Real-World Leadership Frustrations

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Real-World Leadership Frustrations

A few weeks ago, I had the blessing of giving a leadership talk to a group of small business owners at the Jackson Chamber of Commerce. Thanks to Kyle Barron and his team for the invitation. The talk was titled “The 4 Indispensable Actions of Leaders”. I’ve covered this material before, including on this podcast. I did something different this time. I asked attendees when they arrived to write down one leadership frustration. I wanted to get a sense of the real-world leadership issues people are dealing with on a daily basis. So, I read these beforehand and tried to weave a few of them into my talk. Since I couldn’t get to all of them, I thought I would take this episode to unpack some more. These are real people writing down real issues. Maybe you are dealing with one of these leadership frustrations yourself. First of all, let me give you a quick refresher on the 4 building blocks actions for leadership:

1. Understand Your Team – You have to understand the resources, challenges and potential of your team before you can take them anywhere. But once you have a reasonable understanding you have to do exactly that – help take them somewhere.

2. Direct Your Team – You are directing them to move from one point to another. In order to make sure you are making progress you have to have a means of monitoring that progress.

3. Monitor Your Team – It’s not enough to say, “let’s go.” You have to make sure they are actually going with you. And if you see your team as real people and recognize that their good is part of the goal, then you’ll want to improve the ability of your team along the way.

4. Improve Your Team

Now let’s address a few of these real leadership frustrations from real people within this context:

1. “How do I communicate the vision for my team and then connect that vision in day-to-day activities”

o This is such an important goal for leaders. I would say this falls under the Direct Your Team action of leadership. Good direction does not simply involve pointing to a random direction and saying, “go that way.” First, it involves thoughtfully deciding on the direction. To do this, you would benefit from getting good input from other stakeholders to decide on this direction. Once your vision has been thoughtfully considered and is clear, it is your job as the leader to continually remind the team of it. It is easy to be focused on the challenges of the day that you forget where you are going. The leader must continually remind the team where you are going, and why you are going there. And to address the second part of the question, a leader has to take the opportunity to make daily connections with real-world tasks that are helping further the mission. The team may not make the connections themselves, so it is the leader’s job to make sure these connections are being made

o The format of communicating the Vision and its connections to day-to-day activities is important. What is going to be the best way to clearly communicate with your team? For some of you, it may be through email or on your company’s intranet. Maybe it is through in-person regular meetings. For me, I like doing videos. It allows the team to see me and my non-verbal body language as I communicate. It’s not as good as being in the same room with them, but it’s the best way for me to get a message out to 98 teammates in our bank. If you have weekly meetings with your team, allow a part of each meeting to be an opportunity to identify specific activities that week that helped contribute to the Vision. Direct your team toward these connections and direct them on how to begin making these connections more naturally themselves.

2. Here’s one I found very interesting and practical: “How do I find the balance between being friendly and professional.”

o I love this question, because most of the time, as leaders, we gravitate toward one extreme or the other. We either want to be buddy-buddy with the people that we lead, or we are so professional that we seem distant and almost non-human. As the writer of Ecclesiastes says, there is a time and place for everything. Leaders need to possess emotional intelligence to know when it is appropriate to do each. This falls under the action of Understanding your Team. When you seek to understand your team, you are building a professional friendship. This friendship is different from your other friendships with peers. When you have some measure of authority in the workplace, it changes the nature of friendship. You can still be friends, but it must be the kind of friendship in which you are free to exercise your authority appropriately. This leads us to the action of directing your team. It is a professional friendship in which you are exercising some measure of your authority to take them somewhere. This should not be a cold, dictatorial kind of authority, but a humble yet strong authority that seeks input, but that ultimately makes the hard decision of where to go as an organization. This also leads us to the actions of Monitoring and Improving your team. You want to build a professional credibility that gives you the respect to monitor and improve well. Part of Improving your team means coaching them. Coaching can lead to hard conversations, and these will be impossible for you to have if you don’t have the right kind of friendship with those you lead. By all means, get to know your team. By all means, be able to laugh with your team. But if you are the boss, act like the boss. Not a boss that revels in their position, but a boss that is worthy of respect because of their character and because of their genuine love for the people they lead. It doesn’t have to be either/or. You need to be friendly, and you need to be professional with those you lead. There isn’t a formula. It’s really more art than science, and once again, takes a large amount of behavioral intelligence.

3. Let’s say you’re a leader, but you are also reporting to another leader. The next question is: “How do I handle being micromanaged/lack of trust?”

o The Understand your Team action applies here as well. Go to your leader and have an honest conversation about your perceptions. They may not realize they are sending the message that you aren’t trusted. Or they might not realize they are coming across as micromanaging. Or you might find out that they do have concerns about your ability to follow through or your consistency in communicating, so they feel the need to check in on you more than you would like. There are so many leadership frustrations that could be solved if people on teams would talk to one another and be honest about their frustrations. Not all frustrations can be fixed or solved, but 100% of frustrations won’t be solved by keeping it to yourself. In the meantime, make sure you are not micromanaging those that you lead. The Monitor Your Team action means that you must have some measure of accountability for those that you lead. But it needs to be reasonable accountability and focus on the main contributions those teammates are making rather than on every single piece of their day. Sometimes it will take communication back and forth to figure out monitoring mechanisms that are appropriate for all concerned.

Speaking of monitoring things, how closely are you monitoring your identity? Did you know that we have a checking account with the added benefit of monitoring your identity and your credit 24/7? If someone tries to pull your credit, you’ll be notified. If some of your personal information is being sold on the dark web, you’ll know it. Did you know that this could be free of charge with our Foundation Benefits with High Interest account? Certain restrictions apply, so start a conversation with us today to see if this account is right for you. Visit our website at We also hope you’ll subscribe to this podcast to it in your favorite podcast app and share it on social media. This episode is not a recommendation specific to your own unique circumstances. Please consult your own advisor for guidance. Foundation Bank and MBC are a member FDIC and an equal housing lender, and until our next episode, God bless you.

-President Chad P. Wilson, CFP

Today’s episode of “Money Matters” was written and recorded by President Chad P. Wilson of Foundation Bank / McKenzie Banking Company on July 9, 2024. This episode does not constitute financial advice. Please consult a financial professional to discuss your specific needs. Any rates mentioned are subject to change and are accurate as of the recording date. Foundation Bank/MBC is an Equal Housing Lender, Member FDIC.