By Lolly Daskal
These days, many of my coaching clients are telling me that they’re feeling burned out. Nearly everyone I talk to has some version of the same concerns: they feel busier, stretched further and more exhausted than ever before. They’re working harder and keeping longer hours, all under the stress of the pandemic and its personal and economic effects.
As an executive leadership coach, part of my job is helping my clients learn how to refuel when they feel depleted so that they can get back on track. Here are some of the most successful techniques and tips that I share with them:
Regard yourself as priority number one. When people are stressed, they let themselves go and forget how important it is to make themselves a priority. But if you don’t, it becomes progressively harder to replenish your physical and mental energy. When that happens, you lose clarity and focus—and that, in turn, further depletes your well-being. It’s an unhealthy cycle, but it’s one you can end. If you want to stop feeling exhausted, start treating yourself as your own top priority.
Review your current situation. Before you can begin to help yourself, you need to assess your current state. Examine how you’re spending your time and energy. An effective technique for finding out what drains you is to track your activities and rate each one in terms of how much it energizes or drain you. Once you understand where you are, you can begin taking steps to limit your exposure to the tasks, people and situations that drain you and increase your exposure to those that replenish you.
Minimize the attitudes that cause you stress. Everyone has patterns of thought that contribute to their stress. Learn what yours are and work to reduce their influence. For example, if you have perfectionist tendencies, spend some time recognizing that attitude and thinking about the ways it causes you stress. Then make a conscious decision to delegate or outsource some things, understanding that doing so means letting go of your ideas of perfection and control. Turning loose of something you’ve been holding onto tightly makes room for other things you need.
Find your best fuel. We all have different things that refuel us, and to be your best it’s important to know what works for you. If you have trouble maintaining the distinction between your professional and personally life, create boundaries. If you find yourself working all hours, set a time to unplug so you can rest and connect with family and friends. Refueling looks different for everyone—some of my clients exercise, some meditate, others take walks with their loved ones, cook, or just shut off their notifications. Give yourself whatever you need to do to replenish yourself and stop feeling burned out.
Lead from within: Refueling won’t keep you from experiencing moments of stress and anxiety. But it will increase your resilience and your resistance to mental and physical exhaustion.
From Patrick Lencioni’s foreword of the Emotional Intelligence 2.0:
“Not education. Not experience. Not Knowledge or intellectual horsepower. None of these serve as an adequate predictor as to why one person succeeds, and another doesn’t. There is something else going on that society doesn’t seem to account for.”
I believe self-awareness is that something else. In my book, “The 9 Dimensions of Conscious Success; It’s all about YOU!”, I emphasize that self-awareness is one of the critical foundational elements for anyone’s success.
I like to say that self-awareness is simply knowing in the moment, how you are! Knowing how you are, helps you be sure your best self is showing up. Your best self is simply that person you want to be in interacting with others.
One of the tips I offer to folks is a simple process to help you know how you are. It is very merely pausing to complete for yourself, quietly, two statements.
- Right now, I’m thinking. . .
- Right now, I’m feeling. . .
This simple little process, if you are totally honest with yourself, raises your self-awareness. It can be immensely useful in that it prepares you better for interacting with others. Think for a moment if you are very tired and physically not feeling well. Would that influence an interaction with others? Most likely. So, knowing and taking time to acknowledge that will help you better inter-relate.
Being successful is strongly linked to a process in which we all must engage if we are to be successful. That process is continuous improvement.
Think about this; any successful process or experience can be improved and, no matter how happy one is with a specific experience, most people I know would always opt for an improved experience if possible.
One of my favorite quotes attributed to Will Rogers is, “Good judgment comes from experience and a lot of experience comes from bad judgment!”
I believe most would agree that good judgment is also linked to success. Think about the growing up experience, your own or perhaps a brother or sister, or someone you were close to growing up. Undoubtedly you can think of examples of making a mistake, maybe a painful one, and then learning from that mistake.
Learning from one’s mistakes is a very important part of growing up. Without it, we stay stuck in a certain ignorance where mistakes are repeated over and over. No one I know would enjoy that, and if you are perhaps a parent, you would not want that for your children. So caring, conscientious parents will often say to a child after a problem or mistake, “So what did you just learn?” It is a loving way to help a child learn and hopefully avoid repeating the mistake.
So, improvement is then linked to learning from one’s mistakes. And to do so, especially when we move on from our parent’s guidance, requires our willingness to really examine experiences to find out; did that work out well for me, or not so well. That analysis is fundamental self-awareness. Being aware of self, so that I can improve. (More about that in a bit.)
