As leaders, we seek to be consistent in the work we do and the relationships we build with our stakeholders. A fundamental part of the trust they place in us is based on our consistency. This doesn’t mean however that we always have to be at the office, that we must always be contactable, that we never shut off.
A break in service is not the same as inconsistency.
Fatigue and Forgetfulness
Professional sportspeople such as footballers or athletes are at their peak, performing to a high level, winning matches and putting in consistent times. Yet, they don’t do it all year round, they have seasons during which they perform. Seeing as there’s a fixed window in life during which anyone can be a professional sportsperson, they rightly concentrate on winning as many races as possible in the time they have.
Athletes have off-seasons because they need to recuperate because fatigue accumulates despite prescribed rest periods. They need time to train and develop and they also need time to sit on the beach. Where the nearest track is the one leading back to the resort. Where the nearest football is an orange plastic gift shop affair. The summer tends to be the time for leaders to find somewhere other than the office to spend time doing something, anything, else.
Not only does this time allow physical and mental rest, it also provides, in small quantities, another useful mental function. Forgetting. Albeit on a small scale, it is nonetheless true that when we return to our work after a break we feel a fresh interaction with even the oldest activity. This allows us an opportunity to see things anew and to experience them anew. Something we can never do when we are repeating the same tasks and interactions without a break.
Our tasks don’t benefit if we do them during a break, and we don’t get the best of our holiday if it’s interrupted by work.
Time Away is not Time Wasted
Leadership requires that our consistency be more than simply consistency of action or presence, it’s also consistency of quality, consistency of decision, consistency of direction. If we only focus on the former group, on turning up every day, being available every hour, we see a concomitant decline in the latter group.
While daily rest periods, breaks from work and short walks can help to rejuvenate us through the day, we need to take longer periodic breaks, whether they are traditional holidays, off-grid retreats or pottering about staycations, one thing is essential … shutting off; taking the time to take care of ourselves, our body and our mind. There are many things leaders do for those they lead, taking time away, is something they do for those they lead and for themselves.
If the company cannot survive without you for a week or two, it’s worrying. It’s not good for you or for the company because ultimately the allthat you have to give is increasingly lessened, leading to breaks in consistency and, eventually, the erosion of our leadership is not far behind.
The quality and nature of our leadership decline as we fatigue. Being ever conscious of our leadership commitments without cease, without break, has all the hallmarks of obsessiveness and mania. Nobody wants to follow a leader with these qualities because they lead to unpredictableness and inconsistency.
A true leader knows that making time to take care of themselves is also time spent taking care of business.
If you’d like to know more please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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