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    Leadership Stamina: The Priority of Self-Management

    men-1245982_640 (1)How often do you find yourself working long hours on a major organizational project, leading your team, managing diverse stakeholder opinions, or facing a looming deadline with nowhere near enough resources (time, people, money, technology) to meet your goals. Then somehow, it all comes together, and you’re a hero! A superhero! Or so you think. In reality, you realize that you’ve thrown all your energy into this one facet of your life and work, and other facets (family, relationships, other projects, personal finances, exercise, life goals, etc.) are now suffering from lack of attention.

    About 20 years ago, when I was completing my doctoral dissertation, I simultaneously received a coveted promotion to a new and very demanding role at work. I knew it would be difficult, but I thought I could somehow get it all done. Well, I was right and I was wrong. I managed those two priorities, but my relationships and emotions suffered. I thought I had an “S” for superhero on my chest, but in reality, that “S” was torn and tattered, and held in place by crazy glue, safety pins, and masking tape!

    Leaders become superheroes at the expense of other priorities in their lives. Because superheroes are really fiction. Their strength and abilities are beyond the capabilities of the normal human being, and we’re all really normal human beings. So instead of trying to be superheroes, we should instead learn leadership stamina.

    Stamina as a Priority

    Leadership stamina involves managing your mental, emotional and physical strength to operate in an intense environment and to move past roadblocks to accomplish objectives.

    Real leadership means influencing others to accomplish a significant goal. And if you’re aiming high enough, those goals are never easy. Along the way you’ll be challenged to give up, downsize, settle or compromise. You’ll have to balance other priorities competing for your time and energy. But most of all, you’ll need to care for yourself along the way to ensure that gain in one area doesn’t come at the expense of loss in another.

    Professional athletes know how to make leadership stamina a priority. They typically engage in rituals to focus every aspect of their mind, body, and interactions with others, to maximize their performance.  Similarly, business leaders must balance their constant meeting schedules and deadlines, along with other demands on their time, to ensure consistent high performance.

    I recently completed a meeting with a client that involved facilitating a three-day training. I knew that this would be an intense time that required focus on each individual in the room to ensure that the learning experience was impactful. As a result, I planned in advance what I needed to do to manage my stamina during that time. That included getting necessary rest, eating nutritious foods, exercising, and avoiding mental distractions from a volume of emails.

    Six Tips for Self-Management
    So, how do you build and manage your leadership stamina? Here are several tips.

    Emotional energy – Know how you recharge emotionally.  For some, (us introverts) it’s through quiet times of reflection and rest. For others, (you extroverts) it’s through having fun and spending time with friends. Set boundaries to avoid permitting others to drain your energy or to invade your private space. Ensure you have a peaceful spot to retreat to, or an activity to divert your attention when necessary.

    Physical energy – Pay attention to your body’s sleep patterns to ensure you get sufficient rest. You may be able to go for a short period of time with minimal sleep, but there will be a day of reckoning when you’ll have to catch up. Recognize the symptoms of exhaustion that may manifest as sickness, irritability or poor decisions. Overreaching in this area can result in physical illness that will leave you even further behind.

    Nutrition – I’m amazed at the number of leaders who tell me that they regularly skip or don’t eat balanced meals, either because they’re too busy or don’t think it’s important. And still others are battling chronic diseases. Just like your vehicle won’t run well on cheap gas, your body needs optimal fuel to perform. Consult an expert to figure out what you need to do to become and remain healthy, and make it a priority in your life. If you become sick, your colleagues may miss you, but they can and will survive without you. Just don’t force their hand.

    Mental acuity – Know what time of day your energy level and creative abilities are highest, and schedule the appropriate work during that time frame. Some people like to get up at 4 a.m. and work, others prefer to burn the midnight oil; while still others know to schedule their most important meetings in the middle of the day. Focus on what you want to accomplish and communicate it clearly. This means a powerful use of words to inspire and motivate, and removing thoughts that are distracting from the goal.

    Presence – Be aware of how you leverage your body movements and physical appearance to connect and communicate with others. Used effectively, this conveys confidence, and it attracts and motivates others to engage with you.

    Motivation – This is the basis for all stamina; when you’re motivated by your inner purpose to accomplish a goal. It underpins the ability to persevere in the midst of circumstances that would normally cause you to give up. It’s based on your underlying values of what is important in life, and your mission and vision for the future.

    Finally, leadership stamina requires discipline to balance all these variables in any given environment. You must know your unique characteristics and balance integration of all facets of your life at the level that is ideal for you. Your capacity isn’t infinite. Know when to ask for help, hire help and take a break to protect yourself. Establish sacred times and spaces to recharge and get your creative juices flowing. People will pull on you, but set their expectations up front regarding what you need to do to optimize your performance. Prioritize your self-management.

     

    Pixabay Photo

    Copyright 2017 Priscilla Archangel

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