Elite AgentOpinion

Leaders: Take a break…

While working through chaos sometimes seems to be the only way to get through to the other side, often it’s much more important to just stop and recover, writes Fiona Blayney.

As the months of 2020 wore on, the faces of those staring back at me through the ‘Zoom portal’ started to change. The make-up was removed and the coffee levels increased.

The language being used, the rhythm of the dialogue, the speed of decision making, the questioning of self, the level of support required, all slowly started to resemble that of humans who needed more rest.

But not just a standard good night’s sleep; it was deeper than that.

In the pages of many a self-help book, you’ll find the adage, ‘put on your own oxygen mask first’. But at the start of the pandemic, for many leaders, whether it was the ‘unprecedented’ nature of the situation or the rapid acceleration of the spread, putting on your own mask first didn’t feel like the smartest option.

You had a mask on: the mask of a leader. You were already wearing it and it was time to start running. And run you did.

You’ve been running since March, with both the intensity of the hardest sprint class, and the longest marathon, and you’ve not stopped running.

Sure, you’ve caught the odd catnap on a Sunday afternoon, but no amount of shut-eye seems to be making a dent in the debit that is your mind, body and spirit yelling at you, “Hey, you’ve been leading the charge for so long, we need to shut down for a moment.”

I call this leadership fatigue, and, yep, I had it too.

Sitting on the bank of a creek with no phones, no email, no technology; just three kids, a husband, and silence for six days, allowed my brain to stop, my body to decompress, my lungs to breathe deeply. I was ready to run again.

Right now, as leaders, it is our job to reset, to recharge, to be ready, for the next race is about to start. Our time of leading has only just begun and whether we are heading into a ‘new normal’, or a phase of increased economic uncertainty, our people are looking to their leaders for strength, support and direction.

If the business will never outpace its leader, the leader needs to ensure that they are able to keep a reasonable pace. To do that, it’s time to disconnect and replenish – and to get your team to do the same.

Taking a work holiday doesn’t require an international flight, just the commitment to disconnect.

Consider this: no phone, no email, no TV, no tech, no noise about the world at large, no fake social insights into the lives of people that don’t matter, just a focus on your immediate world: your mind, body and soul.

Can’t take a break? If nothing else, 2020 has proven the theory that it’s time to remove the word ‘can’t’ from the dictionary, or at the very least, restrict its use.

Look at what you’ve accomplished this year; you’ve shown there is always a way.

With the obstacles you’ve overcome, having a couple of days off to disconnect is always possible. 

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