Even for the most senior of employees, there can be a feeling of getting stuck in the middle. You may feel pressurized to impress YOUR boss (most of us have one), while striving to lead your team effectively.
When we're pulled in different directions by the challenge of communicating up and down the ladder, our interactions can easily become skewed. The stress of needing to impress may be dumped off on your team. Or, your desire for your team to get the acknowledgment they deserve may blind you to critiques from your superiors. Either way, it can be a tricky deal.
Remember to ask yourself, "Would I expect this of me?" Stress from above can cause people to stress downward. Are you taking a "School of Hard Knocks" approach to your team, dumping way more work on them than you'd want piled on you? Take a moment and really ask if you'd expect that workload of yourself. It can open your eyes to overloading tendencies.
Watch our second "Ask an Expert!" webinar "Precious Time: Connecting Emotional Intelligence and Work/Life Satisfaction.
In the opposite extreme, do you take the "What, me delegate?" approach? Your need to take control of it all might mean that you have a hard time delegating. Perhaps it comes from a sense of loyalty to your superiors, or a need to shield your team a bit. Whatever the reason, when your plate is too full your plan for control can end up backfiring, leaving you frazzled and letting things fall through the cracks.
Take a serious look at your "list", and divide it into three categories: Things you MUST do, things you CAN do, things SOMEONE ELSE can do, and divvy things accordingly. And here's a secret: If you find everything is on your MUST do list, you're doing it wrong.
Also, remember the Don't Be a Jerk principle. This one is simple: don't be a jerk. But it takes a bit of self and social awareness to discover. As a quick exercise, assess the tone, word choice, and physicality you use with others. How do you feel you're communicating? Then ask one person from your team and one superior what they feel your communication strengths and weaknesses are, and see how they match up.
Lastly, everyone loves a strong, confident leader, no matter what their position in the organization, but don't forget that you can be firm and decisive without being brash. You can be emotionally aware of those around you without being weak. And you can impress with good relationship building skills. The key to navigating up and down the ladder is to interact with respect and care at all times. This will help you no matter where you move.