Business can seem like a rat race. But don’t outpace yourself at work.
Instead, think of your life and leadership like a pace car. So you can ramp up to race speed quickly and safely, but regroup when faced with danger.
Some of us race ahead believing that victory comes to the swiftest, but forgetting that undisciplined speed kills. Here are three helpful hints for leaders who want to pace themselves appropriately.
Don’t Outpace Yourself At Work By Assuming You’re The Smartest Person In the Room
You may, in fact, be the smartest person in the room. But for many leaders, especially young leaders, their IQ outpaces their EQ. Effective leadership is not founded on brilliance alone. Leadership combines skills and character qualities that attract others to follow. Effective leaders often are not the smartest person in the room and the wisest ones are not only aware of this, but celebrate this fact. Ross Perot built a reputation and a fortune by surrounding himself with people who loved to win, many of whom knew more about the technical aspects of his business than he did. (If you want to read several interesting and inspiring quotes from Perot, click here.)
Relax. It’s great to be smart. It’s wiser to surround yourself with people who are inspired by your commitment to your mission, your love for your colleagues, and your drive to serve your customers. Develop your EQ. Combine a growing EQ with your inborn IQ and your influence will grow.
Don’t Outpace Yourself At Work By Worrying About Trust
To the midlevel leader caught in the midst of warring superiors – “It’s not about you.” It feels like it’s about you, but it isn’t.
I’ve fallen for this more than once. When superiors give conflicting guidance and set inconsistent expectations. It feels like they don’t trust me. It feels like I’m the issue and I want to ask them directly, “What do I need to do to be allowed to operate as though I’m trusted?”
The problem is that these leaders are fighting amongst themselves and I’m the pawn in their game. It’s not about me. Focus instead on providing a solution to these leaders. Lay out a path that allows each to share concerns while agreeing to a process enabling you to act. Focus on solving the log jam, not how it makes you feel. Slow down. It’s not about you.
Don’t Outpace Yourself At Work By Getting Carried Away By Enthusiasm
Some of us become enthusiastic when conversing with others. We get excited by ideas and opportunities and, if we are not careful, can express commitments in the moment that we are either unable or unwilling to fulfill.
I suggest two solutions to this challenge.
First, recognize and acknowledge momentary enthusiasms. “Derek, this is incredibly exciting and I am drawn to what you’re describing. Before I commit, however, I need to take some time to think about how this fits within my current priorities. Let’s talk again next week and I’ll be in a better position to let you know my answer.”
Second, don’t live in fear that you’re going to promise what you can’t deliver, but don’t promise when you don’t need to. In other words, don’t curb your enthusiasm to the point that you lose one of your attractive and influential qualities.
Take It Easy. What’s The Rush?
At the same time, don’t get ahead of yourself. Or give more than the situation asks for. Promise only when you are ready for your “yes” to be “yes.” Broaden the base of your appeal by growing your EQ. Recognize the difference between situations that feel like they are about you and those that really are. Choose to give yourself space to make wise decisions. Find the pace that works for you. Not only will you avoid hitting the wall, but you will enjoy the journey that is your race.
About Julian Consulting
Dr. Stephen Julian is President of Julian Consulting, a firm specializing in team health, effective communication, and leadership development. He has worked with leaders and their teams for nearly 30 years in a variety of settings – including Africa, South and Central America.
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