Leadership Paradox: Learning to ride the roller coaster

Taking the First Steps Toward Collaboration


Div Manickam

3 years ago | 4 min read

As humans, we are constantly seeking to fulfill the need to belong. Personally, I am an introvert trying to find my true purpose and belong, not just fit in.

A friend recommended the book Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, and I couldn’t agree more on the idea that we become stronger together, and that coming together is still possible in the divided world we live in today. We are just as connected as we are isolated from each other.

I believed my success was due to being in the right place at the right time and doing the right thing. I’ve heard many people talk about digital transformation and how it’s not just technology but, more than ever, about people and culture. This is why finding your purpose is crucial for teams to thrive, and as leaders, we must foster their success.

Taking the First Steps Toward Collaboration

As a leader, it can be lonely when we challenge the norm, and perseverance is key to success. There are three questions I learned to ask as I embarked on my journey, which fellow leaders can also ask themselves:

1. Connect with yourself, and understand your why: What you are passionate about, and how can you articulate the shift and impact of the change you want to make?

2. Connect with stakeholders, and understand their why: What gets your stakeholders excited, and how can you align those priorities across the organization?

3. Connect with your team, and understand their why: What drives your team, and how can you keep them motivated and energized, irrespective of the changes in the environment around them?

We live in a collaborative world where we are here to make each other better and we each have our own place in the ecosystem. We need to find balance and we also need to think about things differently. Sometimes a healthy conversation with a win-win attitude can open new opportunities that reshape the collective efforts.

We Win or Lose Together

Often in society, the messages we hear lead us to believe that competition, winning and leaderboards are the norm. The truth is that everyone grows at their own pace. We are not competing with each other. We are competing with ourselves and making ourselves better every day.

I had thought that gamification and leaderboards were a great way to get people to adapt and learn. But the truth is that not everyone is on the same pace.

The constant need to keep up and do more can be taxing. We need to do a better job of giving our people space and helping them to overcome their weaknesses. We need to be mindful and thoughtful of how to bring out the best in people, and sometimes that means taking a step back and giving them their space.

It’s easy, as leaders, to get caught up in the speed of progress because we are in the digital era where everything is at our fingertips. There’s a constant need to be everywhere. If that is the norm today, how can we disrupt it for the benefit of our teams?

Burnout: An Unspoken Fear and Setting Boundaries

Often I find that people dismiss burnout, stress and anxiety, attributing those results to people not being cut out for something. In a competitive environment, people are made to believe that high-growth environments are not for the faint-hearted. Can we give people the opportunity to be mindful and thoughtful in their actions?

As Brené Brown shared in her book, Daring Greatly, sharing one’s vulnerability shows their strength, not their weakness. It’s easy to get caught up in a world where everything needed to be done yesterday. Sometimes it helps to just take a pause and breathe.

We don’t often talk about burnout, but it is the responsibility of leaders to make sure our teams have balance at work. Sometimes it’s easy to keep adding new projects because we didn’t prioritize effectively, but this impacts everyone. A leader’s responsibility is to provide clarity and purpose for the team. It’s OK to say no if we don’t have the answer. It just means we are going to learn something new. Take a breath and relax.

In the first year, my calendar was filled with meetings. I didn’t know how to say no, and I was drowning. In the second year, I blocked one day off as “ no meeting Wednesday,” so I could actually think and do creative work. Setting boundaries helps prevent burnout.

Create a list of things that need to get done, and prioritize them. Then strike out the bottom half. That will give you focus. Share it with stakeholders, and build transparency on what is most important. Transparency is key because we cannot read each other’s minds. Your team members and stakeholders don’t know what they don’t know.

Reach out; open your mind, and be vulnerable. You’re likely to feel more inspired and in control.

Own Your Story

If you are not writing your story, someone else will create the wrong narrative. So, own your story and face your fears. Life is beautiful that way. Enjoy the roller coaster of life and leadership.

As someone who stumbled into a leadership role, I constantly think about my team and their success. I am here to empower my team members and bring out their best to achieve shared goals and objectives.

As leaders, when things go south and everything seems to go wrong, that’s when true leadership is tested. How do you handle adversity? How do you assure your stakeholders that your team has got this?

This article was originally published by Div manickam on medium.


Created by

Div Manickam

Div Manickam is a mindful soul and a believer in simplicity. She brings the best in each other, and shares experiences on career growth, authentic leadership, mindfulness, mental wellbeing and product marketing on substack.







Related Articles