Don’t wish things were better, wish you were…

While I don’t understand the whole concept of nirvana, I do know that the folks who’ve attained it aren’t working. Else they would be like the rest of us — whining and complaining about the problems in our lives and this world-at-large.

When it comes to problems, here’s what I know is the truth — life is though and will never be short of challenges. And this holds so darn true for leaders across all levels. It doesn’t matter if you’re managing a start-up, an established company, a non-profit or even a ministry — it’s always the leaders fault! Unfair? Well, it is but our opinion really doesn’t matter.

Whenever I strike up a conversation with a leader or a manager, I almost always end up asking a variant of this question out of sheer curiosity: “what professional challenge has been consuming you and your team at the moment?” This is often followed by a diatribe against the forces (teams, employees, bosses, stakeholders, the board, the market, and heck — the weather!)that seem to be working against them.

And after deeply listening to them for many (many, many, many) minutes, I take a pause and ask them the follow-up question: “what measures have you taken or think you should take to resolve this?” This question is acknowledge with either silence or a variant of “we’re working on it,” meaning they’re not doing shit about it because they don’t think it’s their responsibility.

That, my friend, right there is one of the most heinous leadership challenges right there — owning up the challenges. As leaders your number one responsibility is to resolve problems. You’re facing them simply because the rungs below didn’t have the resources or direction to resolve it by themselves. Who else would they look up to but the leaders?

There’s no invention needed here. If you’re a leader, suck it up and face the challenge! The more you do, the better you become at facing adversities. And the better you become at that, the better leader you’ll become. Everyone is convinced leadership is all about influence. It is but influence is built on credibility and the best to build that is by resolving problems. Not complaining but doing something about it.

By Sunil Nair

Nurturing leaders of tomorrow.

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