Here is a brief summary of what leaders must deal with internally, almost all the time.
1- Understanding the difference between your work and your job.
Work is your passion, what you care about the most whether reaching goals, accomplishing big projects or meaningful personal relationships with colleagues. Your job is what you have to do to get to your work, all of what I have called “administrivia” for many years. For me, it’s the paper work, the myriad of details where the devil resides. Others, such as a top-notch assistant can be enormously helpful here in order for you to spend more time with your work and less time with the job. We usually say going to work, not going to the job unless it’s a construction site, often known as a job site. There may be some parallels here.
2- Some expectations for top-level administrators (CEO’s Division Heads, Directors, CFO’s CIO’s and others).
As the one in charge, you have overall responsibility for the institution or organization and you are expected to be decisive, supportive, intelligent, sensitive to the needs of others, communicative, positive, constructive, insightful, wise and available. In fact, accessibility is often a key ingredient in the success of many leaders. Other expectations are that you are the one who sets the tone and pace for others, and you must be capable of making difficult choices and persuading others to accept the outcome. You must respond coolly and calmly in the face of an urgent and critical issue, and you need a handle on any board or governance matter.
3- The results of anxiety, stress and fatigue.
There is sufficient research that documents the negative effects of continuing and unresolved stress. Illnesses of every variety from cancer to immune deficiencies to the common cold can often be traced to stress or one of its allies such as fatigue or anxiety. Poor health habits that include lack of sleep and exercise, lousy nutrition, and no time for reflection and renewal all contribute to a stressed life out of control.
One of the keys to successful leadership is balancing the demands of the workplace with the personal needs of the individual. It is apparent that when the latter are addressed in meaningful and productive ways, the former are met with a higher degree of confidence and energy. Everyone experiences moments of doubt, frustration and discouragement. But those down moments can be counterbalanced with times of insight, understanding, intelligent action, and positive outcomes. Examine your priorities and include some for yourself!
4- Choices, choices and more choices
Some of the better-known diversions for a CEO, head or director are a get-away or a conference that can fall under the heading of professional development. Other official and approved “escapes” include travel to meetings with peers, visiting other places in conjunction with developing partnerships and other individuals and including an extra day on either end of a trip for some much needed R & R. What should be clear is that in order to lead and serve others well, we must also take time to take care of our own needs, thus making it easier and much more possible to meet the demands and expectations of others with grace, dignity and style.
5- Qualities and characteristics of good leadership that can enlighten and energize.
Regardless what you think leadership is or should be, what is clear is that
good leaders know how to marshal the energy, talents and resources of others in order to accomplish certain stated goals and move closer toward fulfilling the mission and vision of their particular organization. Robert Greenleaf contends that one of the things that sets good leaders apart from ordinary ones is the gift or talent of foresight. He calls it “a constantly running internal computer that deals with intersecting series and random inputs and is vastly more complicated than anything technology has produced…it means regarding the events of the instant moment and constantly comparing them with a series of projections made in the past and at the same time projecting future events- with diminishing certainty as projected time runs out into the indefinite future.” That’s a lot to chew on and digest but it is a comprehensive yet concise view of what makes for a good leader.
(This short article is excerpted from a longer one entitled “Internal Perspectives on Leadership”, copies of which are available by request.)