you want to go. Don’t overlook the skill of being able to prioritize. People are going to be looking for you to give them that insight. If you talk to your people, you will find that many say it’s a very important skill that many leaders are not that great at because they don’t share the priorities. People find themselves doing things that are not aligned with the full organization.
Time Management And Prioritization
The next skill that I want to talk about is time management. If you talk to 100 people, they will all tell you that they never have enough time. They never have enough time to do the things that they want to do or they need to do. Time is the one thing that you have no control over. You can’t get any more of it. There are only 24 hours in a day and that my friends will never change. It then becomes important to manage your time effectively. Sometimes we think that if we do busy work, we’re being productive, but that’s not true. You must work on those things that are directly linked to your goals and objectives if you want to move things forward. Remember, you’re the role model for others. How you spend your time is how others will follow because they look at you as their leader. They’re going to follow what you do. You must have the ability to help others prioritize and focus on those things that are going to achieve the goals that you put together.
Time management and prioritization are directly linked together. You need to be able to prioritize so that you can focus on the right things and then it’s all about decision-making. People don’t like other people that can’t make a decision. You can’t be wishy-washy. If you have a clear vision and you thought about all those activities that are going to take to achieve your vision, you’ve prioritized those activities to make sure you’re working on the most important ones first, the ones that linked directly to the outcomes, then the decisions you have to make should be pretty straightforward and easy. Wouldn’t it be great if life was that simple? Sometimes it isn’t and that is where your ability to make a decision is critical. Have you been working with somebody who can’t make a decision? It is frustrating.
Know that you need to be able to make those decisions. With all of these skills, you will find it easier to get through the challenges of being a leader. These are the things that will help you to be more effective when planning something that’s very important to you or your family. The last thing to consider is that depending on what you do, you’ve got to be up to speed. You’ve got to be knowledgeable. Staying current on the things that you need in your role is super important. Think of it this way. Let’s say you have a new job and you’re the leader. You’re going to have to understand the industry specifics and the company specifics before you make any changes. Those are the skills that you have to look at internally first.As a leader, it is your responsibility to coach other people to help them learn and grow. Click To Tweet
Leaders have identified those skills as the ones that are most challenging for them personally. One of the other things that’s most challenging is the ability to inspire others to succeed. What does it mean to inspire others? Sometimes we think that people should follow us because of our title. Whatever that title is, it could be CEO, manager, mother. Truthfully, some people do fall into that category. They might get people to follow them because of a title, but that is totally different from inspiring people to succeed. When you think of that, it’s someone who has passion, purpose, and the ability to listen to others. Have you ever had a coach that was not passionate?
Inspiring Others To Succeed
Didn’t it feel like they didn’t want to be there or that it was something that they didn’t truly believe in? Think of it this way. If you want people to change and to do something different and you’re not passionate about it, why should they be? You can’t expect others to go out on a limb if they don’t see a reason to do so. Passion and excitement breed passion and excitement. When you think about it, what is the purpose of inspiring others? It’s to ensure that people are working smarter and that they’re committed to doing the right thing. The keyword there is being committed. If you’re not passionate about what you do, whatever it is, you’re not going to be committed to it. You will do only what’s necessary to keep your job or just do the bare minimum to get by in whatever it is.
If you are inspired by your leader and you become passionate about what you do, then you can guarantee that you’re going to be committed and that you will do whatever it takes to make it happen. Think about that woman on the tight rope. She fell and she broke every bone in her body. Her face had to be reconstructed but she didn’t give up. It took her two years to get back and perform. She was passionate about it. She was committed to it and she had her family inspiring her every single day to continue. As a leader, it’s important to be able to motivate others. The challenge is knowing what other people need.
How do you know how to inspire people when all people are different? You must begin to understand individually what it takes to get that one person passionate and then you move on from them to the other person and to the other person. The challenge is making it personal enough that people feel that you’re focused on them. There are however a couple of things that all people look for. Everyone enjoys someone who listens to them. You can’t just tell people what to do. People have to feel valued. They have to feel you care about them, and you can’t pretend, you really have to care. They need to feel they’re included in the process and that you listen to them. People like to be heard. Even if they don’t always get what they want, at least you listened to hear what they were thinking.
I talk about this all the time. Communication, I can’t say it enough. It is so important to communicate effectively with people because nine times out of ten, all issues stem from miscommunication. As a leader, when you’re asking people to follow your lead, you have to inspire them to want to follow you. I highlight the word “want” because you’re influencing them to do what you want them to do, but get them to want to do it. I know that’s the definition of influence, but inspiration links directly to influence. A leader needs to be able to inspire and constantly motivate others. To do that, you have to have passion, purpose, listen and involve others.
