Energy is vital to successful leadership. Fatigue makes cowards of us all, placing us into a fog where decisions are more difficult to make. It robs us of joy. When fatigued, our influence decreases. No matter how strong you possess the seven traits for influence, you will operate in each of them at a diminished capacity when tired. For example, a person with a high confidence aptitude, an 86 in empowerment as measured on the Keller Influence Indicator®, may see it decrease dramatically (by as much as 20 points) in a period of fatigue. This isn’t merely a numeric decrease in a test score, but a period of less than maximum leadership effectiveness.
The key to eliminating the fog of fatigue is to take intentional steps into a clear space mentally and physically. The result will be increased energy and passion. To remain in a long-term state of fatigue is a guarantee of burnout.
Here are some practical ways to regain energy and maximize your leadership influence.
1. Return to the Dream
Ask the fundamental question, Why am I here? There was undoubtedly a dream behind the thought of starting or joining an organization. You possessed a certain passion and this fueled you. Often, we lose the why of doing what we do under a morass of tasks and meetings that seem disconnected from the dream. The result is fatigue and indifference. The dream is what awakens you each morning. Take some time to reflect on the original dream. Where is it buried? Does it need to be recaptured or reclaimed? Can you draw a clearer line between the mechanics and tactics you engage in every day to the dream? The closer you can tie the dream to each task that must be completed, the less energy draining they will seem.
2. Stop Being the Sun.
In high-level leadership, it is easy to begin thinking the world revolves around us. This inflated sense of importance causes us to take on unnecessary decisions and responsibilities, ultimately draining our energy from the big picture issues that most need our attention. Release control and lighten up by reflecting on the larger picture. The world functioned pretty well before our arrival and will probably do so after our exit. Gaining a proper perspective allows us to laugh at ourselves and reduces stress.
3. Kick Off The Morning with Momentum
When you arrive at work each day, spend fifteen minutes knocking out two or three simple but necessary tasks—a needed email, a document approval, etc. Research shows getting the ball rolling forward on several smaller tasks will make it much easier to move on to more complex or difficult tasks with a positive can-do mentality.
4. Get the Big Three Done
Ancient sacred literature states, “Little foxes ruin the vine.” While it can be important to get rid of a few little foxes to build the day’s momentum (see #3), working on “little fox” projects all day—emails, paperwork, bureaucracy— causes us to avoid the key tasks that truly allow for organization growth or transformation. A simple tactic to combat the little foxes is to write down your Big Three. Make a list of three actions that most move the ball forward for your organization or a client and place this where you can see it all day. Finishing each day with these actions crossed off will provide you incredible energy for the coming day. Nothing motivates likes results.
5. Breathe after a Big Three
After you finish a key task (see #4), stand up, take a short walk, grab a snack, or engage a co-worker in conversation (if he or she is also at a breathing point.). This mini-party ritual allows your brain to celebrate the win and move onto the next with a more energy.
6. Grab an Hour
Americans are notorious for not getting enough sleep. Select one night a week to gain an extra hour of sleep. Try to schedule this on a night before you have key decisions which shape overall organizational direction.
7. Schedule Your Seven
It takes our brains a while to decompress. Taking one or two day mini-vacations does not allow us ample time to truly reset mentally. Before each year begins, schedule a formal vacation of seven days (five weekdays and a weekend). Calendar it and hold it sacred. You’ll find when you give yourself seven days of vacation where you truly disengage, you will return with incredibly higher levels of energy. You will be much more productive in the remainder of your year.
8. Delegate to Gain an Energy Ally
Delegating is easy to say, but harder to do. By properly delegating through the clear communication of expectations and inspecting the process, you’ll soon gain two things. First, there will be a reduced need to be directly involved in the actual doing of the task. This provides and degree of energy and is often touted as the benefit of delegation in leadership books. However, a second benefit is equally important. Through delegating, you’ll gain an energy ally. Having team members included in the pursuit of a goal or solution removes feelings of isolation. The loneliness of thinking, “I’m the only person who cares about this,” robs us of energy. Each team member involved in process can provide you additional creative energy and emotional support.
9. Stop Wolfing Down False Energy Providers
Times of stress and fatigue often correlate to an increased pace. In these times, we often find ourselves wolfing down whatever food is quick and nearby. This often means a quick run to a fast food restaurant only to eat in the car and rush back to the office or our next appointment. This is a deadly diet that actually zaps energy and increases fatigue. The need for a quick meal doesn’t mean the food we consume must be needlessly unhealthy. Simply taking some time to pack a lunch with fruit, vegetables, and other healthy items the night before a workday eliminates of waiting until we find ourselves famished and rushing for sugar, energy drinks, or other false energy providers.
Often the last thing we feel like doing when we experience fatigue and its corresponding lack of influence is exercising, yet study after study shows exercise is one of the primary ways to increase energy. When everything within you wants to sit on the couch and watch a mindless reality TV show, first move. A brisk walk or other cardiovascular exercise affects not only the body but also the mind as endorphins are released which counter fatigue and stoke energy levels.
11. Soundboard Your Way to Success
Just because we are human and might find ourselves in a downturn of energy, it doesn’t mean everyone around us is experiencing decreased energy. Energy is contagious. When we are down, talking to others during their higher energy seasons can refuel us as we hear their passion. Find a listening ear that respects confidentially and is kind. Share your successes, and during your periods of high energy be willing to listen in return, so that you can be an energy provider, as well.
The Keller Influence Indicator® is a powerful tool to assess how fatigue may affect your influence. Because the KII® a dynamic measurement, it is possible to retake the assessment in periods of tiredness or stress to gain an empirical picture of how the resultant fatigue is affecting your influence abilities versus your benchmark test.
The good news is that energy levels can be restored. A revitalized you is the most effective you. Make these eleven actions a key part of optimizing your leadership energy.