Emotional intelligence helps leaders to develop self-awareness, social awareness, empathy, social skills and resilience in their leadership journey. For months, we have discussed this theme in a simple but practical manner, with the chief aim of helping leaders to survive, then thrive during tough times. By the way, tough times do not last, but tough leaders do.
In this edition, I am going to share with you 10 action strategies that will help you to navigate uncertainties and overcome stress and the challenges of leadership.
Below are the 10 helpful action strategies:
Great leaders are those who have formed the habits of communicating to themselves positive words of affirmation. They understand the power of self-talk and use it consciously to shape their dominant thoughts and belief system. While the majority of people allow circumstances or situations to influence their self-talk in a negative way, leaders and achievers use the same circumstances or situations to remind themselves about the greatness and power that God has deposited within them through positive self-talk
- Positive reappraisal
Successful leaders in different spheres of life are those who find positive lessons, meaning and insights in all situations, especially the negative ones. They always see the bottle half-full, instead of half-empty. They have developed the discipline of sieving wisdom and positivity from failures, mistakes and disappointments. They have mastered the skills of turning lemons to lemonade. They have perfected the habit of looking at life’s events through positive lens.
Real leaders are those who understand the power of acceptance. They quickly accept what they can’t change and focus their energy on what they can. They know how to differentiate their circle of concern from their circle of influence. They don’t waste resources on what is out of their control. Rather, they invest their time, energy and capital on what is under their influence.
Government policies, dollar exchange rate, the economy, amongst other things, are not under your control. However, who is on your team, how valuable your products are, how big and important the problem you are solving in the marketplace is, are all under your influence. Focus on them.
- Seeking professional help
Smart leaders know that they don’t know it all and they don’t have all the answers. So, they surround themselves with other smart leaders – mentors, advisors, boards, consultants and assistants – to help them make informed decisions on a daily basis in their business.
Seeking professional help has been a powerful strategy for many top business leaders I have studied and met in the last 10 years. At Sesan Kareem Institute, we provide business leaders with tools, strategies and global perspectives to solve difficult problems and make better decisions for their teams and organisations.
- Healthy habits
Successful entrepreneurs and C-suite appreciate the importance of good health and optimum being. Therefore, they strive to develop healthy habits of eating right, sleeping well and exercising regularly. Without health, you can’t perform your duties effectively as a leader, or lead your people to a new level of growth, performance and profitability.
More often than not, business leaders justify lack of adequate sleep and rest due to their busy schedule. However, studies have shown that the average top CEO spends just 90 minutes doing what matter most in and on the business.
- Short-term distraction
Leaders must learn how to take short breaks on the job to recalibrate themselves. Take a brisk walk, once in a day, to check on your people while they work. Prepare your tea or coffee by yourself, listen to your favourite music for few minutes.
My point is, find short-term distractions when you feel tired, bored or stressed. Use your daily break and annual leave to focus on self-care.
- Problem-solving skills
Leaders are rewarded for the problems they solve. Great leaders are those who have the insight, tools and strategies to solve higher problems. You must keep honing your problem-solving skills as a leader. “Continuous and never ending improvement” must be your watchword.
Have you ever encountered a problem that you couldn’t solve as a leader and you felt overwhelmed? Fortunately, you spoke with your mentor or consultant and he or she gave you a simple solution to the same problem that had caused you stress. Why? Your mentor or consultant has developed higher problem solving skills. Period.
- Social support
Leadership is filled with uncertainties, challenges and judgement. What people often see are the perks of being a leader; the other side they fail to see or perhaps acknowledge is the price of leadership. Therefore, smart leaders surround themselves with positive social support. They surround themselves with good friends, a caring spouse, and trusted relationships they can lean on during difficult times. Having a good support system can make the burden of leadership easy to carry for leaders.
- Constructive activity
Managing people from different backgrounds is difficult. Growing a business in the midst of uncertainties isn’t for the fainthearted. Achieving profitability year in, year out, isn’t easy. Experienced leaders know this intuitively; however, they have also learnt to engage in constructive activities outside the business environment to effectively deal with the ups and downs of running a business.
Volunteer for a good cause; golf, if you can afford it; be a member of the Rotary. Find what gives your life a meaning outside work and engage in such constructive activities regularly.
Leaders are visionaries. They picture the future they want and work towards it daily. They are dreamers – turning vision into reality, dream into fruition and plans into results. They set new rules for the game. They don’t give up easily because they are pioneers, working everyday to make our world a better place.
Your vision must be a driving force for your actions. See your ideal results often in your mind every day, and keep working on it, until your turn them to tangible outcomes.
ACTION PLAN: Identify which ones of the above action strategies you currently use to cope with stress, uncertainty and life challenges. Then, commit to add three new strategies to complement the existing ones.
AFFIRMATION: I am a leader of men. I am a problem-solver. I am blessed and highly favored.
Sesan Kareem serves as Founder/Principal Consultant, Sesan Kareem Institute, www.seaankareem.com.ng. He trains, teaches and inspires leaders to achieve peak performance.