Challenges to Becoming a Leader Worth Following

Starting a business and nurturing it to a point of sustainability is often a tough, long road despite the “get rich quick stories” you often hear. There are hills and valleys, feasts and times of famine.

We all desire to achieve that position, where we are serving those we’ve worked so hard to reach. And those who persevere are the ones we call leaders. Most of our most valuable lessons and growth come from difficulties, so I asked –

What has been the greatest challenge you’ve had to overcome (even if you are still working on it) to be a leader worth following for your clients?

Our lovely contributors pulled back the curtain on their experiences once again this week, and authentically shared some of the things with which they’ve struggled to become powerful leaders in their businesses. From mindset to marketing messages, setting the right example and staying true to your convictions, the great news is that the challenges we face are ones we can overcome with perseverance and a willingness to grow. If you’ve encountered obstacles in your quest to become a leader worth following, take heart in the fact that you are not alone — I too, am right there with you on my own quest. Enjoy!


1. Changing My Mindset

My greatest challenge to date is changing my thinking. When I worked as an employee, I had plenty of direction in my positions. When I started my own business, I didn’t have step by step instructions. I had to learn from trial and error. When you are a business owner you don’t have time to consult with someone every step of your journey, you have to take that leap of faith. Now that I’ve been asked to speak at more and more events and on panels I had to change my mindset from employee to employer. It has been one of my most difficult challenges to now take on the role as leader and not stand in the back ground as employee.

Thanks to Eula M. Young, COO of Griot’s Roll Film Production & Services Inc.

2. Personal Development Is Business Development

The greatest challenges to creating a business have been within my own patterns of thinking and self-perception that seem to have been a life-long task. For decades, I’ve worked on the necessary “foundations” for a business:
• Fears, and there are many “flavors” of fear that emerge in the process;
• Habitual thinking (what has already been done and how it has been done);
• Rigid or incomplete vision(s);
• Communications skills for task completion and marketing;
• Inconsistency that leads to loss of focus, impatience and unrealistic goals; and
• Over-reliance on myself, including being critical of others’ skills and abilities.
As I’ve moved into the new field of technological marketing, I’ve had to work on my perceptions of my market and potentials, as well as my ignorance of the methods of development, customer needs, and available (affordable) marketing.

Thanks to Jennifer Little of Parents Teach Kids

3. My Biggest Challenge Is Time

My biggest challenge is allowing things the time that they need to take to naturally manifest. Every single idea, task, project takes time… it just takes time… to happen. And rushing it will make it break down or happen haphazardly.

So, in order to keep my fingers out of the different pies, to allow everyone the time that they need to create in their own time, I work out… a lot. Keeps my blood pressure down and allows time to flow by 🙂

Thanks to Linda Hughes of Entrepreneur Community Online, LLC

4. “This Little Piggy Went To Market”

And I wish I enjoyed going with him. Marketing is the biggest challenge I face. It doesn’t interest me, not in the least In fact, it embarrasses me to have to sell. And yet, without the sales, the product languishes, no matter how good it is. The excitement for me is in the creating, not in the marketing of what’s been created. I struggle, on a daily basis, with the challenges of marketing those creations.

Thanks to Dr. Marlene Caroselli of Center For Professional Development

5. Having A Clear Message

Delivering a clear message that others will follow is the number one talent that leaders must possess, particularly entrepreneurs given the fact that their ideas are usually so unique. You must be decisive and sure of what you are saying and get your message to the right people. Then you will have a following that will do anything for you including passing your message to others, which evokes the most powerful way to grow your business: word-of-mouth and social marketing.

Thanks to Holly Hurd of VentureMom

6. Sparkling Balance

When any entrepreneurial venture or project takes off, there is a wonderful energy that exists. As any organization grows, priorities become more and more important and balance can often be difficult. As I personally grow as a leader, this balance becomes harder and harder for me when thinking about maintaining my “sparkle factor”—the ability to engage with others with a charismatic charm and passion—no matter what the topic at hand. Balancing sparkle with the efficiency of tasks is really challenging. I think it has a lot to do with discipline, but I recognize that also has to do with attitude and avoiding burnout. In order to become a leader worth following, I need to make sure I have my “sparkle factor” incorporated into everything that I work on with the team.

