Leading is hard enough in “normal” times. But the times in which we are living and leading are far from normal. Supply chains, viruses, economic changes, and changes in expectations, needs, and demands can all create exhaustion. Sure, a big challenge can create a spike in engagement and focus, but we can’t survive on adrenaline for long. Chances are you are experiencing at least some leadership fatigue. If so, you need some tools to overcome it.
Why this Matters
I’ll keep this simple with two important points – one for you and one for your team.
- When you are fatigued, you can’t do your best work for any sustained amount of time.
- When you aren’t at your best you can’t give your best to your team – and they deserve it.
Once you are clear on those two points you are ready for step one.
Step 1: Admit it
Chances are the last two years have been hard for you as a leader. Heck, chances are the last two years have been hard for you as a human. IT doesn’t make you less of a leader to say, “I’m fatigued.” Until you admit that you have at least some leadership fatigue, you have no chance of overcoming it.
Stated another way, denial isn’t a good strategy.
Dealing with Your Achiever Mindset
As a leader you have a better than average chance of having an achiever’s mindset, meaning that, among other things you:
- Are motivated to succeed
- Are goal oriented
- Have high expectations of yourself
Generally, these are wonderful traits. But in this case, that third bullet – having high expectations of yourself can be your Achilles heel. Here’s the thought process you might recognize…
- I can work past this fatigue, I have too much to do.
- I have done this before, I just need to work harder.
- What is wrong with me, I just need to focus.
- Fatigue? I’m not fatigued, I’m fine.
While having an achiever’s mindset can serve you well, in this case it is getting in your way. For you to achieve at your highest levels (to your expectations and to help your team succeed), you need to “get over yourself” and admit that you are fatigued and not at your best.
Recognize Your Level
Of course, not all fatigue is created the same. There is daily fatigue, chronic fatigue, psychological fatigue, and even clinically defined fatigue. There is even a fatigue scale that applies here.
As leaders, especially those with an achiever’s mindset we tend think of fatigue as binary. Either, “yes I am fatigued”, or “no I am not”.
The reality if far more nuanced than that. The better question would be: how fatigued am I? or how much is fatigue impacting my performance?
Recognizing a level of fatigue is healthy, and perhaps easier to do. When we shift from fatigue or not, to our level of fatigue, we allow our problem-solving brains to kick in. But until we can get to this mental point we likely remain in denial, and while in denial out leadership fatigue isn’t likely to be diminished.
Once we get to this point, we can look at specific action we can take to help with our fatigue.
Specific Actions to Take
- Get more sleep. The number one way to reduce your fatigue in the short and longer term is to get more sleep. Look at your sleeping habits and try to put more quality sleep in you schedule. This one thing could change your mood, emotions, and productivity more than you could imagine.
- Take more breaks. A ten-minute walking break, a real lunch break, a shift in what you are working on. There are plenty of ways to take a break. And achiever’s none of them mean you are being lazy or non-productive.
- Do what works for you. Maybe it is more reading. Maybe it is a hobby. Maybe it is a regular call to a friend. Find the things that rejuvenate you and do more of those things.
You will note that the steps to take are the shortest part of this article and there is nothing shockingly new about the list. Please see that as good news! Use the items on this list to help you with your leadership fatigue, and you will likely see improvement. If your level of fatigue is higher or more chronic, please get help from a doctor or specialist to help you regain your ability to lead and live at higher and healthier levels.
Are talent turnover, retention, and the Great Resignation sources of your fatigue? If you would like ideas and actions that will reduce that fatigue and help you benefit from these talent challenges, join me for the Secrets for Turning the Great Resignation into the Great Revival webinar. We will move beyond the lessons shared here to organization perspectives and actions that can change your organization – for the better – forever. Your job is already hard. We want to help allay your concerns, give you a fresh perspective and some relevant tools, and help you lead forward with greater skill and confidence.
You have two chances on February 9th to watch me deliver this cutting-edge content live – at 9 am or 3 pm ET. You can get all the details and get registered here.