In my work with executive leaders, I often hear their frustration with bureaucracy. They feel like the organizational layers stifle their creativity and ability to get stuff done. This, then, affects their ability to make decisions and communicate effectively with their teams.
When I work with a leader or a group of leaders who are feeling quashed by this dynamic, I offer them one key piece of advice. Ask yourself what you can control, and what decisions you can make without asking permission or involving another layer. The reason why this is critical to understand is the faster we can understand what we cannot control, we can stop worrying how we are going to impact that. We can focus our efforts on what in within our sphere of control.
Believe me, I know how it is to want to control everything and everybody, but I also know how irritating it is to be able to control very little. The exciting news is that once we know what we can control, or at least, can exercise significant influence over, we immediately feel empowered to do our very best work. We also begin to re-energize the people we lead to empower themselves to embark on the same exercise.
I once entered a room of executive leaders who were mentally defeated. They were ready to give up a fight with outside influences. When I started to prod them a bit on why they were where they were, they confessed that they didn’t see a way around the climate that they were facing and needed some inspiration. I shared personal stories and stories about other organizations that faced and overcame the same odds. They could have smiled and moved on with their day, showing very little receptivity to my messages. Instead, they committed to leading with a more positive mindset, and remembering that their people needed them to help decipher the current climate with a clear head.
Once we uncover what we can control, we can restore the positive energy and power that comes from knowing that we can produce great things by our efforts and with one another.
Cheers to discovering your sphere of control!
P.S. Stay tuned for my next article on how to create clarity for those that you lead on their sphere of control.
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