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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Fantasy, you say?
Sure … because here’s how it really looks:
Your day starts out at a jog or maybe even a sprint and you’d swear you’ve run a marathon by the end of the day (and you haven’t even left your building OR your office).
“Yes, but … I’m very productive … ” you say, with an air confidence in your voice.
Yes, but …
I’ve heard it all from highly successful executive coaching clients and you, too may believe you can get it all done in 10 or 12 hours, but are you truly doing your best work and feeling satisfied at the end of the day?
Here are a few more questions to ask yourself (and answer honestly, please):
Who in your personal life or family loses out because you want to “do just one more thing” before you leave the office and you end up getting home too late more than once a week?
Does just looking at your never-ending- to-do list cause your stress level to rise?
Congratulations, your very human (and limited) brain is raising a white flag … the question is, do you notice and do something about it or ignore the stress, hoping it goes away?
If you are paid to think … here are 5 tips to make the highest and best use of your PFC (pre-frontal cortex) which is the part of your brain that got you your job or your last promotion … and hopefully continues to work well enough with some TLC so you can keep it.
Primarily your PFC is responsible for:
Here are 5 (More) Simple Strategies you can use to make small changes that can have a HUGE payoff only if you:
Understanding is overrated — Action will get you somewhere else!
1. Avoid noise distractions. If your office is a revolving door or worse, a cubicle farm, use headphones and listen to lyric-free music to increase your focus and eliminate distractions. Here’s some examples at http://300hrs.com for classical ideas or http://www.menshealth.co.uk/healthy/brain-training/boost-your-office-productivity-with-music
2. Turn off ALL text/email/social media notifications on your phone and computer. Notifications are a fear trigger for our brain that leads you to believe “PAY ATTENTION or YOUR’E GONNA MISS OUT!” It’s probably not that critical. Really. Set a time (preferably after you have completed the first one or two most important things on your to-do list) to check your email and respond to the top 5 most urgent (and NO they aren’t all urgent!), giving yourself a time limit (30 minutes) to respond to email. Then get back on track with your next to-do!
3. Manually manage your time. If you spend too much time on not so productive activities, or have difficulty transitioning from one part of a task to the next (or doing research on “how to” do X and not begin to do X), time may be the issue. Take a “to do” from your list and PUT IT IN YOUR CALENDAR blocking out the time you believe it will take as if it were an appointment you would keep with someone else. Set a timer for 5 minutes less than the actual time (if it’s a 30 minute appointment, set a timer for 25 minutes, then when it goes of for 5 minutes more. The 25 minute alarm is “time to wrap up” and get to a stopping place, for now!
4. Be accountable to someone other than yourself. Put your calendar (what I’m working on today list) up where others can see it (on your door, in the break room on a Google group calendar). Not that anyone really cares, or will check on you (but then again you never know). However, the brain friendly tip leverages your social brain so you will naturally hold yourself more accountable for showing up at the meeting you scheduled with yourself in #3.
5. Take a few 5 minute breaks. If you can’t do something for 5 minutes … you have bigger problems. Schedule in 5 minutes and hour at the busiest time of day to walk, stretch, play, gossip, daydream, listen to lyric full music or play a quick game of Angry Birds or Solitare. Set a timer for yourself … this brief break will help recharge your PFC, your spirit and help you get in touch with solutions so you can disengage thinking brain and open up your eyes to your intuitive solutions that are just waiting there for you to STOP THINKING SO HARD so it can present it self … and you will notice!
For more tips so you can become a Sustainable built to last Leader – Enter in your name and best email in the opt in box on your right for a FREE one hour video “7 Simple Strategies to Eliminate Stress” AND be the first to receive upcoming articles, programs and resources from Christina!
What are your favorite tips to be more productive, happier and fully satisfied you’ve done your best work at work? Feel free to post your comments below.[social_sharing style=”style-7″ fb_like_url=”http://sustainable-leaders.com/eliminate-distractions-at-work/” fb_color=”light” fb_lang=”en_GB” fb_text=”recommend” fb_button_text=”Share” tw_text=”Check this out!” tw_lang=”en” tw_url=”http://sustainable-leaders.com/eliminate-distractions-at-work/” tw_button_text=”Share” g_url=”http://sustainable-leaders.com/eliminate-distractions-at-work/” g_lang=”en-GB” g_button_text=”Share” linkedin_url=”http://sustainable-leaders.com/eliminate-distractions-at-work/” linkedin_lang=”en_US” alignment=”center”]
If you were a Senior Manager, VP or Executive at any level, what 3 things do you miss the LEAST and the MOST from holding the corporate title or your life in the corporate world?
