Harvard Business review

How to Handle Feeling Overworked

MURIEL WILKINS: Hi everyone. This is Muriel Wilkins, Executive Coach and host of Coaching Real Leaders, sharing a special episode with you today. It’s one of my favorites from season one, and I wanted to share it again this week because it looks at something so many of us might be feeling right now, burnout, whether it’s the ongoing impact of the global pandemic, working from home or in the office, increased workloads, or just a general stress that many of us experienced during this time of the year. A lot of people are feeling pretty overwhelmed right now. So listen in to my coaching conversation with one leader who is struggling with the intensity of her role in wondering long she can keep it up, because even if you haven’t been in her exact situation, you can probably relate. I hope you find it hopeful. HBR Presents. I’m Muriel Wilkins, and this is Coaching Real Leaders. Part of the HBR Presents network. I’m a longtime Executive Coach who works with highly successful leaders who’ve hit a bump in the road. My job is to help them get over that bump by clarifying their goals and figuring out a way to reach them. I typically work with clients over the course of several months, but on this show, we have a one time coaching meeting focusing on a specific leadership challenge they’re facing. Today’s guest is someone we’ll call “Ellie.” She’s a leader who’s done well in previous technology roles, but always felt like she’s ready for more in terms of leadership responsibility. When she was offered the opportunity to lead at a startup, she stepped up and her ability to figure things out and get things done is exactly what’s valued in that fast paced environment.

ELLIE: So it’s a startup, which means we don’t have a lot of the basic foundation that most companies would have that are doing similar things. So there’s a lot of people wearing many hats, and there’s a lack of experienced leadership who can just come into the company and say, “I know how to build this practice.” Build it and then it’s done. So we have people who are having to kind of figure it out. And I’m one of those people that’s one of the figuring it out types.

MURIEL WILKINS: And while Ellie’s resourcefulness and work ethic is driving her success at the startup, it’s also causing her to feel burned out and to question her ability and desire to lead.

ELLIE: It is burnout out but it’s also just, I don’t think…. I either don’t think I’m capable of the job so maybe I don’t have those leadership skills or maybe I’m not quite ready for it that people thought I was. And now that I’m in it, I’m realizing I’m maybe not. I’m very flip floppy about it because I do actually think I’m quite good at it. So now I’m in this weird position of like, this is a lot of work. I don’t think I wanted that bad. And I end up just kind of frustrated with the circle of insanity that I’m constantly caught in to the point now where I’m just thinking, you know what, maybe this just isn’t for me. And maybe I should just go back to more technical work.

MURIEL WILKINS: Burnout will make you question your life choices. And that’s where ELLIE is at the moment. Does she want to be a leader? And if so, how does she lead without constantly feeling burned out? And because we all experience burnout differently, it’s important that I understood what it looks like for her. So that’s where we start the conversation.

MURIEL WILKINS: I want to kind of get a better understanding of what burnout feels like to you.

ELLIE: Okay.

MURIEL WILKINS: Everybody has different thresholds and experience it differently. In your world like, if I were to sit in your seat, what does it feel like to feel either on the brink of, or actually in burnout mode?

ELLIE: I would say on the brink of is the constant exhaustion and just feeling like this isn’t worth it. I have a lot of conflicting priorities and I keep asking, okay, what can go? What can I drop? And it’s always been like a, oh yeah, let’s talk about that later type of mentality. And somebody recently gave me feedback to say, “Why don’t you just say no?” Don’t just say, “Yeah, I’ll do this but,” instead just say, “No, I cannot do this.” And then see if that changes the dialogue. So that’s something that I’m new, I’m going to try.

MURIEL WILKINS: Yep. How and how did that resonate with you when somebody gave you that suggestion to just say no?

ELLIE: I’m reluctant to say no, to be honest. Because I want to demonstrate my value. I’m afraid of losing a little bit of the traction that I’ve made, but at the same time, it’s also what I want, because I feel like it’s too much. So I have this internal conflict with myself right now.

