…Why you’re # 1 in your leadership role & how to stay there!
My instant thought was to keep busy… distract myself, suppress the pain… but it only made it worse.
I wasn’t acknowledging any feelings or emotions. I wasn’t expressing my anger, shock, annoyance, sadness.
I had too much to do anyway. Easier to just keep ‘doing’. No point feeling sorry for myself, people were relying on me – my kids, my husband, my clients. I must set the right example, I’m a leader… & all the worry in the world won’t help anything.
Worry does help… in fact worry was needed. The need to worry about me. To take care of myself… so that I could go back to taking care of others.
Self-care. It changes everything.
It’s about you loving you – being happy with who you are, where you’re at and taking active steps to keep that in play.
When we feel good, we shine. Our ability to motivate and inspire, create positivity, resolve conflict and build amazing culture is more authentic and successful when we’re in a happy place.
On the flip side, think about a time when you weren’t in a good place… how did that affect your leadership abilities? Your communication, interaction, motivation… and patience ;-)? How can you take care of others if you’re not taking care of yourself?
A strong, positive, healthy leader finds it easy to be naturally present, collaborative, team focused, confident, open-minded and motivated.
My sister passed away on 31stOctober 2019. Just a couple of weeks earlier, another sister began treatment for her breast cancer. I wasn’t in a very good place at that time… yet I felt selfish being so down… who am I to think of me & my sad feelings? I don’t have cancer. Life can’t stop, I have to keep moving.
‘Pushing through’, burying feelings does not make for effective leadership.
I understand that I am talking about grief and I’m lucky that I was in a position to be able to take time off (after finally acknowledging that it was necessary), to say yes to me, to practise self-care.
This self-reflection time got me thinking of how common this is.
Leaders ‘bury’ their emotions, to put others first, to just keep ‘doing’.
It may be due to a significant reason, or a minor one (disapproving or unsupportive superior, arguments not dealt with, lack of sleep, low fitness/health, injury, friends in need or simply struggling to ‘deal with it’). Sometimes a leader is simply unaware or even in denial… just powering through (as we often do!) and they begin to notice feelings of anger, hopelessness, stress or anxiety… and are uncertain of why.
Whatever the reason, there are always common threads.
When a leader is ‘stuck’ in their own emotions, concern, worry, they began to act differently, perhaps even inappropriately… wondering where ‘that’ came from.
They’re certainly not ‘available’ as much and often less engaging.
Whether the reason is large or small, we are all unique human beings who experience life and feelings in our own way. The key as a leader to be self-aware.
“Contrary to popular belief, the number one quality necessary
for a leader of the future is not business skills and strategies.
It’s comprehensive Self-Awareness.” James Ray
Self-Awarenessis a skill that can be developed and over time one that you can get better at! Take the time to consider WHO you are…
Ask yourself these great questions;
What makes me tick?
What am I good at?
Can I identify my strengths?
Can I articulate my weaknesses?
How do others perceive me?
What gets me going?
Get curious about you. Expanding self-awareness will not only raise your own performance, but also your teams. The ultimate goal is to reach self-actualisation – to fully realise your own potential – your desires, impulses, opinions, reactions (we’ll delve deeper into this at a later date).
Simply developing any level of self-awareness will increase your focus and ability to recognise when it’s time for self-care.
And when you’ve acknowledged that it’s time to focus on you, try some (or all) of these practises to help you get through, to ‘deal with it’;
- Feel whatever you feel– it’s all OK and it doesn’t need to make sense. Find a quiet, comfortable space and feel it all, feel it deeply, let it go. Acknowledge your feelings. NB: We are not our feelings, our moods or even our thoughts – all of them eventually pass. You can use your negative emotion as a positive opportunity to stop and take stock of your life and people around you, of your relationships and your goals.
- Be kind to yourself– self compassion is an admirable trait and one that should be the norm… but it isn’t. When we’re nice to ourselves, we’re likely to be nicer to others. Allow space for this.
- Eat well, drink water, get enough sleep– it takes a lot of energy to be a great leader – listening, delegating, empathising, guiding. Keep your energy levels topped up.
- Meditate – this helps you take control of your mind and stay in the present.
- Practise mindfulness– Create the headspace you need to be able to access stored information and memories and to be open to new experiences
- Self-reflect– perhaps there’s learning involved here? Great opportunity to find out. Leadership is a life-long journey and can be highly developed through self-reflection. What could you do differently in the future? What do you need to learn or practise in order to do that?
- Get some exercise and fresh air!– aah, this should be #1 really. Reset the switch as often as you need (and begin your day by moving!!) Exercise and movement will reboot your brain chemistry and help to keep you sharp.
Make exercise a habit and choose something that works for you!
If you have other Self-Care tips, we’d love to hear about them … please share – they may just resonate with someone that really needs it right now.