One of the hardest things as a leader is always being “on show”. We talk about the importance of authenticity and vulnerability of leaders and how it’s ok to show that you’re not always OK, which I wholeheartedly support. At the same time it is important to recognise that your team will be looking to you for direction and motivation and will feed off your energy levels. How do you maintain the levels of energy needed to be an inspiring leader?
I have one particular senior colleague who could alway be relied upon to turn up to work with a smile and a positive energy, no matter how difficult the situation was that he was having to deal with. For a while he had responsibility for a particularly challenging change programme. I found it inspiring that he was able to bring such energy every single day to his interactions with the team and stakeholders. This was still done in an authentic way but he had found a way to choose to turn up in this way every day. Given the difficult topic, this had an important role in keeping the team energised and motivated to deliver the project.
As a leader when you find your energy flagging or your enthusiasm dipping your team will pick up on this. Your ability to coach and inspire will be reduced. Their motivation may well be impacted too. People will be less likely to be open with you and might start avoiding raising difficulties with you as they’re not sure how you will react. Whereas when you turn up with positivity and high levels of energy you create an environment where people want to be, are creative, productive and have fun. One where you are far more likely to hear laughter and see people working together. You can feel the difference when you walk into the room. This is an environment I would rather work in.
It is important to find ways that allow you to recharge and protect your energy levels to be able to keep being the leader you want to be. Everyone will be different in how they do this, although it usually involves some way of clearing your mind of the current work challenges and daily to do list as well as a physical break. For many, it is the chance to have a holiday and relax and recharge. For me, it is exercise. I never fail to return energised after a run or a gym class and I know I get grumpy if I haven’t made the time to exercise for a while. For some others, it might be meditation or time alone to settle into a good book or alternatively time out with friends and family. It is whatever allows you to get your batteries back up to full each day and each week so you can be the best leader for your team.
Whilst it is tempting to want to keep working harder and feel like there’s never enough time to fit in your recharge time, it is nearly always a false economy. I’m interested to hear how do you recharge? How do you ensure you create the time for it?