Hello SOTGC community,
In our strength-based work at Streams we have had to face the elephant in the room and call out an over-functioning leader when we see one. Most of us have either worked for someone who over-functioned, or we have at one point chosen to over-function to our own detriment.
What is over-functioning?
Over-functioning is doing for others what they can and should be doing for themselves. It is taking more responsibility than is realistic, and it is that “M” word: “micro-managing”.
According the Geri Scazzero, author of I Quit, there are five truths to over-functioning:
1. Disguises itself as caring—don’t confuse caring about someone with taking care of someone.
2. Perpetuates immaturity—unintentionally stops another person’s growth by doing FOR them when they could do for themselves by learning through mistakes.
3. Prevents your own life destiny or growth—by over-focusing on others’ needs, you lose sight of your own values, beliefs, and goals.
4. Erodes your spiritual life/soul depth—when we attempt to carry the world, we take ourselves out of our own lane and thereby begin to do less of what we were designed.
5. Creates isolation and destroys community—over-functioning creates a dangerous level of self-reliance while we were designed to live in community as healthy social creatures. If others don’t think you enjoy them, like being around them, or have time to know them, you might be unintentionally pushing others away.
How do I stop if that’s me?
Define yourself—take time to reflect on your values, beliefs, goals, and vision. Help to create a plan for seeing your hopes and dreams come to reality. Author Edwin Friedman calls this self-differentiation.
Give over what someone else can do 65% to 80% as well as you—author and speaker Craig Groeschel says we need to empower others as if our future depends on it, because it does.
Invest in some self-care—the body you have has a lifespan, and it can be lengthened or improved based on your sleep, nutrition, physical activity, silence and solitude, and relational fun.
Practice silence and solitude—these two keys are needed in our noisy and intense global community. When you take time out for some silence, either on your commute home or some solitude even if it is a few minutes, you will reap the benefits in your spiritual life, physical being, and relationships.
Address what’s really causing the imbalance—sure this could be as easy as a time-management review or it might be time for some reflection if there is a deeper core belief driving your need to over-function.
Work to develop a more hands-off approach—everyone will thank you if you begin to learn how to trust others with the tasks you want to see accomplished. It won’t be easy, so this might be a good time to enlist a career coach or a workplace mentor.
How do I work with an over-functioning leader?
Lots of articles discuss approaches from the invitation to help to the direct approach of asking your boss to trust you with projects. Whichever approach works with your boss, the bottom line is be patient and offer grace. You might not know exactly what drives your boss’ need to over-function so give the benefit of the doubt that your boss believes in your capabilities and wants to work with you—not against you.
- Ask what is on your boss’ plate and how you can help.
- Review your own work attitude and performance to see if you have given a reason to be micro-managed.
- Anticipate what your boss might ask about and provide updates ahead of time.
- Ask for a project you can take from start to finish and then review your methods with your boss. If this works well, thank your boss for trusting you with the project and ask for others.
- Develop your own strengths so you can offer those in your role as well.
Over-functioning is not only a mess to deal with at work, it is also no fun at home either. There are multiple reasons why this behavior comes into play. Since we are whole people who experience life wholly, we feel the over-functioning emotionally, physically, spiritually, intellectually, and in the context of relationships.
If you are on one end of the over-functioning experience, review the above options and then take action for your health and those around you too.
Contact us at Streams or visit with a local coach or counselor for support on this journey.