The reasons you are floundering

Navigating the transition to a leader-of-leaders role can be challenging. Your experience of this journey is normal and natural. The confusion is part of the process and is actually essential in making the change.  You will discover new perspectives and practices that will enable you to make the transition to being a leader-of-leaders.

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Lisa had worked hard to get on top of her new role as a leader of leaders. As do many people in her position – perhaps including you! – Lisa had thought that she knew how to lead a team. She had been very successful in leading her previous team of five finance professionals, which was a major reason why she got the manager’s job. Lisa had a reputation for being smart, dedicated and hardworking. She knew how the business worked inside and out, far more even than many of the senior leaders. She was highly respected as the go-to person for the tough questions and for her ability to translate the complexity of the business into clear directions and answers. But now she felt like she’d been thrown in the deep end and was sinking fast. 

Do you feel the same?

After a few years working as a professional contributor in your field of expertise, you were so good at it that they made you the team leader. You may have even held a manager title. Perhaps you were a specialist in a very complex field such as finance, legal, actuarial or engineering – one in which it normally takes ten to fifteen years to become a team leader. And now the step into a more senior leadership role has happened, and you have multiple teams reporting to you. You are now a leader of leaders.

You knew it was going to be a stretch. You knew there would be a lot more to learn and a lot more responsibility. But you didn’t think it would feel as out of control as this. You often hear yourself muttering ‘Oh’ as you discover something else you didn’t know, face another expectation you weren’t aware of, or get another invite to a regular meeting you didn’t know you had to attend. In fact, your new experience can be summed up in three phrases:

• Overworked,

• Overwhelmed, and

• Over it.

Let’s explore each.

Overworked

You are working much harder and much longer hours than you anticipated. The supposed “work hours” are chock-a-block with back-to-back meetings. Some days you struggle to find a few minutes to go to the bathroom! You end up doing the work that comes out of the meetings at night and on the weekend. Your usually neat ‘to-do’ list has taken on a life of its own, with more stuff being added each day than gets crossed off – if you even get the time to cross it off.

Overwhelmed

You are probably feeling a constant and increasing sense of overwhelm. It reminds you of that time as a kid when you were swimming at the beach and found yourself out past the breaking waves – out of your depth. How scarily accurate is that? 

Yes, part of it is the volume of work, but it’s more than that. There just seem to be so many people that you must relate to, so much more vital information to remember, and so many different kinds of information. And some of it really isn’t information: it’s more about subtle ideas, nuances, preferences, remembering what fits with what, and what decisions have what implications with everything else. You’re smiling professionally on the surface, while underneath you’re kicking like mad and trying to get a foothold on something solid.

Over it

And then there are the thoughts that start to drift through your mind – thoughts that surprise you and even disturb you. Thoughts like, ‘I can’t keep this up,’ or ‘This just isn’t worth it,’ or ‘I’m over this, I’ll just hang in long enough so it doesn’t look too bad on my resume.’

These thoughts are disturbing because you knew this change would be big, but you didn’t realise how different it would be. To hear yourself considering quitting really throws you off. Not only that, but a kind of downward spiral cuts in as this mood starts to permeate every moment and seriously constricts your ability to do the job. You may even be asking yourself, ‘What have I done?’

Navigating the transition to a leader-of-leaders role can be challenging. Your experience of this journey is normal and natural. The confusion is part of the process and is actually essential in making the change. 

You will discover new perspectives and practices that will enable you to make the transition to being a leader-of-leaders.

When we are thrown in the deep end, we always sink first. But by staying with the pain, opening and listening to yourself, you will find your way to the surface.

Being Leaders delivers a leadership development program, working with people who are navigating their leader-of-leaders role. Based on the concepts in the Amazon best-seller, Becoming a Leader of Leaders, the program provides practical tools and resources to help people transform from overworked to incredibly impactful.

Transform your people from overworked to incredibly impactful.

Contact Being Leaders to find out more.

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