It’s not uncommon for even the strongest leaders to occasionally lose their nerve, triggered by any variety of events — a company merger, the introduction of a new team member, a change in reporting structure, a project that’s gone awry, or even simply a lack of feedback.
Ironically, similar to the doctor who chooses not to seek medical advice when symptoms of medical malady appear, often leaders who find themselves in this somewhat vulnerable situation think they too must handle it on their own. Reaching out for advisement means acknowledging their vulnerability, something that even the smartest leaders often misinterpret as weakness.
While I too am somewhat reluctant to admit it, I found myself in this situation at one point in my career. What I realized over time was that I wasn’t alone, and in fact, was in very good company. As a result I decided to explore it further. My research, conversations with leaders in a variety of professions, helped me to identify five steps leaders can take to regain their leadership mojo in short order:
1. Take Inventory
Being in a leadership role generally does not ‘just happen’. You’re likely in a leadership position for good reason. Think back through your career and identify at least three successes, big or small, for which you provided leadership.
Action: Write them down on a piece of paper. Review as needed and add to it often.
1. Get Out of Your Office
Often what we experience internally is different from what the external world perceives that we’re experiencing. While you as a leader may be thinking everyone perceives you as vulnerable, that’s generally not the case at all. That’s why reaching out to colleagues simply to have a conversation, go for a walk together, or have lunch helps to put self-perceptions in perspective.
Action: Remember that just because you’re feeling vulnerable, it’s likely others won’t even notice. Pick up the phone, call someone you trust and respect and invite them to lunch. Collaborate. Socialize.
3. Look at Your Social Media Platform
Are you a member of LinkedIn? If so, you have connections, probably some recommendations, and a growing bank of endorsements. And if you’re like me, you don’t connect with just anyone. I limit connections to people I feel I can trust.
Action: So go ahead, log into your LinkedIn account. Take a few minutes to read recommendations your connections have written about you and review your endorsements. Pause to let those recommendations and endorsements sink in, because they’re earned. Do they include recognition of your leadership skills? Take this opportunity to endorse others you respect for their skills and talents. Oh, and if you don’t yet have a LinkedIn account, now is the perfect time to set one up and start connecting with your peers.
4. Attend a Professional Network Gathering
Getting together with other professionals in your discipline outside of the workplace helps to create new connections and a renewed sense of energy, and improves leadership resilience. Interacting with new people offers new opportunities to lead or even mentor others interested in moving into a leadership role. Perhaps now is the right time to consider taking a position on the board of that professional organization.
Action: Open up a new tab in your internet browser and Google your preferred professional organization. Find the date of their next gathering and sign up to attend. Being part of a new conversation can quickly change your perspective and self-perception.
5. Talk to Someone You Trust and Respect
Having taken the actions noted above, hopefully you’re already beginning to regain your well-deserved leadership mojo. I can almost guarantee other enlightened leaders you talk with will have experienced a dip in their own leadership nerve at some point during their career. It may take awhile, but having someone to turn in moments of question is priceless. Even the greatest of leaders have ‘go to’ people. Peter Drucker was a well-known ‘go to’ management confidant for some of today’s most well-respected leaders including A.G. Lafley, Proctor and Gamble gamechanger; Jim Collins; and even Jack Welch, long-time CEO of General Electric.
I’ve been fortunate to have several trusted mentors during my career, including one whose recent passing, at the age of 90, has left my heart heavy and to whom this post is dedicated. Here’s to you, Mr. Congdon: your friendship, stories, and words of wisdom have infused my leadership skills and will long be remembered and applied.
What steps have you, or someone you know, taken to regain your leadership mojo? We’re hoping some gutsy folks will share their experiences here.