MURIEL WILKINS: Yeah. I think one of the questions that we need to get clear on is what it is that you want. Because I think this tension that you’re feeling is a bit of kind of going to the ice cream store and you’re only allowed three scoops and you’re like, “No, I want the vanilla and the chocolate and the butter pecan and the chocolate chip and the pistachio. And oh, by the way, I don’t want to gain any weight.”

ELLIE: Yeah.

MURIEL WILKINS: Story of my life. And that is ideal, but that’s also kind of magical thinking. What I want to talk to you about is shifting from magical thinking around the ideal of the way that we would love for things to be versus facing the reality of what they are, and then thinking strategically around how to move through it.

ELLIE: I think my greatest value is that I can make decisions. I can make judgment calls. I can give people direction if they’re lacking, or if they’re unclear, I am that strong voice in a meeting that says, “We’re here to do this and we’re not leaving until we accomplish this,” and I time box it to make sure it happens. I have vision, I have strategy and I can execute on it. I’m not all talk. I can also deliver on my vision. So that does seem to be where that natural leadership comes in is because a lot of people are maybe reluctant or don’t want that type of responsibility or accountability and I do. So I thought that, that was what I wanted. But if that means nonstop working all day every day, on weekends and feeling exhausted and feeling burned out and not being able to sleep, then to me that’s not what I want.

MURIEL WILKINS: Sure. It’s important to kind of get out of this cycle of burnout so that you can think through this.

ELLIE: Yeah.

MURIEL WILKINS: A little more clearly. Okay. Because when we make decisions in distress, in burnout, or as I’ve heard somebody once say, “Never make decisions when you are lonely, angry or hungry.” Right.

ELLIE: Right.

MURIEL WILKINS: Never, never leads to anything good. And I think the same is from a burnout standpoint. I think we ought to kind of think through a couple of different levels. One is how do you deal with situations when you start feeling frustrated? I think the second piece is this, what does it mean to be a leader? Are your expectations aligned with what it means to be a leader? It requires being adaptable. That’s the part that makes it challenging, right? Is can you pull at different muscles, at different places in time? So on the one hand you said part of what you think is you bring to the table in terms of being valid is your strategic thinking and visionary, and being able to see things and then being able to get it done. And that is one dimension of leadership. There’s another dimension, which is the people side of it, right? In terms of your team and coaching them, et cetera. There’s also this component, which I think is pertinent for you, which is the ability to prioritize and focus. And the question behind that is, am I doing the right things at the right time, to get to where we need to go? And so when somebody told you just say, no. What they’re in essence telling you is you need to create some boundaries around what you’re doing and what’s most important at this time. However, if you are operating from a place of fear of not being able to demonstrate your value, there’s no way you’re going to place any boundaries. Because you’re constantly going to be in this, I need to show my value. I need to show my value. I need to show my value. Where does that come from?

ELLIE: I’m constantly in fear that if I don’t demonstrate my value, somebody else might come in and take this opportunity away from me. I think in a startup that competitive feeling has actually gotten worse than when I worked at big corporate environments. Change is slow in a big corporation, it’s quick in a startup. So that’s why I’m starting to internalize that of like, maybe this wasn’t the right course of action and is it too late for me to course correct. Should I consider another career? And now in my current role, I’m very conflicted. It’s like my CEO is supportive of down scaling my role, which I want because it’s too much, but at the same time, I don’t want it because I do like the leadership. I do like the responsibility and I do like the accountability. I just wish it didn’t require so many hours of my day. I have entrepreneurial parents. They both started their own business, they were their own bosses. I see this as being an opportunity to flex those entrepreneurial skills that I’ve learned from my parents. I do see myself being a C level in my career. Like as I get older, I see that being something that I want and something that I could do. But I think the path to get there is a lot harder than I thought it would be.

