Your brain is not designed to hold ideas, your brain is designed to have ideas.” – Robert Allen, ‘Getting Things Done”
An informal survey of 150 senior managers who participated in the most recent Sustainable Leaders Strategic Planning workshop revealed the biggest challenge they faced was “having too much to do in too little time with fewer resources than ever before… and having to make the right decisions quickly.”
The often unbelievable demands to be both highly productive and accurate bombard us daily. What’s different? The speed with which business must get done today is light years faster than even 15 or 20 years ago. In many industries (technology), change happens too quickly and if you only strive to keep up, you will be out of business faster than you can say “Buck Rogers.”
There are only 24 hours in a day and you cannot create “more time” in a day. The solution for most is to work longer and harder to get the job done. The only problem with that solution is that it is a recipe for burn out.
Let’s break the rules and shift your perspective consider this: Time is a limited resource and energy is an infinitely unlimited resource. You cannot create more time. You can, however, create more energy by taking control not only of your time, but where your attention is within that time frame.
My personal observation is that productive and sustainable leaders who feel happy and satisfied at the end of each day actively focus on BOTH how much they DO and DON’T DO to conserve brain power and leverage energy successfully.
Say “No” 100 times for every time you say “Yes.” If saying “No” is hard for you (as it is for most people), add “No, thank you” so you can get the added benefit of being grateful and appreciative, if not polite.
The latest studies in brain based learning prove that multitasking is not only impossible (we switch attention, our brains are incapable of focusing on two things at once), but to make matters worse, the reduction in accuracy for even the “best multi-tasker” doing the simplest of tasks is almost 50%. Pretty scary when you think about the complex tasks you do simultaneously (driving a car, talking on a cell phone or talking on the phone and typing an email response). Try to focus on doing one thing at a time. Notice how much less time it takes, especially because you don’t run the risk of hitting “send” prematurely then spending time on damage control.
Bottom line, people will feel heard and be able to find their own solutions more easily without unnecessary interference from you. And, you will conserve your brain power for more important challenges that lie ahead.
When you delegate, trust and offer challenges to people, not only will it benefit you, but also they’ll feel better about you if you do. We all know the importance of delegating so that you aren’t seen as the control freak in the corner office. But did you know that when you delegate responsibilities and tasks (with their buy in of course), the meta-message (as long as the deadline is reasonable or they are involved in setting the deadline) or message under the message, is “trust.” The receiver feels you believe in them enough to give them the opportunity to rise to the challenge. Win win.
Indecision happens when we have too many thoughts getting stuck in or out of sequence in the cognitive pipeline. Often we can get thoughts flowing again when we ask ourselves “What’s the one most important thing that needs to be decided and acted upon before that decision can be made?”
Whether you are a list maker or mind map fan, get every thought bouncing around inside of your head OUT of your head and onto paper, a whiteboard or computer program you are in the habit of checking or using regularly (“Freemind” is a simple and free example). Robert Allen’s “Getting Things Done” is a must read for “How To’s” when it comes to being more productive so you can take quick, effective action.
The Pre-Frontal Cortex (PFC for short) is the part of your brain responsible for your ability to avoid distraction, make decisions, reason, understand and memorize. Think of it as powered by rechargeable batteries, not a 220v power cord plugged into an outlet in the wall. It needs frequent recharging (among other ingredients) in order for high performance. Taking a short 20 minute walk inside or outside your office building at the most hectic time of day will not only benefit your metabolism and your waistline, but also your brain. Try shutting off your brain for 5 minutes just two or three times a day, talk to a co-worker about a non-related subject (this is probably why gossip is so enticing), play a game of angry birds or juggle.
Think of how many “mindless” automatic patterns you have every day. Repeatedly doing routine tasks (like shaving, putting on your pants or brushing your teeth) the same way every day, doesn’t do your brain any favors. You are just deepening the same brain groove over and over. You are wasting valuable real estate! If you normally put your right leg in your pants first, put your left leg in first instead. If you begin shaving your face left side first, try starting your first swipe on a different part of your face. Do you have stairs in your office building? Which leg do you typically start with as you start up a flight of stairs? Try what you think I’m going to suggest next ….
If you are paid to think, treat your brain and your energy as precious commodities that need daily TLC to function most effectively and with ease. Pick one of these 7 Tips to practice each day and notice what happens to your mind and your mood; you too will become a Sustainable Leader one small step at a time.
As a director, manager or executive, you know growth, while good, has its downside.
You may have even noticed a little more stress now – sleepless nights and ongoing worry wondering how you are going to keep your team on board, headed in the same direction AND get deliver the results everyone is counting on, too.
