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Take a load off! Tips for the exhausted leader (or for just the plain human)

Leading (and being a human) can be exhausting, particularly at year-end. To lead with ease, here are some simplistic (as in easy to understand, perhaps challenging to practice) tips to help you have smooth and calm sailing. I encourage you to apply the same techniques with family and friends. Simply substitute the words “family members,” “partner,” “kids,” or whomever, in place of “staff.”

  1. Become the observer. Imagine you are watching a play. Sit back and really notice how staff members engage, interact, take initiative, and follow through—all without your intervention. While the path they take may not be the one you might lead them on, the outcome may be just plain delightful.

  2. Allow. Give staff space to struggle with problem-solving and any discomfort it may bring. When you always have all the answers, it is not only exhausting for you, but it is habit forming for those around you. Growth comes in the discomfort. Give your team the gift of space to grow.

  3. Front load and let go. When delegating, spend a bit more time on the specifics and the parameters. Be sure to cover the “who, what, when, where, why, and how.” Then allow the person to own the project.

  4. Don’t drop what matters. As the tenor of not enough creeps into the day-to-day, don’t let go of the foundational things that matter most. The number one item on this list is consistent, reliable, and thorough communication (aka weekly staff meetings). No matter how much the team bucks against the time commitment, this will be the glue that holds things steady.

  5. No assumptions. Emotions tend to run high at the holidays. When you feel yourself making an assumption or getting hot under the collar, check in. Ask clarifying questions, and then if necessary, clear up the mess and move forward.

  6. Gift. Gift yourself with time. Allow for a cleansing breath before (during and after) a tough meeting (family outing, holiday chore). Reevaluate the deadline that isn’t essential. Walk in the fresh air instead of lunch at your desk. Doing whatever you can do to shift and recharge the energy in your own system will also pay off for those around you.

When you switch over to a place of ease and holding space, you will be amazed at how the entire energy shifts in your environment. This is true if you are the identified leader (i.e. by title or ownership) or if you are the unofficial leader (the one others look to and follow without even knowing it). It is your choice how you proceed and what you share with others.

Originally posted on

Have you had to work with that person who is too valuable to fire but whose communication and leadership style continually make others cringe and put the company at risk? Beth Wonson’s unique combination of experience as a business leader, a non-profit leader and 20 years consulting on team development, organizational change and coaching leaders, make her the go to person for transforming personnel liabilities into personnel assets.


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