How to Feel More Fulfilled in Your Leadership Role

How to Feel More Fulfilled in Your Leadership Role

You were probably a shining star early in your career. Not only did you get your work done (on time and well), but you were proactive and curious. You asked good questions. You anticipated things and looked at the bigger picture.

And you got a lot of positive feedback for it. 

You knew you were one of the good girls. The golden children. You were on a path to success, and your managers knew it. And you knew it too.

But as you started to rise through the ranks, something started to happen.

There were less clear instructions. There wasn’t a task to complete (and exceed expectations). There were priorities. And responsibility areas. Strategies to craft. Decisions to make. The tasks weren’t quite gold star-gettable anymore.

Successes and wins also are more intangible in your leadership role.

Instead of a product feature you built and get praised for, you’re now celebrating just another step on a never ending roadmap you’re now responsible for crafting and leading. Or interpreting the quarterly performance data and its ups and downs.

And you also have fewer people to give you gold stars. You might still have someone you report to, or fellow leaders, but they’re more like peers now. They might focus on the problems to be solved rather than growing and recognizing you.

And something can feel like it's missing. We feel less filled up and completed by the work in our leadership role.

We start to wonder whether we took a wrong turn in our career. Work can feel way less satisfying when we get less validation or clarity from others that this is a job well done. We start to feel invisible and resentful, and we decide to leave—and to go somewhere with more mentorship.

But what we really might be asking for is to go back into the garden of Eden of our career...

…the safe place where we were taken care of with a clear authority figure who told us what to do and mentored us. Who praised us when we did a job well done on clearly defined tasks—rather than stepping up and becoming the authority figure who holds ambiguity, decides what needs to be done in consultation with her fellow leaders, and validates herself.

You do need people you can learn from (although that looks different in leadership than in early career), but they won’t necessarily be your mentors at work. In fact, if all your mentors are at your company, you’re likely not exposing yourself to enough outside perspectives that you can bring into your company.

And if you're not getting feedback from your supervisors or fellow leaders, you need to find ways to evaluate your own performance.

– What results are you achieving?

– What do clients or customers say?

– What are your staff achieving, and what feedback do they have for you?

And finally, you need to validate yourself.

Talk to yourself about what you have achieved in your leadership role. What you’ve learned. What tough experience you had and how you met it, but also what it taught you. You can even formalize this reflection practice with journaling or a reflection partner. But create it for yourself rather than taking a step back in your career so you can feel more fulfilled in your leadership role.

Another way to can feel more fulfilled in your leadership role—take back control over your most precious resource: your time. Click the image below to download my free checklist with strategies to help you take back your time.

Hi I'm Maya

Mia Scharphie , career coach, headshot

I’m a career coach and strategist with a secret power (I mean, past career) as a designer. I love road trips, graphic novels and helping people like you design the career you love on your own terms.