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Are you carrying too much?

Posted on Friday, March 16th, 2018

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Carrying too muchAs a leader in your business, do you carry more than that which belongs to you – without realising it? Through our systemic approach to working with leaders, we can help you get underneath and beyond these patterns of behaviour.

Do you recognise yourself in these statements:

Take a moment to read through these and honestly reflect if you can say yes to any of these statements:

  • I feel constantly over-tired and over-burdened (I can’t ‘switch off’)
  • I feel like I am ‘carrying the can’ for most things in my area of the business, sometimes even like I’m doing other people’s jobs
  • I sense that it’s up to me to make sure things don’t ‘fall between the cracks’
  • I sense that I’m carrying more responsibility than that is required or expected for my role
  • I feel ‘put upon’ and resentful but simultaneously have an odd sense of satisfaction that I have all or a lot of responsibility

What to do if you have recognised this phenomenon

Firstly, know that you are not alone, and know that this pattern has probably served you well up to this point in your journey.  It’s not about dis-owning it or rejecting it – it’s about taking this opportunity to reflect, acknowledge what is and be open to evaluating what’s needed moving forward.  By doing so, you can harness your highest potential and liberate the potential of those working for you.

It may well be a straightforward case of evaluating and adjusting your own leadership approach and in our experience, some of the most important elements include:

  1. Evaluate your own leadership – In healthy systems, leaders must be prepared to go first with the change – so ask yourself: how am I showing up and what do I need to do differently? Lean in for a breakthrough in your own leadership approach:◦ Get clear on your purpose as a leader
    ◦ Work through any limiting beliefs that may be stifling the delegation of responsibility. One of the classic limiting beliefs that I certainly recognise from my own leadership journey:“I’m the only one that can do this (piece of work) in the way that it is needed right now”
  1. Create a clear and compelling context – ensure people understand the bigger why of what needs to be done
  2. Create a culture where there are/is:◦ Clear values/principles that everyone understands and leaders are great role models
    ◦ A balance of focus on internal effectiveness, responsiveness to customers, and engaging employees in the longer-term perspective
  1. Create space and quality time for relationships such that trust can build in the teams and functions throughout the organisation
  2. Ensure there is a mutual understanding of expectations and clear boundaries between roles. (Ensuring all parties know what ‘great looks like’ in the context of the work that is required.)
  3. Ensure timely, clear and constructive feedback flows both ways
  4. Proactively identify and develop the bench strength of talent – fully engage people in the job of today AND proactively prepare them to realise their potential

Is this a recurring pattern?

Over and above these elements of best practice, it’s worth reflecting as to whether this pattern of carrying too much happens in many contexts and has been happening on a consistent basis throughout your own journey.  If this is the case, it’s worth spending time to get a deeper understanding as to where this comes from.

It’s often the case that this pattern stems from a much earlier period (and can go back to your personal or family system), when we unconsciously learned that by ‘carrying more’ – we found a way to belong; to be noticed (or seen); and/or to have a felt sense of place in our ‘system’.

The issue, however, can be that this way of operating is then unconsciously carried forward and often into circumstances or settings whereby it may actually become your ‘Achilles heel’ – thereby creating a reputation of limiting potential rather than liberating it.

The way forward

It’s doesn’t have to be a laborious process to untangle ourselves from the pattern of carrying more than that which belongs to us – but it will require a systemic practitioner to support you with this to create a sustainable shift.

The first step of the intervention is to recognise it, and acknowledge it.  This ability to carry a lot has probably served you well, up to this point in time – and now it might be the right time to re-evaluate if this approach will continue to serve you moving forward.

We delight in helping clients step back to evaluate their leadership approach and the health of the organisational culture they are responsible for.

If you find yourself caught up in this dynamic of ‘carrying too much’ or you see this pattern in your organisation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch for an informal and non-obligatory conversation. You can email me directly to arrange a convenient time to talk.

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Tess (O’Kane) Cope is the founder of The Transformation Agency and has extensive experience within organisational and personal development across both the private and public sectors – working within global and UK based organisations at Board level – media, distribution, financial services and healthcare sectors. She works with senior management teams and HR leaders across a range of diverse organisations and specialises in Cultural Transformation, Leadership Development, and Executive Coaching. She is a qualified practitioner of a range of diagnostics, psychometrics and integral methodologies which she applies for whole system sustainable change with clients.

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