4 Reasons Leaders Often Feel Overwhelmed

It takes hard work to become a great leader, and it is just as challenging to maintain great leadership. People who attain high levels of responsibility often feel an obligation to work harder to justify their position or a promotion. Inevitably, this leads to a feeling of being overwhelmed in their jobs. It is important to learn to identify potential reasons for feeling overwhelmed, and take the appropriate action before stress starts affecting a promising career, your family, and your life.

1. The Need To Always Be Communicating

When someone reaches the leadership level, they may feel a strong obligation to stay in touch with everyone in their growing professional network. Instead of picking and choosing the conversations they are having, they simply talk to anyone who wants to communicate.

Leaders at all levels need to learn to say no to people who want to try and fill their day with meaningless conversation or meetings that are not productive. Every minute of the day is vital, so it is important to engage in meaningful conversations with people who affect direct responsibilities. Managers also need to remember that it is okay to turn off the phone and get off of email once in a while to collect their thoughts, organize their work, and give themselves a break.

2. The Feeling That Only They Can Do The Job

If you are a senior leader or an executive, you may feel a strong sense of responsibility for your staff and all of the activities of your group. Many people become perfectionists when they achieve an executive position, and they develop the sense that only they can get the job done right.

Forcing yourself to try and do everything on your own not only slows down productivity, it also creates resentment among your staff. As a leader, it is your responsibility to trust the people you hired to do the jobs they are trained to do. Your role is to provide the leadership and coaching your staff needs to become experts at their jobs.

3. The Idea That You Always Need To Be “On”

Many leaders exhaust themselves by trying to be perceived as professional every second of every day.  They may feel that they constantly need to be ready to do business no matter where they are or what they are doing. It doesn’t take long for this habit to make a leader feel like they are overworked and, inevitably, overwhelmed. It can be hard for an executive to convince themselves that it is healthy to turn the business mode off once in a while.

Every worker or business owner needs time for themselves, be with their family or friends,  and enjoy the success they have created. We need to schedule personal time to make sure we are able to relax.  I try very hard to take a vaction every year.  My friend and co-author of Why Leaders Fail and the 7 Prescriptions for Success, Peter Stark advises executives to buy plane tickets to make sure you get away.  We know there is never a good time to be away from work, but time away is necessary to refresh, rejuvenate, and refocus. 

4. The Need To Be Liked By Everyone

One of the most common misconceptions leaders have about their position, esecially those newly promoted, is that they need to be liked by everyone in order for things to get done. Not only is that idea incorrect, it is counterproductive. When everyone feels like they are the leader’s friend, they may start to feel like they can get away with not doing their jobs. The complacency grows and snowballs into bigger problems. The result is often an uncomfortable situation at work when the subordinate is failing to perform, and his or her manager won’t correct the poor performance because they are friends. 

Executives need to remember that it is more important to be respected than liked when in a position of authority. We would all like to be liked, but we need to remember that we will never be at a position where everyone we work with loves everuything we do.  

If we want to enjoy a long and successful career as a leader in today’s business environment, we need to avoid being overwhelmed. We need to maintain focus, get away from the office, and delegate effectively.  We also need to remind oursleves that good leadership means making difficult decisions on a regular basis.

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