Stress just comes with the territory, right?
Keeping yourself AND your team engaged and productive while you are going through growing pains may be top of mind right now. You are focused, you delegate, you make critical decisions quickly, and you probably handle high levels of stress much more easily than your peers. Yet it could get lonely at the top, too. And you are (still) human.
There is a lot research and buzz about the rewards of having engaged employees and the costs of having disengaged employees. Did you know that disengaged employees costs organizations $3,400 a year for every $10,000 in salary … and turnover—the inevitable outcome of disengagement—costs organizations between 48 and 61% of an employee’s annual salary?
What would be the cost to you personally and professionally as you have to do more with less, meet even higher demands (from your boss AND your team) AND deliver on time and on budget despite your company’s growing pains? The cost would be two-fold: you could end up being that “stressed out boss” AND have “stressed out employees” because emotions are contagious.
When the early signs of “leadership stress” – a unique type of stress experienced by people who are responsible for the well-being of others. When the first signs appear you might not notice, but others will … and they may not tell you. As you get stretched too thin watch out for the negative ripple effect of stress down the line to your team members, who will then become less engaged, more distracted and less productive.
That would be a problem, especially right now for someone at your level of responsibility … for your team, your career and your company. As a licensed therapist and executive coach for more than 15 years, I’ve seen the devastating outcomes for leaders, careers, companies and families of ignoring the early warning signs of (leadership) stress. I have assisted hundreds of smart, insanely busy leaders to identify the key leverage points and strategies to prevent career derailment.
I am very excited to announce a resource that could be of interest to you! Through extensive research and experience, I have compiled 30 key questions to isolate and identify …
An 8 minute, quick and easy assessment tool so you can identify the early warning signs and make simple changes before it’s too late :
THIS IS NOT a computer generated assessment! As a licensed professional I will evaluate your results, which includes a customized, personalized and confidential review AND solutions, your unique leverage points and a strategy for turning it around. Your results are 100% confidential and will be shared with no one but you.
To help you be exceedingly more productive, get more done in less time with fewer resources, resourceful, optimistic, agile, resilient, effective, engaged, confident, happier, satisfied and connected “best boss” (and help your team do the same). Most importantly, you can love the heck out of what you do again or through this exciting time in your growth period.
I have reserved a limited number of appointments on my calendar for the first 10 leaders who complete the survey to receive a complimentary Leadership Strategy Session to review your results with you.
I will personally provide you with a customized, personalized and confidential review AND solutions, recommendations for leverage points so you can turn it around quickly.
Whether you can benefit from knowing the signs for yourself, or knowing the signs to assist someone on your team from stress leading to burn-out leading to disengagement, you’ll want to know the critical signs … before it’s too late!
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Sustainability: the capacity to endure; to conserve resources; built to last.
A Sustainable Leader is resilient and an agile learner, built to last through uncertain and rapidly changing economic conditions.
A Sustainable Leader intentionally develops the potential in others, so they too can develop into exceptional leaders who can carry through the company’s mission and vision.
“In today’s fast-paced, high-demand and global business environment, being a Sustainable Leader™ who can stay focused, think creatively, easily manage stress and emotions, communicate effectively and set the standard in their organization will make the difference between a healthy, thriving and resilient company and an ineffective or worse, a non-existent one.” – Christina Haxton, CEO & Founder, Sustainable Leadership, Inc.
What steps does your company take to ensure it’s leaders and managers are Sustainable Leaders?
The words you choose as a leader, or in any position of influence, shape the identity of others and as a result their decisions and actions. Successful business owners and senior managers, are able to communicate in a way that is authentic and inspiring, not only shaping positive results, but also creating an environment where employees feel satisfied, happy and excited to come to work each day. This article is written for senior leaders who happen to be women. However, my executive coaching clients who are of the male persuasion tell me they (sometimes secretly) find this advice extraordinarily relevant and helpful when it comes to being a successful, Sustainable Leader.
It’s common knowledge in business what is required in order to be considered a “strong leader” or “respected boss”, however leaders who are women find the ingredients to be a successful leader somewhat, ok extraordinarily, hypocritical.
Do any of these Rules You Need to Follow To Be a Respected Leader sound familiar? If you have ever followed them mindlessly, no worries, because what’s admitted here stays here, okay?
“Leave your feelings at the door when you come to work …”
“Don’t let them see you sweat …”
“Strong men are authoritative. Strong men are respected. You need to act like a man to get respect around here. Oh, and by the way, when you act like a “strong man” you will be called a b***h!”
