Guest Post by Tom Catalini
Becoming a better leader is part of your job as a leader. But you probably already knew that.
In fact, you might be thinking about this often. Maybe a lot. Probably you think about this at least occasionally.
What do you do about it?
You might go to seminars. Maybe you attend conferences. Perhaps you compare strategies with other leaders.
Those are all great strategies. But have you ever considered focusing a little closer to home?
What if you viewed yourself as the CEO? Not of your entire organization, but of yourself. After all, you are in charge of how you spend your time and energy. Aren’t you?
If not, you might want to consider taking charge. It’s fundamental to your success as an individual. And also to your success as a leader.
I will help you get started.
It will be easy for you. After all, you are an experienced leader. Now we are just going to focus in on you. That’s personal leadership. And it can help you to boost your effectiveness as a leader of teams, projects, and organizations.
This is one of the most powerful leverage points you have as a leader. The more strategically you approach your own focus, efficiency, and effectiveness, the more value you can bring to your team and to your organization.
An over-tired, over-worked, strung-out leader is less effective. That person might even be a detriment to the team. Simply working harder is not the best answer. Not in the long run. You already know that. You wouldn’t put your team through grinding work continually without looking for a better way.
Don’t do that to yourself.
Be the leader who is focused, energetic, and enthusiastic. Be the leader who manages personal energy strategically and thoughtfully. Be the leader who plans and approaches each day with forethought and insight.
This all starts with personal energy management.
Here are 6 tips to help you be at your best every day, for yourself and for your team.
- Start the night before. Find a way to let go of the current day before you go to bed. Reflect on the day that is ending. Contemplate the most important things you will need to tackle tomorrow. Then, set those thoughts aside (writing them down is a good way to do this) and focus on rest and refresh. Read some fiction before bedtime, on a device with e-ink or in good old fashioned paper form (stay away from screens). A well-rested leader is a good leader.
- Get up early. Sure, the early bird catches the worm. But you don’t want worms. What you want is a little time to gather your thoughts again. If you have notes from the night before, you could review them. Or you could just reflect once more on the most important things facing you today. Starting with a little quiet time is a peaceful and productive way to start your day. Better yet, do a little more reading. Non-fiction this time. Chip away at a book or read an article. This is a great way to sneak in some professional development on a daily basis. It’s an energizing way to start the day. And energy is crucial to leadership.
- Do the most important thing first. When it’s time to get to work, do the most important thing first. You should know what this is from your recent reflections. If the task is hard or unpleasant, don’t avoid it. Do it first and do it with your full energy and attention. This is the best part of your day. The part where you have the most energy. Don’t waste it on checking email or water cooler chit chat. What you accomplish at the outset of your day is magnified through your leadership. It sets you and your team up for a more productive day.
- Pause and reset throughout the day. Do not schedule tons of back to back meetings for yourself. That is an energy killer. Scrambling to finish on one topic and startup on the next is not productive. You need to make better use of your time than that. Your job as a leader is to do the higher-level thinking. For this, you need time to connect insights and ideas. You need time to fully understand the big picture. You need time to contemplate the best path forward. Do not fall into the trap of cramming stuff in all day. Be strategic and plan times throughout the day for reflection and synthesis. Quiet moments is where this happens.
- Don’t eat crappy food. This is a hard one. Good food choices can be hard to come by, but this is incredibly important. If you tax your body with junky food, or deprive yourself of food, you won’t have the right energy levels to operate at your best. As a leader, with people depending on you to be at your best. You need to do better. Start your day at home with a healthy breakfast. That way, even if things go off track later, you will at least have one good meal fueling your day. Throughout the day, take time to eat. Make healthy choices. Keep your energy level high.
- Play to your strengths. Throughout the day, focus your efforts on what you are good at. Delegate to others things that they can do better than you. Your job as a leader is to manage the effectiveness of the entire team. You are an important part of that team. And just like anybody else, you have strengths to offer and things that might be better left in the hands of others. And playing to your strengths helps your energy flow stay positive. To do this, of course, you must know your strengths. If you don’t, spend fifteen bucks on StandOut by Marcus Buckingham, an easy read of a book that comes with an online self-assessment test that can help you better understand what you are best at.
Your first job as a leader is to become a better leader. Every day. Put these tips into your daily routine and you will start to make progress immediately. Over time, you will become more and more effective. Then, you can move on to new levels of personal leadership. And new levels of success as a leader for your team and your organization.
Find out more about Tom Catalini
and Personal Leadership at www.tomcatalini.com
Check out Tom’s latest book at www.CareerLeapYear.com a great way to improve your capabilities.