Lately, I've been hearing heard a common theme among many of the senior leaders I coach. They are tired, frustrated, overwhelmed, and overworked. Maybe it’s the time of year, but many of these leaders feel they have little control over how they spend and manage their time since they are regularly responding to “urgent requests” from their executive leadership team. Related: Burned Out? How To Take A Vacation Without Taking A Vacation And, more often than not, these requests are not something they can delegate to their direct reports. As you may be able to understand, they are in fire-fighting mode more often than they want (or need) to be. So, what can you do to stop the feeling of overwhelm, which leads to the tiredness and frustration? Do you stand up to your boss?

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One of the great opportunities of leadership is the delegation of tasks to others, which not only frees up your time to be more strategic but also develops those employees to whom you’ve delegated. Related: 6 Career Management Hacks That Will Get You Ahead Although it is a great opportunity for leaders, it is also a great challenge. Delegating means letting go of a fair amount of, if not all of, the control associated with the way tasks are completed. I find this to be a struggle for many leaders, myself included. As the owner of my business, I find that letting go of tasks and delegating to others can be quite a challenge at times. What if they don’t do it right? What if they don’t get it done on time? What if they upset the clients? These “what if’s” can go on forever! I've tortured myself through many of them and I've seen many of my clients do the same. What I’ve learned, both personally and through working with others in this area, are some key steps to take to ease concerns about delegating to others. First, you want to have a high degree of confidence in the people you delegate to; therefore, be diligent in your selection of those you hire to work for you. Often times leaders are in a hurry to get a position filled so do not take enough time to be sure they are making the best selection. Without confidence that you have the best people on your team, delegating can be difficult. Yet, when you know you’ve got the right people in place, it is much easier to delegate with assurance. Second, you will probably need a fair amount of updates and status checks on how your team is doing with the tasks. (Usually I need more updates and status checks early in the relationship.) Once you get to know the individuals and their work ethic, and your relationship develops, the amount of check-ins decreases because the expectations are well understood, and your confidence in their ability to meet your expectations increases. Lastly, you want to change any “what if” comments from negative to positive. So, instead of thinking, “What if they don’t do it right?” try, “What if they do it better than I ever could?” Or, “What if this works out better than I thought?” That mindset shift will help you expect the best as opposed to expecting things to go wrong. Does this mean things never go wrong? Of course not but it certainly sets up an environment that is more expectant of success than if you continue to think of all the possible ways things could go wrong. Although this is not always easy for leaders, letting go of control and delegating is necessary and highly beneficial for all. It not only enables you, the leader, to focus on more strategic items but it motivates your workforce to take on more responsibility and fosters more employee development. This month’s development tip: Have you mastered the art of delegation? If so, congratulations! We’d love to hear some of your success tactics so please visit our Facebook wall and share! If not, follow the suggested steps in this month’s article; with each step you should begin to get more comfortable with letting go. This post was originally published at an earlier date.

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I just read a wonderful book called Unique Ability: Creating The Life You Want by Catherine Nomura, Julia Waller and Shannon Waller. The book is about identifying what makes us each unique and then sharing that ability with the world. It is about discovering our unique gifts and then using those to create our livelihood and life's work. Related: How To Stand Out: Define Your Strengths For me, reading this book reinforced what I've known and seen successfully demonstrated throughout my 16 year career as an HR coach and consultant; that is, when we work from our strengths and let our unique abilities shine through, we are most successful. By doing this, we thrive, and, in turn, those who work with us can also thrive. To reach our highest potential, we need to start from our strengths. I often see company leaders (and even HR professionals) focused on helping employees with their "developmental opportunities." They take a lot of time to identify what is wrong with the employees or what skills they are missing. They explore the areas where they are lacking and then hone in on getting the employees experiences or training so they can develop those "weak" areas. As an HR professional, I understand why this is important. Companies need to be sure employees are skilled enough to do the jobs for which they were hired to do; however, it is much easier to hire people who already are strong in the areas required for the job and then work with them to leverage and build upon those strengths. I have seen many people successfully develop or grow in an area where they were weak but that growth is often limited and may only last for a short period of time. Why? Because they are not starting from their strengths and it can be an uphill climb for any of us to develop in an area that does not come naturally or feel right to us. For example, when my friend, the artist, asks for a recommendation on a course in creating Excel spreadsheets (because she needs to learn Excel to help out with a family business), I can accurately predict she will complete the course but highly doubt she'll retain what she learns. Why not? Because she is being pushed to do something against her grain. It is counter to her unique ability and it is almost certain that, even if she does learn a lot about spreadsheets, she won't do it very well. Or, even worse, she will do it reluctantly. Yet, if you put her in a course on advanced photograph development, she will thrive, soar and excel because that is aligned with her unique gift. When hiring employees, we should seek them out for their unique abilities. Find out what comes naturally to them and where they excel. There is a reason why some of us got outstanding grades in art class as children and others did not. There is a reason why some of us stood out in science class and became doctors and others did not. When we start from where we are strong and build upon that, we are already ahead of the game. We are using our strengths as a bouncing off place to excel even further. Forcing someone to develop in an area where they are not strong, or, even worse, in an area that has no meaning to them will be like paddling upstream in a very strong current. The whole idea with operating from our strengths is to enable our unique ability to shine through. Instead of fighting the current, we go with the current. We need to start from our strengths and watch how naturally we can reach our highest potential. This post was originally published at an earlier date.

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I have seen many examples of people who are aligned with what they do (and of those who are not aligned). It makes a huge difference in the way work is accomplished as well as how it impacts those we work and interact with. Related: Want To Be Happy At Work? 3 Things To Consider When I say, "being aligned to your work," I mean being connected to something meaningful to you; something that aligns with your values and allows you to fulfill your desire to make a difference through your work. I coach many leaders who sometimes struggle in their roles and have behaviors that need to change. We all have areas to grow and develop, but if the developmental opportunity is not aligned with something that is meaningful to you or gives your work purpose, you will likely struggle to develop in that area. If you lead from a place that is aligned to your values, leading becomes very easy. In fact, people will want to follow you because they see how connected you are to what you are doing. Not only that, but doing your job also becomes very easy when you are aligned in this manner. To find out if you are aligned with what you do, take some time to think about your values and motivators.

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In order to have a productive career discussion with your manager, it is important for you to prepare and think through some key items ahead of time. You want to be in full control of your career path and the best way to do that is to approach your manager with confidence and conviction around your career goals. Related: 5 Performance Review Tips To prepare for the discussion, start by answering some basic questions about yourself and your career:

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