As a veteran leadership speaker and executive coach, I am frequently asked for tips to help leaders cope with the myriad stresses they face. Leaders who are resilient are more successful, and while there are certainly no quick fixes for high stress, there are several key concepts that I have found universally helpful for those who may be experiencing burnout, negativity or discontentment.
Know your values
Many of us have vague notions of what’s important to us, but it is critical to get consciously clear about the things that define and motivate us. Think deeply about who you really are, what really matters to you and what you are unwilling to compromise on – these are your core values.
Honor those values
While it’s important to be consciously aware of values, this awareness is relatively meaningless to well-being unless you are living a life that honors those values. Most of the discontent that leaders experience circles back to living and working in a way that does not fully honor their values. So, if you find yourself feeling that you do not see your kids enough and you value family time, you need to make an adjustment. Similarly, if you are no longer learning on the job and learning is important to you, you need to look for opportunities to grow within your workplace or in an outside activity.
Take care of the physical plant
Our bodies are the foundation of our well-being. We all know this, but when stressed we find it hard to do the things we know to do. It still bears repeating – sleep a sufficient amount each night, eat healthfully, exercise regularly and take short breaks throughout the workday to get up and stretch.
Connect to the people around you
When we feel connected to others, we are happier. It’s that simple. Even busy leaders need to take some time each day to have short conversations with the people surrounding them. Raising the level of connection and positivity makes for a more productive, energizing workday.
Get involved in something bigger than yourself
Studies show that giving back feels good. Although there are periods when making the time to volunteer seems impossible, when we are involved in pro bono projects or community volunteer activities, we are happier and more engaged at work as well.
Recognize and express gratitude – Consider what you are grateful for on a regular basis. Making a physical list or sharing your gratitude out loud makes the experience more powerful. Similarly, when you are grateful to someone for something, don’t keep it to yourself – express it. There is nothing better than giving the gift of a spontaneous “thank you” both for you and for your recipient.
In a future blog, I will write more about leadership resiliency, and I would love to hear how you cope with the stresses of your leadership role.