Leaders to Leader

Lessons from the Great American Leaders & How They Apply Now

Posts Tagged ‘frustrations

Active Leadership Takes Courage, Passion and Conviction

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Some individuals are natural leaders and automatically “take point” in any and all situations. Others must make a conscious choice to do so, possibly having reluctantly accepted an unexpected leadership role. These individuals are faced with a number of choices having a direct impact on their personal and professional lives.

Active leadership takes individual courage, passion and conviction. The role requires challenging established positions and procedures. It not only places the spotlight on leaders’ behaviors but also puts them under increased scrutiny by others who may not want them to succeed.

Individuals in this position cannot afford to take the path of least resistance. This is when leaders must face difficult choices with real implications for their professional and personal lives. It is not uncommon for emerging leaders to question their own motives and abilities once placed under extreme stress and pressure.

A leader is motivated by an inward desire to do the best they can to maximize both their employees’ efforts and overall organizational performance. While discomfort with increased scrutiny is natural, they must be able to continually persist and press forward toward their goals through adversity.

Effective leaders know they have to take a stand for necessary and essential changes if their organization is to become more competitive, develop inward strength and stability and prosper. It is the “weight” of leadership for a reason, but a necessary burden or challenge for those who see possibilities, opportunities and organizational potential.

The most common frustrations experienced by leaders are demonstrated in the contrasting roles of leaders and traditional managers.


Managers are generally administrators of jobs and responsibilities. Leaders are organizational innovators. This means they are constantly identifying and implementing new creative concepts, principles and methods to enhance organizational effectiveness.

Managers typically copy and apply actions and methods known to work. Leaders continually develop new and original ideas. They try things that at times will not work or may even produce unexpected consequences.

Focus on People

Traditional managers tend to maintain the status quo and focus on systems and structures preserving their authority and control. This is an immediate frame of reference predicated upon short-term results and employees as workers with a job. Conversely, leaders pursue in-depth programs around developing their people’s potential. They make a concerted and ongoing effort to build trust and inspire confidence.

This means leaders must deal with resistant bureaucracies and the managers therein who are threatened by change and innovation. They must be willing to deal with opposition from employees and unions used to working under strictly controlled conditions and the barriers thrown in their way to frustrate their efforts and forward movement.

Change is not an easy process, especially when dealing with individuals fearful of its possible outcomes. Leaders must learn to deal with these frustrations and develop strategies to overcome them.

Differences in Style

A wide gulf exists between a typical managerial and leadership style. Traditional managers tend to ask “how and when,” leaders, “what and why.” As innovators, leaders continually question the status quo and challenge its premise, especially when it interferes with their employees’ ability to perform to their potential. Most are labeled troublemakers or rebels, rather than members of the team to be trusted and respected by upper management.

Leadership exacts a personal price. Leaders stand up for and do the right thing regardless of repercussions. They may not be popular, or at times even wanted within their respective organizations. Often their efforts go unappreciated for long periods of time.

However, true leaders continually stand up for what they believe in, relying on their personal visions, knowing in the end the results they and their employees produce will more than negate detractors’ tiresome objections.

Though working hard to meet what is expected of them, traditional managers tend to do as told without questioning the purpose of particular directives.

  • Even if they do not agree with a particular direction, they rarely openly challenge it.
  • They keep their eyes on the bottom line, knowing that as long as they do what they are told, they can maintain a comfortable existence.
  • They become easily threatened by any changes leaders attempt to make that will disrupt the workplace and possibly, their own security.

Leaders remain steadfast in their determination to effect the changes they believe will positively enhance and transform their organizations.

  • They expect resistance to their ideas, practices and methods, and that it will create frustrations and impediments to enacting operational or procedural changes.
  • They understand that though painful, their actions are necessary and will ultimately be rewarded.
  • As their ideas become refined to the point where they take root and develop, leaders derive personal satisfaction from seeing their visions and goals attained.
  • Leaders accept the burdens, frustrations and often lack of acceptance that comes with adhering to their beliefs.
  • They are continually “tempered in the furnace” of adversity.
  • It is this process of refinement that hones their leadership skills and makes them likely candidates for advancement, as compared to most managers taking safer and more secure roads to asserting their influence in the organization.


Three Reasons Why Leaders Fail

Leaders Are Judged By The Actions They Take

“Dissent, Even Conflict Is Necessary, Indeed Desirable”

A Leader’s Management Style Sets the Organizational Tone

Excerpt: Dealing with the Challenges of Leadership (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 17.95 USD

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2013 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

Written by Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D.

January 21, 2013 at 10:56 am

Interaction is a Necessary Component of a Vibrant Workplace

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Astute leaders guide and direct from the front lines of the company. Leaders are continually present and interacting with their employees in order to see what is slowly transforming and changing and what is causing unit frustrations. Frontline guiding and directing is a necessary process enabling leaders to apply their abilities to moving the organization forward.

