Ep #15: How Being in Crisis Mode is Helping Managers Get Out of the Weeds
Getting out of the weeds has likely been on your list of priorities for awhile now. And chances are good that you have noticed a shift in the hours you have been able to put in at work over the past few weeks. So without trying, you are finally able to get out of the weeds.
- Maybe this is because you are working on completely different projects right now.
- Maybe it's because you aren't able to put in as many hours working from home.
- Or perhaps it's just because there aren't enough hours in the day to DO ALL THE THINGS.
Is it also possible that you never really had to do all the things before either?
I think it is and not only that, trying to do it all could be what is keeping you from landing you a place on the leadership team.
Knowing how to prioritize is leadership.
And in today's episode, I am showing you exactly how you can continue to prioritize long after this crisis ends so that you never have to go back to being in the weeds again.
What You'll Learn:
- Why being in the weeds is actually keeping you from being successful at work
- Why you might be resistant to handing off responsibility
- The reason this crisis is helping you learn how to prioritize
- How to use your time once you are able to get out of the weeds
- How you can sustain this leadership skill long after things return to "normal"
Listen to the Full Episode:
Featured on the Show:
- Listen to episode 2 "Why You Should Stop Doing What You're Good at"
- Sign up for your free discovery call at stacymayer.com/apply.
|Hello, everyone, welcome to another episode of Maximize Your Career. I am your host, Stacy Mayer. Thank you so much for listening to my podcast. I want to start out today's episode with just a huge thank you. So in general, podcast downloads are down. This is a fact during the COVID-19 pandemic because people aren't commuting as much or at all. They just have to wake up, and like me, I'm actually recording this podcast in my bedroom. So I don't even have to go anywhere.|
|And I have noticed that my own podcast download numbers are actually not down at all. So the trend is for podcasts in general, but my numbers are about the same. And that means a lot to me because it means that you're actually choosing to listen to my podcast, that you are in fact, a loyal listener. And this tells me that not only that this information is super valuable to you, and I'm so grateful to know that, but it also tells me that you are a person who really takes your career and your professional development seriously. And these are the tools that I am giving you through this podcast.|
|So I just want to take a moment, right here at the beginning, to just give you an extra-special thank you for being a loyal listener. And I am so incredibly grateful that this information is valuable to you. And however this shakes out in the end, I want more qualified leaders in upper-level leadership positions than ever before. And if I can help you get there, then I am going to do that. That is my mission, to get 1,000 managers promoted into leadership positions each year, worldwide. So that is what this podcast is all about. That is what my company is all about, my coaching is all about.|
|And I thank you, and I am so grateful to be on this mission with you. So applaud you. Now, let me share with you a little background about why I was inspired to share today's episode. So this is how it all started for me. I have been noticing that I have-- I'm actually getting a lot more work done in a lot fewer hours. So I've actually cut my hours down in half because I'm also taking care of my kids, and I'm negotiating time with my husband, who is also working from home.|
|So I noticed that I had to actually cut the amount of hours in the day that I am able to work in half. And I looked at this and I realized that I'm not getting less work done. So does that make sense? So I cut my hours down in half. Now, I do actually work a little bit at night. I'm recording this podcast for you at night when the kids are asleep, so I would say that realistically I actually cut my hours for about 40%, but my productivity is not going down. And I am actually thinking that my quality of my work is going up. And I know that it's not just me. I'm actually seeing this in my clients as well. So that's what I want to talk to you about today. It's how this crisis is actually helping as managers get out of the [wits?], something that we have been wanting to do for really long time, but now, we're finally able to do it. So I'm going to dissect for you exactly why that is, why that is happening for you. Because I believe that if you can understand what's happening and what you're doing as a leader, then you could continue to recreate it. So when things get back to "normal", you'll actually have the skills and [inaudible] you don't have fall back into your old patterns once you get back to work. So let me tell you about one of my clients that I noticed this in as well. So I'm just seeing this kind of all over the place. But we had a coaching call a couple of weeks ago, and she was actually sitting on her bed with her laptop in her lap on our Zoom conversation. And I noticed that she looked different. She looked lighter. She was actually glowing. She looked happier. And she is a client that has a really, really hard time delegating. This is something that has been a challenge for her for a very long time. She has a hard time asking for what she needs. She has hard time asking for support. And one of the reasons is that she's really good at her job. And so a lot of times, people fall in to this trap because it's easier to just do themselves.|