Now let me say that high self-awareness is not always fun or enjoyable. Truly being self-aware means, we may find out some things about ourselves, that initially, we wish we hadn’t discovered. True self-reflection is sometimes hard when we see we may not be showing up as the person we wish to be. This may be why many avoid self-reflection or true self-analysis. It could be for many reasons; for some, it is that their ego is just too fragile to acknowledge they “screwed up.” So, many stay in a safe bubble immune from any criticism.
Here is the big problem with that; however, while they stay in that safe bubble, they cannot consciously or deliberately improve, even if they really wanted to.
In my book, I talk about how self-awareness is very closely linked to social awareness. Social awareness is very simply knowing that what you say or do, has an impact on others and knowing what that impact is.
A short “detour” here – back to the notion of success, much has been written about the importance of maintaining healthy relationships in being successful. So, you can begin to see how to connect these dots, these inter-related concepts. Success comes from a variety of things, many of which have to do with inter-relating with others. Life is full of examples of working with others, engaging with others, etc. Some of the best; results, inventions, contributions to society are the result of collaboration and teamwork.
So back to self and social awareness – you can see I think that creating poor relationships with others would definitely hamper one’s success. Most people then would likely intend to have positive relationships wherever they can. It creates a dilemma, however. Is intent enough? Maybe not. To be successful through our relationships, we must be sure our intent matches the impact on others. Again, we’re back to social awareness. The challenge is that you may not know whether the impact matches intent.
One of the best ways I know to be sure intent matches impact is to think in advance (prior to a meeting or conversation) about your intent, state it, and then check-in at the conclusion, with others as to whether you achieved that intent – did intent match the impact.
Basically, this is asking for feedback. Some find the notion of hearing feedback as scary or unpleasant. I’ve found this is because they associate feedback with only negative information, and on the basis of that assumption, they avoid it. First, it won’t always be negative. Second, positive or negative I believe it’s better to know – it’s to your advantage to know how others are seeing you.
My mentor, the late John Jones, used to say, “Awareness preceded meaningful choice.”
Back to the idea of success and continuous improvement, I know of virtually no one who, given a basic choice, would not want to be successful and would not want to improve to achieve that success.
So, the key then is understanding what self and social awareness really are. Then knowing that, how can you leverage both for your own success. To do so, try the tips I’ve included here.
From the saboteur to the capacity monster, these personalities can hurt grassroots support for your digital transformation. Here’s how to deal with the challenges
By Rich Theil | August 13, 2020
Successful digital transformations require support from almost everyone in the company and in particular, from other leaders. You can have the best playbook ever produced, but it won’t matter, if you still lack that leadership support.
Leaders are so critical because they influence the attitudes and perceptions of the people on their teams. When they resist the change, their people will resist – and that paves a long and difficult road for the transformation. If they’re excited about the transformation, their support enhances your efforts and builds the momentum you need to succeed.
CIOs who navigate their colleagues’ different leadership styles and give the struggling leader what they need, without compromising the core goals of the transformation, will clear the path to a successful transformation.
In practice, we see five types of leaders who can stand in the way. Navigate their personalities and push back to move the transformation forward and (hopefully) bring them along with you.
Every good spy movie includes a saboteur. Saboteurs appear to be on the team, which gives them access to information: But in reality, they work to subvert good efforts by collaborating with the villain. The hero of the movie eventually finds them out and “eliminates” them.
Identifying the saboteur and guiding them to support the mission requires more finesse in the real world. They resist behind the scenes, in conversations with the people they lead, and in everyday decisions. However they appear supportive in conversations with you.
[ Is your digital transformation stalled? Maybe it’s an unhealthy IT culture. Read: 4 early warning signs your culture is starting to crack. ]
To spot them, do some sensing in their organizations. Leaders reproduce their attitudes in their organizations and saboteurs betray themselves through their team(s). While you do your sensing, ensure you remain respectful and avoid becoming a saboteur yourself when discussing the situation with people on their team. Be mindful that not every saboteur sabotages intentionally.
Be mindful that not every saboteur sabotages intentionally. They may not realize their own resistance and certainly, most lack malice. However they still resist the effort. Your mission: Discover why they resist and eliminate that challenge for them.
