6 Actions Leaders Take When They Lose Their Footing

It happens to all of us during our careers. We go with the flow and even face our scariest projects and colleagues with courage and determination. We convince ourselves nothing will stop our trajectory, no matter how many roadblocks are put in our way. We choose to let the mantra- “We will survive” become our north star.

But then BOOM! Some situation or event throws us off balance and we can’t keep going. Our world seems different and we no longer have the strength to push ourselves forward in the deliberate way we did before. We actually feel that we are losing our footing.

One leader I recently worked with wanted so much to lead her team to a better outcome, even though there was a great deal of conflict and competition . She was not going to be deterred but rather forged ahead by choosing better ways to deal with her own frustrations and anger. She wanted to empower her team to make more meaningful contributions that reflected the mission of the organization. But her body and mind didn’t allow that to happen and she decided it was time to step back.

When leaders lose their footing they need to take action.

Here are six actions leaders take when they lose their footing:

1. Take A Deep Look At Where You Are And How You Got There

So let’s say you find yourself in unfamiliar territory where your job or career seems to be standing still. Maybe you wanted to launch a new initiative and your colleagues have shot it down. Perhaps you feel that your boss isn’t taking any of your suggestions seriously. You’re exhausted and tired of fighting for what you think is best. Think about these questions:

  • Am I seeing the situation accurately?
  • How would my team members view this challenge?
  • Did this happen all of a sudden or was it a build-up?
  • What factors have contributed to my dilemma?

  • 2. Find A Confidant or Mentor or Coach

    A practical place to begin this search is by speaking with someone we trust or value. Sometimes a co-worker who has become more of a friend is the perfect person to reach out to. Other times we need a more objective person who has the ability to help us through our crisis. A mentor at work or an independent coach can often help us see things through a different lens.

    A confidant, mentor or coach can help leaders through a crisis.

    3. Revise Your Leadership Vision

    The time has come to revisit our leadership goals and direction when leaders feel stuck or frustrated. Using the wisdom from those we have consulted and being honest with our interests, it may be time to open up a word document and begin brainstorming.

  • How are my energy and confidence levels at this point?
  • What is my body telling me?
  • What is most important for me to focus on right now?
  • When do I need to make a change?

  • Then write out your new leadership vision.

    4. Update Needed Skills and Experiences

    Once we have our vision, leaders then can decide what new knowledge is necessary to make their new direction a reality. List out the skills you need to learn and experiences you require. Then figure out the best strategy to add them to your leadership toolbox . Do you need more training? Do you need different project opportunities? Is it possible to switch to a different team?

    5. Practice Your New Moves

    After updating the skills and knowledge give them a try. Practice with team members and people from other areas.

  • Volunteer to work on a new assignment
  • Offer to speak to others about what you learned
  • Experiment, make mistakes, grow

  • Related: Is It Time To Redefine Your Leadership Story?

    6. Put Your Leadership Into High Gear

    The final piece of gaining your footing is becoming an expert and someone who can be counted on to follow through. Become that leader that others want to turn to for help and action. Promote your turn around.

    What actions have you taken when you have lost your footing?