Recently, leadership has become a game of endurance. Leaders are working through massive changes without a playbook, and with considerable change comes leadership fatigue. How can you survive and continue to lead effectively through all these changes? Here are a few actionable tips to acknowledge and handle the fatigue going forward.
Why are you feeling fatigued?
Many leaders are most comfortable operating from a place of control. Lately, our work environments are anything but controlled. Because of this, you cannot lead with the same mental mindset you typically have, which is leading to fatigue and stress. Not knowing what to do, what to say, or what comes next leaves us feeling like imposters, trying to create leadership from a place of not being an expert and not knowing the answers. Though you may still be effective, you’re feeling worn down by the speed and volume of change.
The leadership fatigue and stress you’re feeling is caused by the constant change and inconsistencies attacking our every move. Our established norms and routines are in flux and our communications and workflows are being challenged by new work environments. As you look for resources and support, there is no playbook or roadmap for our current climate. Stress and fatigue are compound by the daily news updates and volumes of information you are consuming to remain up to date on the state of the world so you can make good business decisions.
What can you do to reduce leadership fatigue?
To start, you need to recognize of how much control you actually have as a leader. You need to get comfortable not leading from a place of control and experience like you once did. Your ability to lead now hinges on getting information, understanding what is going on in the environment, processing it as quickly as possible, and getting the information out to your teams.
The reality is you don’t have all the answers and your team will have to help solve the problems with you as you go. You must be able to say, ‘these are all great questions and we are going to have to figure them out together, learning as we go.’ It’s important to remember it’s not your job to know all the answers, it’s your job to help your team figure it out and find the way.
How can you help your team be more effective and less fatigued?
It may seem like a simple question, but it’s important to ask your team, “what is your primary channel of communication? Is it efficient?” The flow of communication should be the greatest priority in times of great change. Quick and consistent communication to your teams is critical. Fatigue can come from not having a good way for communication to flow, especially if you have reinvented the wheel every time you need to share an update.
Next, focus on operations and business continuity. The stressor (or cause of fatigue) here is not having a diagnostic framework to think about how to deliver goods and services, because again, there is no roadmap or path forward. Agility is critical. You need to be able to quickly access the biggest elements of change from the current state to the future state, no matter how many times the future state is changing. Keep the problems well-defined. Try to make priorities simple and keep people focused.
And last, but not least, during times of crisis or leadership transitions, be clear about the strengths of the individuals on your team and play into those strengths. Make sure everyone has what they need to serve customers and keep the business going. Ask yourself if there is anything you need to do to help the team maintain a strong level of performance in the days and weeks to ahead.
Keep moving forward. Cut yourself some slack and acknowledge you do not have all the answers. Remember people are dealing with situations they have no control over. Productivity will be all over the place – for all of you. You are in this race together, and together you will find the endurance you need to be successful.
The challenges we are presented with will shape who we become as leaders. To more effectively coach and support your team members, we invite you to join us for Coaching and Motivating in the Workplace, a two-day interactive program focused on developing the essential skills needed to effectively coach and create conditions that inspire discovery, reflection, and persistence in others.