Navigate Leadership Challenges in the Workplace

🕑 4 minutes read | Feb 18 2020 | By Becky Gendron

It is no secret that an organization is only as strong as the leaders who define it. Marshall Goldsmith once said, “One of the most important actions, things a leader can do, is to lead by example. If you want everyone else to be passionate, committed, dedicated, and motivated, you go first!”[i] Unfortunately, as many decision-makers know, leadership challenges in the workplace are quite common. The good news is that overcoming those challenges, as daunting as they may seem, is possible. By learning to navigate those challenges head-on, leaders can guide the way to excellence.

Failure Is an Option

A study found that the average person will make 773,618 decisions over a lifetime, and that person will come to regret 143,262 of those decisions.[ii] In any organization, big or small, the fear of failure can prevent employees from taking chances, trying something new, or thinking outside of the box. Employees, fearful of making a wrong decision, will avoid the risk of something new because the idea has been instilled in many that failure is not an option. Without new ideas, new technology, and new processes, organizations become stagnant.[iii]

If leaders adopt the philosophy that failure is an option, employees become empowered. Employees view their efforts as how results are attained, and failure as an acceptable momentary result of their effort. Empowered employees become more willing to try and fail, rather than to not try at all.[iv] Even if employees miss the mark, the results may provide valuable insight and allow for changes for future growth. [v]

As Mark Cuban once said, “It doesn’t matter how many times you have failed, you only have to be right once.”[vi]

Attitude, Not Aptitude

Zig Ziglar once said, “It is your attitude, not your aptitude, that determines your altitude.”[vii] Effective leaders lead by example and they also know that attitude, good or bad, is contagious. Leaders with a positive attitude will also lead with a positive vision of the future. Similarly, leaders with a negative attitude will have a toxic effect on employees, business growth and more. In fact, a recent report estimates that bad bosses cost the economy $360 billion dollars every year in lost productivity.[viii]

Leaders with a positive attitude create an environment that inspires employees to think, act, develop and create. Carolyn Warner says, “I am convinced that attitude is the key to success or failure in almost any of life’s endeavors. Your attitude, your perspective, your outlook, how you feel about yourself, how you feel about other people determines your priorities, your actions, your values. Your attitude determines how you interact with other people and how you interact with yourself.[ix]

Instill Trust

The foundation of trust can influence almost every facet of an organization. Trust can affect employees, the products or services they produce, new ideas, and even corporate culture.[x] Strong leaders know that micromanaging can stifle growth and cause frustration. Strong leaders also know that there is no one right way to do everything and that by trusting employees they will, in turn, be more engaged and more efficient.

Peter Drucker, the author of Managing for the Future, said “leaders who work most effectively, it seems to me, never say ‘I.’ And that’s not because they have trained themselves not to say ‘I.’ They don’t think ‘I.’ They think ‘we’; they think ‘team.’ They understand their job to be to make the team function. They accept responsibility and don’t sidestep it, but ‘we’ gets the credit…. This is what creates trust, what enables you to get the task done.”[xi]

Change and Adapt

Successful organizations and their leaders change and adapt. Because change is what ultimately drives growth, leaders must be willing to accept change and then translate the vision of the organization from the top to the ground troops.[xii] Sarah Clayton said, “Few things are more important during a change event than communication from leaders who can paint a clear and confidence-inspiring vision of the future.” A leader’s role, in times of change, is critical to an organization’s continued success. It’s so important because they are a key component when it comes to deciding what areas to adopt and what to adapt as change arises.[xiii]

[i] “Famous Quotes at BrainyQuote.” BrainyQuote, Xplore
[ii] “Average Person Makes 773,618 Decisions in a Lifetime.” Mirror,, 12 Mar. 2012
[iii] Puthiyamadam, Tom. “Failure Is an Option.” Strategy+Business, 12 Mar. 2018
[iv] Boss, Jeff. “5 Timeless Leadership Roles To Help Navigate Change.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 23 Mar. 2015
[v] Puthiyamadam, Tom. “Failure Is an Option.” Strategy+Business, 12 Mar. 2018
[vi] “Famous Quotes at BrainyQuote.” BrainyQuote, Xplore
[vii]Attitude Sayings and Attitude Quotes | Wise Old Sayings.” Respect Sayings and Respect Quotes | Wise Old Sayings
[viii] Ouimet, Maeghan. “The Real Cost of Bad Bosses.”, Inc., 15 Nov. 2012
[ix] “Attitude Sayings and Attitude Quotes | Wise Old Sayings.” Respect Sayings and Respect Quotes | Wise Old Sayings
[x] Williams, David K. “The Most Valuable Business Commodity: Trust.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 21 June 2013
[xi] Daskal, Lolly. “30 Quotes on Trust That Will Make You Think.”, Inc., 5 Feb. 2015
[xii] Navigating Change: A Leaders Role
[xiii] Boss, Jeff. “5 Timeless Leadership Roles To Help Navigate Change.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 23 Mar. 2015

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