Many business leaders take it upon themselves to make change happen. They will work long hours, have sleepless nights and focus on every little detail in order to just get through the next challenge, often at the expense of finding time for family life, fun or to just look after themselves.
Putting yourself through prolonged periods of such stress, however, is simply not sustainable. Effectively having more energy going out than is coming in will inevitably lead to burnout, as a recent Harvard Medical School study highlighted, finding that 96 per cent of senior business leaders have been affected by burnout.
What’s interesting is that first and foremost, leaders are role models, and studies show that 70 per cent of what happens in an organisation is a result of imitating behaviours of the people in leadership roles. So, it follows that as a leader you have responsibility to take care of yourself in order to make your own performance effective and sustainable, which will in turn create a culture for the people in your organisation to keep themselves in a state that allows them to perform at their best.
This may all sound easier said than done when you’re spending all your time running a business, but there are simple steps you can take to “Stop Doing and Start Leading” and enable yourself and others to thrive in all areas of life:
Ask yourself what leadership means to you
The idea of the superhero leader who does everything is no longer feasible. Modern leaders need to be authentic, trustworthy, collaborative, willing to ask for help and willing to empower others.
Find your “why”
Get clear on the difference you want to make through your leadership, and then focus on what you need to do to make that a reality. This helps you to prioritise and focus on where you can add most value, gives you more of a sense of fulfilment and makes work more enjoyable.
Find a new definition of success
Look beyond simply achieving financial objectives and set a broader definition of success that enables you to succeed in all areas of your life, being happy, healthy and sustainably high performing.
Track your progress
Tracking helps you to see what you are doing well and the parts of your life you want to work on, so you can make course corrections where necessary. It highlights the small steps you need to take to get to where you want to be and makes behavioural change sustainable.
Identify your drainers and energisers
Do you find you are saying yes to everything, constantly multi-tasking, responding to all e-mails immediately or rushing from back to back meetings without time to pause and prepare? These are common energy drainers. Where possible you should try to incorporate energisers into your daily routine, such as taking a break every one to two hours to stretch, be mindful and get some water. It also helps to surround yourself with positive people and prioritise your day to limit multi-tasking.
Often leaders are so focused on getting the job done they don’t make time for things like regular exercise or other activities that give pleasure. Leaders who risk burnout make themselves unfit to lead, so it is important they take responsibility for their own health and well-being and encourage others to do the same.
“Stop Doing, Start Leading- How to Shift From Doing The Work Yourself To Becoming A Great Leader”, by Sue Coyne is available 01 September from Amazon, priced £15.99.
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