There is a tradition in my family of wishing everyone “rabbit, rabbit” for good luck on the first day of a new month. Whoever gets their message out first gets the MOST luck.
Well, right now, we all need luck. More than that, we need a strategy for creating meaning, energy and optimism during this very uncertain time.
Feeling passionate and “of use” as a leader is imperative – and a critical rite of passage to owning your impact and shaping your world more fully. What if you are disrupted during this stay at home? What if you are disrupted by having to be at work during this pandemic?
Either way, it can be easier to move towards self-absorption as a protective mechanism or as a way to insulate against the increasing white notes. You might presently be feeling down and out, and it’s understanding if optimism feels like a pipe dream. The fact is, living and leading in a healthy way is tough today. But you are tougher.
So, what does your strategy look like for living and leading in a healthy way right now? Start with a look at these three leadership health dimensions.
1. Manage your energy bank
Let’s define energy bank as the ‘gas tank’ you bring to a project, workplace environment, or a community in which you are engaged (e.g. church, volunteer work). You add to, or deplete, your personal energy bank on a daily basis based on how you spend your time.
Your energy bank is influenced by a variety of factors, including nutrition, sleep, meeting pace, team culture and demands or stressors in the work environment. Knowing which factors impact 2
you the most is the first step. This is where I jump in and say “I know we are in a pandemic, and that energy is finite”. That said, begin by looking at some of the basic patterns you have in a typical day. It helps to write down the activities or interactions that take energy versus those that give you more energy. Awareness is the first step.
Not surprisingly, an accumulation of depleting activities and interactions will negatively impact your outlook and overall leadership effectiveness. When you have depleted your energy bank, it is harder to remain open to new ideas, remain flexible and manage conflict productively. On the flip side, with a full energy bank, you find decision making, courageous conversations and creative solutions flow more easily.
Based on what you know now about your daily routine, you can begin to influence your energy bank by making explicit choices at moments throughout each day. Personally, when I exercise regularly and plan meal choices ahead, I have much greater capacity to work with uncertainty and see a clear path forward.
2. Recalibrate your sense of purpose
The second element of leadership health is a sense of purpose. Meaningful sense of purpose and direction not only increase your energy levels but also allow you to screen time and effort because you are clear on how well a project or activity contributes to the bigger goal.
Based on a team role you hold today in some capacity, take a moment and think about your top three priorities. How clear are these priorities? How do they contribute to the overall team purpose or mission? The level of clarity you have on your priorities contributes to, or diminishes, your confidence and overall sense of well-being at work.
You know you are operating on purpose if your energy bank feels generally full and you operate in the “flow” space, often losing track of time as you work on a particular project. On the flip side, you know you are not operating in the zone of purpose when you feel restless, anxious about performing and wonder about whether this role is a good fit for you.
On the personal front, sense of purpose is just as important. How are you and your partner or spouse working together to identify priorities during this unusual time? How are each of you coping with this change to daily life (stay at home)? Have the discussion as regularly as you see fit, remain curious about each other, and know that you are creating a pool of shared meaning and focus that will help tide you through this time.
3. Pay attention to self-care
Self-care, by definition, is making choices to support sound physical, mental or spiritual well-being. Carving out time for self-care often goes out the window in times of crisis and uncertainty. Yet, self-care has the power to transform your outlook and contributions both at home and at work.
What does self-care look like in general? It is as simple as doing something that boosts your energy bank or spirits. In my personal life, I plan two big hiking trips a year to ensure a broader 3
worldview and leave technology behind. At work, I have some rituals. There is a park near my office with a glorious old tree and active birds that I glance at during conference calls or walk over to have a quick lunch on the park bench. These are reset moments. I also get a lot of energy from connecting with colleagues outside the conference room. So, I schedule one lunch outing a week with someone who is a fellow learner and leader.
Now, I am guessing that your usual self-care “go tos” are not available right now. Mine sure aren’t. And, I am modifying to take Epsom salt baths, read a new genre of book and try new recipes. Ok, truth be told, I also Marie Kondo’d my basement.
Scheduling your day based on self-care intentions and needs will add to your energy bank – even if what you plan gets interrupted sometimes. Intuitively, you probably recognize that what works for one colleague doesn’t feel like self-care to another. Do what serves you. Self-care is an act of courage and is ultimately one of the most rewarding things you can do to support your leadership.
Together, these three principles are a leadership well-being check that can guide your strategy for living and thriving during these times. To learn more, visit www.leadershipherocode.com.