Feeling Overwhelmed as a Leader? 10 Easy Steps Out

As a leader, it’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed from time to time. After all, you’re juggling a lot of different responsibilities and tasks. But don’t worry – there is hope. By following these 10 professional executive coaching steps, you can get your bearings and regain control of the situation. So what are you waiting for? Start fresh today!




Step #01: Take a deep breath.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, the first thing you need to do, even as a leader or executive, is take a deep breath and calm down. This may sound cliché, but it’s true – taking a few minutes to relax can help clear your mind and make it easier to focus on what needs to be done.

From a medical perspective, deep breathing is incredibly important for healthy high performers. It helps improve blood circulation, oxygenates the body, and releases stress hormones. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, deep breathing can help you regain control of the situation and make it easier to think straight. So don’t hesitate to take a few minutes to yourself to breathe deeply and relax.

Step #02: Assess the situation.

Once you’ve calmed down, take some time to assess the situation and figure out what’s causing you stress in your leadership situation. Once you know what the problem is, it’ll be easier to come up with a solution.

There are a number of different tools that you can use as a leader to assess a problem. One popular tool is the 5 Whys technique. This involves asking yourself “why” five times in order to get to the root of the problem.

Let’s say you’re feeling overwhelmed because you have a lot of work to do. The first step is to ask yourself “why” you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Why am I feeling overwhelmed?

Because I have a lot of work to do.

Why do I have a lot of work to do?

Because I’m behind on my deadlines.

Why am I behind on my deadlines?

Because I didn’t start working on it sooner.

Why didn’t I start working on it sooner?

Because I was procrastinating.

Another helpful tool many executives and leaders use for assessing a situation is the Problem Solving Triangle. This triangle consists of three steps: identify the problem, brainstorm possible solutions, and select the best solution. By using this triangle, you can systematically go through each step and come up with a workable solution.

One common situation where a leader might feel overwhelmed is when they’re dealing with a difficult employee. Let’s say you have an employee who is constantly arguing with you and causing conflict in the workplace. The first step is to identify the problem – in this case, it’s the difficult employee. The second step is to brainstorm possible solutions. Some possible solutions include firing the employee, transferring them to a different department, or giving them a warning. The third step is to select the best solution. In this case, the best solution might be to fire the employee. By using the problem solving triangle, you can systematically go through each step and come up with a workable solution.

Step #03: Delegate tasks where possible.

If there are tasks that can be delegated, don’t hesitate to do so. Delegating can help leaders in any organization take some of the pressure off and free up your time to focus on more important things.

One popular approach to delegation is the Pareto principle, also known as the 80/20 rule. This principle states that 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort. In other words, most of the work is done by a small minority of the employees. This makes delegating a task a more efficient use of time.

When delegating a task, it’s important to make sure that you’re delegating it to the right person in your team. In your leadership role, you need to find someone who has the skills and knowledge to complete the task, and who is also willing to do it. It’s also important to delegate tasks in a way that doesn’t overwhelm the employee. You don’t want to give them a task that’s too big and beyond their capabilities.

Step #04: Set priorities.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s easy to feel like everything is a priority. But that’s not realistic – and it’ll only lead to stress and frustration. Instead, set priorities and focus on the most important tasks first.

One common approach to setting priorities is the ABCDE approach. This approach involves ranking tasks in order of importance, with A being the most important and E being the least important.

Another popular approach is the 1-2-3 rule. This approach involves ranking tasks in order of urgency, with 1 being the most urgent and 3 being the least urgent.

Step #05: Take breaks when needed.

Don’t be afraid – not even in a leadership position or senior executive position – to take breaks when needed. When you’re working hard, it’s natural to want to push yourself as far as you can go. But if you don’t give your mind and body a break, you’ll end up burned out very quickly, not getting closer to healthy high performance. 

Short breaks can also have a positive effect on your health. When you’re constantly working, your body is under stress. This can lead to health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and obesity. By taking short breaks, you can reduce the amount of stress your body is under. This can help improve your health and reduce your risk of developing health problems.

Step #06: Set deadlines.

One way to reduce stress  and increase productivity is to set deadlines for yourself as a leader. This will help you stay on track and make sure that you’re not trying to do too much at once.

One way to set realistic deadlines is to use the SMART approach. This approach involves setting goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

Another way to set realistic deadlines is to break down a task into smaller parts. This makes the task seem less daunting and makes it easier to track your progress.

Step #07: Take care of yourself.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s easy to forget about yourself. But it’s important to take care of yourself both physically and mentally and demonstrate true self-leadership. This means making sure that you’re getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, and exercise.

It’s also important to take some time for yourself. This can be anything from taking a relaxing bath to reading your favorite book. By taking some time for yourself, you can reduce the amount of stress you’re under.

Step #08: Simplify your life.

One way to reduce stress is to simplify your life. This means getting rid of the things that are causing you stress and decluttering your life. 

One way to declutter your life as a leader is to get rid of unnecessary possessions. This can be done by evaluating each item and asking yourself these questions:

– Do I use this item?

– Does this item bring me joy?

– Is this item worth the space it’s taking up in my home?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then you should consider getting rid of the item.

Another way to simplify your life is to reduce the number of commitments you have. This can be done by saying no to new commitments and cancelling existing ones. It’s one of the most important skills for successful leaders to learn to say “no” in order to increase productivity and become a real healthy high performer. 