MURIEL WILKINS: So in your current situation, you do have leadership responsibilities, but they feel like a lot, right? It requires a lot more workload than you would like. There’s a question around, how much boundaries you’re placing. And if you were to say no to certain things, would you still be able to perform in your role?

ELLIE: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

MURIEL WILKINS: You have a boss who says, “Hey, I’m willing to take things off your plate,” which would then bring your workload down.

ELLIE: Yeah.

MURIEL WILKINS: While keeping the title?

ELLIE: The discussions that we’ve had about ways to scale back my role would mean my role would change, which mean a new title.

MURIEL WILKINS: Okay. In your current role, you’re getting the feedback that no, you have the leadership capabilities that we need and they’re well valued. Am I correct?

ELLIE: Yeah, that’s fair. So the doubt comes from small off the side comments that I probably take too personally.

MURIEL WILKINS: Mm-hmm (affirmative), like what?

ELLIE: So for example, I’m working on an internal project to develop some key processes that we’ve been lacking and it’s really going to help solve a lot of the problems that we’ve been having because our departments are just not talking to each other at the right times and setting the right expectations for what each other needs and said CEO has expressed concern slash annoyance that, that’s not going as quickly as it should. And I explicitly asked him about it and he was very careful to ensure that I understood that it wasn’t doubt in me and how I’m leading the project. It was just doubt that it was resulting in the outcomes that he was hoping for. But the damage was already done to my confidence a little bit. So I don’t know if anything, he could have said, would’ve made me feel better. I’d already beaten myself up about it basically.

MURIEL WILKINS: Yeah. So, there’s a piece here around extending some empathy to yourself.

ELLIE: Right.

MURIEL WILKINS: If you were talking to one of your closest friends and that closest friend was sharing that particular example that they had experienced at work, what would you say to them?

ELLIE: Probably everything you would expect. I would say-

MURIEL WILKINS: I don’t want you to tell me what you would expect. I really want you for five minutes, just humor me. Right? Make believe I’m that friend. What are you going to tell me? I messed up, I feel like I messed up. I’m supposed to do this project it’s highly valued for the company. And my boss basically said, he’s not happy with the way it’s going, but now he tried to make me feel okay about it and make it feel like it’s not about me, but I know he’s annoyed. And I feel terrible about it, I don’t know if this is for me anymore.

ELLIE: I am everyone’s biggest champion. So I would, and I might get emotional because I realize how stupid that sounds.

MURIEL WILKINS: It’s okay, it’s not stupid. It’s real.

ELLIE: Yeah, I would say that get out of your head. I think you just need to pivot a little bit to understand what they’re asking for. It sounds like you’re all on the right track, but you’re just getting distracted, I think. And he’s giving you the opportunity to get back on track.

MURIEL WILKINS: Yeah.

ELLIE: So don’t take it so personally.

MURIEL WILKINS: I mean, I can’t even say it to you any better, to be honest. I can’t.

ELLIE: I think a big part of the problem is that, in my personal life, that those seeds of doubt actually do come from my parents. Oh, this is going to be like a counseling session. So it doesn’t matter if the whole world tells me I’m good enough for that, I’m great at what I do. I always have that voice in the back of my head that says, “Yeah, but you didn’t do this that I wanted you to do.”

MURIEL WILKINS: Sometimes when I coach the conversation takes a turn where neither I, nor my client expected it to go. And in Ellie’s case this was that moment, where she realized that the seed to her self-doubt was not planted in this role, but rather a long time ago. As a coach, it’s important that I’d be aware of my client’s past experiences, but be very clear that it’s not a counseling or therapy session. My job is not to help them unpack and resolve their past. I approach my clients with compassion and empathy while helping them see what choices they have in front of them, so that they can be strategic on how to move forward to meet their goals. And so with that in mind, we move forward with the conversation.

MURIEL WILKINS: And so here’s the thing. We all have background and context that we grew up with. Right? At some point we become adults.

ELLIE: Yeah.

