How to manage better by stepping back to move forward

It was about 15 years ago when for the first time in my working life I stopped doing. I had been on holidays of course but this time it was different. It was the beginning of a journey that hasn't stopped since.

I had been working pretty much non-stop since I was 17. There had been some difficult times, but overall I had fun and enjoyed what I was doing. I loved teamwork and living in different countries so hotel management seemed perfect for me.

Now I had come to Greece and for the first time I was at a loss about what to do. People seemed to work differently here and I observed myself getting more and more stressed without achieving the desired result. My 'managing skills' as I knew them appeared useless.

I had been promoted to an executive position and was eager to prove that I was the right person for the job. It had been a year and I felt that I had to take some drastic steps.

And finally I did. I had the inspiration to ask for two weeks leave. I went home and sat on my couch. During the first few days I just stared out of the window, listened to the sounds of the building, the street, birds.

The first glimpse of awareness came around day 5. I had been observing the clouds forming and it suddenly dawned on me that some of my colleagues seemed rarely stressed; they were going home at reasonable hours when I felt it was necessary to work late every day. I had in the past condemned them for being lazy, but suddenly it dawned in me that maybe they got it right.

What was the source of my stress? Why was I not able to motivate the people around me? How were they different? For a moment I was able to stand back from my own mind and gain a deeper perspective. There was a brief shift from thinking to awareness and I realized that the key difference was perception.

In my head it was all about me, about the way I was perceived by others AND the way I perceived myself. The desire to succeed had given birth to the fear of failure. I had become very self-centered and had lost the ability to connect. I had become a slave to my own image of how I should behave in my new position and had stopped trusting my intuitions. Instead of being a leader I was merely managing.

I was still sitting on my couch and in a moment of detachment I started to smile. 'Life isn't as serious as my mind has made it out to be'. And I realized that this was what some of my Greek colleagues knew already.

Suddenly I felt there was space. I felt no longer trapped. I started to look at my work situation with a sense of curiosity. Suddenly, I knew what I had to do: • I would start caring about the people around me. I would spend time connecting to the people, get to know them, their ideas, their worries, their dreams

• I would focus on what I wanted to achieve without getting attached to the outcome. That meant that I would speak up in a clear and passionate way, but would not take it personally when others had different opinions or choose different ways

• I would delegate more work and ensure that others could and would take ownership. I would support them and coach them to find their own solutions.

• I would train the other department heads in how to use coaching rather then commanding.

• I would trust my intuition and take time to reflect again and again

It was the start to a new me and a new work experience. I got to know my colleagues and other employees, their ideas, fears and family situations. I stopped complaining and judging in public and stayed focused on what I wanted to achieve. After a while I too was able to leave most days at 5 pm.

'Not doing' for a short time had helped me to do a lot more in the long run. I never forgot this lesson. Soon after I was introduced to meditation and since then have found it to be a valuable asset in my busy life.

Becoming still, Creating Space, stepping back are key elements to Becoming More effective.

With my best wishes,

Christiane Pohl

Author:. Christiane specialises in coaching Executives and their teams with managing change, achieving their objectives and developing their soft skills for lasting success.She is an EMCC accredited Leadership Coach & Mentor with a professional background of over 25 years experience as Senior Manager in internat... Go Deeper | Website

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