|And also, and I'm going talk about a little more about some of the mindset shifts that people have when they feel like they have to do all the work themselves. But this is something-- this is a challenge that she has had for a long time. And she knows that it's her challenge, that's what we're working on in our coaching. But there was something about the pandemic that just brought everything in to laser focus. She knew almost in an instant exactly what she needed to let go of, what she couldn't do and what she needed to do more of, and where to focus her time and energy to get the biggest return. Now, that is essentially what we're looking to do as leaders. It's where can we focus our time and energy to get the biggest return. Now, we might know that this is what we're supposed to do. We might know that this is the end game, but being able to do it is a lot harder than knowing that that is what you're supposed to do. So in today's episode, I'll be breaking it down for you a little bit more about why this pandemic is actually showing you how to prioritize. And if it's not showing you how to prioritize, I'm going to give you some tools so that you can kind of figure this out for yourself. So that perhaps when we speak again in the couple of weeks, you too will be glowing amongst this crisis, if that's even feels possible to you right now.'''|
|Now, if you listen to my podcast episode number two from the beginning, I talked about how to stop doing what you're good at. So this one of the kind of trap that my client fell into. It's because she is a subject matter expert. She's really good at her job. So it's sort of like what got you here. And so you really rely on that. You get direct feedback. People often tell you how fantastic you are. But you're not getting a lot of feedback on your leadership, especially if you're not at that executive level yet. And this is actually what almost all mid to lower level, director level managers go through as they transition into executive leadership positions. This is what I see all the time. Everybody has trouble doing it, but once you can master it, and once you can truly trust that you know how to let go of certain tasks so that you can focus on the bigger picture, so that you can actually make an impact, so that you can actually drive results, that is the definition of true leadership, being able to lead a team. So I suggest, if you haven't listened to episode 2, how to stop doing what you're good at, go back after you have listened to this one. It's really great and it gives you a lot of really great pointers. But in today's episode, I'm going to talk in particular about why a crisis forces us to stop doing what we're good at.|
|I want to start with some of the reasons why it's so difficult to let go of actually all the things.|
|Don't worry. It doesn't mean you're level yet. You're just growing, because you're human. So you're not getting a lot of that direct feedback. In fact, you've probably just been told what to do more of, what you could do better. Something like that. So you're getting a lot of maybe negative feedback in the things that you need to do, and this is what I see. My clients are being told to stop doing so much. So they're being told this by their direct boss. And if you're somebody whose been told that before, then my question to you is, "Why are you still doing it?" One of the reasons is that we're mostly really hard workers. So if you're somebody, like I mentioned, you're listening to my podcast, that means you take your own professional development seriously. You want a career, not just a job. You actually care about the work that you're doing. Maybe you care about your organization. You care about the people that you work for. You actually want to make a difference in the world, and so you're terrified of being seen as lazy. So that's one of the reasons why it's so difficult to let go and it's so easy to fall into getting in the weeds, because you want to be able to show that you can do all the things.|
|As part of my coaching, I give all of my clients the Meyers-Briggs assessment. You've probably heard about this personality type assessment. And in the assessment, I notice, I would say-- I would have to look at all the assessments, but actually probably 99% of my clients are all pressure prompted. They're motivated by pressure. And so if you're that person that especially, even in a time like this, you're going to be motivated to work harder. You're going to want to show people that you can pretty much do it all, that you can do all the things, that you can handle all the things, because one of your core values is hard work. And you don't want to be seen as lazy, and you would hate it if anybody thought that about you.|
|Another reason why you might fall into the trap of getting into the weeds all the time or resorting back to doing what you're good at is because you think it's expected of you, because your boss models that type of behavior. I have some managers that I speak with, and they don't actually want their boss's job, because their boss works too many hours. They work 60 hours a week. They're answering emails in the middle of the night. And so you feel like that's what's expected of you, that you're supposed to work around the clock, that you're supposed to do all the things. And so if you have that type of culture at your organization, it's a real challenge to get away from it, to actually break out of the norm and to show your boss that there's actually a better way for you, you in particular, not to change them but for you, to work smarter.|
