12 Leadership Challenges

Whether you’re an established leader or a new leader, you’ll identify with many leadership challenges.

Perhaps you feel the need to show emotional resilience and leadership confidence, and therefore you find it difficult or inappropriate to talk about the challenges you’re experiencing. Numerous reasons for not sharing, may include fear for career security, judgment, scrutiny or disappointment and failure. If this happens, it is common to privately harbour feelings of overwhelm, self-doubt, low confidence, imposter syndrome, and leadership loneliness.

Here are 12 executive and leadership challenges which clients often bring to executive coaching and leadership coaching.


Leadership Challenge 1: Confidently Establishing Your Own Leadership Style, Confidence, and Identity.

Whether you’re a new leader or an established leader, it can be a challenge to establish your own leadership style. You might resonate with this if  you are taking over from another leader who had already won the trust from their team with their own established leadership style.  Alternatively, perhaps you feel the pressures of expectations, judgments or potential scrutiny and so feel a lack of confidence to confidently step into your leadership identity and position?

Leadership Challenge 2: Navigating A New Role, Letting Go of a Previous Role and Managing Team Dynamics.

When you move on from a previous role, it can be difficult to step out of your shadow and to let go of what was previously expected of you, versus managing what is expected of you now.

With regards to your new role, it is also common to experience challenges when managing new or changing team and professional relational dynamics. This is especially true if the team has been used to a certain leadership style, approach and expectations.

Alternatively, new leaders may also be faced with the challenges of having to interact and manage their previous colleagues, peers, teams, or even professional friends in different ways and to establish healthy relationships through new boundaries, expectations, and conversations.

Leadership Challenge 3: Leading Through Change, Challenges and Crises.

As a leader you will lead your team not only through successful times, but also through change and challenges. You cannot control everything! Within these times it is important to understand what you can and cannot control. It is also important to understand that you will make mistakes, fail, succeed etc but that through every twist and turn your team is becoming stronger and more resilient. Remember to share and celebrate your success along the way!

Leadership Challenge 4: Being Ok with Not Always Pleasing Everyone.

It is a given fact that you will need to sometimes make unpopular decisions. Therefore, it’s important to develop the emotional resilience to be ok with not always pleasing everyone. You will need  to understand as well as to confidently communicate why you’ve made these decisions and to always have in mind how the decisions you’re making now are supporting your goals.

Leadership Challenge 5: Leadership Loneliness and Responsibility

It’s lonely at the top! As a leader you’re expected to lead with confidence, vision, and direction. However, who do you turn to when things become tough? Who do you turn to when everyone turns to you for answers?  Talking to an executive coach can be a good connection to make!

Leadership Challenge 6: Making and Communicating Difficult Decisions

Making and communicating difficult and sometimes unpopular decisions is tough! Some people will take it in their stride, whilst others could react negatively in response to your decisions. So, how do you decide and communicate these decisions? How do you find the right balance between empathy and understanding as well as confidence and assertiveness? How do you manage the aftermath of the situation and of your and other people’s reactions after communicating these decisions?

Leadership Challenge 7: Managing Stress, Burn-out, Overwhelm and Anxiety

Do you make the time to look after your own needs? When your time is limited and you feel pressurised and lacking in energy, it can be easy to forget to check in with your own needs. So how do you manage and find effective ways to manage stress, burn-out, overwhelm and anxiety?

Leadership Challenge 8: Inspiring Motivation

How do you motivate and inspire not only yourself but your team, company, or board (even if morale is low)? It can be a very tricky question, especially if you’re feeling low, lacking in energy or support and perhaps even encounter mental blocks or leadership loneliness.

Leadership Challenge 9: Acknowledge Your Vulnerability

Showing strength, motivation, determination, and resolution even in the face of adversity is an important leadership skill. However, knowing that you’re only human is also vitally important for your own personal and professional sanity, as well as for the health of your team and company. Some companies believe open vulnerability is a strength which will aid the development of the company, whilst others are a little bit more traditional and private.  If you need to talk in a confidential private space then connecting with a therapist or an executive coach might be just the ticket!

Leadership Challenge 10: Creating A Work/Life Balance Which Works For You

As a leader, you may experience the pressures of limited time or energy to focus on yourself! However, creating a healthy work life balance which works specifically for you, is incredibly important. You wouldn’t run your car on empty and expect to travel from A to B, so why would you do the same to yourself?  It’s also vitally important to feel energised, motivated, and focused so that you can then inspire others to feel the same.

Leadership Challenge 11: Know Who You Are Away From Your Career

Knowing who you are away from your career shows an understanding that you don’t exist in a bubble and neither does the progress of your team or company. Forget the guilt of pressing the pause button, reconnect to your hobbies, interests, and relationships. Know that you are more than just your career and role!

This challenge can ring true if you work 24/7 and do not press the pause button. Alternatively, you might feel confident in your career but but lack the confidence or direction in your personal life and relationships. Or if you are retiring, you may feel lost without your career and professional identity and need to find some clarity and direction.

Leadership Challenge 12: Adopting an Open Mindset

Being a leader can mean many different things to different people. Some leaders may adopt a ‘boss’ leadership attitude with an authoritarian fixed mindset. Often this style of leadership can close off communication, instil a sense of resentment and distrust amongst people and can impact company performance, progression, talent, reputation and resources.  Whilst other leaders, adopt a growth mindset and develop a culture of open communication, learning and development, new opportunities, new connections and overall creates a positive and progressive work culture.

Next steps

If you are a leader, manager, executive, C-suite, or D-suite director, or even a role model, and you are experiencing any of the leadership challenges listed above and more, why not connect with me to find out how I can coach and support you to feel confident, energised, motivated, and empowered again.