5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From An Exchange Server Failure

You ever have one of those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days? The kind that destroys your confidence and rattles you to the core?

I did recently. It started with a phone call on a Monday night.

It all happened because my career is in the computer repair field. I fix computers and keep them up and running.

This one Monday night I get a phone call from my boss and he tells me we experienced a power failure but the servers were still up. No big deal. I log into the remote desktop and everything seemed okay.

Tuesday morning I learned something bad had happened. We’re no longer receiving emails. In our business, this is a crisis. So I entered into crisis mode.

I snooped around our servers and didn’t see anything out of place. Next was a call to our technology solutions provider. They’re always there for us in a pinch.

One of their technicians discovered our Exchange server was over it’s storage limit of 75GB. That’s a lot of emails and, surprisingly, it can bring down your email.

Through the process of restoring and getting our Exchange server running again, I learned 5 valuable leadership lessons.

  • Knowing your limits: There are times when we can burst past our limits and excel. But there are times when our limits are there for a reason. They protect us from pain and suffering. They also save us from a lot of unneeded struggle. Had I known about the Exchange server limit, this terrible day never would have happened. In your leadership, know what can and cannot be done. And what your limits are. You’ll be amazed how far you can go even with limits in place.
  • Get away: The first step in fixing the problem was dismounting our Exchange servers. This required us taking our email offline. There was no access. Emails couldn’t come in or go out. There will be times when you need to get away and dismount from your leadership. You’ll need a time of refreshing and renewal. Don’t overlook this. Getting away will help you become a better leader.
  • Reduce your load: The second step in resolving our Exchange server issue was reducing the amount of storage we were using. Our Exchange server crashed because we kept too many emails and attachments. Before we knew it, we were dead in the water. Our load was too heavy. You’ll have to discover how heavy of a load you can carry in your leadership. Sometimes it’s a lot, other times it may be less. Try to reduce the load you’re carrying and keep it at a manageable level. If not, you may come crashing down.
  • Programs fail: The third step in resolving our Exchange server issue was running a derag on the Exchange server. This takes a lot of time depending on your system’s hardware. For us, it took 15 hours. Truth be told, it took almost 30 because our first attempt at defragging failed. Be prepared that the programs you put together as a leader may fail. They may not click with your employees or they might not be presented in the correct way. Even if they fail, it’s not the end. They can be restarted later on.
  • Restoration takes time: Like I said, the defrag process took 15 hours. That’s a lot of time to be without email. But it was required for things to run properly again. When you’re at the point of burnout, you’ll need restoration. That’s why you need to get away. But don’t rush the get away. Take your time. Let time heal the wounds. Be willing to wait it out and not rush it. Rushing it will only make matters worse.

When you begin to feel the weight of leadership weighing you down, remember there are steps you can take to prevent burnout. Use these five steps to help you prevent or recover from it.

Question: How can you apply these leadership lessons to your role as a leader? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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