Curium’s non-executive Director, Tracy Westall, shares her thoughts on how our leaders and managers can feel motivated again, as many of us may be suffering from ‘leadership fatigue’.
Looking back at some of my blogs from 2020 I marvel at my misplaced optimism of a quick return to some sort of normality.
COVID-19 exposed a problem with something I always knew about myself.
I am an optimist.
One of those glass half full kinda people with a really annoying “looking on the bright side”, approach even when the bright side is decidley tarnished!
2020 the impact that has taught me what the Stockdale Paradox highlighted by Jim Collins in his “Good to Great” books really means and what impact that has on me and those around me.
So, when January 2021 dawned and I found myself with an overflowing stress cup and low energy levels, I assumed it was the same issue. However, as I started to chat to people in my network it became clear that this was a bit more widespread with many feeling the same.
This led me to think maybe it’s Leadership Fatigue?
Hardly surprising really. 2020 challenged everybody, never mind those with the responsibility of leading organisations, making decisions about business, people, health and wellbeing with absolutely no blueprint, certainty or idea of when things will change for the better.
2020’s upstart sibling, 2021 has started with Lockdown 3 – surely the worst sequel EVER and a whole raft of continued uncertainty. So, leadership fatigue should not be a surprise.
What are the general signs of Leadership Fatigue? A quick google search showed some of the things to look out for.
- Feeling like you are in ‘survival’ mode – you might start each day with a plan, but end up just trying to survive.
- Short term vision – leaders create a long-term vision for their company. Fatigued leaders can barely see past the next hour.
- Acting like everything is under control – the emphasis here is ‘acting’ and this pretence feels exhausting, having to fake excitement and enthusiasm when you don’t really feel it.
- Small things become BIG – a minor problem can now derail you, a simple difference of opinion with one of your managers suddenly feels like a huge betrayal.
- You stop being brilliant at the basics – you might start failing to return emails and phone calls or miss meetings and deadlines. Weary leaders tend to delay responding to others, if they respond at all.
OK so that’s me – but what to do about it?
Well, my colleagues at Curium have been posting some good, practical suggestions.
Firstly, try and recognise what is happening and take a step back. Get outside, listen to a podcast, read a book and the best one of all – hide your phone. Create some space for you to think, re energise and remotivate.
2021 is going be bumpy so some goal setting is important to stay focused and motivated. But recognise that you can’t control everything, and no one expects you to be a super hero and have all the answers. You can however, control your mindset.
Asking for help, sharing the challenge and empowering your teams will unblock if you have become the barrier.
Finally, if you don’t have one, get a coach. A sensible investment to help you navigate the current challenges. Talk to others – you will be surprised at how many people are feeling the same and will have some great tips to share.