As I mentioned in the previous post, How to Ignite Energy Back Into Your Team, leaders are more concerned than ever about the energy and performance of their teams. If you missed it, I covered the biggest disconnects I am seeing in teams today, and gave a simple yet powerful roadmap on how you can surface and address these issues.
Now, for the Leaders themselves. How is this impacting them personally and professionally?
What Leaders are Privately Admitting
What leaders are confiding in coaching sessions is the truth that you don’t necessarily see or hear from them directly.
What leaders are experiencing today is far more complex and difficult than they are letting on. On the outside, they are often known to be energetic, high performing leaders who are realistic and focus on the positive and inspire others.
On the inside, it’s tough for them, too. It’s important to remember leaders are humans first, and they identify with everyone else even when they are the CEO or a senior executive. Here are a few comments I have heard in the last 2 weeks in confidential conversations about how they are really feeling:
- I usually get up before the alarm and now I can hardly drag myself out of bed.
- I don’t know if I can do this again today.
- I’m usually anxious but now my anxiety is higher than ever and I’m making decisions too slowly.
- The mental and physical drain is not characteristically me.
- I feel like I’m slogging through, settling into this new abnormal.
- My life is confined, shrunk down to a smaller space.
- I haven’t slept much in the last 12 weeks.
- I’m a sports fan – when will the MLB come back?
- The demands on my focus, mindfulness, and determination have never been more intense as I lead during this time.
- When will I get on a plane again and see my people?
- This kind of sucks.
When You are NOT Operating at Your Best
The difference between BOLD leaders and others is not that they don’t think and feel similar feelings. The difference is what they do about it. It’s not that they don’t have their moments where they feel like they fall down in overwhelm, distraction, and exhaustion, the difference is how they get up, readjust, and take action quickly.
Taking care of yourself will make you able to face reality and adapt regardless of circumstances. Managing your energy is a key component to remain robust during intense leadership challenges”
3 Critical Steps to Boost Your Energy
If you are willing to get curious about how you can boost your own energy, take a look at all three of these steps. Any of them can make a significant difference in how you feel and your ability to perform.
1. Manage Mindset: How you look at anything is a product of the lense you are looking through – the belief, interpretation or “story” you are making up about it. Our clients know this to be a fundamental concept that alone has the capacity to create breakthrough and BOLD leadership.
- We think we see “the truth” about how things occur to us, though we all have our view of reality that is simply our perception. One client viewed sheltering at home as being trapped and stuck, while another client saw it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Coaching helps leaders see how they’re looking at a situation and to see alternative ways to view it, which can lead to new actions.
- A key element in building resilience is the meaning leaders make of the situation. On an “up” day, leaders see this is an opportunity to innovate, create new possibilities, build customer loyalty, integrate their culture as one organization with shared values. On a “down” day, leaders can see this as never-ending, an uphill battle, impossible to overcome. Everyone has up and down days and moments. The key is your consciousness of where you are, remembering it’s a mindset versus the truth.
2. Manage Your “Mask”: We have referred in the previous post Managing Overwhelm: Part 1 “Inside-Out” to creating your “oxygen mask” long before Covid. It’s akin to the airplane directive to put your mask on first before putting it on others. You can’t give away what you don’t have.
When you are burned out, exhausted, and overwhelmed it’s usually because you focus on others and forget your needs, or prioritize everyone else’s over your own. BOLD leaders identify the fewest needs they have in any of these five areas. Most start with 1-2. Below are examples current clients have identified to keep them operating at their best:
- MENTAL: Meditation. Journaling. Gratitude journal. Watching bizarre tv. Made a dress. Limiting news / social media. Digging into something I love to do at work (writing, problem-solving). Aligning with my admin to block my calendar.
- PHYSICAL: Daily exercise (enough to make it count for you. Email me if you want ideas.) Standing desk. Fresh air every day. Going for a run, “wogging” (walking / jogging). Wearing pants with elastic. Losing 25 pounds – focusing on health.
- SOCIAL: “Z-ocktails” (Zoom cocktails), dinner parties, lunch breaks with family members far away. Tik Tok videos. Themed dinners with food and music. Connecting with friends. Wine (not too much, not too little). Seeing people in person, safely.
- EMOTIONAL: Listening to great music and concerts. Talking to friends. Having a virtual birthday party. Calling my mom daily. An hour with my child during the work day. Asking “what expectations of normal am I letting go of today”?
- RENEWAL: Alone time. Great food. Hiking. Cleaning. Reading. Learning something new. Learning to cook and bake. Building a butterfly garden. Drawing. Sunset kayaking with family.
Some are good at identifying what’s needed for their mask and they are still exhausted. Coaching conversations can uncover the missing ingredient, which is usually subtle and nuanced.
One recent example is an executive who is good at many of the above areas and was still dragging:
- He saw that he was spending the majority of his time leading (influencing, coaching, delegating, setting vision, innovating new direction) and was getting great results while burning out his introverted self.
- He also realized he gets energy from analyzing data, solving problems, and making recommendations.
- His energy booster was to see he needed one juicy problem a week to work on himself. He renegotiated his calendar so he could tweak work blocks, build in breaks and balance his time between leading and solving problems.
- The tool we used was here: How to Get Out of the Weeds, Increase Effectiveness and Empower Others.
3. Manage & Make requests: While this seems easy, it’s at the heart of BOLD leadership. Most people have one answer when others make requests of them, which is yes. This is born out of the desire to be a good leader, team and family member. While it’s a noble intention, it usually backfires and leaves people feeling depleted, overwhelmed and resentful. It also often results in damaging trust when commitments are missed or guilt (“I don’t feel like I’m doing well at work or at home”).
- If you often / always reply with yes, consider there are two other options: 1. No. This is a full sentence most people rarely employ. 2. Renegotiate. I can do that and need a different scope, a different resource, or a different deadline. This is the most common response of BOLD leaders – seeking a response that works for them and works for you. The biggest reasons we don’t say no or negotiate is because we want to be capable and committed, we don’t want to let others down and we personalize requests (they’ll think I’m rejecting them).
- Making requests of others: The biggest reasons we don’t are because we know others are stressed, because we want to be a team member or parent, or because we don’t want them to respond with more requests of us.
Managing and making requests are key not only at the office.
COVID has dramatically changed most people’s “team dynamics” at home, so they are all relevant and critical there as well.
The biggest breakdowns in our family during Covid have been in the areas of cooking and cleaning. We have been negotiating and navigating how to keep our house clean and family fed without our usual resources and processes. Our roles, responsibilities and requests of one another were unclear and creating stress. Once we realigned everyone’s needs and requests, picked roles, created a clear schedule, and identified an interdependent vs siloed approach (not kidding!) relationships improved, the house was clean and people ate great food on time.
- What is the state of my energy? – Where do I lose energy and where do I get a boost?
- When I consider my mindset, how am I viewing the current situation? – What support, person, or conversation would help me shift to operate as my best self?
- If I were to put on my oxygen mask, what could I do that would breathe life into me? – What are the 1-2 things I would start doing and the 1-2 things I would stop doing?
- What requests would I renegotiate? – What would make the biggest difference with myself, my schedule, my team, my family?
Please feel free to reach out if you’d like to connect about your own energy, your team, or to discuss the biggest challenge you are facing today.
Wishing you good mental, physical, emotional and social health.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Yours in practice,
If you are interested in exploring whether we are a good fit to help you and your organization, contact us for a complimentary discovery conversation.
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