What is better or different? What do you miss the most?
I’m writing an article on “life after the corporate world” and would appreciate your input. Feel free to post your comments below or send me a private email – Your input is 100% strictly confidential (or not, your choice!).
Because you can’t play enough golf, or tennis to stave off the feelings of “dis-satisfaction” and “dis-appointment” of your unmet expectations of what life will be like when you retire, unless you ask yourself these 3 critical questions …
Here’s the radio interview on Boomerbeat: “3 Questions Retiring Executives Must Ask Themselves Now to Be Satisfied in Retirement”
Click here to listen now: http://bit.ly/MRBopD
I look forward to your comments below!
What is the first question you are asked when you meet someone at a business or social function? “Hi, my name is …. What do you do?”
If you are the VP, CEO or have another prestigious title, the answer comes automatically and easily often with a tone of pride in your voice.
Let’s dissect the conversation for a moment and notice you aren’t really answering the question in the way it’s being asked. In our culture, we often answer the “What do you do?” question with an “I am …” answer.
Never mind that in doing so, we aren’t really answering the question; more importantly, is what you do really who you are? Read the rest of the article here in my post for Smartblog for Leadership …
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My executive coaching clients get homework (yes, really!) and Gary Hamel’s book “What Matters Now: How to Win in a World of Relentless Change, Ferocious Competition, and Unstoppable Innovation” just rose to the top of the reading list.
If you are a newly hired or recently promoted leader or manager (or you are experienced leader working on your succession plan for retirement), this is a MUST READ NOW book.
If you wait too long … you will be left in the dust and stomped on by your competition who is taking action on Gary Hamel’s (a bit irreverent) ideas on how to become a resilient, innovative and built to last organization.
Christina Haxton, MA LMFT
Sustainable Leadership, Inc.
Leadership Speaker, Author & Consultant
Powerful Connections… Sustainable Leadership … Extraordinary Peace of Mind.
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(Originally written and published for the LeadChange Blog)
Leaders: How are your people skills? The better question is “How would your team describe your people skills?” While you may be able to acknowledge this is an area you could use some improvement, setting “soft skill” goals may feel like trying to grab a handful of jello.
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If you were my client and I asked, “Do you have your goals to be a better leader (or communicator) clearly defined, written down and measurable?” I will probably hear your eyes roll into the back of their head. Perhaps you may have set goals in the past and not achieved lasting change. Not because you lacked understanding or even desire to change, but because of failure to follow Steps #2 and #3 of the change process. (Click here to read Step #1 and #2 and #3 in the previous post on Leadership, Frogs & Goals).
Understanding alone is overrated. We’ve all decided taking action is a good idea. But we are still sitting on the log. Change requires ACTION. Understanding or having the awareness of why your sarcastic tone is caustic , or why you should quit smoking, drinking too much is a necessary first step, after you announce your intention to change to others, you must now jump off the log.
The key to making lasting behavioral change is simple: small actions over a period of time result in SIGNIFICANT LONG TERM CHANGE. You’re not perfect; you are going to slip up. When you do, ACKNOWLEDGE IT OUT LOUD and MOVE FORWARD.
#1. Small change counts more than you think. While you may think you have a problem finishing something, I will propose you may actually have a STARTING problem instead. Here’s your challenge: Can you do anything for 5 minutes? Sure you can, so start there.
Here are a few idea starters: Walk, ride a bike, stretch, meditate, breathe, listen deeply, play with your kids, hang out with your partner with your cell phone off, plan a goal or project with paper and pencil, organize your desk. Try doing whatever “it” is for 5 minutes (because if you can’t do something for 5 minutes, trust me, you have bigger problems).
Make an appointment with yourself and put it in the calendar to do one or two times a week for the first week and build slowly. Exercise, quitting smoking, practice being a better listener all lend themselves to the “Do it for 5 minutes” strategy. Preparing your taxes is another. Yes, you have a few months, but what difference will it make if you start now with 5 minutes a week? April 14th might just be a more relaxing day! Like shampoo: Rinse, lather, repeat.
Then, repeat Step #1: Ask. Ask again by following up with the family, friends (and if you really want to be transparent include your staff) and ask “How am I doing?” Then LISTEN. Say “Thank you” in response to their answers. As Marshall Goldsmith says, we can’t go wrong if we respond with a genuine “Thank you” to any information, negative or positive, someone offers us.
