The plan for this 2023 “Living Leadership” blog was to lay out some ideas that might serve as fun, helpful reminders for creating and building trust with your teams. I had it all planned out — I would focus on trust first, move to building compassion, stability and finally end the year with some ideas for offering hope for our teams. 

I picked these four areas based on a poll done by Gallup. They make a lot of sense to me, and keeping these four needs front and center are an awesome reminder of the responsibility we have as leaders. 

I’ll get to that… eventually. For now, I’m annoyed. 

In the spirit of building trust with you as readers, I feel I owe it to you to practice what I preach and have enough courage to be vulnerable. In this moment, I feel like I’m the very last person on this earth who should be offering leadership advice. I know it’s a moment, a day, an hour, and it will pass. However, as I started to put this month’s blog together, I thought focusing on the messiness of leadership might be helpful for someone else. 

I started two 1-to-1 meetings today with team members by saying, “I’m sorry I’m feeling punchy today, and I’m not totally focused.” I felt I owed it to them to let them know I wasn’t my usual self. I was frustrated with myself that I couldn’t 100% refocus on the meetings at hand. My personal annoyances and frustrations were seeping in. I pride myself on being able to re-center and focus on whoever is in front of me; today, I struggled. 

Today I have not been my best self. I’ve been short. I’ve been annoyed. (Did I already say that?) and I’ve not done my best at building trust with our team. In fact, if I’m honest, I’ve probably hurt it in some ways. 

This is not a “poor me” blog. Who wants to read that? If anything, it’s quite the opposite. It’s an honest blog in leadership to let you know that, in spite of your very best efforts and intentions, you are going to have moments when you are “off,” days where you are not your best self. This isn’t to offer excuses or justification for being an (expletive deleted) but to say this leadership stuff is hard. Read all the books you want and listen to a hundred podcasts. If anyone says you will get it right all the time, they are not being honest with you. 

Figure out what will pull you out of it and lean into it. For me (thank you, BTW), it’s slowing down even for a short time to think about this blog. It is an outlet that resets me, and even if no one would be reading it, it gives me a moment to regain perspective and give myself a break. 

Writing might not be “it” for you, but then you should figure out what “it” is. On the days you know you are not being your best self, trust yourself enough to figure it out and get back in the game. 

Next month I promise to offer some ideas on what you might be able to do to continue or start creating and building trust with your team.

It didn’t feel true to jump right to that when I don’t completely trust myself today. The lesson there? It’s OK. Leadership is messy. It’s not always going to be perfect, and every leader, regardless of title, experience or knowledge, has moments of self-doubt, questioning and making mistakes.

Introduce me to a leader who believes that isn’t true, and chances are I won’t trust them. 

Julie Thorson was the 2018 recipient of the LeadingAge Dr. Herbert Shore Outstanding Mentor of the Year award. She currently co-facilitates LeadingAge Iowa’s Leadership Academy. She is a Leading Age Academy fellow and former coach. The Head Coach (president and CEO) of Friendship Haven, a life plan community in Fort Dodge, IA, Thorson is a coach’s daughter at heart. A former part-time nursing home social worker, she is a licensed nursing home administrator and completed Leading Age’s Leadership Educator Program in 2019.

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.