Overcoming Overwhelming Challenges in Business

As a leader, there will be times when you feel overwhelmed with the challenges confronting you and the decisions you are required to make. In these times, you need to ensure you are not only anchored against these storms but that you have a platform from which to move forward.


Active Knowledge Question:

How do you manage overwhelming challenges and decisions as a leader? 


There Will Be Times

As a leader, there will be times when it is your responsibility to make difficult and challenging decisions. Yes, as the leader, these are your decisions, but that does not mean that you confront them nor overcome them by yourself.  

Leaders lead and do not journey alone. Worthy leadership is centripetal, where your influence moves the entire organisation. Through this strength, no matter what comes against you, you can rest assured that what is in you, and with you, will be bigger and stronger than what is coming against you.

This strength is the essence of leadership and the evidence of your leadership. It does not come through authority but rather relationships. Relationships built from trust and engagement where the entire organisation sees clearly who you are as a person, and leader, and know that what you decide will be in their best interests.

This leadership journey commences with seeking worthy leadership and appreciating the physics of leadership, but there are some aspects that we should delve into both as individuals and for the business as we commence this journey.


The foundation stones that you set for yourself personally, as a leader and in the business, are vital in overcoming challenges and optimising performance on all fronts. Here are some of the elements that will allow you to be anchored in your decision-making:

  • Purpose: What are you seeking to achieve? 
    • Individually do you have a sense of purpose in your life, and if so, how would you express that purpose?
    • As a leader, how do you see your role and what is your purpose as a leader?
    • For the business, does it have a clearly defined purpose anchored in its customers and their needs?
  • Motive: What moves you?
    • Individually, what motivates you? What does success look like for you?
    • Why have you accepted a leader’s role, and what does success as a leader look like?
    • For the business, what does success look like? Is profit the outcome from which it judges itself or are there other more important measures?
  • Self-Interest: Who comes first?
    • Individually do you place your self-interest and goals first and foremost, or do you seek to uplift others?
    • Is your role as a leader about your continued success and elevation, or is it about uplifting others and the business?
    • Does the business accept, even expect, that persons in it will have a me-first attitude, or does its culture eliminate these traits?
  • Virtues: To what do you hold true?
    • Individually what virtues would you say are non-negotiable in your life?
    • As a leader, are there virtues or values that cement your leadership?
    • For the business, what comes first and foremost – profit, customers, or employees?

As a leader, your answers to each and every question should be succinct and without conflict across the three domains of you as an individual, a leader, and how you mould the business you lead.


There is a pivotal question in the narrative above, and that is most easily expressed as profit. In broader terms, it is better described as how you perceive success as an individual which then influences, maybe bias, your actions as a leader, which then flows into any business that you lead.

I describe it as profit-first bias. If wealth, and more wealth, is your core metric of determining success, then in all you do, placing yourself first will likely be the bias you carry whether you recognise it or not. It’s expressed something like, ‘I am wealthier, in a more senior position, and have greater authority than you; therefore, I am more successful’.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeing or possessing wealth as a metric of success nor seeking to grow that wealth. It is something we should all be focused on in building successful lives. However, where we can get caught is that it becomes the ‘means to the end’; it becomes our prime focus and then self-interest kicks in.

Motive, and its partner ‘purpose’, are far more influential in our lives than we give them credit for. They set the floor and ceiling to our performance and success in all that we do. 

A motive to profit just seems to disperse and neutralise competitive strength whereas a motive to compete uplifts and brings forth a greater strength than we ever thought possible. In sports psychology, the mental discipline that comes from focusing on competing to be your best as distinct from chasing medals will allow you to be at the top of your game when competing. Chasing medals and watching the score tick over in competitions will likely cause you to lose focus and lose that competition. Chasing profit is like chasing medals.

Whom are we competing against? Ourselves and our ability to do better every day. Our ability as leaders to draw the best from everyone whom we seek to lead. And in business, the ability of that business to muster the combined talent and effort of everyone involved in it.

When you consider your ‘anchor’ in this context and each question above ask yourself, does my response reflect chasing profit or competing against myself?

Movement To Momentum

From the rock-solid foundations that you have built, you then must be able to move forward into and through any challenge or decision that may confront you and emerge stronger. Again, as a leader, this must not just be you but must be your entire team and organisation moving in unison with and in support of you.

From the foundations to which you are anchored, movement and momentum are created through:

  • Simple guiding principles that are drawn from your competitive posture (strategy) that reinforces your, and your business’s, ability to outcompete all others.
  • A vision which has created a quest that is enticing, exciting and fulfilling for yourself individually and for the business; note, they may well be different visions.
  • A focus on the competitive engine in your business that musters the combined talent and effort of everyone working within and with the business behind purpose and vision. At the individual level, there is also a competitive engine that I describe as the Achiever Traits.

Get these elements working for you individually, as a leader and in your business, and you will turn challenges and decisions that appear to be impassable mountains into molehills.


Building strong foundations and anchoring yourself to them allows you to make the right decisions for the right reasons no matter what may be coming against you. Why and How? Because you have made your decisions against benchmarks that are embedded with the right purpose, motive and relationships. ‘Right’ in that they are for enduring success, not quick gains for yourself or others, and therefore attract and retain strength and resilience, and compound with use.

Having your journey forward mapped through principles, a vision and engine that drives it, allows you to know the path that is to be followed and to take others on this journey with you. As doubt and challenges arise you are able to see through this ‘fog’ and emerge in pursuit of your goals, purpose and vision.

Strong foundations and a clear path forward will allow you to step away from any challenges or decisions that may be confront you, to know what is the right response and then step forward with complete confidence.


As a leader, you must anchor yourself in succinct principles that guide your decisions and actions and empower your leadership by acting in the interests of others. It is through this lack of self-interest and rightful decision-making that your leadership is energised and empowered so that you can overcome any obstacles and challenges that may come your way. You do not journey alone but with all who you lead.


An entirely new level of performance.

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All the best in the success of your business,

Richard Shrapnel