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Q: I’m a leader whose days are eaten up by operational concerns. How can I force myself to delegate more and make time to assess what’s most important?

Being clear about what’s really important, regularly assessing your priorities, delegating— these are key challenges for any leader. Unfortunately, often our response to being overwhelmed is to push ourselves even harder!

Instead of feeling eaten up by the crisis of the moment, take a fresh look by giving yourself a little respite instead of moving forward. Enjoy lunch, for example, rather than wolfing it down in a meeting. Take a moment to scan your body and notice your feelings. From those little pauses, your ability to be innovative and be resourceful will emerge.

Under pressure, leaders tend to take control, make all the decisions, and personally see the project to completion. At just the time when you need to expand your thinking and draw on the resources of others, your vision has narrowed—and so has your ability to see options and make sounder decisions.

When you allow some breathing space, you’ll be able to see the wisdom of trusting someone else’s expertise. You’ll see valuable contributions that others can make. You’ll see that you have choices and can start anew. You’ll see that you can reconnect with your own values and priorities, rather than simply responding to the crisis at hand. You’ll take better care of yourself.


Mariann_Johnson_01Mariann Johnson is a Senior Instructor with the Institute for Mindful Leadership. She has led dedicated workshops for executive groups from numerous organizations including: General Mills, U.S. Cellular, Genentech, Bricker & Eckler, Ceridian, American Red Cross, Iowa Hospital Healthcare Association and the US Government Federal Judicial Center. 

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