Wait, keep following these rules and it will get worse, not better …
Did I mention the stress you will feel as a result of pretending or faking it … “acting as if” how you are showing up is who you really are and is in alignment with what you believe you need to be…to be successful?
Unfortunately, when you pretend to feel one way and act another, you will quickly be perceived by others as distant, inauthentic and untrustworthy. Probably not what you are going for … Find out how to break the rules with professionalism and be an authentic woman leader: Read more over at ManagingAmericans.com[sharebox5_no_border] [/sharebox5_no_border]
My first opportunity to consciously stand up for my professional and philosophical beliefs about Professional Intimacy occurred in 1994. In the last year of my Master’s program, my thesis involved research on the process of creating a successful business partnership.
Using Appreciative Inquiry, our process resulted in a model of a synergistic triangle consisting of three equally key ingredients, where 1 + 1 = 3 (I was never good at math, but this makes sense … read on):
In the early 1990′s the unspoken, unwritten rule in the business world was “Don’t Talk About Relationships, feelings or any of the soft, fluffy stuff humans were made of when delivering leadership or management training or when speaking to businesses, managers or executive leaders about improving productivity or performance. I was directed to leave that stuff at the door and talk about “real” skills. Don’t feel … just get to work!
I followed this advice for a while and felt my hands (and credibility) were tied behind my back.
Then I ignoring that advice. After 12 years in business, our design resulted in not only building our own successful business and partnership, but also served as a model for our clients to build sustainable partnerships.
Through the process of developing Professional Intimacy as defined in my thesis in 1994 and even to this day, I continued to learn and grow both intra-personally and inter-personally as a result.
The truth is this: We learn and grow in relationship, not in isolation. Following the old rule and disregarding the complex and dynamic relationship systems we create through all of our relationships, however brief, is ridiculous.
Here’s the point: My thesis was nominated for publication in the college journal … an honor, for sure. However, the committee stated it would only be considered for publication only if I changed the title.
They objected to the phrase I used to symbolize our design for a successful business partnership: Professional Intimacy.
Because sexual harassment in the workplace was such a touchy (pun intended) topic in the early 90′s, the committee frowned upon my use of the phrase in the title. I stood my ground on principle because even though the rule was “Don’t talk about RELATIONSHIPS and WORK in the same sentence.” I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) in good conscience back down. Besides, I have a strong oppositional reflex.
I ran across the dusty, bound thesis years later and wondered …
“Did I do the right thing in standing up for my values?”
“Would my career path have changed had I decided to belly up?”
“Would I have been able to help more people sooner?”
I suppose I’ll never know… What would you have done?
PS. Check out Chapter 19: “Professional Intimacy: The key to being a Sustainable Leader” in the book “The Character Based Leader: Instigating a leadership revolution one person at a time” on Amazon or your favorite bookseller.
Congratulations on your new position! Your climb to the top is well deserved. But when the shine wears off, you soon may be faced with a HUGE problem for which you were not prepared:
Your biggest challenge is not mastering the technical aspects of your job. That’s the easy part.
The biggest challenge you (and one you may find you have the least control over which has the biggest impact on your success) is your team’s ability to work together with ease.
Because people bring their stress, negativity and sometimes difficult personalities to work, they can’t just leave their emotions at the door when they come to work.
And, you can’t do it either. Emotions are contagious!
#1: Emotions are contagious! Literally. The human brain contains “mirror neurons” which are like antennae for emotion (e-motion = energy in motion).
Strategy #1: When you find the person you are talking to beginning to get “stressed out” (i.e., holding their breath, raising their voice, tensing their jaw or fists) ….
When you are truly listening to the other person and get a response you were not going for or are surprised about (their frustration, for example), use the steps above to “Check in and check it out…” Then, listen again to their response (what they thought they heard you say will not be what you meant). Don’t see this as your opportunity to get angry, just take a “re-do” and say, “Okay, you heard me say (blah blah blah), can I say it differently?” Asking permission seldom gets a “no” so you will likely get a “yes.” Then rephrase your statement and move forward.
What is your best advice to new senior managers when it comes to turning conflict into consensus?
Your ability to address, manage and eliminate conflict will have a direct impact on your team’s ability to have confidence and to put their unquestioned trust you and your leadership skills.
And a few might even be taking bets on how long you last … You need these skills.
Click the link below for more information (and the first 20 fast action takers get extra bonuses and audios!)
To Your Sustainable Leadership!
PS. Post your comments and best advice below for newly hired or recently promoted senior managers who are experiencing an undercurrent of conflict in their new team[sharebox5_no_border] [/sharebox5_no_border]
It was interesting to see the negative, almost painful in some cases, visceral reaction so many people had when remembering their worst boss.