MURIEL WILKINS: The beautiful thing about becoming an adult, you get to create your own voice, not your parents’ voice, not your teacher’s voice, not your friend’s voice. So the real, we can talk about what’s the right job for you and where do you want to go next and all these external things. And that might help you in the short term.

ELLIE: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

MURIEL WILKINS: So they have its place it will give you some short-term relief, just like switching jobs will give you a short-term relief. Getting a pay raise will give you short-term relief.

ELLIE: Yeah.

MURIEL WILKINS: But based on what you just shared, it’s not going to give you the sustainability of being able to play this leadership game for the long haul.

ELLIE: Right.

MURIEL WILKINS: Okay. So what would it look like for you to be your own champion rather than relying on others to give you that voice of confidence?

ELLIE: That’s a great question. The role that I’m in right now isn’t necessarily the role I went to school for. So I am lacking all lot of experience in how to build this type of department for a startup.

MURIEL WILKINS: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

ELLIE: Cause I always worked at big corporations previously, so they were already built and they were imperfect at the time. So it was easier for me to pick a part the imperfections than to actually build it myself. So one of the things that I had said to my boss was, “If I’m going to do this, I need time. I need to do research. I need to learn.” And I opened the door for the possibility of maybe I’m not the right fit for that. Because in a startup you don’t have time, so I had said, “It might be in your best interest to find somebody who already knows what the formula for success is, and then parachute them in to do it.” And he didn’t want to do that. He said, “Nobody will be able to build it as good as you could because you understand, you have the relationships with the team, you do the work that’s necessary to do it right.” So when I see myself in back to back meetings all day, it just feels like I’m dealing with the tactical day to day stuff. And I’m not getting that mental capacity to actually strategize and do the planning and think.

MURIEL WILKINS: Okay, was there ever a conversation about the things you already have on your plate and how some of those things could be taken off to give your room to do this other thing?

ELLIE: Yeah. So I always, that’s where the feedback about me just saying no came in, was because I was again, I actively worked to take things off my plate and then something always gets added and it’s usually by him, which is the ironic part. So what I ended up deciding last night when I couldn’t sleep is I’m just going to start taking myself out of things. I’m going to decide where my time should be best spent. And I will, as usual, as long as I tell him, this is what I want to do, he’ll probably say okay, sounds good. So I’m not expecting a lot of resistance, but that was how my first attempt or my last attempt to have that conversation went.

MURIEL WILKINS: Okay. And so I think that it’s worth a try, right? It’s worth a try for you to put a stake in the ground rather than it. Because it’s clear he trusts you.

ELLIE: Yeah.

MURIEL WILKINS: And it’s clear that based on what you’ve said before, when you give direction, he responds.

ELLIE: Yeah.

MURIEL WILKINS: It sounds like it’s when you sort of give options of well, it could be this, it could be that and you know, he wants all the ice cream.

ELLIE: Yeah. You’re absolutely right.

MURIEL WILKINS: Right. And so I think you need to start reining it in and say there are not 24 flavors, there are three flavors pick one or so. And that is creating focus on what’s essential and being a stake in the ground for yourself. And a suggestion that I would have for you is to not place the full responsibility of figuring out, what are the things that you can delegate just on yourself. So it’s actually a great opportunity to engage your team in that conversation to sit down and say, “Hey, so here’s everything that’s going on.” Here’s the highest and best use of my time. Here’s the highest and best use of your time. There are some things that we either need to say no to, and we’re going to purge, right. We’re going to do some spring cleaning and we’re just not going to do anymore.

MURIEL WILKINS: So purge some things and then reallocate others. And oftentimes the things that you can reallocate as a leader to some of your team members while they might be a burden for you, are developmental opportunities for your team members.

ELLIE: Yep.

MURIEL WILKINS: So engage them in that discussion. From my standpoint, the way I see it is it’s not a question about, are you a good leader or not? I think you’re really at a place around, how do I scale my leadership up?

ELLIE: Yeah.

