What do you do when you don't have enough emotional energy to put towards your leadership? What do you do when you find yourself giving less than your best in the conversations, presentations, and facilitation of meetings because you feel emotionally worn out? What do you do when, in the majority of interactions you have with your team, you are physically present but emotionally absent?
I am currently having to ask myself the above questions in light of a week filled with emotionally draining circumstances, experiences, and challenges. But, I know I must take the proper steps to regain my emotional energy because if I don't/can't I will not be able to lead effectively. So here's what I'm going to do, and I recommend you do the same:
Discipline yourself to get 8 hours of rest. Cancel a meeting. Re-schedule a commitment. Turn a project in late. Do whatever you have to do to sleep. Your lack of sleep is hurting more than it is helping. You have justified it by labeling yourself a "hard worker", but at the end of the day, because you have not had adequate rest, you may have worked hard, but you have not been able to bring your "best self" to your work. Your team needs a healthy you more than they need a "hard-working" you. SLEEP.
Discipline yourself to turn. it. off. For an eight hour period (while you're awake!), fully disconnect yourself from your work. Don't check your email. Don't work on the project. Don't have any conversations with team members. Don't lead. When you are emotionally drained, your disengagement may be a greater gift to your organization and team than your engagement. DISCONNECT.
Discipline yourself to have some fun. (And I don't want to hear, "Well my work is fun!") It may be, but you also need to learn to have fun in ways outside of work. Exercise. Play a sport. Read. Write. Engage with your kids. Enjoy the outdoors. Eat a great meal. If you don't know how to play, you will not make it as a leader. If you don't know how to find joy in something other than the success of your work, you have put too much pressure on the success of your work. PLAY.
Discipline yourself to create space/time for you to share (with the appropriate person) the struggles you are facing as a leader. Many times you will find yourself empty of emotional energy because you are full of work-related stress. By venting, you empty yourself of the feelings of frustration, discouragement, anger, and allow room for emotional energy to be re-gained. VENT.
Discipline yourself to, in silence and solitude, connect with your Heavenly Father. Dwell on God's goodness. Think upon His blessings. Meditate on His grace. Cast your cares upon Him for He cares for you. Cry out for strength. Cry out for insight. Cry out for wisdom. Admit your weaknesses. Admit your failures. Admit your inadequacies. Before God, posture yourself not as the leader, but as the one who needs to be led. PRAY.
I use the phrase "discipline yourself to" with each of these because they are indeed disciplines. No one can do these things for you. No one is as aware of your emotional energy level than you are and no one can take these action steps for you. Do what you need to do, TODAY, to regain your emotional energy, the effectiveness of your leadership depends on it.
Why do you think it is so difficult for leaders to take the proper steps to guard and maintain their emotional energy? Please leave your comments below, I'd really like to know!