Think for a minute about someone who inspires you. What are the things that they do? How did they get you to try something new or do something different? How do you define inspire for you? Those are the things that you should be thinking about when you want to inspire someone. The difference is that you must begin to look at it through their eyes, from the other person’s point of view. It doesn’t matter what inspires you. You need to understand what will inspire them. That’s a clear difference and why leaders consider inspiring others to be a challenge. We all want to do what’s comfortable to us, but inspiring others need that shift in mindset off of you to them.Get yourself comfortable with change. Figure out who you answer to so that you can be the best leader you can be. Click To Tweet
Another part of this puzzle is the ability to develop other people, to give them the skills and competencies they need to be successful. There are a couple of nuances. When you think of developing others, it encompasses coaching, mentoring and skill building. This is a big topic because the needs vary and the challenges vary based on what you’re doing. I’ve heard many times that leaders are focusing on skill building but the person doesn’t listen. They don’t see the importance of learning the new skill or changing the way they’re doing things. The biggest challenge there being, how does a leader get someone to want to do something different or learn something new? Think about trying to teach someone close to you how to ride a bike, drive a car or learn a new computer program. I can remember those days. The challenge once again becomes how do you begin to see the needs through the eyes of the other person. It’s not about how you like to learn. It’s about how they like to learn.
Developing Other People
As a leader, it’s your responsibility to coach other people to help them learn and grow. Some people don’t spend time on this topic. I’m here to tell you that is a big mistake. If you spend time on your people, they will spend time getting better and better because they want to get better at that point. The more this happens, the more success you will see. There are some short-sighted people that ignore the human element of coaching and mentoring others because the change and the results that you’re looking for may not happen immediately. It takes time to see that change. That once again is part of the challenge because we all like to see things happen at the drop of a hat.
When things take longer, we move on to the next thing. We try something new. “That’s not working. I’m going to try something new. Forget about this coaching thing. It’s not the right thing.” To me, developing others, that’s my passion. This part of the leadership role to me is fun because it’s what I do. It’s very challenging because of the differences that people have within themselves. It’s much easier for someone to coach someone who is like them because you personally know what it takes for you to be successful. Sometimes when you’re coaching or mentoring someone who’s totally different from you that can be a challenge because they’re coming from a very different perspective.
It becomes even more challenging when you lead a team because instead of working with one person in one way, you now have a team of people with all different needs and all different ways of learning and developing themselves. That’s why I keep stressing the aspect of focusing on the individual. There is, unfortunately, no one size fits all option. You’ve got to spend the time to get to know the people, to find out specifically what motivates them personally and to understand how they learn. When you do that, magic happens. It’s like when an orchestra comes together for the very first time, people must first figure out where they fit in. They must understand how to work with others on the team. They must search to find out why everyone is there and what they bring to the team. When they do, it turns into a symphony.
Everyone is in lock step with each other. Everyone understands fully the strengths and development opportunities that each individual has. They work together to their strengths while allowing them the ability to develop new skills. Everyone focuses on what they do well but in addition, they’ve given the ability to continue to learn and grow. Developing others and leading teams of diverse people are not always easy, but when you figure it out, it turns into magic. That’s what we’re looking to do. We’re trying to figure out a way where we can coach people to be better, understand things from their perspective, mentor people to help them in their life’s journey, and give people the skills and competencies they need to be successful on their terms, how they learn. Those are the things that we focused on when we talk about developing others and leading teams. Even though they’re all different and people are all different. That’s typically what’s challenging for leaders, but when you figure it out, the magic does happen.
Talking to leaders throughout my career, I’ve always heard issues related to change. Managing change is something that everyone complains about. If you don’t excel in this area, you will not be successful as a leader. In nowadays environment, change is the only constant. Our world continues to change whether we want to get onboard that train or not. Leaders must focus on enhancing their skills around managing change. The hardest part about change is taking that first step. We talked about it a little before. It’s overcoming fear and it’s the fear of the unknown. The fear of what if I can’t do this? What if I make a fool out of myself? These are all the things that pop into your head when you’re going through a change. Any time you go through a change, there will be a period of time when you’re not successful. You’re still learning and therefore you’re not going to be as good as you usually are.The hardest part about change is taking that first step. Click To Tweet
For example, when you first start to learn how to play a sport, let’s use basketball. The first time you try and dribble down the court, you may not do it right. You may walk, you may double dribble, you may do it all wrong or you may even lose the ball. The first time you take a foul shot, you may not get it in the basket. You may not even get it close to the basket. It takes time to learn a new skill. It takes time to change. That’s the reason why people are uncomfortable. It takes time to be perfect and nobody wants to look stupid at the beginning. There’s a lot of discomfort with change. It’s the fear of failing and the truth is you learn so much more through that process, through failing, through things that are tough. That’s when you learn the most. You learn about what it takes to stay focused. You learn about what it feels like to be uncomfortable for a period of time while you’re perfecting that skill.
