Management and leadership often get confused. Many think that they’re the same thing, simply with interchangeable labels. For me the difference is clear. You manage processes, but you lead people. Mix the two and you’re likely to encounter problems because good managers aren’t necessarily good leaders, and vice versa.

Clients approach me for help on a vast range of issues. Leadership ranks highly. Sometimes they need help to become good leaders themselves, other times they’re experiencing issues with those that lead them. These four are the most common challenges I encounter, along with my top tips for resolution:

1. Conflict
When there is conflict or tension between a leader and team member this can only ever be overcome by good honest communication. Conflict rarely resolves itself, ignore it and inevitably it becomes deeper and more entrenched.

• Initiate a conversation where all parties feel safe and comfortable expressing their point of view
• Be prepared to hear things you don’t like and don’t agree with
• Let go of the need to be right
• Focus on team goals rather than differences of opinion

2. Lack of strategy
Many teams and organisations, particularly in a sales environment where revenue is the driving force, inevitably focus on short-term goals. Though hitting targets is critical, losing sight of the medium to long-term plan can leave teams lurching from one reporting period to another.

• Ensure everyone has an input, or at least is privy to, business planning
• Monitor, record and share progress
• Align individual’s goals to those of the organisation
• Where commissions or other rewards are in play, link these to longer-term objectives too

3. Managing change
It’s a rare animal that likes or actively embraces change. Upsetting the status quo can be difficult for both leaders and their teams, particularly where individuals don’t recognise the need for it or believe it will impact negatively on them.

• Involve people as early in the change process as possible
• Share any implementation plan
• Encourage them to voice their concerns
• Address them promptly and as positively as you can

4. Fragmented teams
In an ideal world teams work closely, collaboratively, and as one. In reality, that’s the exception. And, the larger the team the less likely it is.

• Acknowledge individuals’ strengths and weaknesses. Admit your own and accept help when it’s needed
• Be flexible without being indecisive
• Don’t tolerate gossiping and back-biting
• Focus on goals and not personalities

If you recognise these leadership challenges, or have others you need help to tackle, do get in touch. We can definitely help.