MURIEL WILKINS: Okay. It’s like when you play sports, when you’re younger, the fields are smaller, the soccer field is smaller. The tennis court is smaller. The balls are softer, whatever it is you’re playing with. And then as you get older, the court becomes bigger. It’s the same field, same game, but it scales up. And it’s the same with where you are in your career progression, where you are right now.

MURIEL WILKINS: I don’t think is necessarily a question of, am I a good leader? I think it’s a question of, am I building the muscles to be able to scale up my leadership? And oh, by the way, this is your first time having to do it, so cut yourself some slack, you’re in learning mode. You are in a situation where it’s clear, you’re getting support from the top and you’re getting support from your team. And so it starts exercising that muscle of being able to ask for help, to being able to ask for support and it not being a sign of weakness.

ELLIE: I think you’ve just brought to my attention something that I never really thought about. So I just started to think to myself, like I don’t ever recall a manager asking for help or highlighting themselves as a risk. They do seem to all have this thought, if you will, of knowing everything and having all the answers and being the smartest person in the room. So I think that might be part of the reason why I never think about that. I think that I have to emulate how my previous managers have behaved if I’m going to be that successful too.

MURIEL WILKINS: A large piece of your frustration is you’ve been trying to things the same way that you always have and they don’t fit in this scenario.

ELLIE: Yeah, you’re absolutely right.

MURIEL WILKINS: For your current situation. I want you to focus on the things that are within your control. What are the steps that you can take around those different areas that will help in terms of alleviating some of the burnout and frustration that you’re feeling particularly around workload. So can you think of a time either recently or something that you have coming up that might be challenging where you’re going to focus more around or where it would’ve been held helpful to focus more on what’s within your control?

ELLIE: Some of the things that I’ve come to my manager about… Addressed my concern. I feel like I knew if I was just honest with him that he probably already knew or had suspicions about a lot of the issues or the concerns that I had, but he just didn’t have anybody telling him. And people are not in the habit of going to their leaders with problems or bad news. So sometimes those conversations can be really hard to have knowing that this was not something I was comfortable doing, but knowing it was something I had to do, because I knew that if I did air out the dirty laundry, that it would bring change much needed change. It’s like the option that I had been choosing to that point was feeling like there was nothing I could do to change the way things were and feeling like there was no point in making noise about it.

ELLIE: It would just make me seem like I was complaining or I was unhappy. And so that’s why I had a lot of stress about it because I was trying to tell myself, “No, this is, you need to do this. This is the right thing to do. He will listen. He will understand.” Yeah, sure enough at the end of the meeting, he was like, “Thank you.” He was like, “Thank you so much for telling me.” He’s like, “I knew everything that you told me, but I had no confirmation.”

MURIEL WILKINS: I think a big part of the work for you is recognizing when how you’re feeling, when you’re staying up at night, when you have that anxiety or whatnot, it’s like, what is coming at me that is changing or making me sway one way or the other versus what is within me? What is my voice saying? Let me hear myself. What are my options? The technical, the big leadership word of using this is, do you have agency? Meaning the wherewithal within to say, all right, what’s within my control. What actions can I take? Seeing all that and then making a decision.

ELLIE: I often think about this. I feel like the answers are there. I just don’t know. I just don’t have the experience. I feel like I missed a class in school or something about how to deal with these type of challenges. And I’ll have a new Rolodex of information that I can pull from.

MURIEL WILKINS: Yeah.

ELLIE: So that’s why, when you said just now, I’m like, is there a course I can take to do that?

MURIEL WILKINS: Like here’s the thing, right? I have good news and bad news. The good news is that at every stage in your career, in your life, there are different things to learn. The bad news is I don’t think its bad news, I actually, but you might hear it as bad news is I think anyone who is ever to claim that they have learned everything that there is to be a leader is falling short in some way or another, because leadership is a continue, it’s like life. It is a continuous journey of learning. Why?

