I’m not saying Leadership is Easy! It is probably the most complicated and challenging role in your life.
But to be an effective leader, who mobilizes people and delivers great results, you have to have a certain awareness of what you are doing, why you are doing it, and which kinds of leadership behaviors are more effective than others.
There are ways you can work smarter, not harder, without paying the price of your health and happiness, just to stay in the game. 24/7 connectivity and workplace intensity are driving workaholic behaviors. Recent studies have shown that executives are more stressed than ever, and that seven out of ten workers feel disengaged by their work. I can’t help thinking there is a connection.
Maybe it’s time for leaders to take a pause, regroup, and rethink how they work and lead. Driving themselves and their team to a point of burnout may not be the route to high accomplishment, and is certainly not sustainable over time.
So how can you lead effectively and with greater ease?
The first step in taking a different approach to your work is to deliberately step back from it periodically. Leading with ease means you can get off the treadmill of a relentless workload, and short-circuit the ceaseless demands that you just cannot fulfill. It means adopting some foundational practices for mind-clearing, different thinking, and a more strategic approach to leadership.
Here are three ways to “clear the space” so you can get centered, resume your composure, and regain perspective:
1) Spend ten minutes daily doing nothing at all. If you are interested in learning more about mindfulness meditation practices, read the very useful book by Janice Marturano, Finding the Space to Lead, A Practical Guide to Mindful Leadership.
2) Mark down two weekly sessions on your calendar, which I call “Strategy Matters”, preferably one at the beginning of the week and one at the end, and devote these to big picture thinking. What is important? What should you pay attention to? What future are you involved in creating? You will find these sessions are indispensable if you want to get off the hamster wheel of reactivity, and have greater impact.
3) Call a full blown retreat – taking time out of the office – by yourself, for personal restoration, or with your team, for the purpose of planning, rethinking or regrouping – is certain to recoup your investment of time. With a time-out, you refresh your thinking, and increase the executive functioning of your brain. You can choose more carefully what you will do, and will see clearly how to obtain greater rewards with less wasted time and energy. It takes some time to disengage with old habits and to re-engage purposefully in “leading with ease”, but the rewards are worth it.
Just say the word “ease” out loud, and it’s like a deep outbreath, a sigh of relief. Can you feel your shoulders unhunching, your mouth widening into a smile?
Leading with ease leads to en-lightened leadership. You will discern where to expend effort and energy, and decide what to let go of. And you will start to observe the changes in your work practices, your sense of personal well-being, your renewed focus on ‘the right” things, and your increased success in engaging others in achieving your vision. Your role will no longer feel burdensome and lonely, but exciting and challenging. And you will be capable of making the high impact decisions with good judgment and wisdom that ease enables.
People talk about the need for “executive presence” in leaders. I believe that “leading with ease” is the key to achieving this.
The Leadership Circle Profile assessment tool is one way of assessing the degree of ease with which you lead because it helps you identify when you are reactive and when you are more creative. A debrief of what you tend to do and why you do it, can help you to focus on those behaviors that will lead to greater ease, effectiveness and excellence.
Please let me know If you are interested in learning more about how to apply this approach to your specific circumstances.