Leading is hard

Written by Laurie Hillis

Hi, I’m Laurie Hillis, I love what I do: the learning, the process, and above all, seeing how my clients grow as leaders.


August 1, 2023

Image © by Kaspars Grinvalds via canva.com

What more do they want from us?!

Being called into our boss’ office and told that we’re being promoted to a new leadership position is exciting! After all, it’s what we’ve been working toward our whole career! We feel appreciated and valued for all the hard work we’ve been putting in (extra hours, crappy projects without complaint). If we’re honest, being told that someone thinks we’re ready for bigger and better things feels amazing. New self identity: Rock Star!

Fast forward a few months, once the flight from the honeymoon has landed. Many new leaders feel like they’ve been kicked in the gut and didn’t even see it coming. It feels like failure and it feels awful.

Who knew that guiding, motivating, supervising, directing, coaching, assessing, disciplining, negotiating, mediating, listening to, and, and, and … would be so hard? And nobody mentioned that we’d have to look after our employees’ mental health, demonstrate sensitivity and compassion, and provide opportunities for flexibility and remote work, all while maintaining our composure.

It’s not surprising that a lot of leaders find the job sucks the life out of them. They either keep on truckin’ and become overwhelmed and resentful, or they quit. Very few stop, recognize the toll, and ask for help (or … brace yourself … ask to return to their former position).

At your organization, is it acceptable to raise your hand and ask for help, or admit that the leadership gig isn’t what you hoped it would be? Great leaders and organizations invite this kind of honesty and vulnerability because they know overwhelmed leaders create disastrous teams.

What to do when you feel like leadership is too heavy:

  • Recognize the toll leadership can take. Don’t ignore the burden of being in a new role with new and more responsibilities. Be honest with yourself about the challenges.
  • Embrace self-compassion. You can’t be firing on all cylinders all the time, and that’s okay. Be kind to yourself when you’re struggling to perform. Frustration can quickly turn into negative energy, which will trickle down to your team. When you practice self-compassion, you’re leading by example.
  • Ask for help. Talk to your leader about how you’re experiencing your new role. No one is meant to do it all alone, and just because you were good at your old job, doesn’t automatically make you a great fit for a leadership role. If you believe there is no hope for staying in the role, feel out the scenario of returning to your former position.
  • Reach out to peers. It doesn’t have to feel lonely at the top. Sharing your stress with like-minded colleagues can help alleviate it. Spoiler alert: ALL new leaders experience stress, and most do it alone. Be a leader and lead the way. 

So, pause and appreciate the pressure you are under; you are human, after all. And look at the people around you – might there be someone too afraid to share with you? Be a leader; invite a conversation.

Let’s connect:

If you want to know more about Megatrain and how we can work together, drop me a line:

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