Thanks to Mona Anita Olsen of iMADdu (I make a difference, do you?)

7. Understanding Influence

Becoming a great leader is being able to influence those around you. Influence can be both positive and negative. Positive influence is truly understanding your impact. That impact is often most seen in the small stuff. They way you handle a situation, crisis, stress, pressure and the list goes on. The challenge is being congruent – i.e., practicing what you preach. I see that in business coaching. I can coach a client on a particular topic only to realize that I need to do the same thing I am coaching them to do. Congruency doesn’t mean you’re perfect, it only means you recognize what needs to be done and make the appropriate course adjustments. This is a lifetime journey, not an event. Being a leader worth following means constant and never-ending improvement. It is hard work.

Thanks to Janna Hoiberg of ActionCOACH

8. Voice Vs. Story The War Rages!

The challenge with leading is having a means of doing so. It’s awesome to have a great story. Shucks, that’s how you reel people in. BUT, having a Voice breeds loyalty. Leaders don’t just tell stories, they build strong Voices that speak authentically. So, you wanna’ be a real leader? Overcome every objection by having a Voice your clients will always trust. After all, it pays to be loud (have a story), It pays forever to be notable (have a Voice)!

Thanks to Mys Palmer of Heritage Calls Compositions

9. Relationships FIRST, Business SECOND!

One of my biggest lessons in leadership has been that relationships always come first and business comes second. Sometimes this means I have to bite my tongue and NOT tell someone what I can help them with, and instead, just listen to what THEY want to talk about. (This can be extremely hard for “fix-it” results-oriented leaders like me!) I’ve learned to let things flow and not to force issues. Once your clients, employees, friends, and family know that you have their best interests at heart, they will solicit your advice and actually listen to it. They will ASK you to help them find solutions for whatever challenge they are facing. You become a leader worth following when you CARE about what other people have to say and value their agendas as much as you do your own.

Thanks to Dr. Barnsley Brown of Spirited Solutions Speaking & Coaching

10. Leading In Collaboration

For me stepping into leadership is sometimes a challenge. I’m humbled by the caliber of the women that I collaborate with. Although I lead the process and am confident in what I do, I find I have to remind myself of my own talents as a leader because I’m “just me”. My clients are brilliant female entrepreneurs, authors, speakers, coaches and artists. Each wildly different and unique, which makes my work even more interesting.The one thing they all have in common is a BIG MISSION. I help turn their ideas into something that matters. Many struggle with their message (often feeling misunderstood by others they’ve worked with) and I help craft marketing messages (with an emphasis on web copy) that feels right to their ideal clients instead of “icky” or too “salesy”. I must own my gifts to lead.

Thanks to Lisa Manyon of Www.writeoncreative.com

11. Leading By Example

One of the biggest challenges that I am still having to face is leading by example. {Leaders should lead by example.} Sounds easy, but it requires strategy and grace. As a huMAN with real emotions, we all face situations that sometimes stir the blood, but we must never allow them to take us out of character. One wrong move or statement may cause a domino effect of negativity. Corporate Chics is my business and my business is my brand. As a result, anything that I do as a leader (positively or negatively) is in direct correlation to who I am and what I represent. Constantly, I am working on becoming my BEST self while serving others. Although I may not always make the best decisions in certain instances, I want to always lead and guide people in the right direction…which is forward.

Thanks to Tawana Necole of Corporate Chics, LLC

12. Maintain The Strength Of Your Convictions

I believe that to be a leader worth following, you need to be someone who you would follow yourself. If you have any doubts or insecurities about who you are and what you stand for, or if you are easily swayed by what’s popular at the moment, then you need to connect with your core principles and values before attempting to lead others. You must be strong – even unshakable – in your convictions! The greatest challenge that I have had to overcome in being a leader worth following is maintaining my conviction that excellence and integrity matter. I have seen too many “leaders” out there taking the “low road,” the expedient path, the quickest route to their own profit without full disclosure of what they are leading their followers into. The temptation may be great, but we must resist!

Thanks to Monique Y. Wells of Understanding Time Management




Thanks so much again to all our wonderful contributors for sharing your best role models for leadership in business! We hope to hear from you again. And to all our readers, if you have an innovative idea to share, we hope you will leave it in the comments below.

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