04 Sep '13
Why frustration can be a good thing for leaders
Leadership frustration is not a bad thing. In fact, it is usually an indicator that something is up that needs attention. It is not unlike a fever when we get sick, an indication that something is wrong with our health. And like a fever, leadership frustration should also not be ignored. It is an important symptom that needs to be addressed.
Consider these four kinds of frustration.
Frustration with a staff member
Ongoing frustration with a staff member always needs to be addressed. It may be that they are in the wrong spot, have not been able to keep up with a growing organization, are not team players or have an attitude problem. Whatever the issue, that frustration cannot be ignored as it is a symptom of some kind of dysfunction in the system that if ignored has a ripple impact across the organization.
Frustration with decision making
When it becomes hard to make decisions it is usually an indication that the leadership system of the organization is outdated and does not reflect present realities and needs to be addressed. Permission withholding cultures create frustration while permission granting structures makes decision making and leadership a friendly experience. When it becomes frustrating to make decisions, you know that it is time to look at your systems.
Frustration with boards
When there is tension between senior staff and boards it almost always indicates a lack of clarity of roles between boards and staff. This lack of clarity can be addressed by policy governance but it does need to be addressed because while clarity may be the bottom line issue, it is easy to assume bad motives when staff and boards go sideways.
Frustration and all is well
This is the most difficult frustration. Being frustrated when things are going well. Often this is an indication that we are no longer challenged in our leadership role. That may mean it is time to leave for a new challenge. It also could be that it is necessary to rethink our role and refashioning our job so that we are playing to our strengths and using our gifts to their maximum. Again, unaddressed,
being underutilized impacts our own attitudes and happiness and therefore those who we supervise.
Frustration is a symptom. Don't ignore it, just as you would not ignore a fever.