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What creates a sustainable, high performer today? With jobs demanding more from us than ever before – more collaboration, engagement and technological knowhow – the research of leadership expert Rob Cross, the Edward A. Madden Professor of Global Leadership at Babson College, has uncovered how high performers operate efficiently, ultimately reclaiming 18-24% of their time back while minimizing, and even eliminating, burnout that many others experience.

With a wealth of simple to use, practical tools, Cross teaches leaders and team members how to maximize collaboration efficiency and reclaim valuable time while reducing the stresses that come from collaboration overload.  

“In the last decade, the collaborative demands of work have risen 50 percent or more,” explains Cross, co-founder and director of Connected Commons.  “But where everybody else is burning out, there’s 10 percent that isn’t. I wanted to understand the magic in those people, how they’re able to thrive in their work and not burn out.”

To Optimize Collaboration for Innovation,
Prioritize a Reinvestment of Time

In his 2021 bestseller, “Beyond Collaboration Overload: How to Work Smarter, Get Ahead, and Restore Your Well-Being” (Harvard Business Review Press), Cross sought to apply performance data to identify how high performers collaborate in today’s hyper-connected world. By using the interactive Collaboration Overload Digital Card Explorer and its personalized report, Cross enables leaders to identify how only a few changes to their collaboration practices can enable them to reclaim a significant portion of their own time.

“Efficient collaborators are much more effective,” explains Cross, who has worked with more than 300 organizations across industries to identify specific ways to cultivate vibrant, effective networks at all levels of an organization and at any career stage. “They interact in ways that create trust more rapidly and they get a lot of efficiency as a product of that, which allows them to secure valuable time back.”

How the 10% Overcome Microstresses to Lift the Burden of Burnout

In his new co-authored book, “The Microstress Effect: How Small Things Create Big Problems – and What You Can Do About It” (Harvard Business Review Press, 2023), Cross focuses on how the small stresses that build up throughout the day leave us feeling drained, causing 90 percent of today’s employees to feel burned out.

Setting out to answer the question of what the other 10 percent are doing differently to counteract burnout, Cross’s research uncovered three common qualities:

  • They are able to understand and correct small moments of stress and not just absorb them
  • They’re better at not causing stress, which tends to come back to us
  • They’re good at rising above microstresses through multi-dimensional lives

“What I could see was killing us is the unrecognized accumulation of small stresses day-to-day and week-to-week that we just kind of work through because we’re used to dealing with it,” explains Cross, author of one of Harvard Business Review’s 10 Must Reads for 2023. “But it’s piling up on us in a way that’s invisible to us neurologically – it’s literally killing us in ways we can’t see. We get home exhausted each day and can’t put a finger on what just happened.”

By identifying 14 sources of microstress, he helps leaders from the front line to the C-suite recognize microstresses before they accumulate, empowering them to be more resilient and find more purpose both in and out of their work.

Creating the Enterprise Leaders of Tomorrow

Rob Cross’ impactful research started with a desire to discover what makes organizations tick and why some become more successful than others – and not necessarily the ones he expected to see succeed. By studying how relationships and collaboration impact both organizations and individuals, his powerful frameworks help leaders build effective, inclusive networks, maximize collaboration efficiency and reduce the harmful personal and professional impacts of microstresses.

“The people who are thriving are not defined by massive accomplishments or adventures. Rather they live the small moments more richly and authentically in connection with others. By engaging more intentionally, you can create a future that actually makes work more purposeful,” he says. “You can be a high performer and actually be happy at work at the same time.”

Leaders that can recognize microstresses before they accumulate are more resilient and better equipped to find purpose both in and outside of their work. Stern Strategy Group connects you with renowned thought leaders whose insights, strategies and management frameworks help organizations fuel growth and disruptive innovation to better compete in a constantly changing world. Let us arrange for these esteemed experts to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting sessions, workshops and keynotes.

How to Build Resilience in the Age of Collaboration Overload was last modified: May 1st, 2023 by Justin Louis