I read a very interesting article recently about guilt and how it can improve your performance at work. You can click on the title to read the full article

Why feeling guilty may make you a better boss – By William Kremer BBC World Service

I found the article disturbing. I have coached many managers who have been driven towards burnout and a common theme is an over developed altruistic trait which pushes them to overperforming for the company and their colleagues. Taken simply they have a guilty feeling if they don’t volunteer to organise the Christmas party (yes I’ve coached someone on that) or stay late to finish their work on friday night (yes I’ve coached someone on that too!)

There is a simple method I use to spot someone who is guilt driven. If I listen to the language they are using to describe events and their involvement and they use the words “should” “must” and “have to” regularly, it’s a sure sign that they are suffering from feelings of guilt.

Ridding yourself of feelings of guilt is not an overnight process – after all, its taken you many years of conditioning to get you to this level of guilt! But the first small, important step towards empowerment here is becoming aware of your language as you think about tasks to be done, or things you have not yet done.  If you become aware of using “should” “must” and “have to”, you may be able to choose to change the word to “could”!

And as to doing things because you should – well that happens to me too, of course – but its a question of getting your priorities right, and knowing who are the people or what are the circumstances where you will always help – and where will you draw the line?