MURIEL WILKINS: Because being a leader is the ability to deal with the complexity of what lies in front of us and ahead of us. Within all of the complexity that you’re dealing with, the complexity of humans, the complexity of technology, the complexity of the world, the complexity of pandemics and politics and da-da. So it requires an increased capacity to deal with complexity. Well, if that complexity is always changing, does not mean that we are also required to continue learning.

ELLIE: Yes.

MURIEL WILKINS: So you can read as much as you want. And what I would suggest is that it doesn’t end. You become a student of leadership.

ELLIE: Yeah.

MURIEL WILKINS: Rather than a achiever of leadership, two different things, two different ways of being a leader.

ELLIE: Hmm.

MURIEL WILKINS: Okay. And that, that’s where we kind of actually get to the essence of being a leader rather than just a title of being a leader. Like many high achievers, Ellie wants to sure fire recipe to lead. But what she doesn’t realize is that leadership is a nuanced, multidimensional pursuit. On the one hand, there’s the external dimension, the tactical, the technical skills we can learn. It’s what we often refer to as the outer game of leadership, how we do things. But the other side of leadership is the inner game. It’s what values we hold as leaders, what beliefs we bring about ourselves, about other people, how we think through things. That’s the inner game. And Ellie, like many of us has spent a lot of time on the external, trying to fix things by upping her skills, which is all good and very necessary, but now she’s hit a wall and she realizes that she needs to balance it out by also doing the internal work of how she leads and a big piece of this hinges on her ability to deal with her frustration and burnout more constructively than she has in the past. So we’ll pick back up at the point where we look at strategies she can use to face those moments. There’s something I want to introduce to you based on this notion of feeling stressed out and feeling frustrated, because as I said before, we all get stressed out and get frustrated and I think it’s important that (a) you accept that, but (b) have a framework on how to deal with that. Since it seems to be something that’s coming up for you quite a bit.

ELLIE: Yeah.

MURIEL WILKINS: And the first is to recognize kind of the cycle you’re in. So again, when thinking about what you’ve shared with me, I think about it in terms of kind of like this burnout cycle or frustration cycle. So you have an expectation around what needs to happen. The expectation either it gets met or doesn’t get met. If it gets met, then it makes you happy and you’re good, right. If it doesn’t get met, then it leads to frustration. If the frustration isn’t resolved in some way, it leads to burnout. That’s one cycle and it’s a vicious loop.

ELLIE: Hmm.

MURIEL WILKINS: A different loop could be… Will you tell me, like what could a different loop look like?

ELLIE: Well, I guess based on what you described, when I sense that I’m getting frustrated, altering my outlook to be, this is a challenge, how do I learn from this? What is it about a situation that I’m in that is actually triggering the frustration? And is it something within my control that I can alter to reduce the impact of said frustration, perhaps. So recognizing that this is frustration would be first, because it, you have to kind of get ahead of it before it gets to the point of wanting to quit or retreat or whatever that looks like. Identifying what’s the cause of it or at least what’s the contributor to it. It might just be the straw that broke the camel’s back and not necessarily the problem just so much as the trigger.

MURIEL WILKINS: So you already are aware of because I asked you, what does it feel like when you start getting frustrated? So look out for those signals.

ELLIE: Yeah.

MURIEL WILKINS: And I think if I were to summarize what you said, I think there are a couple of steps you can take when you hit those situations. So step one is, identify what you’re struggling with. The second is exactly what you said, what’s in your control role versus what’s outside of your control, so that you can focus on what’s within your control. It doesn’t mean that the things outside of your control don’t exist, but you’re just going to put them to the side.

ELLIE: Right.

MURIEL WILKINS: In the midst of this struggle in the midst of what’s challenging yourself. This one is very important for you is what are you telling yourself?

ELLIE: Mm.

MURIEL WILKINS: About the situation and about yourself? And is what you’re telling yourself, serving you? What would you tell a good friend of yours right now? Same exercise we work through earlier, right? So that you can change or shift, not even change, shift that inner dialogue to one, that’s actually going to be help bring you in this process rather than working against you. So identify the situation. What are you telling yourself? What’s within your control? What’s out of your control? And once you figure that out, then you can go to, okay, so what choices do I have in front of me? Right?