People react to change in different ways. Some people are angry because they have to do something different. Some people are depressed because of all the things that in their mind, they feel they’re leaving behind. There are a variety of ways in which people cope with change. It truly varies from one person to the next. The reason why leaders find this to be a challenge is getting people through that change process, getting them out of that anger stage, out of that depressed state and out of whatever they’re feeling into acceptance, into understanding that the change is happening and that it will be better. They should begin to make sure that they figure out what this new way of doing things is.
It’s also about letting people know that it’s okay to feel uncomfortable and that we all go through that. Sometimes people need to hear that it’s okay to feel uncomfortable throughout that process. In fact, it’s normal to feel uncomfortable through the change process. Sometimes leaders just want to tell people what to do. They tell people about the change and then they don’t give them the time to process the change, to get through that entire change management process. It’s truly an important thing as a leader to do. If you’re great at that part, that’s fantastic. If you aren’t, then you need to begin to figure out how to get yourself comfortable in times of change because you as the leader, you’re the role model. It starts with you and change is not going away. You’ve got to figure it out. Every single company that I have worked for has gone through significant change at one point or another. It’s something that all of us should begin to expect. Focus on the people and what it takes to get them through the process.
Having Different Stakeholders
The last challenge that I wanted to talk about is the challenge of having all different types of stakeholders. As a leader, you have to answer to your stakeholders. The issue is that sometimes even the stakeholders aren’t on the same page. When that happens, it becomes an even bigger challenge for you. You’ve got to figure it out right from the beginning because it’s not going away. You’ve got to figure out who your stakeholders are and what decision-making authority do you have. You have to figure out who has the last word, who’s going to make the final decision. That’s the person that you need to focus on. The challenge happens when people don’t buy into the decision and they don’t speak up. Change is not going away and all of us have to answer to someone. Get yourself comfortable with change and figure out who you answer to so that you can be the best leader you can be.
We talked about the challenges that leaders have. First, we talked about those individual skills that a leader must have to be successful, creating a vision, having a strategic plan, understanding what it takes to implement that plan and what are the priorities or prioritization. How do you know you’re working on the right things and are those things linking back to the goals and objectives that you’ve outlined in your plan? The last thing is what is the process that you use for making decisions? Those things are all individual. Those are the individual skills that people must have to be a leader and it never ends. You’re constantly perfecting these skills within yourself every single day. We also talked about what it takes to inspire others, to motivate them to do something different by being passionate about it yourself. Remember, you’re the role model. They will follow your lead. If they do not see that you think something’s important, then they won’t think it’s important either. As a role model, you’re on stage all day every day. Make sure to put your best foot forward all the time.
We talked about developing others by teaching them a new skill, coaching or mentoring them. This is an area that sometimes gets overlooked because things happen and it’s the first thing that people leave behind. You can truly make a difference in someone’s life if you take that step. You always think about the person who helped you the most. The person who believed in you when you didn’t and made you see something within yourselves that maybe you didn’t even see initially. That my friends is invaluable. We talked about managing change and managing all different types of stakeholders. Remember, just when you think things aren’t going to change, they will get comfortable with being where we are. That’s where things happen. Nothing stays the same. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. As they say on Big Brother, “Expect the unexpected.” When you can turn your mind into seeing things from another person’s perspective, that’s what successful leadership is all about.
We’ll have another great show for you. I’m on Instagram, @CarolynRivera14. Go ahead and press that follow button and follow me to get a daily dose of leadership tips and inspiration. If you have some ideas for topics and you want to set up a free call with me, go to my website at CarolynJRivera.com. Send me a message. I love to hear from my audience. Helping you achieve more than you ever thought possible is my specialty. Remember believe, commit, achieve is the secret sauce you’re looking for.
- Sierra and Joe – Previous episode
- @CarolynRivera14 – Instagram