Why should I ask again? Two reasons. Ask others with the intention of to simply gather information, as if you are on your own personal recognizance mission. Because you will use what you hear people say to accomplish two things:
#1. To adjust course. Like a pilot in an airplane getting feedback from the instrument panel who is flying from New York to Los Angeles, simply adjust what you are doing, a little to the left, a little to the right, toward your destination. Just view it as information, not right or wrong, good or bad, no big deal. Adjust course as needed.
#2. To build trust. Remember how I said this step is critical? Here’s why … by announcing publically your are human and are working on improving yourself and by following up and asking “How am I doing with ______?” and really listening to their response, you will build trust by showing you really care. That is as long as you do really care, because when you are genuine it is FELT. If you don’t really care, well, that’s palpable, too. If you really don’t care, don’t ask.
AAA: The key to becoming a Sustainable Leader and exceeding your personal development goals.
If you truly desire to be an exceptional leader of people, you will earn more trust by following up with this step exactly as written, than with anything else you ever have the guts to do, which is be human.
So if two frogs were sitting on a log, and you were one of the frogs, and you decide to jump off, what’s the answer now?
Are you an emerging leader or newly promoted leader looking for a goal-setting strategy to make lasting, positive changes in your interpersonal or communication skills? Originally posted on Lead Change Blog
Step #2: ANNOUNCE
How many times have you promised yourself you’ll exercise today, start your diet tomorrow, finish writing that marketing plan by Friday (okay, that’s mine), only to “run out of time” and fail to keep your promise to yourself? All too often.
Now, how often do you make a business appointment with a client and fail to show up? Probably never.
Why is it we are willing to fail to follow through with commitments we make to ourselves, yet never in a million years would we “no show” for an appointment with a client or friend?
Here are two reasons: we are accountable to someone else and we want to avoid feeling embarrassed (or some other negative emotion). Accountability means we have some skin in the game … which can come in several different forms.
If money matters you will further increase the likelihood you will set and achieve your goals when you have a financial skin in the game. I have a business-coaching client who was required to improve his mental capacity, problem solving ability and focus to succeed in his next stage of business growth. However, he failed to follow through with an action step for three consecutive weeks. So we got creative and leveraged what was important to him … cold hard cash. Because of his financial and relational sense of responsibility, he never missed a coaching appointment with me, so he wrote me a check for his regular coaching session fee of $500.00. He said, “If I do this by next Tuesday, you give me back my check at our next session. If I don’t, no matter what the excuse, you cash the check and donate it to a local charity of your choice.” Another quality of his was he was very honest, however I could also verify whether he followed through or not.
What do you think happened? Right. He attended his class for several weeks in a row and now is in the routine. He also asked if I would keep the check in my file so he could keep it as a motivator to get other “someday goals” started.
Step #2: Announce publicly what you are working on and your specific plans to improve. In the next post, you’ll discover the secret of why this is the most important step.
If you aren’t yet ready to pick up the megaphone and make the public announcement, find a mentor, good friend or executive coach you can trust who will be honest with you yet who does not have anything to gain or lose by your action (or inaction).
Who will you ask to hold your feet to the fire? Contact me today to see if you are ready to take this next step.
Post your comments below (only if you have the courage to announce it publicly!)
What will it look like when you have skin in the game?
Stay tuned for the “how to” for Step #3: ACT[sharebox4 sharetext=”Share This Page”] [/sharebox4]
Leaders: Recognize the effects of power stress now to avoid burn up or burnout!
Leaders today face many unique challenges. Being a leader has several inherent benefits as well as challenges. One challenge is “power stress” which results from the demand for influencing others and the increased responsibility of a CEO’s high level position.
Power stress is considered to be part of the unique experience of being in a leadership role which results from constantly having to exercising influence on others and the subsequent sense of responsibility felt by those in leadership positions.
Other signs of impending burn out are:
Stay tuned* for Part 2: Leaders: 10 easy ways to reverse the effects of power stress, avoid burnout & feel more productive, satisfied and happier in just a few minutes a day
And Part 3: Leaders: 7 signs your stress is effecting your team’s productivity
*Sign up here to receive the free audio “Avoid the 3 Biggest Team De-motivators (& 5 Strategies to Motivate Your Team Now!) to get access to more Tips & Strategies for Sustainable Leaders including FREE Monthly Q & A Tele-seminars
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