Escaping the Pressures and Stressors of Leadership

Our guest blogger today is Mike Figliuolo, the co-author of Lead Inside the Box: How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results.  He’s also the managing director of the leadership development training firm, thoughtLEADERS, LLC (www.thoughtleadersllc.com).

The pressure on leaders is increasing every day. Calls for “doing more with less” echo through the halls as ever-escalating expectations create a great deal of stress for leaders. The investment of a leader’s time, energy, and attention (“leadership capital”) is a critical choice leaders make every day.

The options for delivering on these heightened expectations are limited. Sure, leaders can step on the proverbial gas pedal and work harder and longer to create more “leadership capital,” but time is a non-renewable resource—play that game too long and the stress will add up. The cumulative effects of these stressors can be devastating.

When leaders overwork themselves, their teams tend to do the same. People stay at the office until the boss leaves; their stress levels are correlated with those of their boss. Eventually, team members get burned out and some look for new jobs that will be less stressful.

When they quit, they leave their leader shorthanded with an open role to fill. That vacancy increases the leader’s stress and puts an additional burden on the other team members to pick up the slack. This negative performance spiral then picks up speed with no sign of slowing down.

You may have gotten stressed out just by reading this hypothetical situation—that’s because it’s all too real. This brute force approach to increasing leadership capital isn’t sustainable.

If you want to avoid the problems that come from overworking yourself and your team, the only viable option is being more efficient with how you spend your time and energy. How can you be smarter about how you’re investing your energy to get the best results you can at work while still having a life outside of it? Do a better job understanding where you’re investing your leadership capital by assessing which of your team members are consuming the most of it, then change your approach to leading them.

If you’re investing too much time and energy and not getting results in terms of performance, either change the way you’re leading them or figure out how to be more efficient with your time. Another alternative is to build their skill such that then don’t demand so much attention from you.  This isn’t about categorizing people in boxes – it’s about understanding your behavior relative to theirs.  If you get either one of those to change, you should be able to improve results and expend less energy in the process of doing so.

To learn more from Mike Figliuolo on handling the challenges of leadership, join us for our Soundview Live webinar: How Smart Leaders Guide Their Teams to Exceptional Results.

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