Everyday leaders don’t have it easy. From the school teacher struggling to motivate her students to the mayor trying to balance various political agendas, these important members of our community face complex challenges every day.
Researchers at the Center for Creative Leadership recently conducted a study to better understand the challenges faced by what they call everyday leaders such as educators, public sector employees, small-business owners and professional services providers.
The educators said that their interactions with students, parents and other stakeholders are the most challenging parts of their job. Teachers often feel overwhelmed in their roles. They struggle to find the time and resources to motivate students and meet their non-teaching responsibilities.
The second group, public sector employees, mentioned the challenge of balancing multiple demands. Among their concerns were prioritizing effectively and finding time to solve problems. Other challenges had to do with keeping others motivated in tough times, setting boundaries, and balancing multiple political agendas. Public sector employees said they also had difficulty balancing professional and personal pursuits.
Challenges for the third group, professional services providers, were connected to client and relationship management. These professionals have to appease multiple stakeholders, work across boundaries, advocate on behalf of patients or clients, and keep staff motivated. Time management difficulties were cited as a common challenge.
Then there were the small business leaders. As one might imagine, these everyday leaders found it challenging just to “keep the ship afloat.” Keeping the business running efficiently included dealing with employee issues, assuring client satisfaction, providing a vision for employees, hiring staff and keeping employees happy.
In the group CCL called “atypical leaders,” there was little common ground. However, for each of these individuals, self-reliance and ingenuity were themes. This was true for the teacher of a class that mixes adults and children of varying ethnic backgrounds, as well as for the consultant working without an assistant or a Blackberry. One stay-at-home mom put it this way: “I am the CEO of my house. My husband has no clue what goes into running the house. From 3 p.m. to 8 p.m., I must be 100 percent with my kids. It is a full-time job.
You, too, might be an everyday leader. If so, think about your own life experiences and how they have shaped you as an individual. Here are some good words of wisdom to help you face more of life’s leadership challenges:
- Be ready for anything, and try to keep a positive mindset.
- Be accountable to yourself, and try to never pass blame.
- Show responsibility, loyalty, and commitment.
- And never, ever, give up.