Simon is crumbling under the pressure. He is aware of this but doesn’t know how to pull himself out of the burdens that are on him. As CEO in a time of change for the organization he is responsible for every aspect of the business. Having just stepped up he doesn’t yet have a trusted team around him and is finding that without an honest sounding board it is hard to translate his intellectual knowledge of how to move forward into practical steps. Feeling responsible for the success of work with investors, customers, development and employees, he finds himself overseeing the actions of others and questioning their decisions. The feelings of frustration with others around him and the realization that workplace dynamics are unhealthy, leaves him feeling stuck and out of control. There is no time to invest in changing culture at this stage, even if he knew where to start.
It feels like there are not enough hours in the day. As a result, Simon is putting in long hours, expecting others to do the same. He is burnt-out although his awareness of this is limited because there is just no time to pay attention to himself with all the other pressures. Without a trusted team he is falling into the trap of only listening to his own ideas.
The suggestion that coaching might help is met with “I don’t have time for coaching” which seems to him to be a reasonable response given the hours and workload he has.
But how sensible is it really?
What is the cost of continuing like this, to Simon’s health, to the success of his career, to the success of the organization as a whole?
We can all see the direction he is headed without making change. From his position of overwhelm this is less obvious. It feels like if he lets go of any one of the balls he is juggling, everything will collapse. But this is not true. An organization is not just one person, it is a team, and teams must be trusted. This is the most important first step. Develop your team, trust them to succeed and delegate responsibility.
While now feels like a difficult time to hire a coach or consultant due to time and money constraints, that is exactly why now is the right time. A good coach will typically be able to save you time by enabling you to prioritize, reallocate tasks and work more effectively with your executive team. In itself this is a significant return on investment.
For Simon as a CEO any changes he makes to his working style will impact and trickle down to those around him. By considering how to develop himself as a more effective leader that can influence culture and change he will gain the additional benefits of having a more effective and productive team, better working relationships and a more cohesive C-Suite with a clear strategy for developing the business.
My belief, as either coach, consultant or psychologist has always been to develop individuals to create their own strategies and solutions. This is a more sustainable approach, equipping people with the skills they need for the future, rather than having a consultant come in to design and run a development project. It is also much more cost effective for the organization. However, it is important before taking any steps to change culture or implement change, to get the overall leadership in the right place. This ensures that wider organizational development can have the greatest impact.
First steps to combat overwhelm
Your time as a leader needs to be invested wisely and must go where you can make the greatest impact. When overwhelmed it can be more of a struggle to see all the issues clearly and to dig yourself out of the situation.
Develop your emotional intelligence and become a better leader
Emotional Intelligence is everywhere these days, but just reading a small blurb about it won’t make you a better leader. Developing your abilities takes time and commitment. It requires the support of someone outside of yourself, who you can trust and share openly with. If you come from a technical or academic background, take the time to understand the ways emotional intelligence is hardwired into the brain, this will help you commit to change as a process.
In many ways it seems counterintuitive to take time out of your already busy schedule. But taking the time to develop yourself, receive coaching or even destress for a few minutes can clear your mind, make you more focused and ultimately create more time as you see the challenges in front of you more clearly.
Invest in yourself and your organization
Make an investment in coaching or an alternative because the ROI is worth the initial cost. This is especially true for a company in the early stages or when leadership is in transition. At this time, you have a unique opportunity to ensure that your organization develops in a healthy and sustainable way, setting you up for future success.
Develop your team
When you understand your leadership style, create a team around you that you can trust. In the fast paced environment of the corporate world today it is essential to have good people around you that share your vision and motivations. Having outside support will be invaluable to support you in this process and enable you to identify team members and develop cohesive relationships as a leadership group.
Reaching a place of clarity and reducing the feelings of stress and overwhelm enables you to look at the bigger picture and to be a more effective leader.