ELLIE: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

MURIEL WILKINS: What choices do I have? What can I say yes or no to? Where can I ask for help? What can I start, stop, continue? Ask yourself what choices do I have? And then you can make a decision around, out of all the choices I have in front of me, which one, which ones are most aligned with what I need and what the organization need or whatever the goal is. Why don’t we spend a little bit of time with you articulating what your key takeaways are from this conversation. So if you had two or three main takeaways that you’re walking away with, what would they be for you?

ELLIE: I think the exercise of focusing on what I control is going to be really important. And in the spirit of beating myself up all the time, it is something that I always give feedback to other people too, is why are you stressing about these things that are out of your control that’s such a waste of your energy. I need to listen to my own advice, which is… It’s so common sense and then that’s the second activity is I need to talk myself off the ledge that I constantly put myself on and I need to be my biggest fan, because like I said I don’t know why that is. Like I constantly uplift the people in my team and take them out of their own self-doubt and tell them how great they are and what their strengths are and what I see in them. And I try to encourage them and motivate them. And yet I don’t do it for myself. So I think that is a really good exercise that I’m going to take away like immediately is if I was my own friend, what would I tell myself? I think that’s a really good exercise because as soon as you said it, I was like dammit it, you got me. As I’m talking to you on the screen, on my other screen, I am looking at my calendar. I always have it open. And I am immediately excited to start clearing these back to back meetings, getting myself out of more activities, empowering my team. I loved your idea about coming to my team with all the things that I’m working on and just see if anybody volunteers for anything. I love that idea because not only do I know that they will, but I think that they’ll be excited to help me. So I think that everyone will be excited to not be met with me saying, “Oh, I don’t know. I’ll have to think about that,” instead I’ll be asking them, well, here’s everything that’s on my plate. What would you like to take? So I’m most excited after this meeting to start seeing if I can clear my calendar, that alone would be a huge one for me.

MURIEL WILKINS: Right. Well listen-

ELLIE: And keeping it clear, [crosstalk 00:35:06] and not letting it get replaced.

MURIEL WILKINS: Keeping it clear. And so that’s the part, right? That’s the part is making sure that there’s follow through and that you keep it sustainable. And if what it means is maybe it’s every month putting in your calendar that you have to do a calendar purging or every quarter. That will be a reminder that you have to do that. So I’m excited for you. So thank you. I really want to thank you for sharing and allowing me to be part of your process today.

ELLIE: Thank you so much. I think I really needed this.

MURIEL WILKINS: Ellie left our coaching conversation with some actions to take that would help her deal with burnout. Prioritizing with her boss, delegating to her team and being clearer about the boundaries she needs to effectively do her job. She also left with a greater understanding that scaling up in leadership doesn’t always have to lead to burnout, but only if you have the skills to respond constructively, when you start feeling overwhelmed and take action on things that are within your control. And finally, Ellie gained a deeper and perhaps newfound appreciation that she is human something high achievers often forget. And that by having more empathy, understanding and compassion for herself, it will help her lead more effectively and sustainably going forward. That’s it for this episode of Coaching Real Leaders. Next time.

SPEAKER 3: A colleague up here, he’s on the executive management team. He literally told me in a meeting that I wasn’t an executive.

MURIEL WILKINS: Thanks to my producer, Mary Dooe, assistant producer, Liz Sanchez, music composer, Brian Campbell, and the entire team at HBR, much gratitude to the leaders who joined me in these coaching conversations. And to you, our listeners who share in their journeys, if you are dealing with a leadership challenge, I’d love to hear from you and possibly have you on the show, apply@coachingrealleaders.com. And of course, if you love the show and learn from it, pay it forward, share it with your friends. Subscribe, leave a review. From a HBR Presents, this is Muriel Wilkins.

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