Step #09: Ask for help when needed.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed – it’s not a sign of weakness for leaders in any position but a sign of strength! When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s often difficult to do everything on your own. By asking for help, you can lighten the load and make things a little bit easier.

There are many different ways to ask for help, including:

– Asking friends and family for help

– Asking coworkers for help

– Hiring a professional organizer

– Hiring a personal assistant

– Reflecting with your Executive Coach


Step #10: Practice stress management techniques.

Finally, one of the best ways to deal with stress is to practice stress management techniques. This includes things such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga – all of them practiced by some of the most successful executives and healthy high performers.

By practicing these techniques regularly, you can learn how to manage your stress in a healthy way. And that can lead to a more relaxed and less stressful life.

One of the easiest stress reduction techniques is deep breathing exercises. This involves taking a few deep breaths and focusing on your breath. This can help calm your mind and body. Another easy stress reduction technique is meditation. This involves sitting in silence and focusing on your breath or a mantra. Finally, yoga is another easy way to reduce stress. This involves stretching and breathing exercises.

One of the more sophisticated stress reduction techniques is mindfulness meditation. This involves sitting in silence and focusing on your breath or a mantra. By focusing on your breath, you can learn to let go of your thoughts and feelings. This can help reduce the amount of stress you’re under.


Follow these tips and you’ll be able to overcome feeling overwhelmed as a leader or executive team member. Just remember to take things one step at a time and don’t be afraid to ask for support from a trusted executive sparring partner or leadership coach!








The 7 C’s for Leading In Times Of Uncertainty

Executives from various industries are racing to claim a title in these VUCA times: C-levels from the energy and chemicals industries claim to be in the biggest transformation phase and face the biggest uncertainty for themselves, their people, their operating model — basically everything. At the same time, top-level leaders from banking, retail, manufacturing and many other industries are convinced that they find themselves at the peak of the unknown, incomparable to other industries. It’s hard to judge which industry as of today, given the global economic and health challenges, deserves the trophy of “Most Uncertainty.”

They all face the same troubles — but not all have the right leaders to solve them. The beauty of volatile, uncertain times is sometimes hard to find, especially for leaders since industrial age mindsets and leadership approaches work only partially, if at all. Therefore, a leadership transition is also necessary in these transformative times.

Seven Tips To Help Navigate Uncertainty

Based on discussions and joint projects with hundreds of my clients across the globe from startups to corporate executives, there is always a combination of the same seven things that make a difference in navigating uncertainty successfully.

1. Core Values

If the future is unclear and unpredictable based on old planning models, the only thing leaders can rely on is their history and their experience, as well as the core values that are their foundation and that serve as the glue for their organization as well. Core values and a succinct purpose provide guidance and direction when even well-defined plans don’t help much anymore.

2. Communication

It’s no surprise that talking to people is more essential in difficult times. Going with Watzlawick’s famous quote of “you cannot not communicate,” leaders need to sharpen their awareness on what they communicate and which channel they use for which target audience. For example, sometimes taking time for one-on-one conversation turns out to be the most rewarding and success-inspiring measure a leader can do. Keep in mind what message you as a leader may send when you say nothing at all.

3. Cluelessness

Leaders need to be able to say a short but very important sentence: “I don’t know.” Without this awareness, leaders remain in solution mode. Why? Because they’ve been rewarded and promoted over the last decades for finding solutions based on their experience, sometimes pretending to know even if they didn’t. The nature of holding leadership is to go first and define the route due to their own knowledge and experience. But in times of uncertainty, telling doesn’t get you or the organization very far. Thus, learning to say “I don’t know,” can shift a leader’s mindset from delegating to listening to find a solution.

4. Captain

To cut through the chaos and focus themselves as well as their team members on the true priorities, leaders should try to zoom out and paint a big picture that everybody understands and can relate to. Sometimes getting too “in the weeds” can make it difficult to broaden your perspective, so taking a moment to back away from the nitty-gritty issues could make all the difference.

5. Complexity

Handling complex problems is different than handling complicated ones. Most leaders solve complicated problems with a “more” mentality: resources, money, time, production capacity or some combination of these. But complex business challenges have constantly changing variables, making it even harder to pin down and evaluate. The first step to leading through complexity is awareness of whether the challenge is indeed complex. Once a leader can answer that, it’s important to switch to an “I can manage this” mindset. Making room for open minds and common sense will get you closer to solving a complex problem than the “more” mentality.

6. Crawl

When everything feels like it’s accelerating, it’s important to slow down and take a breath. It might sound counterintuitive to take the time to reflect — for leaders, their direct reports and individual team members — while the calendars and meeting schedules are piling up to unseen heights. But reflecting brings back clarity and allows everyone to recharge and address the problem with fresh minds.

7. Company

Last but not least, there is one thing that leaders should never, especially in uncertain times, forget to remember: Good company gets you further. Especially in volatile times, leaders shouldn’t play superhero and try to solve everything by themselves. Lean on your peers and find a good verbal sparring partner you can bounce ideas off of and count on in darker days. Remember, when things work out well despite uncertainty, it’s the exact same company that will help you celebrate success.

Has leadership been an easier task in the past? Probably not. Will leadership be easier in the future? Also unlikely. The only thing that remains constant is that the human skills in our leaders are being called on more and more, and we need to acknowledge this and then act accordingly — as leaders for our own healthy, high performance but also as servant leaders, caring for all the people we feel responsible for.

(published on FORBES.com / Nov 2021 / https://bit.ly/3H0BqJ7)