22 Feb Stay in your lane
“Stay in your lane… if you want to come into mine, please signal your intentions.”
Motivation Thursdays with Mrs. Samuels
“The only people who get upset about you setting boundaries, are the ones who were benefiting from you having none.”
“There is nothing in your life at this moment that you are not allowing to be there.”
“Stop asking why they keep doing it and start asking why you keep allowing it.”
Leaders do many things well, it’s typically a prerequisite for leadership. However, one character-flaw that keeps them from reaching optimal satisfaction, is their lack of boundaries with coworkers. For many leaders, their lack of boundaries causes them to take on extra workloads, priorities, and burdens that are not theirs to carry. You may argue it’s the responsibility of a leader to carry the extra load and burdens of the business, and while that may be somewhat true, I will argue it’s more about your Pride than your responsibility. Many people in leadership roles come to me to “seek help” with work/life balance.
Typically, within minutes of the conversation I am letting them know they sound more like a martyr than a leader. I explain to them, no one is asking them to take on every responsibility and task, yet they do so and then complain ad nauseam about how frustrated and exhausted they are. I take this opportunity to ask why they need to be involved in every detail, decision, and plan. Every time, the response is PRIDE. Pride runs with the thought of “I am the only one capable, I understand it best, My ideas are most effective, My lack of involvement will lead to ultimate destruction of the business, etc.” I then pose the question, if you are the only one capable of running the business, why did you hire employees? And because leaders have a tendency to talk for 45 minutes straight, this is where the conversation ends, and we pick it up next time. There is always a next time, because now their newest task is to convince the therapist of how great they really are and that the stress of the job is just part of the process. Below is what I suggest to them during their next visit (and no I do not allow for time to convince me of their greatness, as I prefer to stick to the agenda).
1. Identify what it is that you need to do, that you’re not getting done. Many leaders complain that they get so many demands for attention, pleas for help and unnecessary interruptions from their team or other people in the organization, that they aren’t able to devote almost any time to critical high-level thinking or planning. Determine how many hours a week this work takes and prioritize it. This may look like not taking meetings the first hour of your workday, using a different workspace so as to not be interrupted during your essential work time, not answering phone calls or responding to emails/texts during a certain time of day, shutting your door and NOT answering it if someone knocks. If you are constantly being interrupted, it is because you have trained your employees/coworkers that you are available for interruptions. You will need to retrain them.
2. Check yourself. Are you the martyr I was talking about? Is pride at the forefront of your stress? Are you setting realistic expectations for yourself, your employees, and the operation? Are you the ONLY one capable of solving problems, making decisions, and managing operations? If you answered yes to any of the above it might be time to reevaluate your role as a leader.
3. Step away. Trust your team. Stepping away and allowing them to do their job without you micromanaging them sends the message that they are capable and have been put into their role “on purpose”. When your team knows that you trust them, the constant need to interrupt will decrease. Stepping away also allows you to see things through a fresh lens. Oftentimes leaders in a stressful environment are “leading” from a position of frustration, disappointment, and panic…which, I would argue, are not ways I would want to be described as a leader.
In closing, prioritize what is essential within your role. Make the time to complete these tasks every day. Check your intentions and your thinking patterns. Do they need to be adjusted? Step away. You likely have responsibilities to people and things outside of your job title. When you continually say yes to something you are always saying no to something else.
Have a wonderful weekend,
Amanda Samuels, LMFT