Setting the bar high to become a good leader for yourself is not a bad thing; but even Superman needed help from Lois Lane every once in a while.
Betsy’s known for her reliability. She’s great at working independently and can be trusted to complete projects that have been assigned to her. Her boss knows that when a last minute task comes up, he can always depend on Betsy to take care of it. In many ways, Betsy is a dream employee, and while she likes being the “go to” gal, she realizes that she’s close to burnout.
Jeff owns his own architecture firm and he’s dedicated to its success. He often works nights and weekends to ensure that jobs are completed, customers are happy, and contractors are paid. While he’d like to spend more time with his family, it’s hard to take a day off when everyone depends on him for answers. He can sense this is causing problems in his personal life, but he’s at a loss as to how to stop it.
On the surface, both Betsy and Jeff are responsible, high-achievers who have gotten to where they are because of their work ethic. And while what they are doing isn’t terrible, the inability to realize they can’t do it all, and their powerlessness to set boundaries will eventually lead to frustration and failure.
Out of habit, Betsy’s boss hands everything to her because she always says yes. As long as she says yes, he assumes that she has the bandwidth to help. What Betsy must learn is that she is the only person who can see the whole picture of her commitments – both professional and personal. In most situations, those in leadership would rather their employees say “no” on occasion, than miss a deadline or get so burned out that they leave.
Be honest, with yourself and with your boss.
In Jeff’s case it’s a little more complicated. When you run your own business you are apt to feel a lot more responsibility to be a good leader and often, your day never really ends. But if you want to be successful, you must set boundaries to ensure that you can maintain, and model, a healthy work/life balance. If you are always on the job, it’s likely that your employees will feel the need to do the same.
Model good behavior, set those boundaries early, and often.
We’re all guilty of over-promising on occasion, but that doesn’t mean we should continue to do so. Take a step back and assess what isn’t working, where you are over-committed, and who you can reach out to for help. Once your plan is in place, start working on the details, such as building a support system of friends and co-workers who are readily available when the workload overflows.
With a plan of attack, and a team beside you, you’ll be a good leader and much better prepared for the days when you’d rather be hiding in a phone booth than putting on your red cape.