How to get out of the weeds as a leader

In today’s busy world, many executives and other leaders in business find themselves lacking the time they want for bigger-picture strategic thinking. Propelling a business forward means making time to plan out these big moves and carefully structuring your days to give you the most opportunity to move ahead.

At the same time, getting out of this pattern requires creative problem solving, delegation and reliable teamwork. There is hope for leaders who are stuck in the weeds, and there are many ways of carving out more time in your schedule to be a more effective leader and businessperson.

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What Does Getting in the Weeds Mean?

You’ve probably heard the phrase “in the weeds” before, but you may not know exactly what it means. If you imagine someone’s who’s lost in the weeds, perhaps they’ve strayed off of the main trail and find themselves surrounded by weeds and are unsure how to get back on track. Of course, we use this as a metaphor in the work world to describe someone who might be too caught up in the details and the smaller tasks of a job while losing sight of the bigger picture.

We often hear the phrase “in the weeds” used in the restaurant industry or in customer service to describe a busy time where there seems to be too much work and not enough time to get everything done. In the leadership world, someone who’s in the weeds might be spending too much time on the daily minutiae of business. It generally leaves leaders feeling like they are busy all the time but not getting enough done. This pattern can quickly lead to burnout.

How to Know If You Are Currently in the Weeds

If this sounds all too familiar, it’s possible you are in the weeds at work. As a leader, being able to recognize when you’re in the weeds is a crucial self-evaluation. Maybe it’s time to take a step back and analyze your workday. Take some time to think about your productivity — for your whole team and for yourself as a leader — and your motivations.

It’s natural to feel a sense of accomplishment in being busy, and people love to check off items on to-do lists. Checking tasks off and staying busy doesn’t always equal efficiency or success. If your day feels bogged down with too many little day-to-day tasks, especially ones that could be tackled by someone else, you might be in the weeds.

You can also consider your leadership style and how you see your team members. If you constantly feel like your team is inadequate or that you need to complete tasks for them, you might be micromanaging too much instead of working toward solving bigger issues. If you feel like you need to do everything yourself, you’re headed for burnout and unhealthy work relationships.


7 Steps to Take to Get Out of the Weeds

If you think you might be in the weeds, it’s time to move forward and take a more balanced approach to your work and your leadership role. Try these leadership tips for staying out of the weeds and experiencing greater success at work.

1. Take Responsibility

Recognizing you’re in the weeds is the first step to overcoming this hurdle. Take responsibility for the behaviors and actions that got you here. Know that you have the ability to make changes and better choices.

2. Understand Your Motivation

If you take a lot of pride in being busy, this tip is essential. Think about what motivates you to succeed and the reasons you always feel so busy. Understanding your motivation can help you get a clearer plan to fix the issues.

3. Clarify Your Expectations

Whenever you’re delegating tasks and working with your team, give clear instructions and make sure everyone understands what is expected of them. Be clear about what top-quality work looks like, and you’ll be less likely to feel like you need to step in later and take over when the work isn’t up to your standards.

4. Define Your Priorities and Think About Your Role

As you’ve moved up the ladder at work, have your priorities and work styles changed? Often, leaders who are promoted quickly hang on to their habits and priorities from before, but you need to realize that as a leader, your priorities should shift and will be different from those working at other levels of the company.

5. Improve Your Coaching Skills

You and your company will succeed when your team members succeed. Learn to be a better mentor by asking insightful questions of your team to help them have a better understanding on their own. Give honest feedback and don’t be afraid to challenge your team, but encourage them along the way, too.

6. Set Boundaries

Today, many leaders find that their calendars fill up quickly, especially when they’re dealing with a large team plus interactions with clients or vendors. Your time is valuable and you should treat it as such.

Block out some of your most important meetings and activities first. Then, set some rules for how many other events or meetings you will allow. If you need more space on your calendar, consider having “office hours” instead of having employees dropping in whenever they want, or spacing out your team meetings appropriately.

7. Delegate and Let Go

Reduce micromanaging and allow other team members to help out. This can be difficult for perfectionists, but it’s a good idea to practice letting go of some control and trusting in your team. If you also practice the above tips, your team should be able to handle many different tasks and events for you. Choose events and projects that someone else could complete, and be sure to coach and encourage, as well as show gratitude and celebrate their successes.

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Leadership Coaching Services From Dame Leadership

If you’re wondering how to make time for big-picture thinking or need some help getting back on track as an effective leader, leadership coaching may be for you.

At Dame Leadership, we have the support you need for a more successful team and career. We value candor and confidentiality and offer a safe space for you to develop your leadership skillsContact us today to get started or learn more about our services. We are available in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, area for in-person coaching, and we’re online for anywhere across the country.