Answer: Two frogs.
Why? The same reason only 3% of the population set and actually achieve their goals or maintain positive, well-intentioned change in the first place. The frog missed three critical steps of Achieving his Goal: Ask, Announce, Act (and Ask again).
The frog understood WHY it was a good idea to jump off, because he was an intelligent, high achieving, upwardly mobile frog. He understood there were more opportunities and freedom if he left the comfort of the log. While the frog understood why, and although he did decide … he didn’t take action.
What about accountability and following up? Perhaps if the first frog told the second frog he was going to jump off, he would have followed through on his promise and lived happily ever after. Does this story sound familiar? Whoops, wrong story. That’s enough about frogs …Now let’s make the story relevant.
Leaders and Learning: Which skills are more critical to your success strategic skills or soft skills?
“Almost 50% of newly hired or newly promoted leaders quit or get fired before their 18 month anniversary …” (Hint: The majority of failure is not a result of lack of business savvy or technical skills, but a lack of interpersonal or communication skills.)
… and another statistic:
“The divorce rate in the US is around 50% …” As a marriage counselor for 14 years, I will also bet the reason is the same … lack of effective communication skills by one or both people.
Question: Which is easier for you to achieve: your company’s strategic goals or your soft skills or interpersonal goals? “What are ‘personal development goals’ and why would I, Mr. or Ms. Super Successful CEO need them?” you ask?
Because you don’t want to be a statistic.
By lack of interpersonal or soft skills I mean the inability to manage your emotions. You, who growl and snap when your assistant forgets an important detail about a meeting. You, the exhausted Senior VP who feels like you start your day in at a jog and feel like you’ve run a marathon by the time 8 pm rolls around. You, the up and coming leader who promised your son you’d get home in time to see him play baseball and you missed it again. Yes, you, the human part of the executive equation.
What difference will it make when you have mastered the higher level communication and relationship skills that prevent these conflicts? You understand why personal skill development is important, may have decided to make a change, but are you ready to take action and jump off of the log?
What if you had a simple, 3 step brain-based learning strategy to make lasting, positive changes in your actions, your communication style or your interpersonal skills as easily as you develop and achieve your strategic company objectives for 2012? I said it was simple, I didn’t say it would be easy …
AAA: The Triple Threat Solution … 3 Simple Steps: Ask, Announce & Act (Repeat)
Step #1: Ask. Ask others what they see you can improve upon. After all, perception is reality and their perception of how you communicate rather than your perception of how you communicate matters most.
Step #2: Announce. Tell people what you are working on. This not only holds you more accountable for change, it also subconsciously invites people to look for and more likely notice the positive change you will be making.
Step #3: Act. Just do it. Look for opportunities to interrupt an old pattern. Try taking a few deep breaths next time you feel tense going into a meeting (holding our breath triggers Lizard Brain). Instead of saying “No” immediately to an idea proposed in a project meeting, take a moment and respond “Interesting, let’s consider that idea.”
Then, repeat #1: Ask. Remind others of what you are working on and then check in and ask “How am I doing?” Where are you inviting them to focus? Right. On what you are changing, because otherwise, people may not notice, allowing the negative things you say or do to stand out more automatically.
So, what are your waiting for? Jump!
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Your behaviors are a result of your feelings … which are a result of BS!
Believe it or not, that’s good news …
Because there IS one question you can ask yourself to turn STRESS into PEACE …
Find out what this question is (and the other 20 Ways Managers & Leaders Can Eliminate Workplace Stress) on a free webinar:
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Scott Mabry posted this article from McKinsey Quarterly on his blog and all I can say is it’s about time the cat’s out of the bag …
Leading through times of exponential change is not for the faint of heart … and requires more character, stamina … and hugs than we ever imagined (or even Donald Trump would admit).
Sustainable leaders will be able to lead through the 21st century … and beyond. Because these leaders will come back to center and know what REALLY matters. And lead from who they are. But first, a reality check …
Read what Josef Ackermann, formerly of Deutsche Bank; Carlos Ghosn of Nissan and Renault; Moya Greene of Royal Mail Group; Ellen Kullman of DuPont; President Shimon Peres of Israel; and Daniel Vasella of Novartis have to say about what it’ll take to be a highly successful CEO who won’t burn up or burn out: Click here to read more in the McKinsey Quarterly journal …
To Your Sustainable Leadership,
Leadership Speaker, Author & Executive Consultant
Powerful Connections … Sustainable Leadership … Extraordinary Peace of Mind.[sharebox4 sharetext=”Share This Page”] [/sharebox4]