How can struggle make you a better leader?

Leaders struggle, too.

By now, many of us have settled into a “new pandemic normal,” which basically means trying to move forward with our day-to-day responsibilities with zero clarity about what the future holds. Things are not getting easier, are they?

Let’s take a step back for a moment and acknowledge the situation we are in. Because, if you’re like us, you’ve probably been so in it, that you haven’t really seen it.

It’s been an incredibly tough few months for humanity. Fear has been running rampant. We’re living with extreme uncertainty about the future. We’ve been making massive changes to the ways we live and work at dizzying speeds. Your day-to-day existence today probably looks vastly different than anything you could have imagined when you rang in the new decade.

It hasn’t been easy, but you’ve done some amazing things – things you may not have thought were possible just a few short months ago.

It’s been tough for any human. And, as a leader, you carry additional responsibilities for the people who work with and for you, the people you serve, and the difference you want to make. You may be feeling a lot of pressure to have it all together – to figure out the answers, to fix things, to be positive, to be strong for others. But, it’s impossible to do all of these things, all the time, isn’t it? It can feel lonely and exhausting.

Leaders get to be human, too. It’s okay to admit that we are struggling, too.

In fact, struggle is necessary to elevate your leadership capacity. It’s an invitation to step into a more human, authentic version of leadership.  

Here are 3 ideas to help you allow the struggle, so you can be a more human, authentic leader:

3 Ways to be a More Human Leader

Acknowledge the struggle, and find a safe outlet for it. Instead of pretending like everything is okay 24/7, give yourself space to express how you really feel.

Explore new ways to support yourself. Your pre-pandemic self-care routines are probably not cutting it these days. What’s one new thing you could try to support yourself in a more meaningful way?

Share your struggle with someone else. Who could you reach out to for support? Vulnerability connects us and makes us stronger. It helps us live and lead in the truth, where we can tap into new ideas and solutions together.

When you deny the struggle, you create an inauthentic illusion of strength that limits your ability to connect with and support others.

Yes, it takes courage to allow the struggle. But, when you do, you have the opportunity to work through it and build true strength. You can expand your leadership capacity and support others in an authentic way. What might be possible then?


About the Author

Sarah Elliott, CPA, ACC believes the future of the accounting profession depends on our capacity to love. As the co-founder and principal of Intend2Lead, a leadership development firm, she coaches CPAs to access the possibility dimension: the place where fear is no longer the enemy.