When things are going well, people usually sing loudly and really belt it out. That’s when churches echo with perhaps off-pitch, shrill, and sometimes nasal but always high-spirited and heart-felt sounds of happy people singing their hearts out. All seems right with the world.

Sometimes, though, it is hard to sing, to perform. Your heart just isn’t in it because things are not right. Personal problems like illness, marital strife, financial pressures, depression and more get in the way and singing is just out of the question. Just showing up is an effort.

It’s the same with leadership. If you have a great team with top performers, no office politics, and lots of collaboration, leadership is easy, like singing can be. It’s easy to be a Peter Drucker or Jack Welch in those situations. You can’t wait to get up in the morning and get to work.

But if your team is loaded with poor performers who engage in petty arguments, excuse-making, and poor communication, leadership is very hard. You’d probably rather have your teeth drilled then show up at work.

The measure of a good leader is not how well he or she sings when all is well, but when things are unraveling.  In my leadership experiences I’ve had times of good and loud (though flat) singing and times of just getting by. I have to say I learned more and grew more during the tough singing times than the times when I was singing out loud. But it was hard work.

Tough leadership days usually are very lonely. One key for leaders struggling through such times is taking things one at a time, or one day at a time. And sometimes, when one day at a time was too much to wrap my arms around I opted for a half-day or an hour at a time…I can usually make one of those work for me.

Leader, how do you keep your perspective and balance when singing is hard? Write me…