Leading an Overwhelmed Team

January 17, 2019 Todd Davis



A common issue for leaders is to take on or be given more initiatives than their team has capacity to execute. And saying ‘No’ isn’t always an option. When your team feels overwhelmed, try this:


  1. Acknowledge there’s too much work. Pretending that everything’s fine and that they should be able to handle it will make your team feel misunderstood and resentful.
  2. Kill all non-essential projects and activities. Ask for your team’s input on what should or shouldn’t go.
  3. Be sure to communicate “up” about your team’s overload.
  4. Aggressively filter new demands on your team’s time.
  5. Model behaviors that encourage renewal. Set off-hours for answering email, take visible breaks, and stick to a reasonable work schedule. If you work 12-hour days, you signal to your team that they should do it, too.  


As a leader, remember that you are your team’s  defense against overload.


Leading people is vastly different from working as an individual contributor. Download our latest guide to make the mental leap to leader:

About the Author

Todd Davis

Todd Davis has over 30 years of experience in human resources, training and training development, executive recruiting, sales, and marketing. Todd is currently a member of the FranklinCovey Executive Team where he serves as the Chief People Officer. He is also a bestselling author with two books to his credit, Get Better: 15 Proven Practices to Build Effective Relationships at Work and Talent Unleashed: 3 Leadership Conversations for Tapping the Unlimited Potential of People.

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