June 27


Executives, It’s Time to Step Up: Three Strategies to Truly Support Your Leaders

By Sara Canaday

June 27, 2024

business leaders, career success, leadership, leadership development, professional success, self-awareness

As a leadership advocate, I’m constantly on the lookout for actionable strategies managers can use to create a better experience for their teams and for themselves. Why? Because the expectations placed on leaders today are staggering—often even unattainable. Today, I want to put the onus on executives to do their part in recognizing this pressure and taking active steps to set their leaders up for success, not burnout.

If you’re in an executive leadership role, here are three specific strategies you can use to make that happen:

1.     Streamline Leadership Demands

Begin by distinguishing between realistic and unrealistic demands placed on your leaders. Ask yourself these questions:

· What are some of the most common demands we place on our leaders?

· How often do we change or add new expectations to that list?

· What impact do these changes have on their ability to prioritize effectively?

· Is it realistic to assume they can manage all of the evolving demands?

Keeping those answers in mind, focus on the “vital few” expectations with authentic intention to minimize disruptions and ensure leaders have the time to concentrate on high-impact areas. That can help reduce the constant friction and turbulence that come with trying to hit the moving target of changing initiatives. This might involve:

  • Identifying tasks that can be delegated, automated, or eliminated to free up leaders’ time for more critical activities.
  • Ensuring access to information that leaders need quickly to support their strategic objectives and their people.
  • Establishing a formal process for introducing new priorities or expectations. This process should include impact assessments, stakeholder consultations, and clear communication plans to ensure changes are well-considered, minimally disruptive, and supported by additional resources and/or training.

2.     Offer Targeted Support

To make sure you understand the unique challenges your leaders are facing, regularly engage in open dialogue with them. How can you support them? You can find out by asking them directly which issues are most pressing and what solutions would be helpful.

By gaining insights directly from leaders, you can develop tailored support systems such as:

  • Providing leaders with the autonomy to make decisions quickly and effectively. This includes giving them access to the necessary data and resources to make informed choices.
  • Forming peer coaching groups by pairing leaders with counterparts who can provide guidance, share best practices, and offer support in navigating complex situations. For more in-depth strategies, refer to my LinkedIn Learning course titled, Peer Coaching for Leaders, Managers, and Teams.
  • Creating an environment where leaders feel comfortable experimenting with new ideas without the fear of failure. Show you value lessons learned over flawless execution.

3.     Provide the Right Tools and Resources

To enhance leaders’ effectiveness and efficiency, invest in strategic tools and training that will best equip them to work efficiently and boost their capacity. For instance, you could provide access to cutting-edge technologies, thought leaders, and professional development. More specifically:

  • Implement easy-to-use project management software, data analytics tools, and AI to streamline operations and enhance decision-making.
  • Ensure leaders receive training on new tools and methodologies, along with support to seamlessly integrate these into their daily routines.
  • Provide opportunities for leaders to have personalized sessions with thought leaders to gain clarity on targeted challenges and objectives.

As an executive, you have the power to create a more sustainable framework for the success of your company’s leaders. They are your most important human assets, but their roles have become more complex and the demands on them are often unreasonable. It’s up to you to “flip the script” and change the trajectory by adjusting your approach. This is not just a strategy for better business outcomes; it’s a commitment to the well-being and development of your leaders.

Until next time,

Sara Canaday

About the author

Sara began her journey working full-time while she earned an MBA. As she climbed the ladder of corporate America, she repeatedly observed a surprising phenomenon: the most successful people weren’t necessarily the ones with the highest IQ or best job skills. She recognized instead that career advancement was much more closely linked with how people applied their knowledge and talents — their capacity to collaborate, communicate, and influence others.

Today, Sara is happily fulfilling that commitment as a keynote speaker, author, and executive coach. These venues have given her the opportunity to mentor and support thousands of people in diverse situations, inspiring many of them to move from insight to action with dramatic career results.

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