By Michael Holland

When we struggle as managers, we often feel inadequate. We may wonder quietly why we took the job in the first place, but we definitely do not want to talk with others about our struggles.  But times of great strain create defining moments in who we are and how we can lead.  The struggle itself is the trigger that we can use to tell our reflective brains to listen up and learn something, especially after the fact while we are reflecting upon the events.

In Leadership and the Art of Struggle, Steven Snyder speaks to the tension that all great struggles bring.  Tension is a byproduct of change, and it forces managers to be off-balance.  While tension can come from various sources – tradition, relationships, aspirations, and identity – it’s the automatic responses we develop to these tension points that can cause confusion.  Self-exploration of these tension areas could provide insight as to why we are confused. And telling others our stories could provide them with wisdom and  insight.

Unfortunately, mangers at all levels are fearful of telling their “struggle stories” for fear of showing their weaknesses and failures.  Ironically, it is in the telling of these stories that great insight can be found, not only for the storyteller but also for those listening.

Or at least wake up tomorrow morning and say to yourself “I hope I have a great management struggle today so I can grow wiser!

Coaching Thoughts – For You and Your Peers

  • Think about some of the most defining moments in your career as a leader.  Was there struggle for you?  Great stress and difficulty?  Was the defining moment character-building?
  • Take time to catalog a few stories of struggles you’ve encountered as a leader. At the right moments, you can tell a story to your peers or your boss and encourage them to tell you their stories.  You may be surprised at what wisdom you’ll pick up along the way