Prioritize Personal Interests For Stronger Leadership
Life’s everyday demands are increasing, and time is a precious commodity, especially for leaders facing change, unrest, and transition. To build resilience, it is important that leaders make connecting to their personal interests a priority, whether that is taking a local art class, cooking more frequently, or picking up that old instrument you haven’t practiced in a while.
What past passions of yours do you want to rekindle?
REFOCUS ON YOUR PASSION
Over the last several years, I renewed my devotion to running. There is an incredible amount of resilience in re-connecting with a past passion, a skill that has benefits in my professional life as well, helping me address setbacks head-on, overcome obstacles, and continue to persevere.
I started lacing up my shoes and hitting the pavement again in 2020. Despite being an avid cross-country (long distance) runner in grade school and high school, I felt as if I started from square one again, reconditioning my lungs and my legs—and my busy personal and professional schedule—to readjust to my new commitment and focus. I am enjoying it though, which is more than enough reason to keep going.
The benefits of taking up running again go beyond physical. The training plan I've been following for my half-marathon is called Run Walk Run, popularized by Jeff Galloway. His premise is that by taking walk breaks when needed, you can continue at a quicker pace for longer and are less likely to get injured. It's a shift in perspective—instead of trying to force yourself to keep running at all costs and slog through, you can take a break, recovering energy and stamina before you're entirely spent.
Resilience is your walk break, where you recover energy and build the ability to keep going through the hard times (like mile 12 of 13.1!).
How is resilience beneficial?
Resilience can mean a lot of things. It can look like getting back to your core by identifying what you value. It can mean focusing on the work that you find energy in and that feels meaningfully connected to your values. Resilience can take the form of practicing gratitude, not getting bogged down in tasks that can feel draining, or simply delegating a new project to a direct report so they can improve their skills.
Resilience is an incredibly key skill for a new leader or high-potential leader. For managers, it's important to both practice resilience yourself and encourage resilience in your direct reports. New and high-potential leaders can find this challenging, especially if you're trying to prove yourself in your new role or assimilate to your new team and/or organization. The getting-up-to-speed process is often a challenging one.
But, if you burn all your energy in the first half of the race, you'll be missing that energy when you need it for the rest of the race. If, in your first year as a new leader, you work at a pace you can't maintain, you'll be facing a tough choice for year two. It's much better to take the breaks now and build your resilience for the long run. After all, in life, your career, and organizational strategy, taking the long-term view is important.
BALANCe, NOT SPEED, ENABLES GROWTH
This year we’ve worked on multiple needs assessment projects with different clients to understand their leaders’ needs and create programs to serve different leader populations. One group of executives brought to light the importance of resilience and sustainable growth for me. This group of executives strongly believed in development opportunities for all, not just leaders or high-potential leaders. The executives were concerned about missing folks with potential who would take advantage of development opportunities to grow and learn at their own pace.
This perspective forced me to pause—the potential is there for many of us with the right opportunities as long as we take breaks and focus on growing ourselves.
Development is not (just) about who starts out fastest and shows the most potential early on. Individuals who grow slowly but steadily may very well surpass those who grow quickly and then falter because they have not put a focus on resilience and sustainability as part of their growth.
So, if you need a break right now, take it. You’re building resilience, and both you and your organization will benefit from it in the long run. Might I suggest lacing up for a quick walk or jog?
At FlashPoint we offer a variety of professional development solutions that can be facilitated with your team, department, or individually. Our latest open enrollment of The Leadership Challenge® from November 2-3, 2023, uses practical virtual exercises to help you apply The Leadership Challenge® principles to build a personal leadership development plan and to improve your daily actions. For more information and to register, visit our events page!