Leadership Is Hard And Messy, Here’s What To Do When You Feel Stuck

Successful founders and CEOs utilize a few essential practices to help them push forward in the most difficult of times.

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

Being a leader is a tough journey filled with obstacles. One of those challenges involves overcoming self-doubt, discouragement, and that feeling of being stuck in a rut.

Barriers to leadership can come at inopportune times. Whether it’s in times of growth through hiring, or amid rolling out operational strategies to improve processes and systems. Leadership is not easy when a leader feels stuck.

Successful founders and CEOs utilize a few essential practices to help them push forward in the most difficult of times. These habits give strategic leaders an edge in decision making and help them stay ahead of changes in the marketplace.


1. Spend time in personal reflection

The ability to understand what’s going on with oneself is key to getting out of a leadership rut. John Maxwell states, “To grow yourself, you must know yourself.” Leaders who want to be innovative, figure out the next strategic move or motivate their team must be self-motivated, and reflect on what could be holding them back.

Personal reflection is a time to ask yourself the hard questions. For example, self-aware leaders can confront their fears. Leaders should be mindful of what makes them fearful of moving forward with a decision. Leaders should also examine whether or not they are being challenged on an intellectual level. By taking time to reflect on their situation, leaders can help narrow down the symptom and identify the genuine causes of a leadership rut.


2. Explore and attend a leadership experience

Determining what’s preventing growth in leadership is only the beginning. Leadership experiences can help leaders develop advanced skills and come in the form of a trip, a coaching session, or a conference that acts as a defining moment to shape the mindset of a leader.

Photo: The Climate Reality Project, Unsplash
Photo: The Climate Reality Project, YFS Magazine


3. Partner with a business coach

Coaching is a development tool where leaders have one-on-one sessions with executive leaders or external consultants. Executive coaching sessions offer leaders a chance to get individual feedback from a professional outside of the company who understands the challenges of leading a company. A coach can listen, share how to lead courageously, and provide valuable advice. Every business leader needs a coach.


4. Attend a CEO retreat

A leader would be wise to not neglect the power meeting with like-minded people in similar positions or situations. Leading by oneself is a recipe for disaster. Just as frontline employees and supervisors need advice and feedback to do their job well, so do business leaders.

A CEO retreat allows leaders to access information from other leaders who can relate to their experiences and receive honest feedback on how to make better business decisions. CEO retreats are powerful because they are times set aside where leaders can work on the business instead of in it.

A consistent habit of attending a retreat helps leaders develop a sustainable pattern for leading over a long period. Leadership retreats may be just whats needed to develop a competitive edge.


Leadership is a journey

Leadership is a journey, and with every journey, challenges can and will occur. Maximizing your leadership potential requires taking the necessary steps to make changes and implement strategies for improvement.

When you’re in a leadership rut, address it on a personal level and use leadership tools — such as executive coaching, leadership experiences and CEO retreats — to achieve the kind of excellence that will transform your capabilities. Seek to become a well-done leader, not just a right now leader.


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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