|And the third reason why you might not be able to let go of what you're good at is because you've just never really questioned it before. So when you're transitioning into a leadership position and you're starting to really own your leadership style versus your expertise, it's a big difference, it's a huge mindset shift, to really start to think of yourself as a brilliant leader no matter what field you're in, to just really understand that you have those leadership qualities, that you can lead regardless of your expertise. It's a big shift. And so it doesn't actually occur to you that you need to stop doing all the things, that you need to get out of the weeds, that you need to stop doing what you're good at, because you haven't quite made that transition into leadership yet. But but not only are you gonna have to do it in order to get recognized for those higher-level promotions but it's so imperative because once you actually get the job. So I also have clients at the senior vice president level who get the job. They actually get the promotion but then they find out they don't have enough hours in the day. They can't do all the things. Or maybe, if they're lucky enough, they have a boss that's telling them not to do everything themselves, that they need to learn how to delegate, that they need to get out of the weeds in order to be a better leader, that that's the expectation for them.|
|So why are some people able to get out of the weeds now, now that we're in a crisis? And I was thinking about this. So, you know, I talked a little bit about how my time is condensed because of the circumstance. So I have physically less hours in the day. So I actually have no choice. I have to ask myself, "What's the most important thing to do right now? And how quickly can I get it done?" But because I have such high standards, I'm not gonna do shoddy work. So, it's how can I maximize that efficiency? So I don't have time for my mind to wander, I don't have time to procrastinate. I just have to do the work and I have to do it well the first time. So some of it is just because we're on a time constraint right now. We just have limitations in our day.|
|Another reason why so many managers are actually finding that they're able to get out of the weeds right now is because you may have noticed you're having a lot more meetings with your boss, like sometimes daily meetings with your boss. And it's so interesting because I actually-- I talk about this on my podcast all the time that I recommend having more meetings with your boss. And people can't even understand it like, "What in the world would we talk about?" Well, one of the things that you're probably talking about in your meetings with your boss is the vision. And your boss is actually talking to you about that vision because you're having so many meetings. You're having all these check-ins. Your boss is talking to you about prioritization. Your boss is telling you what's important. What are the things that you need to let go of on a regular basis? So you're having to prioritize just because you're actually talking to your boss every single day. So you're starting to notice, "Oh, this is what's important. Oh, you know what? My boss just said we can let go of those 10 projects that we thought were so important, to begin with." Right? And so that's another thing. It's just getting super clear on what's important and what's not important. And sometimes it's just as simple as having more conversations with your boss.|
|And the third reason why it's so much easier to get out of the weeds now is because you're actually looking to yourself for answers. Now, our CEOs are in a really, really interesting position right now. They can't say very much. I don't know if you've noticed that. This is happening literally with every single client I have. If I ask them, "What is your CEO telling you about your vision?" A lot of times, the CEOs aren't speaking. They're not saying very much because they don't wanna overpromise. They don't wanna scare you. And so they're just kind of keeping quiet until they have more information until they know what's next. So they're not necessarily able to be the visionary leader that you require right now. And so you're actually asking yourself for those answers. You're asking yourself, "What does my team need?" You're asking yourself, "What do I think is the most important thing right now?" And when you can ask yourself for answers and not look outside of yourself, that is true leadership. That is when you turn that curve. Instead of waiting for somebody else to tell you, you're actually innovating. You're coming up with the ideas yourself. That is the ultimate goal. That is where we're headed. So congratulations. If you're one of those people who are getting out of the weeds already or you're starting to notice the shift, then I continue-- like I said at the beginning of this podcast, continue to applaud you. Now, I want to speak for a minute about passion. And when our values are super clear in our work matters, and we really feel like we're making an impact at our organization, that's when everything comes together. That's when it feels good to wake up and go to work. That's when it feels like you're actually helping, that you're actually solving a problem. And because of the nature of this crisis, we do feel like our work matters. In turn, essentially, we feel like we matter.|
