Stay in leadership long enough, and you'll face opposition.
Rise high enough, and I promise you you'll experience a level of resistance you didn't even know was possible. The key is to stay focused and keep moving forward.
Opposition is not a bad thing. At least, it doesn’t have to be. I meet many leaders who complain about it constantly as if it were a badge of honor. I don’t even think they recognize they do this. And I get it. It can be tough, and sometimes you just need to tell someone else about it. But keep your focus on what's ahead. Otherwise, you risk getting sidetracked.
There is a better approach. Rather than seeing opposition as a point of friction, look at it as a means to refine your thinking and ratchet up your resolve. Consider it an affirmation that you’re creating change and moving toward growth. Neither are necessarily comfortable for anyone—especially legacy organizations and the leaders who lead them.
Break Through Without Breaking Down
When I find myself facing opposition, I take a step back and do these things:
It’s OK to abandon a goal when you determine that the context has changed or new variables have been introduced.
Don’t go on a scavenger hunt for how many people like or don’t like you. But do take the temperature of your team and determine if you are all moving in one direction.
Understand the distance between your present reality and where you want to be. This is a great time to adjust as needed.
Opposition is a catalyst that leads to clarity of purpose, mission, and conviction.
Whatever you're facing right now, remember this: It's not as bad as it seems, and it's not as good as it looks. Nothing should be wasted when it comes to leadership experiences. Use the seasons of opposition as opportunities to get stronger, more resolved, and determined to see it through.
Adapt, Pivot, But Keep Moving Forward
Leadership is a series of course corrections. You’ll have to adapt along the way. That’s a given. Just keep moving forward. Don’t lead by looking in the rearview mirror. And don’t allow your opposition to become your obsession either. Recognize it, address it, and then move on.
No one ever said being a leader would be easy. It is a privilege and a point of stewardship. Part of that responsibility comes with facing and enduring opposition. Some of that opposition comes as a result of your decisions, and some comes from people being people.
Never forget it's always the roughest right before a breakthrough. Whether it's pushing a team to new levels of productivity, coaching an individual to peak performance, or leading an organization through massive change, your opposition will flare up just before something amazing happens. My experience tells me just about the time I'm ready to give in and give up is the time I need to press in and press forward.
Reframe your opposition—people, circumstances, or mindset—from something holding you back to a process that will eventually propel you forward. Hold on. The best is yet to come!