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What Leaders “Should” Not Do

Jenna works very, very hard. She is a Director in a high-performing, fast paced organization.

Jenna’s job requires her to occasionally work on weekends. The last month, in preparation for the launch of a massive new project, Jenna worked every weekend. This situation is frustrating for her as she feels guilty missing quality time with her two kids under the age of 10 years old.

So, on Thursday, Jenna took the day off work to rejuvenate and spend time with her kids. While on her day off, she got a call from a colleague telling her that she must attend an urgent meeting at work later that day. Jenna felt torn. On one hand, she only lives 15 minutes away from the office and could easily pop in for this one hour meeting. On the other hand, Jenna is tired and had already committed to spending time with her kids. In the end, Jenna said “no” to her colleague but felt very guilty about it.

In my coaching call with Jenna, we chatted about this feeling of guilt. Jenna and I discussed the following questions (which you can leverage when you feel guilty about something):

  • What specifically is she feeling guilty about?
  • Where is the word “should” popping up for her?
  • If guilt was erased from her vocabulary, what does she really want to do?

By answering these questions, Jenna realized that the word “should” was really holding her back from what she wanted and needed to do. For example, “I should attend a meeting on my day off if I want to be a supportive colleague.”

I told Jenna that her “should” was actually just a story she was telling herself. She is a supportive colleague. She is also someone who needs and deserves time off to refresh and see her kids.

As a leader, you will feel more grounded and be able to support others if you are not living in the land of “should” all the time. Sometimes we need to set boundaries for our self to be a better leader. This is okay. In fact, it is recommended.

What are you feeling guilty about right now?

What “shoulds” are holding you back?

What do you need to do to set boundaries with others so that you can be a happier and more supportive leader?

Moving forward, my hope for you is to eliminate guilt and “should” from your life. Rather, identify the stories that you are telling yourself. Replace these stories with a statement that actually reflects reality. Now that will feel free!

Vanessa Judelman

Vanessa Judelman is an author, coach, and sought-after leadership expert. Over the past 20 years, she has created a proven formula to develop results-oriented leaders who feel empowered and confident in their job. Vanessa is the author of Mastering Leadership: What It Takes to Lead in Today’s Fast-Paced World. Order your copy here.

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