A lot of leaders end up in the roles they’re in because their Type A people who don’t settle. They have high expectations of themselves and others and give everything 100 percent. That’s a good thing until it’s no longer a good thing. In the interest of mindful leadership, I want to raise the question of whether or not you should consider dialing it back a bit.
As an executive coach, I work with a lot of Type A leaders who always have the dial set to 10. When I run 360 degree feedback surveys for them, they tend to score low on behaviors like pacing themselves by building in breaks from work and differentiating between efforts that require perfection and those for which “good enough” is sufficient.
It’s easy for me to connect and empathize with this type of leader because I’m in recovery from the same syndrome of keeping the dial set all the way to the right. Like most recovery programs, it’s a process. Some days are better than others.
I’ve been paying more attention to where my clients and I have been setting our energy and intensity dials lately and have come up with three reasons why it can be a good idea to dial it back a bit.
Here they are:
1. Reduce Injuries: This one has both literal and figurative implications. In the literal sense, always going for 100% can lead to injuries. I’ve found this out myself lately in yoga teacher training. In a figurative sense, pushing so hard all the time can injure relationships with people that are important to you.
2. You’re Making Them Crazy: Several years ago, I had a participant in a group coaching program who scored exceedingly low in her 360 on pacing herself with breaks. She chose not to work on that in her development plan. When I asked her why she told me that she didn’t need breaks. Her kids were grown and gone, her husband had his own big job and she loved nothing more than firing off emails all weekend long. (Seriously.) I said to her, “Maybe you don’t need any breaks but have you ever considered that maybe your team members need a break from you?” She hadn’t actually, but thought that was probably true. She dialed it back and everyone’s performance went up.
3. Maybe There Are Other Ways to Do It: When you drive and push so hard, it’s easy to overlook the alternatives. Maybe there are more effective or efficient ways to do it than your way. You’ll never know unless you dial it back enough for the alternatives to emerge.
So, what do you think? Do you have areas where you need to dial it back a bit? What one issue, topic, or conversation do you expect to deal with this week where it might make sense to dial it back a bit? What simple changes could you make to dial it back from a 10 to a 7 or an 8?
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