I’m fortunate enough to have spent my career working with some incredible leaders. These leaders have truly appreciated the significance of their role as the emotional steer – the person who sets an emotional climate where people can thrive. They have been the Chief Emotions Officer of their team.
Many of us have had the unfortunate experience of having a manager who creates a negative climate, where fear, uncertainty and stress are the norm. Hopefully we have also worked for a leader who exudes enthusiasm, passion and warmth and who can only be described as an emotional magnet. These emotionally intelligent leaders, or Chief Emotions Officers, are the ones we want to stay working for and to whom we will give our best effort.
By being very deliberate about what you do and importantly when you do it, you will naturally achieve more through your week as you tap into this mental energy.
This realisation made me rethink how I prioritise and organise my week and, give or take the odd exception, I ruthlessly plan my day around my natural energy cycles and I would urge you to do the same.
Do you feel that you have the mental focus skills to stay energised and on track throughout your entire week, and the next week and so on? Or do you find that your focus waxes and wanes, maybe succumbing to the countless distractions, such as a ping from a new e-mail, a phone ringing or a request from a colleague etc?
The key to success is how well and how consistently you plan and prioritise your time. Those focused days rarely happen by chance. They happen because you have planned it that way, you knew what you had to do and you didn’t allow yourself to become distracted. It’s the difference between being proactive and not reactive.
Without a clear plan you are at the mercy of simply reacting to what you feel like doing and what situations pop up through the day. Read our tips on how to tap into a steady flow of mental energy.
Typically, people are expending energy working longer but not recovering energy with adequate downtime. The truth is the secret to increased productivity is taking some time off and holidays have been proven to lead to significantly higher performance upon return to the job.
Here’s the thing; just because we can work all the time, doesn’t mean we should. This is incredibly ineffective and unproductive in the long term.
In a recent leadership conference, we asked how many people worked over their holidays and I would say 90% of leaders put their hands up. This was met by a gasp (and a few giggles) from the room, as the true scale of how ridiculous that was hit home.
Before technology and our “always available” culture, we would prepare for our holiday, for example we would ‘hand over’ to a trusted colleague any critical work and we would leave a voicemail that informs customers of who to speak to, in our absence.
How many of you still do this? From my experience, not enough of you.
Here are 6 great habits to get into, including some bad ones to break, to ensure you wake up fully energised and refreshed from a good night’s sleep.
1. Make your bedroom a Technology Free Zone
One of the worst habits that many of us have is checking our phones and other devices, just before we go to sleep. In fact, on a course that I recently ran, one lady even admitted to checking for emails in the middle of the night!
Lack of energy is the most common health complaint amongst adults and lack of sleep may be to blame.
The Royal Society for Public Health reports that although adults need on average 7.7 hours per night, most of us sleep for 6.8 hours, which is almost one full night’s sleep lost every single week. This Cumulative Sleep Debt impairs all aspects of our performance by up to 50%, including memory, creativity, decision making, reaction time and judgment.
Are you in danger of burning out your top talent?
A senior HR colleague of mine said to me the other day that what frustrates her most, is that we seem increasingly to take our top performers and then load them up until they become mediocre.
This really struck a chord with me and from my experience certainly rang true. More and more research is showing that, particularly over the last decade, the people in organisations at the greatest risk of burnout are indeed this top talent. Nada Kakabadse, from Henley School of Business, said employers were often unaware that their best staff were suffering as a result of hard work. And it’s easy to see why.
Just because in our digital 24/7 world where we have the flexibility to work when we want to, this doesn’t mean we have to work all the time. Company leaders need to lead by example and show the importance of time-off.
With Rio just around the corner, imagine you are a top athlete competing in a 100 metre sprint. You’ve put in all of the preparation; you’ve trained hard, eaten well, recovered your energy, you are at the top of your game! You run, you win. The crowd cheers. Success!
Now imagine you have to race again…and again…with little time to recover. Would your performance in your second and third races be as good if you have no time to rest in between? Of course not!