How To Lead Others When You Don’t Feel Like It

You will face a day, or two, in your life when you don't feel like leading. Good leaders persevere through those dark days of leadership.

Photo: Ken Gosnell, CEO and Servant Leader of CXP (CEO Experience); Source: Courtesy Photo
Photo: Ken Gosnell, CEO and Servant Leader of CXP (CEO Experience); Source: Courtesy Photo

At first glance, leadership appears glamorous. However, may leaders will attest to the fact that leading anything is strenuous and stressful.

The art of leadership requires giving our best effort to be out in front, pointing the way to a better destination. During the difficult days of leading others, it is often hard to stay fresh and be passionate enough to lead others correctly. One of the hardest aspects of leadership in trying times is how you lead yourself.

Great leaders actively decide not to give up or give in, but to lead even when they don’t feel like leading. It can be disheartening when leading becomes the one act of leadership you dread the most.

However, on those days, when the last thing you want to do is lead, there are some small actions you can take to lead with the right attitude and mindset.


Leading others when you don’t feel like it

1. Utilize your feelings of anger and disappointment

Leaders often experience their best breakthrough after their biggest disappointments. Your anger and frustrations can be the very tool that accelerates your leadership to the next level. Use your feelings of hurt and pain to relate to those that are suffering within your company. Share your feelings with those you lead and watch them connect with you on a deeper level.

Allow your setbacks to build a deeper drive and resiliency that will push you to discover your next big success. Disappointments don’t have to disappoint but rather can become the appointment to the next step in your leadership destiny.


2. Review your success stories

In times of burnout and stress, it can be helpful to read through encouraging letters and emails you have received. A kind word of encouragement can change your entire outlook. Recalling past successes can give you hope and convey the value of your leadership. Every leader should keep positive notes, emails, and messages from their team and customers.

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Sometimes the most crucial encouragement letter you can read is one you sent yourself. During stressful days make it a habit to write your future self a note about the goals, dreams, and aspirations you have for yourself and your company. Those messages you send to yourself can be the encouragement you need at a time in the future when you need it most.


3. Focus on leading yourself

There is no place better to practice leadership than by the act of leading yourself. Make two or three decisions that are focused on your life. Lead yourself first. Focus on your needs and personal growth areas. Make decisions that will help you become a better leader. Here is a fundamental fact: When you get better at leading yourself, you will get better at leading others.


4. Seek out a mentor or friend

Dryness is often a signal that you are trying to do too much. When a leader is overextended, everything becomes blurry. Blurry leadership is bad leadership. It is in blurred times that leaders need a mentor or friend to help them see things more clearly. You might need to find a mentor or a friend to discuss the struggles, setbacks, and difficulties you are facing. When you have a person you can turn to, they can often help you determine what to do next.


5. Lead in areas that ignite your passion

Sometimes leadership becomes stale because we are trying to lead in a way that we think others want or a sole focus on what needs to be done in an organization. Don’t let others influence where you lead. Lead where you have deep passion and convictions. The greatest leaders and leadership decisions ever made were made with conviction and passion. Look past the needs of your organization, and search your soul to find those areas of leadership that are part of your core values. As a result, you will get excited about leading yourself, your business, and your people.


Dark days of leadership

You will face a day, or two, in your life when you don’t feel like leading. Good leaders persevere through those dark days of leadership. The esteemed poet of old, Samuel Johnson once said, “Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.” These are some helpful habits that will help you persevere in leading even when you don’t feel like it.


Ken Gosnell is the CEO and Servant Leader of CXP (CEO Experience). He serves leaders by helping them to have great experiences that both transform them and their organizations that enable to go further faster. He has worked with hundreds of CEOs and leadership teams to enhance strategic, operational and people accomplishments. He is an author, coach, and strategic partner with CEOs. Ken is the creator and facilitator of the Christian CEO Linkedin Group and creator of the CEO Experience Impact Assessment. He is married to Shonda, and they have four children. Connect with @ken_gosnell on Twitter.


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