We’ve all had occasions where we run into a brick wall at work. Maybe it’s being denied a promotion or it’s a difficult co-worker that sabotages your efforts or it’s a lack of resources to complete a project properly. Whatever it is they exist and how we deal with them speaks volumes about our leadership style and abilities.
There are four basic personality types when it comes to obstacles:
- Bulldog: This person keeps gnawing away at the problem until he gets through it or exhausts himself.
- Turtle: This person withdraws into their shell when they encounter a problem and hide until it goes away.
- Sheep: This person will look around for someone to lead them out of the situation, waiting until someone else shows them the way forward.
- Mountain Goat: This person will look for a way to get around or over the problem.
Each of these will work well in some circumstances but most will not work well in all situations.
If you are a bulldog and keep at a problem no matter what is happening around you people will get tired of your aggression. There are occasions where you need to get help to solve the problem. Pushing ahead no matter what will alienate people.
Always crumbling when confronted with a problem will cause people to view you as weak. It takes courage to face problems and obstacles head on. People will respect those who know when to take a stand and when it’s time to walk away. Some situations just are not worth the effort of resolving the problem so cut your losses and move on.
When you look around for someone to rescue you, again you will be seen as weak and indecisive. There are times when you must get help or direction to solve a problem or overcome an obstacle. However, make sure you have explored your options and know what help you need before you seek assistance.
People how take a moment or two to assess the situation and look for a way to reach their destination by going around or working through the problem have a real advantage. You may need guidance to find the path forward but you are actively looking for solutions and opportunities to reach your goal. This can demonstrate tenacity and courage. Care must be taken to know if that goal is still the right destination by looking at the risks involved with moving ahead in spite of the obstacles.
Leaders must make decisions about what goals are important and how to help people reach them. That means being aware of the brick walls that appear in the path and having the ability to determine the best approach to getting around them. Do you charge ahead and tear down the wall, do you wait for help, do you step back and wait for it to fall, or do you find a way around or over the wall? Learning which approach will work best in different situations is key to becoming a more effective leader.