James was on edge. He could not wait to talk to me. James is one of my peers in the hotel industry and we catch up with each other on a regular basis. This time I felt James built enough “ammunition” about his management team, that he was just ready to unload all his frustrations in one conversation.
James had a “laundry list” of complaints about his work. One after another kept rationalizing why they are doing things the wrong way in his hotel. I wasn’t sure whether he just wanted to vent or was looking for some advice.
James is not a rookie manager in our industry. Far from it. He’s been a division and department manager in several hotels. I was somewhat surprised. But throughout the conversation, I noticed that James focused mainly on issues that were actually much in his control, but did not find the opportunities to empower himself. He portrayed himself as a victim to the challenges happening around him.
Real leaders don’t complain. It just creates a vicious cycle of blame. Real leaders need to rise to their challenges and be empowered to make a difference.
Winston Churchill once said, “The price of greatness is responsibility.” As a leader, you bear the responsibility to fix problems. That’s why you are there. If your organization didn’t have problems to fix, they wouldn’t hire you as a leader.
Part of being a leader in any organization is to view challenges as a test to our own leadership. If you really want to succeed in any company, you need to turn problems into solutions. If everyone around you is doing things wrong and you think you are doing it right, the problem is not them. It’s you.
Before John F Kennedy became President of the United States, Eisenhower reminded him that “No easy matters will ever come to you as President. If they are easy, they will be settled at a lower level.” Leaders will inherit problems and will need to deal with them daily, but the real questions is whether you respond or complain about it.
Leaders are not victims. They feel empowered and take the initiative to resolve issues. There are two kinds of people in the world. Those who make things happen and those who wait for things to happen. Leaders are the ones making things happen!
Let’s look at the things you as a leader can do in any given situation:
Many managers assume they know without asking in order to understand the issues around them. They “build a case” to support their judgments and inaccurate information. Asking questions would make them look incompetent and weak around their team. Quite the opposite is true. Stephen R Covey has the best advice-“Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”
Have a “Can Do” Attitude
Having a “Can Do” means you have options. You are ready to tackle any issue or at least ask for help to get problems resolved. The most successful leaders are not thinking what they can’t do, but what’s within their power to start creating positive change around them.
It’s easy to focus on the problems and moan about how things are bad. But don’t be like a dog that’s chasing their tail. Great leaders focus on how to bring about solutions to everyday challenges. What makes a leader? Someone who looks at a problem and comes up with suggestions on how to fix it. They may encounter obstacles along the way, but they are resilient in moving forward to bring about change.
Foster Open Communication
As a leader, you need to invite feedback and ideas from the people around you. Give your team more ways to make their thoughts, feelings and observations known easily and regularly. Help them understand that their input is valued even if you don’t always agree with them. Make sure you appreciate them for sharing and reward valuable input that helps your leadership.
John Maxwell, leadership speaker and author said that “Leaders don’t complain about the wind, they adjust the sail.”