There is a critical difference between the roles of a manager and a leader. While many managers are considered leaders, some not totally committed to sound leadership principles choose to direct from behind their desks. This results in relinquishing the advantage gained by immediate, firsthand knowledge of their organization’s daily activities, progress or frustrating hindrances.

Related: Four Primary Leadership Roles and Responsibilities

Ongoing interaction with employees is the active practice of visible leadership. Leaders cannot lead from their office. They must continually be in the midst of their employees, seeing for themselves what is happening and what is holding their unit back.

Frontline guiding and directing is a critical concept for leaders to understand and apply. In order for employees to be comfortable with change and transformation within their organization and the constant risk taking that goes with it, leaders must be ever present to train, direct, and reassure each individual member. They must be there to cheer every accomplishment, no matter how small. This can only be done successfully when leaders are continually involved in their employees’ daily activities.

Practical leadership demands that leaders have an active, ongoing presence within their organizational units. This presence creates a visible strength achieved through openly and consistently interacting with all employees. When leaders develop an interactive presence and work to achieve active visibility, they have the ability to fully apply their leadership skills and capabilities. Effective interaction allows leaders to:

Understand Frustrations

Only when leaders are constantly interacting with their employees can they fully understand the daily frustrations they are experiencing individually and as a group. While often minor, these frustrations serve as mini-barriers to productivity and efficiency.

Frustrations are often not known about unless a leader takes the time to observe what is actually occurring. They may be considered minor parts of the work process that employees fail to mention due to their insignificance. However, when considered collectively and cumulatively, smaller frustrations have the power to hemorrhage an organization’s productivity.

Related: The Value of Personal Experience and Expertise

Observe Firsthand What Is Occurring

Reports and meetings cannot take the place of the leader personally observing what is happening within their division or unit. A casual walkthrough does not provide sufficient opportunity to clearly observe and internalize what is actually occurring at any one point in time.

Close observation allows leaders to identify certain occurrences that produce either a positive or negative impact upon the organization. Only when leaders practice visible leadership and openly interact with their employees will a true picture of the organizational unit’s overall progression and advancement emerge. Without this firsthand insight and knowledge, leaders cannot effectually move any part of their organization forward.

Encourage Open Communication

Visible leadership and open interactivity brings leaders out of their comfort zones and away from their desks. Being an interactive leader puts them on an equal plane with their employees, which makes them much more accessible and approachable. When this occurs, employees feel more comfortable to talk about frustrations, concerns, problems and issues that may not otherwise be disclosed. This open communication directly drives the free-flow of knowledge and information that leaders need to be successful.

Related: Encourage Questions to Improve Open Communication

Provide Insight into Solutions

When leaders become fully interactive, and observe and communicate with their employees, they gain insights into existing problems. Leaders use these insights to much more easily reach solutions to the immediate and pressing problems facing their employees. Minor frustrations are quickly remedied and eliminated to minimize productivity losses.

Change transformations in any organization entail countless daily decisions. Open interaction facilitates the decision making process by encouraging employees to make cooperative or independent judgments in the name of reaching objectives and eliminating needless frustrations.

Provide Insights into Problems and Opportunities

Leaders typically have the advantage of the “macro view” of their organization. Sometimes they are focused on this larger picture to the extent that they forget they can—and should—look for and watch what is actually transpiring in their front lines. While this field of vision will vary by the level occupied in the organization, leaders do have the advantage of obtaining increased knowledge through a wider perspective that is not available to their employees.

Leaders who are active and visible in their organizations have the ability to witness what is happening and can identify potential problems and opportunities because of it. Their position often allows them to act on this knowledge to either eliminate a potential problem or tap an opportunity. In either case a frontline perspective helps leaders and employees save their company money. The only sure way to accomplish any of the above is to take full advantage of applying all the available knowledge obtained from a more “micro view” of the organization.

Related: Six Critical Issues To Consider When Solving Problems

Share in Successes and Failures

An essential role for leaders is to act as a motivator and cheerleader. While corporate leaders may not like to think of themselves as cheerleaders, the meaning goes beyond the term to the bottom line. When leaders are actively present and daily interacting with and encouraging their employees, they are in the best position to motivate and inspire them to achieve beyond expectations.

As their presence creates an impact on the organizational unit, leaders are able to share in the successes and failures of their employees as they test new ideas and concepts and help their organization adapt in the face of change. Doing this creates a bond of loyalty between leaders and employees as it steadily and securely increases the organizational unit’s cohesiveness.

Related: Motivation Is More Than Money

Excerpt: Improving Workplace Interaction: Pinpoint Leadership Skill Development Training Series (Majorium Business Press, Stevens Point, WI 2011) $ 16.95 USD

Timothy F. Bednarz, Ph.D. | Author | Publisher | Majorium Business Press
Author of Great! What Makes Leaders Great: What They Did, How They Did It and What You Can Learn From It (Finalist – 2011 Foreword Reviews‘ Book of the Year)
Linkedin | Facebook | Twitter | Web| Blog | Catalog |800.654.4935 | 715.342.1018

Copyright © 2012 Timothy F. Bednarz, All Rights Reserved

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