We addressed the all too common issue of exhausted CEOs trying to both lead strategy (the CEO’s job) and execution (the COO’s job) in an earlier blog—Are You Leading Like a COO? But what if you don’t have a COO to lead execution? What if you are drowning in emails, meetings, and to-do lists that just get bigger and never get completed? What if you look around and every other member of your executive leadership team is drowning in emails, meetings and to-do lists, too? You don’t want to delegate MORE because they are at their limit. And they too don’t want to delegate because their staff is at their limit as well.
Unfortunately, this is not the exception but the rule. Every single senior executive in every single company I have worked with in the last year has lamented the unreasonable pace, amount and complexity of work. The expectations for productivity and performance are really out of control.
To prepare for this blog, I read a number of articles about the excessive workloads and crazy schedules. Some recommend the next, best time management technique. Others discussed better prioritization or delegation. Others promote working smarter, being stingy with your time, holding others more accountable.
And, in truth, some people do have time management issues, lack some key management skills or are not “smart enough” about how they work. But there is another possibility… that it’s truly nuts out there in the world of work.
Seriously, the issue could really be that we are just expecting too much, doing too much and getting pretty stressed and crabby because of it. If you can’t get everything done and feel anxious, frustrated or cranky, it may be that normal, psychologically healthy human beings are not made to be working like this. There is tons of neuroscience research out there about the deleterious effects of stress on the executive functions in the brain (decision-making, prioritizing, logical analysis, as well as emotional self-control), as well as our physical and psychological health.
Personally, I think we’ve reached our limit and it’s time to stop. But that takes courage—courage to set boundaries for ourselves as well as being willing to negotiate with others about their expectations. I have no idea how to tell you to do this. I wish I did. The Bailey Group, however, is willing to be your partner in this transformation of the world of work. It can start in your organization.