HiPPO stands for “Highest Paid Person with an Opinion.” HiPPOs share their opinion with anyone willing to listen. They announce it in lead team meetings and they declare it to their team. Each moment offers an opportunity to actively resist transformation efforts. HiPPOs may be intimidating, but winning them over is often critical to your efforts.
Identifying a HiPPO is easy. They know they resist and probably already told you 10 frustrating aspects of the transformation that are “wrong” or “doomed to fail.” However they create collateral damage for the transformation very quickly, so get ahead of them as soon as you see one coming.
HiPPOs may be intimidating, but winning them over is often critical to your efforts. To resolve their concerns, sit down with them in a one-to-one meeting with an intent to learn. They probably have valid concerns and adjusting your transformation strategy to alleviate those concerns will not only win their support, it will strengthen your transformation strategy.
One other reason to win a HiPPO’s support for the effort: HiPPOs who support the effort can evangelize the transformation effort. In fact, winning the support of a HiPPO in early stages bolsters support for the rest of the transformation.
Remember Eeyore from “Winnie the Pooh?” The pessimistic donkey dragged his feet on adventures and shuddered with fear during storms. Change scares him simply because it means something will be different.
Your digital transformation requires changes that frighten the tail off Eeyore. You stand in front of the room excitedly casting vision while they sit in the corner making a list of reasons the transformation will fail. At the top of that list? “It’s different than how we do it today.” Winning the support of an Eeyore requires empathy.
If Eeyore’s people are onboard, you can maintain the course. However, if they remain reticent, you need to win them over directly or win Eeyore’s support, which will help secure everyone’s buy-in.
Winning the support of an Eeyore requires empathy. As an IT leader, change drives your entire world and you adjust quite easily. However, Eeyore sees the flood of new information coming at them and turns away in fear. Spending time viewing the world from their standpoint and feeling the pressure and fear they feel provides perspective to ensure you capture important details, while showing Eeyore you care about their ability to make the change.
In reality, Eeyore rarely derails a transformation because everyone already knows they lag behind, which sadly causes their opinion to be dismissed by others more easily.
The Lukewarm Buzzkill
Some leaders (even visionaries) cannot see the vision you cast for them. You stand in front of the room, cast vision for the transformation (you nail it!) and everyone is onboard, except one person who just doesn’t seem to get it. They’re lukewarm at best and they can drain the excitement from the room. They can drain the excitement from the room.
You can spot a Lukewarm Buzzkill by their lack of support. In normal circumstances, they voice support and cast their own vision for new initiatives. In this case, they disengage or they quietly wait for more information because they’ve heard the buzzwords and they’ve heard the theory, but it’s not real to them. They’re not afraid of change. They just can’t see where you’re headed. Gain their support and you get a teammate that naturally casts vision to everyone around them.
To help them, change the way you communicate. Instead of using charts and diagrams, make it tangible for them. They must see it to grab hold of it and become ardent supporters. Consider enrolling a designer to bring the transformation to life (app mockups, tool designs, etc).
A note of caution: When you show how an app might work or what the new customer interaction will look like, you create a risk. If they disagree with your theoretical execution, you create an uphill battle for yourself. To mitigate the risk, tell them the mockups represent ideas and then invite them into the brainstorming and more fully enroll them in the transformation process.
The Capacity Monster
Some leaders and their organizations lack capacity to play a key role in the transformation.
When you ask for their help these “capacity monsters” push back, talking about other priorities. Sometimes those priorities represent an unwillingness to change, in which case you need to address them as an Eeyore. Other times, those priorities build the business, and respecting them produces better business results. When you ask for their help these “capacity monsters” push back, talking about other priorities.
When their reasons are truly mission-critical, win their support by investing transformation efforts more heavily in their direction. Consider addressing their current bottlenecks or finding tangential opportunities to help them create capacity. Either way, give them support in their mission-critical work.
While you’re helping them, strive to over-deliver and develop a case study. Eliminating their bottlenecks and helping their high-profile work succeed gives you an easy success to share, which can win support from other leaders for the transformation.
MORE ON DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION
- Digital transformation: 11 habits of successful teams
- Digital transformation: 3 signs you need to pivot
- Digital transformation: 5 truths of successful leadership
Enrolling these five types of leaders builds a critical front for pushing the transformation forward. Doing it well multiplies your efforts across the entire organization, enrolling not just the leaders, but the people they influence. When you do that, the entire company will soon be bought-into the transformation, setting it up for success and building the organization’s capacity to tackle future change efforts more eagerly.
Homily for the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Ye…