Leadership is Seeking a Way Through

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Leaders face obstacles.

There are challenging personality differences, time constraints, limited financial resources. There are blind corners, unforeseen twists and turns, rapid changes. Some obstacles block us from seeing the larger picture, some are precipices where the ground disappears under your feet.

There are people in leadership positions who are very good at avoiding obstacles. Some people try to avoid obstacles by going over them. They are visionary, and their words lift the people around them to new heights. Some people try to wait their way around obstacles. Some people apparently believe that if they ignore obstacles they will evaporate. Some believe that they can plan for every possible challenge. Some act on the assumption that together we can push our way through any barrier.

I have come to appreciate that the obstacles we face have lessons to teach us. I learn a great deal about myself and my leadership from the obstacles I recognize and overcome, and even the obstacles I create.

The leaders who inspire me are honest about the existence of obstacles and challenges. They recognize and appreciate the lessons we will learn, the areas in which we will grow, and the sacrifices we will need to make on our way through the challenges. Their leadership helps us find new ways to work together more effectively.

They know that facing obstacles together is another way for us to put our shared values into practice.

The leaders who inspire me can see that the obstacles we face today are not only about meeting our immediate goals. Each is an opportunity to try, learn, and grow.

We learn more from the seeking and trying than we do from the finding.

What is your most challenging obstacle today?

How does your leadership help the people around you find a way through?

[Image by FutUndBeidl]

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  • http://www.LinkedIn.com/in/DeannaSurvillas Deanna

    The problems that are solved and the challenges and obstacles that the team stepped up to face can alternatively viewed as realized opportunities for improvement.

    My most challenging obstacle is ensuring that my company’s head honcho displays role-model type behaviors that are aligned with his vision for the company’s culture. Values and behaviors trickle down and if the President truly believes in the values he expects from his employees, he is first in line. MVP in embodying those values. He needs to be mindful of frustration and negativity, because his behavior or mood is very contagious. Where can I get a brain-to-mouth filter for the good hearted, good man that I call boss, so he cam think about what his unfiltered words could unintentionally do to one employee, or to all of them? Fred Pryor seminars are not an option.

    • Strategic Monk

      Thank you, Deanna.

      It sounds like part of your challenge is that your president is passionate about what you do, and his passion can take him to places where it is difficult to put your shared values into action. He may get caught up in immediate demands and tasks, shifting his focus.

      It is important to recognize that this is a challenge for most of us.The power of the urgent can distract us from the values that inspire. I also think it is important that there is no immediate cure for patterns of behavior that develop over a career. Working with a coach can help him appreciate the effect of his actions on the people around him and develop ways to remember and reflect your shared values.

      If it would be helpful, I would be glad to talk with him or do a lunchtime talk for a group of people to introduce some constructive ideas.

  • http://affiliatedwomen.net Linda S Fitzgerald


    Biggest challenge/obstacle I face now is waiting. Waiting for others whose role is critical to our advancement to do their part. Tension between wanting to “push/prod them” and letting them work at their own pace. The waiting can be a source of disappointment bordering on the despair of “will this ever happen?”

    As for how my leadership (if that’s what it is) help others find a way through. I can’t answer that. Only those who are part of our community can do so.



    P.S. great post as always!

    • Strategic Monk

      Thank you, Linda!

      Yes, waiting is a challenge for me, too.

      Waiting and disappointment often lead me to questioning and asking Why? Why is this taking so long? Why has this not happened for me yet?

      As I explore my frustration and despair, I see that it often grows from my own perception. Things would be better, and easier, if only people would do things my way.

      It helps me to remember that we each have our own strengths and make our own contributions. each of us is a valuable part of the community.

      It helps, though I still get impatient.