We recently published a post exploring some of the habits vital to effective leadership. But, there are still a small handful of necessary habits remaining. While the first four habits were loosely centered around values, attitude, and growth, those below have a lot to do with how you choose to react when things get difficult. After all, no leader is guaranteed smooth sailing. 

Lean into the Pressure

“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” — Molière, playwright

When stepping into a new role as a leader, you will inevitably be tested. While it’s natural to want to pull away from pressure, great leaders stand up when something difficult needs to be done or faced. The way they accomplish this is by shifting their perspective, so challenges become opportunities.

Facing the pressure also means finding ways to make seemingly impossible challenges achievable through persistence and discipline. For example, when faced with the prospect of writing a 210-page doctoral dissertation, most candidates will likely feel overwhelmed. But, if they can avoid becoming discouraged, they can sit down one night and write three pages. The next evening, they might be able to write three more. Instead of walking away from a monumental task, they keep at it, over and over again, until it is completed.

Avoidance Means You Will Pay Twice

There’s a cost to moving in the opposite direction of your challenges. They will always eventually find you and, by that point, it’s possible they will have snowballed into an even larger headache. For example, if you don’t pay your taxes, in the end you will not only have to pay your taxes but also a fine.

Take Responsibility

Typically, leaders can be divided into two camps. There are those who deflect blame and those willing to take responsibility for their behaviors and choices. The latter consider what is within their ability to control, then they extend their influence to control it. They don’t exhibit traits of learned helplessness, a state in which people lose faith in their own ability to affect situations.

Would You Work for You book coverIn our book, Would You Work for You? The Quest: Discovering the Leader Within, we wrote that, “While all our actions as leaders in some way determine whether we will earn trust, how we do or do not take responsibility for our behaviors and actions has the greatest influence on our ability to build, earn, and grow trust.”

Fail Well and Finish Strong

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, and how you can still come out of it.” — Maya Angelou, poet

In your leadership journey, you will arrive at moments when the temptation to quit is strong. Perhaps you take the wrong path, your efforts don’t add up to the results you want, or a goal remains stubbornly out of reach. Failure is never easy on the ego, but it’s also impossible to avoid completely.

As we wrote in our book, “If you learn to love the process of experimentation, the prospect of failure isn’t so scary anymore.” The odds of getting anything right the first time around are slim. Writers go through countless drafts before arriving at a version that expresses their ideas well. Though early drafts might feel like failed attempts, each teaches them something new.

Instead of seeing your setbacks as failures or dead ends, view them as stepping stones leading to greater growth and accomplishments.

What Finishing Strong Looks Like

Don’t mail your efforts in or lose sight of what you’re trying to accomplish. Instead, make a commitment to yourself that, no matter what you’re doing, you’re going to finish and do your best, for the sake of your organization, your team, and yourself.

“To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift.” — Steve Prefontaine, long-distance runner

Reflection Is Instrumental to Building Good Habits

When you think of great leaders throughout history, more often than not, they were people who faced tremendous challenges and were able to stand firm, learn what they could, adjust when necessary, and move their teams forward. To do this, self-reflection is a necessity. Evaluate yourself honestly, so you can see where you are engaging productively in habits essential to leadership and where there might be an opportunity for improvement. Then, keep your eyes on that finish line and keep moving forward.

Are you ready to step forward and lead your team to success? Our free eBook, Leading Self, can help you get started!