A Leader’s “Squozen”; How to lead through the squeeze of leadership!

I’ll never forget a former boss of mine walking into the office in a frazzled state, rattling off a bunch of conversations to herself aloud, suddenly looking at me, and exclaiming, “I feel squozen!”… Yes, she made up a word and I knew exactly what she meant and how she felt… and I’m sure you do too! She was a recent new hire to the organization with a wealth of experience and skills, but ill-informed of the inner-workings and day-to-day pace of chaos the job entailed… it didn’t help that Senior Management and her boss were in offices miles away and out of touch with how the job had evolved. Leaders may also feel squeezed as they must meet the demands and numbers set by Senior Management all the while caring for, protecting, motivating, and influencing their team working on the front-line. So, how does Middle Management lead when feeling “Squozen”?


Understand Your “Squozen”

The first thing to do is to get a better understanding of your stress. Are you stressed because the situation is new and par for the course of leadership? Many times, when you feel “Squozen” as a leader…  your people tend to feel the same way… and may react in not so professional of ways: negative talk, outbursts, absenteeism, gossip, etc. Are you feeling “Squozen” and your people aren’t… due to your poor delegation, lack of trust in your staff, they have simply checked-out, or have never really checked-in? I could go on, but you get the point. There can be a plethora of reasons for your “Squozen”; find out what it is and develop a plan for what to do about it!


Request 1-on-1’s

Now that you better understand your “Squozen”, it’s time to request 1-on-1 Meetings. I often share the importance of leaders having 1-on-1 Meetings with their people and how to do it. In this case, I’m suggesting you, as the leader, request monthly 1-on-1’s with your boss. I know… you’re busy and so are they… so what! The meeting doesn’t have to be long and the point is to share the positives, maintain high standards, address concerns, and to limit surprises. You will also learn a lot about your boss (and possibly the organization) in how they respond to the request. Remember… some bosses will and some bosses won’t. Be mindful to request your 1-on-1 via email; as leaders protect themselves with proof of asking for guidance, assistance, and leadership!

If I were sharing this with Senior Management, I’d share my usual bullet points for 1-on-1’s. However, when you’re requesting the meeting, the flow may change a bit from:

  • O.W – Positive of the Week/Month
  • What would you like to get out of our meeting today?
  • Meshing Goals
  • The Plan
  • What was your Biggest Takeaway from our meeting?


  • The professional positive/s since the last meeting
  • Is there anything you/the organization needs more from me and my team?
  • Share a current concern… when you have one? Remember to be prepared with a suggested solution; asking what he/she likes about it and anything they’d fine-tune. This helps to enhance your leadership and learn the bigger picture you may not be aware of!
  • The Plan

These meetings are a powerful way to share your “Squozen” with higher-ups without sounding like you cannot handle the tasks or are constantly complaining… enhancing your leadership, your boss’s, and that of your team. Be mindful to email your boss afterward with bullet points and a Thank You. A conversation that’s not documented… didn’t happen… and they will appreciate the Thank You… Boss’s don’t get as many “Thank You’s” as you may think!


Gather & Rally

The 1-on-1’s with your boss will provide you a look behind the curtain… some things you will like and others you won’t. After receiving feedback and increased clarity… share it with your people! Perhaps it’s in the 1-on-1’s you have scheduled with your people or in a group meeting. Great leaders are transparent with information and are sure to put on a smile when delivering news; focusing on the positives of how it will benefit employees, customers, and the organization as a whole.


Request Training

Many who feel “Squozen” are so busy treading water, they don’t realize they’re in quicksand… the more you do the more you sink… and if you’re not sinking professionally; you may be sinking in your work/life harmony! This seems like an odd time to request a training, right? Wrong! This may be a perfect time to enhance your leadership, processes, etc. for you and/or your team. I’ve worked in places where the leader may attend a training (getting some well-needed knowledge and break from the office) and return to explain and implement. I’ve worked in other places where employees took turns attending trainings and returned to teach and implement. However you choose, please remember, when you’re putting off being “Better” due to being “Busy”… “Busy” isn’t going anywhere and doesn’t plan to stop. YOU must choose to be a nerd about your craft; enhancing your training… as everyone will revert to their highest level of training in times of change, crisis, and “Busy”… Be Mindful!


Networking & Self-Care

A “Squozen” Leader can only be a great leader for so long until they burn out or snap! Therefore, networking and self-care are a necessity… not a luxury. Enhance your leadership and work/life harmony by networking with your professional peers and a level above at your job, at networking events held in your community, and on social media. There are wonderful people out there, just like you, that are interested in meeting, conversing, and interested in potentially adding value to your life professionally and sometimes personally. I met one of my most recent best friends at a Networking Event several years back. It was like being in kindergarten again… there was something about his energy and professionalism, we were in completely different fields, met for coffee, have been friends since, and have continued to do business with each other to this day while our kids play with one another. Sounds cheesy, I know… but there are millions of stories like this… why not you?

I can talk for days about self-care and in my books and trainings I do! Eventually, being “Squozen” at work will leak into your home conversations, relationship conversations, and how you engage with your kids and friends. What you think about and talk about all day will leak into your behaviors… and then your consequences. Be mindful to make YOU a priority! Know what you need to take care of yourself and who to do it with… The Negative Nicks and Nancy’s, energy drainers, and complainers in your life, professionally and personally, are not the ones to do it with. As a leader, you wouldn’t build your professional team with these individuals… why allow it your personal life?

“Great leaders are transparent with information and are sure to put on a smile when delivering news; focusing on the positives of how it will benefit employees, customers, and the organization as a whole”   – Andre Young


Written by: Andre Young

Enhance Leadership and Work/Life Harmony in your Organization, your Leaders, Employees, and Teams with Andre Young’s Speaking Engagements, Evolve & Lead Training Programs (on-site, online, or virtual), and1-on-1 Growth Sessions! www.youevolvingnow.com

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