As leaders, we are subject to many demands, responsibilities and stresses in our roles. From time to time, things can start to feel overwhelming and it feels as if the demands on us are 'too much'. At times like this, it's too late to figure out what your response will be. It's when you're feeling good about yourself and your work that you need to figure out your plan for how to respond when the demands and the stresses become overwhelming.
Here are a few questions to guide your thinking about developing a response to challenging times:
- With whom can I safely share my worries/concerns/frustrations?
- Who might I call on to lend a hand with the work that needs to get done?
- Can I delegate some of my work to trusted others?
- Do I alert people now that I may need to call on them from time to time to lend a hand?
- What is urgent and must be attended to now?
- What is less urgent and can reasonably be put aside for a few hours, days, or even weeks?
- How will I communicate - and to whom - that some work was not completed as first hoped?
- Do I have a supervisor who needs to know?
- Do I need to share - or hide - this state from those I lead?
Equally important to developing a response to times when work seems overwhelming is the need to reflect on the situation. If you don't reflect, you run the risk of allowing times like this to become cyclically repeating. Some questions to guide your reflections:
- Is there anything I might have done differently that would have prevented this overwhelming state to develop?
- How do I manage 'work flow' - for myself and for those I lead?
- Do I need to bring others into a discussion about 'work flow' at our site?
- What have I learned about myself and how I react to stressful times?
- What do I need to learn in order to be ready for stressful times?
- What did I learn from my last experience with stressful times? Was there something actionable?