5 Tips for Over-committed Leaders

by anne preston on December 18, 2009

overcomittedHow do you recognize you are an over-committed woman leader?

Being over-committed has a mind-body tone to it.  For many people they first pay attention to the realization that there is just too much to do and not enough time to do it in or they notice they do not the resources or capacity to complete the obligation. For many more folks they describe it as a feeling of overwhelm or nervousness and it may show up in the body as either tightness in the gut – or a weighty feeling (Like extra weight on the shoulders).    More often than not – there is a stuckness that also happens – where things are not flowing as freely.

Why do woman leaders over-commit?
Here are a few reasons why we can so easily end up over-committed:

  • A feeling that there is an expectation to say YES
  • A thought that you are obligated to say Yes
  • A lack of enough awareness of what you are really getting yourself into
  • A not yet learned skill of judgment. Over estimating your capacity.  (stopping and thinking before committing)
  • A not yet learned skill of feeling things fully ( so you can respond instead of react)
  • Perhaps even fearing the consequences or outfall of saying NO
  • “Over-using” a natural strength of responsibility

What are the pitfalls of being over-committed?
In addition to the unpleasant feelings that come along with being overwhelmed from being over-committed; here are few other not so pleasant outcomes:

  • You end up having made a promise that you can not deliver on effectively
  • People’s trust in you diminishes.  You get known for not being on top of your game
  • Taking on more than you can chew lowers your effectiveness and your quality of work can suffer
  • You end up having to be a hero just to complete the task – and THAT is not sustainable.   After all, when is the last time you were inspired by a burned out hero?

5 Things you can do to turn things around when you are over-committed
Often, there is an missing communication somewhere when many folks have over committed; something was left unsaid – or some self expression that was held back.

Here are some expressive ways to realign yourself with a more effective level of commitment and to create more ease for yourself..

You will want to immediately take action – in a very timely manner.  Timely mean as soon as you realize you are over-committed is to realign your capacity to all of your agreements.

Realigning your capacity and agreements often this is can be as simple as having truthful authentic conversations.

Taking effective action around having these conversations is a personal leadership skill, as is the skill as managing expectations.

Some available options are:

  1. Revoke your promise (Tell the truth of your current situation – people will understand more than you are giving them credit for now)
  2. Delegate or outsource   ( Work to your strengths and delegate to others strengths)
  3. Ask for help (People love to help where they can make a meaningful contribution)
  4. Defer to later (Even if it is YES, I can help you ….later)
  5. Transfer responsibility (with the intention of creating – win-win-win scenarios.

Three additional behaviours that may give you more long term benefit:

  • Spend some of your capacity in learning how to do things more masterfully – which will in turn expand your capacity.  This may not always give you immediate short term relief – but has long term benefits in expanded capacity.
  • Learn how to expand your capacity to feel things fully, so that you are able to respond in the moment from a more knowing place.  The more connected with your knowing you are – the less likely you are to get yourself in a place of being overcommited in the first place.
  • Say NO way more than you do already.   Align all of your YES’s to meaningful activities.  If something isn’t meaningful to you  – why say yes to it anyway?.  I would say you have something even more meaningful that you could be focusing on.
  • Watch out for Automatic Yes’s and make sure you have a pause practice in your decision making.

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