Leaders: It’s time to adjust, again!

Deborah Wilson

Leaders having a discussion in the workplace

To say there is enormous pressure on leaders across most (if not all) sectors at the moment is an understatement. Some of the most pressing issues include:

  • Changing economic landscapes
  • Fluctuating political landscapes
  • Staff shortages
  • Hybrid work
  • The high demand for flexibility
  • The results expected (and yesterday)

And did I mention there are only 24 hours in a day? (That is probably the only thing that has not changed recently.) As leaders know all too well, this list is not at all definitive.

Even the best leaders are feeling the pinch

Sure, we all have what we have in our toolkit. During ‘standard’ times, that toolkit would be ample. However, even with many years of leadership experience behind us, this year appears tougher. I speak from experience here. My wealth of experience managing people and teams has really been stretched in 2023. (I feel it’s important to be transparent so that people don’t feel alone with their struggles.)

So, what's the answer?

We need to adjust. Granted, this is not exactly an original piece of advice, and it may even frustrate you initially. But hear me out…

As leaders, our people look to us to set an example. We need to revisit our baseline. The past few years have been incredibly taxing for most of the leaders I speak with. For many, there hasn’t been any breathing space. Pressure and stress have become the new norm for so many. Too many.

So when I say it’s time to look at our baseline, I’m referring to:

  • Acknowledging the ever-changing landscapes around us
  • Refocusing our energies towards what’s possible given the information at hand right now
  • Considering how you’re showing up for your team. You don’t have to carry the load alone

Staying innovative is critical right now

When times are tough, it’s easy to shut down new opportunities and different ways of doing things. Focus your attention on the future and communicate clearly with those around you. Try new things and involve your team in discussions and brainstorming sessions wherever possible. I always find space helps me to reset. What this entails exactly looks different to different people. Blocking off 30 minutes in your calendar to sit and journal; going on a quick walk; scheduling a coffee catch-up with a mentor or trusted colleague; leaving the office earlier to give yourself debriefing time… the list is endless.

At times like these, I feel it’s best to be strategic about where you focus your energy. Be open to new ideas and remain curious. Learn fast and fail faster. Reframe failure into learnings. I understand these things are all easier said than done, but with the right approach, even the toughest times feel more manageable.

Soft skills and quality leadership go hand-in-hand

I referred to your toolkit earlier. Consider your toolkit and be honest with yourself. What else do you need up your sleeves? How can you engage with stakeholders or your team differently to achieve better results? Formally and informally, we are all leaders in some way. We can’t all be experts at everything. Take the time to understand your strengths and be proactive about the areas you need to work on.

Most importantly, remember you’re not alone. If you need support, reach out to our talented team at OnTalent. We offer customised solutions to support your business or individual development. Feel free to contact me (my details are below) or find out more via OnTalent’s website.

Deborah Wilson is a Thought Leader and a Career Strategist. She takes a personalised approach to strategic career coaching and career transitions, mentoring and leadership development. Deborah provides expert guidance for individuals while supporting organisations through change and connecting people and purpose. Call Deborah on +61 403 779 746. www.ontalent.com.au

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