David FullerIf you’ve ever been in a leadership position, you’ve probably gone through a time when you didn’t feel very effective.

Perhaps you were sitting at your desk wondering what to do next. Maybe you felt overwhelmed with the tasks at hand and wanted to give up. This might have happened when you had staff who seemed out of control.

There are three typical reasons that leaders flounder and things you can do to rectify the situation:

Lack of goals

When we start working with a company, one of the first things we do is try to determine the goals of the company and its leader. Without clearly understanding what the leader is trying to achieve – within the company and personally – it’s difficult to set priorities in the correct order.

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In some cases, the goals of the leader might at first seem at odds with the company. For example, if a leader needs to find more balance and work fewer hours while the company demands higher sales or better results, as a leader you might think your job is in jeopardy.

This doesn’t have to be the case. Some of the best leaders work less and accomplish more.

Without understanding our leadership goals at work and in our personal lives, we often struggle with leadership. Gaining clarity about what’s important and coming up with a plan to achieve what’s required for the company and ourselves can be a huge relief for leaders who think their self-worth is tied to work.

A lack of goals for your team can also affect your ability to lead. A team without goals is lost and will lose focus on the important aspects of their jobs.

Lack of accountability

Leaders often have very few people who keep them accountable for moving forward. If we own the business, we are typically accountable only to ourselves and the tax department. In a non-profit, we’re accountable to a board, but the board often looks to the CEO or executive director for leadership. In bureaucratic organizations, leaders are often left to their own devices.

This lack of oversight of leadership frequently leads to complacency and mediocrity. The leaders start slipping and the culture created by that lack of accountability starts to flow throughout the organization.

More advice on running your business

To overcome this, leaders need to look for outside support and/or develop team meetings that foster a culture of ownership and accountability for one’s actions.

Poor choice management

Many leaders are overwhelmed. While they may have a vague understanding of where they want to go, they lack the ability to manage their time and choices to arrive there.

Often, as leaders, we let ourselves be interrupted constantly. We fail to plan our days and weeks. We manage our time and resources unwisely.

Leaders who can block their time to ensure they get tasks completed and make astute choices concerning their organization are often seen as great leaders.

All leaders flounder at times. Focusing on time and choice management, keeping our teams and ourselves accountable, and creating a vision of where we’re going will reduce our stress and result in better outcomes.

Isn’t that what we’re trying to achieve?

Dave Fuller, MBA, is an award-winning business coach and a partner in Pivotleader Inc. Find yourself floundering? Email dave@pivotleader.com for help. For interview requests, click here.

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