In today’s fast-paced and ever-connected world, leadership has taken on a new dimension.
Leaders are not just expected to drive their teams towards success, but also to set an example in self-care and work-life balance. This means mastering the art of being reliable and responsive without always being on.
I imagine many of you can relate to this. I want to further explore the leadership challenge of finding the right balance between personal well-being and professional commitments, and how to role model a healthier approach for your team.
Our 24/7 work culture, which has been facilitated by the exponentially rapid advancement of technology, has really given rise to a pervasive problem. The quote-unquote, “Always on leader”, these leaders are constantly plugged into their work, whether it’s responding to emails at night or taking calls during family dinners. While this may seem like dedication, it often leads to burnout and a lack of genuine presence both at work and home.
To address this challenge, the first step is recognizing the importance of self-care. As a leader, your well-being is directly linked to your ability to lead effectively. Burnout can lead to poor decision-making, reduced creativity, and strained relationships. Self-care is not selfish, it’s a vital investment in your leadership.
So what does self-care look like for you?
Self-care is a deeply personal journey and what works for one leader may not work for another. So to find the right self-care practices for yourself, consider the following:
First of all, physical health, regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep are essential. As a leader, you must model these habits for your team.
Second, mental health. Practice mindfulness, maybe meditation, or really any activity that helps you manage stress and maintain a clear mind. It’s not just about surviving, it’s about thriving.
Number three, unplug. Set boundaries for your work hours and make sure to unplug during your personal time. Turn off email and text notifications and don’t check work messages once you’re off the clock.
Finally, fourth, consider time management. Efficient time management and delegation are key to ensuring that you’re not overburdened with tasks. Identify and focus on your priorities.
Leaders are influencers and your actions speak louder than words. So consider how you can role model a healthier approach to self-care and work-life balance.
I’m going to share with you eight boundaries that I’ve set in my own life that have helped improve both my self-care and my work-life balance. Strategies that you want to adopt might be similar.
The first is to prioritize self-care. I’ve made self-care a non-negotiable part of my routine. This includes getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising every day, and taking some time to relax and recharge.
Second, I’ve set clear work hours, if I’m constantly tethered to my work email or my phone. I’ve had to learn to set specific times when I know I’m going to unplug and reset. So I let my colleagues and my manager, as well as my family, know when I’m available and when I’m not.
Communicating your boundaries is the third thing I’ve established. I’m open and honest with my friends, my family, and of course, my colleagues about my boundaries. I’ve let them know and I practice when and how I can be reached, as well as being clear about the times where I need space.
Fourth, I’ve learned to say no. It’s okay to decline requests or invitations when I need to protect my own boundaries. Saying no doesn’t make you a bad person. It shows that you respect your time and energy.
Number five the fifth thing I’ve really embraced is a digital detox. I take regular breaks from my devices. I’ve designated tech-free times, such as during mealtime, before bedtime, and certain times on the weekends, disconnecting from my phone, from email. It can have a profound impact on my mental and emotional well-being.
The 6th thing I’ve learned more about is delegating and collaborating. Don’t be afraid to delegate tasks or ask for help when needed. Collaboration can really reduce your own workload and free up time for some self-care, and it shows your team that it’s okay to delegate when necessary. It not only lightens your load but empowers your team members as well.
Seven. Seek support and support your team. Perhaps if you’re like me, setting boundaries is challenging for you. If so, consider seeking ways to get support from a therapist, a counselor, or maybe a life coach. They can provide guidance and strategies for establishing and maintaining boundaries effectively, and the same is true for others. Encourage your team and others who report to you to take care of themselves. Provide resources and flexibility to help them maintain their well-being.
Last but not least, lead by example. Make self-care a visible part of your leadership style. Share your experiences and the benefits of work-life balance with your team. Balancing self-care with reliability and responsiveness may seem challenging, but it is possible by taking care of yourself, you become a more reliable and responsive leader. You’ll make better decisions, you can handle crises more effectively, and generally, you’ll foster a more positive work environment.
Leadership in this day and age requires leaders who prioritize their own well-being to be reliable. To be responsive without being always on, leaders must embrace self-care. They need to find out what works for them and set that positive example for their teams. This approach not only benefits leaders personally, but it also leads to more effective leadership and general, generally healthier, happier teams.
So take the first step towards better leadership by taking care of yourself. In what ways will you consider implementing some self-care practices?