Leadership – Are you overloaded with your operational workload?

February 26, 2020 | General

Are you overloaded with your operational workload?

The long-awaited promotion as a leader

Daniela Huber recently took on her first leadership role. For three years, she worked in the operations department of a well-known company and developed expertise that was respected throughout the department. Thanks to her excellent work, discipline and persuasiveness, she finally became the leader of a medium-sized team.

In her new position, Ms. Huber instantly set high goals and communicated these goals confidently across the company: She wants to increase cross-departmental standards in a measurable and visible manner. The bar is set. She has a very clear idea of the issues ahead and, above all, the necessary solutions. She has already developed a clear idea of how the company should function in the future.

Overloaded with her operational workload

But half a year after taking on her new position, her workload has multiplied. Her employees are constantly addressing her with problems and asking for support. Thanks to her extensive expert knowledge, Daniela Huber knows the solution. Her attitude is: “Don’t talk about it, just get things done.” To avoid wasting time, she regularly decides to skip explaining to her team how to approach their tasks and accomplishes them herself.

Soon enough, she begins to struggle with an excessive flood of emails. She hardly has time to get through all her messages and is suddenly involved in numerous operational sub-projects. She sees no light at the end of the tunnel in her busy schedule and cancels her next vacation.

Caught in the operational process

Roland Beuter, lean expert and trainer of the Lean Leader and Executive Leader training course series, is well aware of this phenomenon. Many young or new leaders who have worked their way up through the department to become a leader, are happy to and often subconsciously take on operational tasks in their new leadership role. They take part in the day-to-day work of their teams instead of deliberately disengaging from the operational problem-solving process. “This step is often difficult for young leaders. They are aware that it is necessary, but it often falls by the wayside in the day-to-day workload. “It is essential to coach your employees in the solution process and help them solve their tasks and challenges independently. This is the actual task of leaders.”

Clinging to your expertise

New leaders also like to cling to their expertise. As in the example above, they often have a clear idea of the solutions or are convinced that their own solutions are the best – at least better than those of others. After all, it was this expertise that led them to their new role. But this attitude is a fallacy. “A leader has to let go of the idea of wanting to define and implement their own solutions. A leader’s role is to empower their employees to develop solutions themselves,” said Beuter. In the example above, Ms. Huber decided not to let her employees solve problems on their own, but rather to do the work herself. She insisted on tackling challenges in her own way. But this must change. The goal is not to implement your own solution, but to empower employees to develop their own solutions for the problems at hand.

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What leadership challenges are you facing?

Does this story sound familiar to you, or are you facing similar challenges as a leader? Book a free 15-minute consultation with our leadership expert, Florian Hochenrieder, to find out what next steps are necessary for you.

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Florian Hochenrieder


MBA, Diploma in Business and Economics, Six Sigma Black Belt | Year of birth 1978 18 years of experience in leadership roles in lean and performance culture contexts Consulting focus on enabling and empowering organizations and leaders for excellence Senior leadership roles with responsibilities for Lean Transformation and Six Sigma Cultures Leadership roles with responsibilities for quality, organizational and leadership development Leadership roles and facilitation of senior management and leadership programs and trainings Expert in leading with impact, agile problem-solving and driving improvements (Kaizen, Lean, …) E-Mail: florian.hochenrieder@staufen.ag

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