If the Leader Ain’t Happy – Ain’t Nobody Happy


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Hi entrepreneurs – this episode is going to be a bit different.  I thought it would be a good time to have a chat about how to keep your leadership superpowers up and running.  Because, as the title of this episode says, “If the Leader Ain’t Happy – Ain’t Nobody Happy”

Recently I had a conversation with a friend, and fellow business owner – and he was saying that he didn’t know why, but he felt out of sync.  Like every day he was going through the motions – doing the things on his task list, having the scheduled meetings, working on the projects at hand – but something just didn’t feel quite right.

As we were talking about it more, he was finally able to articulate that it was that something – that spark – that seemed to be missing.  As a leader, you may have been there too – I know I have.  The French have a perfect word for it – ennui.  It’s a version of the blahs.

You’re doing all the things, but it’s a slog.  It’s not burnout or depression – nothing that dramatic.  It’s just that your get up and go seems to have gotten up and gone.

And that makes everything a bit harder – because as the leader, you are the one your team is looking to for guidance, vision and optimism.  You’re the one everybody counts on to ignite their spark, to feed their enthusiasm.  After all – a huge part of our jobs is to motivate the team.  And it’s really hard to do that if you aren’t feeling the motivation vibes yourself.

When I face a period like this I run through the checklist.

Oh yes, I have a checklist that can walk me through.  I created it a few years ago, because we know all the things we should look at, but when I’m in a state of ennui, I’m probably not thinking or problem solving as effectively as I should.  So I’ve found that a guide is really helpful.

First I check in with the most obvious culprits.  Am I getting enough sleep, am I eating right, am I getting some movement in.  Am I overworking.

And that leads me to the one that is almost always my ‘ah ha’ moment – am I feeling disorganized in my work or even my personal life?  I don’t know about you, but when I have everything, everywhere, it clutters my brain, and can stop me dead in my tracks.  I have no idea what to do next, what to tackle, what to work on – so I just start feeling overwhelmed, irritated, and like everything is impossible and has no solution.

The answer to this one is simple, but sometimes not easy.  Stop, take a break, and get yourself organized.  If you’re using a project management system, get it updated – clear out all the old tasks you’ll never get to anyway.  Reschedule the ones you’re behind on.  And if’ you aren’t using a project management system – think about starting with one.

On the personal side, do the same thing.  Capture what needs to be done, and develop a timeline for making it happen.  And don’t forget to get help – usually it’s when we think everything is on our plate that we get paralyzed.

…Having problems running as background tasks in my head…gets in the way of everything … I’m not fully concentrating, or giving my best effort – because I’m not fully focused.

Next, it’s nice to do a general blurb about the company’s benefits.  However, do not try to spell out the benefits programs in the offer letter.  Benefits are governed by contracts with your insurance carrier, and they have a slew of documents with carefully worded information around what is and isn’t part of the offerings.  Under no circumstances do you want anything in the offer letter to contradict those documents.  So keep it general.

We always recommend you add in a statement that you fully expect the new employee to abide by any obligations to their prior employer.  So if they have a non compete (which by the way, is not valid in California – but is in other states), you are stating that you expect them to uphold those obligations.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur jumping into a leadership role, a seasoned business pro with new HR responsibilities, or just starting your HR career – we’ve got the right path to guide you through your HR hurdles.

Check out the Leaders Journey Experience.  This online education platform holds the LJE Masterclass, HR SimpleStart Academy and HR FuturePro Academy.

Not sure where to start – take the quiz!

I’ll say that again – you have to have contingency plans.  Listen, you have no idea when someone will leave, or fall ill, or you’ll need to transition them out of the company.  No matter – you have to have a back-up plan.

In fact, right now – while you’re, hopefully, not facing a crisis – take a good long look at your team and their responsibilities.  And start putting together a plan for cross training, or backup options.  And consider all the options.  Sure, maybe it’s best to replace a person with person – but that might not happen right away.  So can technology help fill the gap?  What about outsourcing or temporary talent?  Be creative, and put all options on the table.

And follow the same path no matter what the shadow issue is.  How difficult is that difficult client – meaning, can the relationship be saved.  If so, start putting together how and what you’re going to communicate to them to get the relationship back on the right path, where they respect you and the value you provide.

And if you don’t think the relationship will make it – then plan your exit.  Line up replacement revenue, create a timeline that works for you to transition that client out.  By the way, that’s another of the benefits of facing the problem head on – you have the opportunity to deal with it in your own way, on your own timeline, instead of just reacting.

And as for dealing with a sales or revenue issue – well, take a look at what you’re doing now.  If it’s not working, fix it – and if it is, do more of it.  And if you can’t figure it all out – get help.  Again, someone has faced this issue before – so seek out that knowledge.  Do you or your team need sales training?  Do you need a bookkeeper to help with the numbers because you simply can’t figure out were you are.  Or maybe you need marketing support.

Again, no matter what that issue is that’s running as a background task in your head – you’ll have to confront it and create a plan – before you can fully get the pep back in your step.

Now your checklist may be different – but I do recommend you create one.  You’ll find it really valuable when you feel ennui creeping up on you.  And remember, it takes a good amount of energy to be the North Star.  So give yourself grace, and clear away those obstacles.

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