You kinda know it. You’ve seen the way people look at you, you hear the whispers. People say you’re causing stress, and that stresses you out even more.
That’s okay. Many leaders become leaders because of their technical skills; and no one teaches us leadership.
And that is a skill you can pick up, progressively.
The reality check
If you worry about procrastinating and not getting anything done, and instead leap into action straight away. . then you might actually be creating more messes to clean up.
We *precrastinate* often from a place of fear, and jumping in without thoughtful planning often means we do it in an impulsive manner.
But maybe you’ve heard that you need to be available around-the-clock, that you need to take action straight away otherwise you look slow or stupid, or that you look bad if you’re not seen to be doing enough.
And hence, our ‘leap into action’ can look like, interrupting our team members, expecting 24-7 availability and immediate answers, micromanaging and expecting accountability for every split second, having way too many meetings, shaming people for any (perceived) transgressions, not allowing breathing space between meetings, overscheduling and triple-booking, answering for everyone else, insisting that people only adhere to your methods of working, holding long meetings way past their allotted time and drifting off-topic often, telling your team the boss is breathing down your neck and scolding them. .
That was an epic mouthful.
And before you lash out at yourself, let’s take a gentle moment to pause.
- Do you have boundaries with those above you?
- What past experiences (difficult traumatic times, company cultures) have shaped the way you’re acting.
- How helpful do you think your actions are, for instance you may believe that if you don’t micromanage, nothing will ever get done.
- What’s going on in your personal life?
Some things you can do differently
- Can you reset your brain regularly so your fear center (amygdala) stops hijacking you, and your wiser brain (prefrontal cortex) comes online? You can do this by deep breathing, for 3-5 breaths.
- Can you allow ten-minute pauses before and after any meeting or activity? This will give you space to consolidate what’s going on, strategise, and make everything seem less daunting.
- Can you create psychological safety in your team? This could involve a team-building event, so people feel safe to speak up and disagree better. Without this safety, no communications expert can change things properly.
- What can you do to consciously remind yourself that past ways of acting are over, for instance you are no longer in that same situation where you had to be urgent and anxious 24-7. In other words, then is not now.
- Can you commit to quality over quantity? From your meeting frequency to durations, to length of emails to the amount of time you spend rechecking. Let’s keep it simple.
- Can you make sure that your team members know what’s on your plate? Start with the bigger vision and picture, before drilling down to the different parts of the process and how they link together.
- Can you negotiate better boundaries with those above you? If you are over-expanded, then there is no room for you to be a better leader.
- And, can you hire better if your team members are not a good fit?
The truth is, leadership is an art of learning emotional intelligence – within ourselves and with others. The more you practise, the more adept you become.