The Leadership Challenge: Frustration – 5 Tips

The Point: One of my clients said it best during the week – “Business is a series of roadblocks that erect themselves between you and success. The quicker you get above/under/around those roadblocks the sooner you’ll achieve success!” These roadblocks can be major, or minor, moments of frustration. So how exactly do you get to the other side as quick as possible? In this post, we’ll take a look at leadership frustration as well as 5 tips to orient yourself for success… Enjoy!

Are You Leading at the Tip of the Spear?

It’s Not You

If it’s Friday again (and it will be each week from here on out!), then no doubt another leadership frustration opportunity presented itself during the week. Here are a few of my own leadership frustration moments from this past week:

  • Short Again! – Each week I conduct a weekly review. In this weekly review, I review what I set out to accomplish in the previous week, progress/regress made, reasons for success/failure, and ultimately outline next week’s goals. Inevitably, I attempt to “bight off” more than I can possibly accomplish (or chew). “Aim high” is my motto… However results can be sometimes far from successfully achieving.
  • Damn You Delta! – Another week and this road warrior booked another 3,000 miles in the air (I’d still be driving in case your wondering!) Flights outbound were as scheduled, however the return was a totally different matter ESPECIALLY the final leg where Delta delayed my return flight by nearly an hour and a half. Out of my control thanks to fog in Seattle, but frustrating nonetheless.
  • I’m Too Busy! – One of the leaders I work with was far from achieving a level of success that he established for himself. The reason for not measuring up to his key performance indicators? He was too busy. Too busy… Can you believe that! My whole dealing with this leader had me asking myself if this was a “true” change initiative, or a “thinking about” change initiative.
  • Poor Communication! – If I’ve said it once, I’ve repeated myself a million times… If you can’t communicate clearly as a leader, those you’re leading (and probably to a large degree yourself included) will have a difficult time following. Communication skills training for leaders is one thing, but not implementing and executing those lessons is another.
  • Bureaucracy! – I worked for some of the most heavily bureaucratic organizations on the planet, yet I’m always amazed at how even though this proven practice of business has been deemed “undesirable” by most leaders/their organizations somehow these conditions still persist! Congratulations for holding on to a dying tradition that should be left in the past.

5 Leadership Tips for Dealing with Frustration

So as a leader, we all deal with frustration. While misery loves company, why not be in pursuit of ways in which we can overcome such moments? As such, the following 5 leadership tips for dealing with frustration come from my 500+ leadership development executive coaching conversations:

Leadership Frustration Tip #5: Run Towards Frustration

I know you’re probably thinking “Run towards frustration… Sam have you lost your mind?” But hear me out… If you attack those moments of frustration rather than react you’ll drive change faster.

Leadership Frustration Tip #4: Engage Others

Piggy-backing off of Tip #5, while running towards frustration remember that you are not alone in this leadership journey. Engaging others to drive towards solution via change will help others experience your pain, drive better solutions in less time, and assist with implementation.

Leadership Frustration Tip #3: Stay Focused

Dealing with frustration is, well, frustrating. You’re going to want to sweep the moment under the leadership rug for cleaning later. But I’ll encourage you to stay focused in the moment and beyond until sufficient cleaning has occurred for you/your stakeholders to be successful.

Leadership Frustration Tip #2: Take Frustration Personally

One of the leadership development executive coaching sessions I had during the week was with a leader that kept repeating the phrase “It’s business… It’s not personal.” Well guess what? Everything in business as a leader is personal!

Leadership Frustration Tip #1: Accept and Change

I don’t want to go all Eminem on you and tell you that you only have one shot to prove yourself and succeed so you should lose yourself in the moment, but I think he was on to something. If you want less frustration moments in the future you should look to accept them right here and now. Changing business processes and personnel could be in the cards, but your mentality and attitude regarding changing will orient you appropriately.


In this post we’ve taken a look at the leadership challenge of frustration and provided 5 tips. Just as life isn’t perfect, neither is leadership. However, in moments of frustration true character arises. What will be your character that rises to the top? Will it be something you’re proud of today, tomorrow, and years down the road? How you deal with frustration (and believe me, there will be very frustrating moments the higher you move in an organization!) will determine much of your success.


Sam Palazzolo

The Leadership Challenge- Frustration - 5 Tips

About Sam Palazzolo, Managing Director

Sam Palazzolo is Managing Director at Tip of the Spear Ventures, an agile Venture Capital and Business Advisory Services firm specializing in Mergers & Acquisition, Sales / Business Development & Turnaround Management.