Leadership is not a waiting game

I was reminded recently of some of the emotions that indicate you need to take the lead.

One of my clients, Matt, was frustrated with his work situation. He was a key senior person in the team, a top deliverer and had invested a lot in his own personal development. He couldn’t see how he could make the next step in the business and was wondering why his seniors were not noticing his talent and ambition. There didn’t seem to be any vacant or obvious positions in the business that he could move into and he doubted how transferrable his experience might be to other functions or industry sectors. He was becoming increasingly “stuck”, cynical about his seniors and less interested in the work.

Although impatience and frustration can be seen as negative emotions to be controlled and managed, they can also be very useful indicators that it is time for you to take the lead and convert these emotions into positive action. Matt had fallen into the trap of waiting for someone else to read his mind and take action for him.The truth is that others may not have the same motivation, enthusiasm, or vision as you so waiting for them to act on your behalf could be a very long wait indeed.

In Matt’s case, I helped him deal with his negative emotions about this and explore perspectives around why he may not be getting what he wanted. We worked together to figure out the best approach to raising his profile at more senior levels in a non-confrontational and open-minded way so that he could generate interest and options for his future career in the business. We then rehearsed an approach to his VP that showed him in a positive way, eager for new challenges and keen to shape a leadership role where he could add increased value to the business. Happily for Matt, his VP listened carefully to his positive message and thanked him for ‘showing up’. He is now in discussions on possible new roles which will make use of his strengths and leadership talents.

So if you find yourself frustrated, impatient or feeling like you are ‘in waiting’, then ask yourself, ‘what or who am I waiting for?’; and ‘How can I move things forward, what steps can I take?’. Then stop waiting and take the lead.

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