Q. I’ve been following your column and I’ve been wanting to write in, maybe in an attempt to not feel so alone. I am a senior ranking leader in a respected company. From all outward appearances, I am successful and confident. Here’s my challenge. I’m exhausted, and feel like such a fraud. Most times, I feel completely over my head and I am working ridiculous hours just to keep up. I can be short tempered to those around me and I don’t mean to be. Please tell me I’m not alone.
A. You are not alone! The expectations to perform better every day is greater now than ever. I also get your feelings of inadequacy, because there is not a lot of sympathy for being exhausted. Stress is at an all-time high and the pace is unrelenting. My suggestions are not something you haven’t heard, but you need to act before your health is impacted.
Let me be candid with you: Most leaders who get to this point, do so because they fail to trust those around them. They assume all the responsibility for the success or failure of the business, therefore they can’t relinquish control to those they hired, thinking they could possibly fail. The reality is, as leaders we’ve all make plenty of mistakes, and the business did just fine. It will also be fine by allowing others to take on that special project, make suggestions or just assume some of your daily tasks, so you can start to breathe again. The walls won’t crumble and over time, the business will start to thrive. As my father always said, “Many hands lighten the load.”.
My other suggestion is probably harder, because as leaders we believe we must lead from a position of strength. But transparency in leadership is proven to motivate the team to take on more work than they normally would. Be honest and tell your team you are working way too many hours and need help. Then sit back and see what happens. Many will raise their hand. When they do, give them the rope to run with the task. It will transform your 2019.