|And we're also very grateful to be working at the company that we're working for because we're seeing layoffs happening. We're seeing other people-- maybe even some of our employees are losing their jobs. We have to do layoffs ourselves. So we're so grateful to have that job. And when you're in that place of gratitude, and you just feel very thankful to have that job, and you truly want to help, and you truly want to make an impact, then you can't help but get out of the weeds because the best way to actually make a difference at your organization is to be a more strategic thought leader for your organization. And you cannot do that if you have your head down, and you're just getting the work done.|
|Now, you have this new awareness. You're noticing that you're getting out of the weeds. Maybe you're just kind of-- it's only been a few weeks, so you're just not quite sure what to do with it. So I'm going to give you a few tools, a few things that you can actually do so that, as promised, you can continue this. So this becomes your leadership style. This becomes your new normal. And this becomes the way that you proceed. You create a framework. So the first thing, the first action that I want you to do is to really name this awareness. So for me, I actually had to notice that I was working less hours than I was before, but I was getting the same amount of work done. So I want you to start asking yourself, "Is that true? Is that actually happening for me? Am I more focused when I am working? Why is that? Why am I able to prioritize so much better?" So listening to this podcast, you should have some ideas why you're able to prioritize better now. But really, just name it. Write it down for yourself. Think about it and actually write out some bullets, maybe journal during this time so that you're just capturing what is actually happening for you in this moment. Now, the second thing I want to make sure that you do is to own this action. It would be really easy to fall into the trap of saying, "Oh, well, I was able to get out of the weeds because of the coronavirus, but now that things are back to normal--" if they ever get back to normal, whenever that looks like, it would be really easy to just say, "Oh, well, now things are different. So I just go back to my old routines," because here's the thing. Even though I've been talking this entire episode about you getting out of the weeds at work, chances are you're still pretty exhausted in general. You might be working harder at home which is why you're able to get out of the weeds at work. So then when you go back to your normal routine, "normal," you're going to be working less at home. Which means you're going to fall back on your tendencies at work, to do too much so that you don't end up being that strategic thinker. So the action that I want you to take at this time is to actually realize, "Oh, this is something that I can continue to replicate. Perhaps I don't need to attend all of those meetings. Perhaps I can delegate these certain tasks for the long haul." So start to really question, "Is this important at all? And is it actually getting me the biggest result?" So this is what I talked about before. But it's basically, you can put in 20% of the effort and actually get an 80% return on your effort if you do the right things and you put your attention in the right areas. So use this as a time to start to understand and to really just question every thing that you thought was so desperately important to your job that you could never possibly stop doing.|
|And then the third and final thing is what to do instead. So I am not advocating that you work less and that you just do nothing that you're shirking your responsibilities at work. Instead, I'm wanting you to be more of a strategic thinker. To be more of a thought leader. To be more forward-thinking . And so what you also have to do is you have to use this as an opportunity. So now you're getting out of the weeds and you've noticed that. And this is something that you're committed to for the long haul. And you're committed to not going back to your old patterns after you return. What do you do instead? So really understand, what does a strategic, visionary leader look like? And use this as an opportunity to perhaps journal, to write, to think about ideas, to think about concepts, to create your own personal leadership style. And to begin to articulate that to others so that you can really understand who you are as a leader and how you make strong decisions. How you are powerful in your role. And what is the impact that you truly want to be making at your organization? So that's the third piece of this.|
|So the three things that I want you to do now that you are, in fact, getting out of the weeds simply because of your circumstances - it's showing you what is actually possible for your role - is I want you to create awareness around it. To understand, "What are those things that I don't necessarily have to do anymore?" I want you to create a commitment that you're going to continue this long after things go back to "normal." And then third, I want you to really understand what you are doing as a visionary leader instead of being in the weeds. So I want you to be one of those managers that gets promoted this year. Not just to have your job, but to thrive in your job. And to actually make a bigger impact at your organization. I hope you've enjoyed this episode. Thank you so much, again, for listening. And I'll see you next week. Bye.|
About Your Host
Hi, I’m Stacy Mayer, a Leadership Coach for emerging executives who are ready to take their career to the next level or seeking more fulfillment in their current organizational roles.
I help corporate managers reposition themselves to advance their careers, build confidence in their ability to solve problems in real-time, and step into their higher leadership potential so they can make a bigger impact in their organizations.
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