All too often I hear executive leaders lament their challenges at work, not just on one or two criteria, but many. They feel afraid that others will find them out, they feel unsuccessful and unsure what to do, and/or they feel completely wiped out – unable to take care of themselves physically, mentally, or emotionally like they know they need. They want to be emotionally intelligent, positive, effective leaders… yet there is a huge wall in their way.
I have been there.
Here’s how it often goes: you start a new role with a company eager, confident, and willing to show how competent and multi-faceted you are. You strive to add value, support the company’s goals, and make a significant impact early on. And you do.
The catch – once people find out you’re a great individual contributor, even a strong people manager or developer of teams, your role expands and your targets become less focused. Your priority list becomes increasingly long (i.e. everything is a priority). Your calendar and mindshare are completely scattered and overextended. Your performance goals may even conflict with one another.
At one point in my career, I was tasked with growing a fledgling team, which required about 80% of my attention to do well and required face time daily with the team. At the same time, I was also expected to continually grow the business, which also required about 80% of my attention to do well and time away from my team.
You may be superman, but I don’t have 160% of me to go around.
This is what they call “performance punishment.” After a few years, my goals and role got so muddied. While I looked successful from the outside, inside I was suffering mightily – exhausted, sick, wracked with a sense of constant failure and self-doubt. One or the other of my critical priorities was always suffering. The cognitive dissonance became too great.
Note: this dilemma can certainly be resolved with clear organizational support. In the absence of that support, you may want to consider a revision of your job scope.
Here are 10 ways to know if “role creep” is happening to you:
- On many a morning, you ask yourself, “What the hell am I supposed to be doing exactly?”
- You are physically exhausted, sick, and anxious most of the time.
- People around you can’t tell the difference between what you do and what your boss does. Who is really accountable for what?
- Your personal values frequently clash with what you’re being asked to do, or what you think you need to do your job well.
- Your talents, experience and strengths aren’t leveraged or allowed to shine. Instead, you’re measured on things you know aren’t in your “strike zone.”
- You have little idea about what “success” actually looks like.
- You go home frustrated, defeated, confused or sad often.
- Your desire to hide out from your colleagues increases by the day, hoping that no one will notice how lonely/isolated/afraid you’re really feeling.
- You fantasize about working at a coffee shop – oh, the simple life!
- You are constantly planning your next vacation… anything to help you avoid the struggle you’re in right now.
If you resonated with any of the above, I invite you to spend time reflecting on what is most important to you.
- What kind of life do you want to experience?
- What kind of legacy do you want to leave?
- How do you want to feel while doing your most important work?
Whether a quick clarifying conversation with your boss is needed, or a full-scale reevaluation of your career choices with a coach is on the table, know you are not alone.
Many, many of your colleagues are feeling the exact same way at this very moment.
And, you are worth the investment of time, energy, money to resolve this role mismatch. Your life (and your creative energy) are way too precious.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]