Leadership Maxim - Managing Frustrations

As a leader of a group, team, club or an organization needless to say that you have and will experience some level of frustration.  The key to being a leader is to manage your personal frustrations and those of the team as well.

Although you as the leader experience frustration, your team is also.  There are three levels of frustrations in all teams:

1. Interpersonal frustration - this is when team members have to work on projects together.  A team that doesn’t spend a lot of time together may see this more often than well established teams.  Nonetheless, this type of frustration is real.  When we don’t embrace the uniqueness of team members we are probably going to experience interpersonal frustrations in the group or team you lead.

All team members must understand that everyone sees things differently, each person comes to the table with certain underlying basis, some people are more vocal, some are less vocal, some see things one way, some like to look at something from various angles, some work fast, some won’t stop until things are done, while others might need to take numerous breaks before completing a project. 

This type of frustration can and will cause your team, group or organization to operate at less than its optimal capacity.  It could also cause you to lose some members of the team.  

In order to combat interpersonal frustrations, your team most develop a sensitivity for each other.  As the leader you also must figure out which people work best together and what personalities work well together.  This takes time but eventually things will fall into place.  I suggest doing some things together as a group, if possible, outside of your normal duties.  Go bowling, take the team to play paintball, watch a few movies together or serve for a cause together.  Over a period of time you will that bonds will develop that will move the team forward.

2. Graduation Frustration - if your team or organization is full of leaders this is something that is definitely happening on your team.  True leaders are visionaries - they look ahead often because there is an idea of what things “should” look like.  

These people have seen a picture of where the organization needs to be, they have embrace the vision and direction of the group but they are frustrated because “so much” time has passed and the group doesn’t seem any closer to its vision.  They are kind of like the senior in high school who has passed all of their tests, has college scholarships lined up and is awaiting the summer to arrive.  The only problem is that they must still come to class to go through the motions in order fulfill their attendance requirement.

This type of frustration may never be uttered verbally, but it shows up as inattentiveness during meetings, reluctance to manage projects for the group that they are clearly capable of doing and a growing disinterest in the group while still being aligned with the vision of the team or organization.

If this type of frustration is allowed to show up to meetings unchecked it can decrease the moral of the group.  This frustration can often be found in your top and mid level leaders.  The answer is to give these people a challenge.  Begin to take some risks and extend them the ability to lead a cutting edge project on behalf of the team.

This will fuel their passion to align with the vision, give you a chance as the leader to possibly mentor them and ultimately push the organization forward. Don’t worry, they are waiting the challenge.

3. Bandwagon frustration - These are people who were excited when they heard about the opportunity to work with your team, group or organization because they either felt a sense of purpose or they were meeting a requirement of some one else.  

These are good people but when they have no intention of doing anything once they understand what was required of them being part of this team or group.  These people can be converted into great leaders but they can also be detrimental to the success of your team.

If someone who is a part of your group or team is experiencing this type of frustration you should either work with them directly or assign them to a veteran team member.  These people ask a lot of question, do very little and in many cases are time wasters and zappers of strength. They should be given small tasks and not be allowed to lead out on a project, until a change is noticed.