Practical Help for Exhausted Leaders Get More Done

Practical Help for Exhausted Leaders Who Need to Get More Done

To get more done, start with you.

In the past few months, we’ve heard from many leaders asking for help with time management. They feel the pressing need to get more done, but many of them feel like they’re already maxed out or running on empty.

How do you maintain your energy, do what needs doing, and make sure you have enough for important decisions and relationships?

I’ve had to ask myself this question many times throughout my life. In the past, I had a nasty habit of running myself into the ground until I was sick, exhausted, and no good to anyone. That’s no way to live and it certainly isn’t good leadership.

If you want to sustain your impact and accomplish your leadership goals, it’s essential to maintain your energy and use your time as effectively as possible. Let’s start with your energy.

Five Ways to Manage Your Energy

1. Stop thinking in terms of work-life balance.

You have a life. Work is part of that life.

When you think of work vs life, you often begin taking from one to supplement the other. In short order, you are literally fighting yourself.

A healthy perspective on what you do and why you do it is vital to making good decisions. If you’ve thought of “work” and “life” as two different things, it’s time to reframe:  How does your work integrate with and serve your life?

2. Know your “why.”

I’d woken up in a hotel one thousand miles away from home. Karin texted me just as I left the hotel on my way to a client where I would facilitate a Winning Well leadership workshop. Her message?

“Go change some lives.”

That’s my “why.” Investing in people and helping them become the best leader they can be fuels me. It motivates me. It’s the literal energy behind the words I’m typing right now.

Your “why” is your greatest source of leadership energy.

Why are you leading?

This is the answer to many questions – especially when you don’t feel like it and it genuinely takes real effort to lead.

What is your purpose? Why did you sign up? If your why is about the power, prestige, or pay that comes with leadership roles, you’ll likely run out of steam. There’s never enough power, fame, or money for your sacrifice and work.

But serving the people and purpose in your work can be endless sources of energy. Let those ground you and motivate you.

3. Watch your energy drains.

What gives and depletes your energy?

I’m an introvert. I love being with people, but I also know that it depletes my energy. If I do it long enough, I can actually become physically ill.

When I conduct multi-day workshops with groups that enjoy evening dinners and fun, I often explain that I want to be my best for the workshop and will forgo one night of fun to ensure I get the solitude necessary to recharge my emotional batteries.

If you’re an extrovert, do you spend time with people who energize and motivate you in the direction you want to go? Do you take enough time to reflect on your relationships?

4. Make fewer decisions.

Making decisions takes energy. The more decisions you make in a day, the more difficult it becomes to make the next one. Stop making decisions you don’t need to make.

  • Insist that people on your team make decisions they should make.
  • Unsubscribe from the unhelpful email that saps your decision-making energy.
  • Make low-risk decisions quickly. If the consequences are minimal, make decisions quickly and move on.
  • Make decisions once. This is an old and essential productivity tool: look at an email once. Then either delete it, act on it, schedule it for future action, put in a file related to its project, or put it in a ‘maybe read later’ file.

5. Get outside your bubble.

This helps your energy and the quality of your leadership decisions. Connect with people outside your team and organization. See how what you’re doing relates to your community and the world. You’ll get insights that re-inspire you and new ideas to use with your team.

Get More Done

As you take care of yourself and manage your energy, it’s time to look at how you’re leading and where you get more done in ways that serve your team and the results you want to achieve.

1. Mind the MIT.

It’s a mantra: “Infinite need. Finite me. Mind the MIT.”

If your list feels overwhelming, that’s because it is. There will always be more to do than you can possibly achieve. Recognize it. Embrace it. Then let go of your need to do everything.

Doing more in less time isn’t always the answer. In fact, it’s a poor choice when it distracts you from taking effective action where it matters most.

Start by getting crystal clear about your MIT (Most Important Thing). What’s the strategic goal you’ve got to achieve in the next three months? What’s the MIT for this week? For today? For the next hour?

Get focused and Mind the MIT. Do your daily MIT first whenever possible.

2. Communicate for results.

Most leaders think they’ve communicated, but ask their team what their leader said and it gets murky fast. Don’t let that happen to you.

Clarify the MIT. Be clear about what needs to happen, when it will be done, the specific next steps, and follow up. Don’t leave understanding to chance: check for understanding and ensure everyone on the team is on the same page.

3. Schedule the finish.

Good intentions, talented people, and strong commitment don’t ensure results.

You’ll reclaim lots of wasted time when you don’t leave the finish to chance. Schedule the finish by making an appointment on your calendar for the next step or follow up. For example:

If the team will send a referral request to their top ten customers, schedule the finish by letting them know that at the next meeting you will ask them to submit their list of who they emailed and what they heard.

4. Build a more powerful team.

Your work as a leader is to bring people together to get results you can’t do on your own. The better your team, the more time you’ll have to do the work that only you can do.

Learn your team member’s confidence and competence so you can quickly have the conversation that will help them grow. Use the 9 What’s Coaching Method to help them solve problems on their own. Ask how you can help and look for opportunities to invest in their growth.

5. Close every loop.

You scheduled the finish. Now it’s time to finish. Did everyone keep their commitment? Is it done? Were results what was expected? If so—take time to celebrate and encourage your people.

If not, take time to practice accountability. Don’t wait. Have the INSPIRE conversation as soon as possible. Every day you delay is another week or month of poor results and wasted emotional energy as you avoid the conversation.

6. Do Less

Take time as a team to Own the UGLY – what’s not working, what’s got to go, and where can you improve your processes? What can you stop doing altogether? What can you do more efficiently?

You’ll find answers, but only if you take the time to ask the questions and commit to the solutions. As you eliminate inefficiencies or unnecessary tasks, resist the urge to re-schedule that time.

If your work requires creativity or problem solving, you’ll get a return on the investment of a built-in margin where you intentionally allow yourself and your team to think, reflect, and recharge.

Your Turn

I’ve learned that hard way that you’re no good to anyone when you’re an exhausted, irritable mess. It’s also your responsibility as a leader to take care of yourself – no one can do that for you. We’d love to hear from you too: leave us a comment and share your best practices to manage your energy and get more done?

See Also: How to Lead When Your Team is Exhausted

Posted in Winning Well.

David Dye

Author and international keynote speaker David Dye gives leaders the roadmap they need to transform results without losing their soul (or mind) in the process. He gets it because he’s been there: a former executive and elected official, David has over two decades of experience leading teams and building organizations. He is President of Let's Grow Leaders and the award-winning author of the author of several books: Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates (Harper Collins Summer 2020), Winning Well: A Manager's Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul, Overcoming an Imperfect Boss, and Glowstone Peak. - a book for readers of all ages about courage, influence, and hope.

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