How to Overcome Overwhelm: For Leaders

Brisbane Executive Coach Peter Doyle empowers leaders with advanced tools from positive psychology. In this article, he shares tips on how to overcome leadership overwhelm.

Are you experiencing overwhelm as a leader?

It’s not surprising really. Everybody experiences stress and overwhelming at times.

How much more so is that going to be true for leaders, who are responsible not just for their own actions – but also have an important role to play in influencing and managing others!

If you have been moved into a leadership or supervisory position at work, it’s likely because you are very good at whatever you do.

However, that doesn’t necessarily translate into being very good at managing others, or that it comes naturally to you – in fact, for many people it doesn’t. Learning to lead is bound to take you right out of your comfort zone – and that can result in a sense of overwhelm.

With all of these factors in mind, here are some tips to help you rise to the challenges of leadership without becoming overwhelmed.

Give your Brain a Break

Here’s the thing – most of us use our brains for storage, but our brains aren’t designed for this. And it seems the further up the totem pole and/or the older we get, the harder it is to keep on top of everything! Reduce the burden on your brain, and overcome overwhelm, by:

  • Relying on a notebook, instead of your brain. Don’t carry that to do list in your head, put it on paper. Random pieces of paper are easily lost, so keep a notebook with you at all times to capture those thoughts, ideas and tasks. You could use your phone to take notes, but I’m not a huge fan – we spend enough time staring at screens as it is. Get on the habit of taking your notebook wherever you go – in the car, to meetings, beside your bed. Apart from keeping all your notes in one place, when you read back through it later you’ll be amazed at what a gold mine of information and inspiration it contains. Where do you think this blog post originated?!

  • Systemise the routine. Why make your brain think through the list of what has to be done each time you encounter a particular task; if it’s one that crops up regularly, have a checklist you can refer to. By documenting procedures, it makes it easier for your brain – and it also makes it easier to delegate tasks to others – and both of these help reduce overwhelm!

  • Don’t try to solve all the problems yourself. You might be a leader, but you don’t have all the answers. Put the brain trust to work – those people you lead can be your greatest asset if you let them. Unpack the problem and brainstorm ideas in a group setting, and you’ll gain the benefit of the wealth of knowledge and experience at the table. It’s a great team-building opportunity too – working together towards a common goal.

  • Learn to let go. Being too busy and trying to do too many things doesn’t just make you overwhelmed – it stops you from doing what you’re good at! Where possible, work to your strengths, and release the ones that aren’t on your list (which is in your notebook of course!), by delegating them to others. And because you’ve created checklists or procedures, it will be much easier for you to release these tasks, knowing that others have a guide that enables them to do things properly.

When it comes to reducing overwhelm, these tips are just a tiny sample of the practical tools and strategies that I share with the leaders I coach and mentor. From building your leadership support network, to aligning deeply with others, and prioritising your self-care – if you are interested in maximising your leadership potential using the advanced principles of positive psychology, I invite you to contact me on 0419 792 064.

Or perhaps you would first just love to gauge how you are currently tracking along your own path to becoming an Extraordinary, Inspirational, Next Generational Leader: then please click here to utilise our free self-rating questionnaire!

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