The reality is that leadership burnout is a pressing problem today. Leadership can be lonely and overwhelming. You have a lot of responsibility to manage, not to mention a workforce that looks to you for direction and inspiration. It’s no surprise that one major survey found that nearly 60% of leaders reported feeling ‘used up’ by the end of the workday. The constant pressure can lead to burnout, poor decisions and missed business opportunities. Not to mention the knock-on effect it can have on employees, resulting in decreased morale and lower levels of engagement.
It’s been shown that you can only really access your core strengths as a leader when you feel energised. So how can you, as a leader, hold on to your energy and enthusiasm? How can you sustain your own engagement for your role, despite the considerable pressures placed upon you? How can you become a more resilient leader?
We spoke to Brian Marien, Co-Founder and Chairman at Positive Group who revealed his top tips about how to sustain your energy and enthusiasm as a leader
Refamiliarise Yourself With Your Company’s Purpose
First things first, you need to get to grips with your company’s mission – its purpose, values and ultimate goals. Why does your company exist? What is your role within it? Refamiliarising yourself with your company’s long-term ambitions and overall purpose will help to ignite your energy and help you sustain your enthusiasm and passion for your role. Everyone wants to feel part of something larger than themselves, and you should feel motivated by your company’s driving purpose. You should feel an excitement, a sense that what you do matters. If you’re not getting this at all, it might be that you’re with the wrong organisation.
Create a Culture of Enthusiasm
Enthusiasm can be contagious – and the process is cyclical. If you are excited by your company’s mission, this passion will spread to your employees. And being around engaged, motivated employees every day will help to sustain your enthusiasm for your role as a leader.
Keep your employees in the loop with company successes and milestones – celebrate victories, large and small, and this culture of enthusiasm will keep you going through the day.
Hold One to Ones With Your Team
It can be hard to stay motivated and energised at work when you feel disconnected. It’s your role as a leader to get to know your team. It’s important from a performance management perspective, but it can also help you to maintain your enthusiasm about your own work. Regular check-ins with your employees will keep you updated on their progress and it’ll also allow you to inform them about relevant company updates, ultimately creating a close-knit, powerful team. There is also a very real link between communication and stress – the more you communicate with your employees, and the more they know, the less stressed they will feel and the more empowered they will be.
Build Tolerance of Uncertainty
One thing that may be knocking your confidence as a leader, or perhaps draining your energy, is the nature of change. It happens often: you finally feel you have a grasp on something, and then a certain process changes, or an employee hands in their notice, or something else happens that demands immediate action. It can be exhausting – especially if you are the type of person who is uncomfortable with change. Perhaps you are used to complete control, and the unpredictability is taking its toll on your wellbeing.
This is understandable, but change is near-constant in the world of leadership – and in fact, change is good. It makes our companies stronger, and it makes us stronger, too. We become more adaptable and more capable of handling whatever is thrown at us. However, that isn’t to say adaptability and appreciation of change comes naturally to all of us – which is why so many leaders find resilience training so useful. Such training can give us the core psychological skills to manage change and seize opportunities.
Learn to Delegate Responsibility and Share Accountability
Perhaps you’re mentally and physically drained as a leader because you’re simply trying to do it all – and that’s not realistic or advisable. You’re only human, and you can only do so much. Any good leader knows that it is wise – and necessary – to delegate responsibility. You can only focus on so much, and by delegating, you are helping your employees gain valuable skills while taking the burden off yourself. What’s more, you are sharing accountability, which will demonstrate to your team that you trust them. Remember, your employees want more responsibility – so by delegating, you are making everyone happy and more resilient.
Accept That Perfect Isn’t Possible
Perfectionism can be a real problem at leadership level. While it’s admirable that you’d want everything you do to be as perfect as possible, it’s been shown that perfectionism results in high levels of burnout, intense self-criticism, anxiety and depression. For long-term success as a leader, you will need to learn to compromise and accept that perfectionism isn’t realistic or even possible.
Set Up Healthy Boundaries
When was the last time you took time away from the office? Or ignored your work emails after 6pm? Dedication is great, but you can take it too far. Great leaders know that it’s psychologically important to set up boundaries – you can’t be on 24/7, and if you try, you’ll ultimately suffer. Remember that you have a life outside of work, and for your own mental health, this needs to be just as much a priority as your work.
Practice Gratitude and Give Feedback
It’s been shown that those who are grateful, and find things to be grateful for, tend to have better health than those who don’t. In fact, as human beings, we have a natural, evolutionary negativity bias. This means we need to be proactive about practising positivity and gratitude in order to shift the scales to a more balanced, positive position.
So to maintain your passion and enthusiasm at work, it’s worth seeking out opportunities for gratitude. What’s more, if you are particularly grateful for those you work with, be sure to let them know. A few words of praise or positive feedback can do a lot for employees – it’s been linked to improved engagement, stronger organisational culture and increased performance.
Get Enough Sleep
Finally, don’t forget your basic needs. Working all hours of the day can take a real toll. Be sure to have a healthy sleep pattern and routine and aim for at least seven hours a night – this will give your brain a chance to recharge. It’s been shown that when we sleep, our brain removes toxic waste byproducts, thereby allowing normal functioning. There have been many studies on the neuroprotective aspects of sleep, but suffice it to say, when you get the sleep your brain needs, you are much better able to perform well and excel at work.