Self-Care Isn’t Selfish

Self-Care Isn’t Selfish

Burnout Leadership Leadership Effectiveness Self-Care

We often talk about the responsibilities of leadership – bringing out the best in others, managing conflict, creating and engaging others in a compelling vision, maximizing productivity and profits. Unfortunately, self-care is often left off the list.

The truth is that leadership is hard work and hard work requires energy. Not just physical energy, but emotional, mental and spiritual energy as well. It’s especially vital for you as a leader to keep up your own energy. You are regularly called upon to lend energy to your team, to keep the momentum going, and the process moving forward.

It’s helpful to remember you need to take care of yourself in order to take care of your team. Here’s a mantra for you to remember: Self-care is not selfish. Self-care is actually, ultimately, an act of service. In order to give yourself permission to engage in self-care, you have to let go of these myths:

Leaders are invincible – Leaders are not invincible or invulnerable. You will get tired, angry, hungry, fearful and discouraged. Your very human frailties are what allow you to understand and relate to your team and help them relate to you.

Self-care is too hard (or too expensive, or too time-consuming) – It really isn’t. Especially when you compare it to the cost of burnout. It’s simply about creating and consistently applying good self-care practices. Period.

Leaders should come last – Taking care of your team members and your team as a whole is a good thing. In order to do that, you have to replenish your own energy and reserves. If you consistently put yourself last, your energy may be gone before you get what you need, hurting both you and your team.

So, once you put those myths to rest, how do you actually engage in self-care?

Start with awareness and taking inventory. Learn to pay attention to the cues that tell you that you need rest, food, water or a change of pace. Once you’ve done this, invest in yourself. Take the time needed to take care of you. Nourish and hydrate your body. Rest your brain as much as your body.

Next, create connections and a self-care system. Surround yourself with people who have your back and who tell you the truth when you’re doing well or when you need to self-correct.

Make time to replenish yourself with time away from work, time in nature, and spiritual nurture. There’s an old saying: “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” While it may not be possible to consistently keep your own cup completely full, it’s important that you don’t let the level get too low before you do something to refill it.

Here’s the bottom-line: you cannot be a great leader if you’re running on empty, physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually. Self-care is an essential part of leadership responsibility.

Take care of yourself, and you’ll be able to take care of everything else and Increase Your Impact!

Dr. Sherene McHenry, Relational Leadership expert, is a widely acclaimed speaker, author and coach that demystifies how to lead, motivate and resolve conflict for optimal results. Known for being wise, witty and practical, Sherene provides instantly implementable tips and strategies for enhancing leadership effectiveness, increasing engagement and decreasing burnout, frustrations and miscommunications.

Coach, Cheerleader Or Referee?

Coach, Cheerleader Or Referee?

Burnout Conflict Resolution Leadership Leadership Effectiveness Stress

Effective leadership requires effective conflict resolution skills. A team in conflict is a team that is not functioning at its best. While a great deal of conflict can be anticipated and artfully avoided, circumventing conflict isn’t always possible or even desirable. Living in the real world, you will inevitably face conflicts in your team

Not all conflicts are created equal. As an effective leader, you need a variety of strategies to address problems as they arise and to play different roles in resolving conflicts. I think successful conflict resolution requires leaders to be coach, cheerleader and referee. See if you agree.

Coach. Coaches ensure that team members reach their full potential as individuals and as a team. Coaching your team through conflict includes establishing a climate of mutual trust and respect and strong communication skills such as civility, open-mindedness and active listening.

Helping identify and craft win/win solutions is another way to coach your team through conflict. When conflict hits a stumbling block, you can suggest alternate strategies that may make the team more successful in resolving the situation. Additionally, you can lead the team in post-conflict analysis and apply the lessons learned to support improved performance and avert similar conflicts in the future.

Cheerleader. Cheerleaders provide support, encouragement and praise from the sidelines, rather than participating directly in the competition. Wise leaders know there are times that interfering in a disagreement only makes matters worse. When the conflict calls for you to be a cheerleader, express your support and your confidence in your team’s ability to steer themselves through the conflict. Praise the progress made along the way to keep your team’s spirits high and focused on the desired outcome.

Referee. Referees ensure good sportsmanship and that players follow the rules of the game. So it is with leaders in conflict situations. When team members are unable to resolve conflict on their own, they may need your intervention as a neutral party. While it might be tempting to take sides, as a leader you need to protect the interests of all parties equally.

Enforcing ground rules and calling “foul” on inappropriate behaviors during the conflict process is critical. Declaring a time out when things get too heated can also be useful. Finally, as a referee, you may need to exert your authority to declare a winner if the team or individuals can’t reach a shared resolution.

While your preferred leadership style in conflict may lean more heavily to one of these roles, effective leadership means that you are capable of being a coach, cheerleader or referee depending on the needs and capabilities of your team. Knowing when to be coach, cheerleader or referee empowers you to lead your team to success and to Increase your impact!

Dr. Sherene McHenry, Relational Leadership expert, is a widely acclaimed speaker, author and coach that demystifies how to lead, motivate and resolve conflict for optimal results. Known for being wise, witty and highly practical, Sherene provides instantly implementable tips and strategies for enhancing leadership effectiveness, increasing engagement and decreasing burnout, frustrations and miscommunications.

Effective Leadership Qualities: Shine Your Light

Effective Leadership Qualities: Shine Your Light

Achievement Burnout Leadership Motivation

Effective leadership qualities are a lot like light. They enable you to see a clear vision of a shared and positive future, illumine the path forward and shed light into dark corners where trouble might be lurking.

Leadership is an important calling, and those who do it best possess a high degree of self-awareness and self-care. Here are five ways to ensure you shine even brighter as an effective leader:

  1. Keep your focus clear– Make sure that the vision and mission of your organization is clear to you, so that you can make it clear for others.
  1. Keep yourself nourished – Having adequate light is a function of having sufficient energy. Making sure that you are nourished – physically, emotionally and spiritually – ensures that you have energy to share with others.
  1. Keep moving forward –Your forward momentum propels others. You cannot shine a light on the path to the future if you are standing still in the present.
  1. Keep asking questions – As an effective leader, you have to be willing to look at things that other people cannot see and to anticipate the perils and pitfalls that escape the attention of others. When you ask questions – even tough questions – you empower others to see a broader picture.
  1. Keep sharing the light – The knowledge and wisdom you possess as a leader is worthless if you do not share it. When you bring others into your circle of light, you ensure that it continues beyond yourself.

Effective leaders carry the light in three ways – in the lantern that lights the way and illumines the path; in the flashlight that brightens dark corners; and in the candle that, tipped to the next in line, keeps the light shining in a continuous and ongoing circle.

May your light burn brightly as you increase your leadership effectiveness!

Dr. Sherene McHenry, Leadership Effectiveness expert, is a widely acclaimed speaker, author and coach that demystifies how to lead, motivate and resolve conflict for optimal results. Known for being witty, wise and highly practical, Sherene provides instantly implementable tips and strategies for developing effective leadership qualities that get results.

#1 Reason People Quit Their Jobs

#1 Reason People Quit Their Jobs

Bad Boss Burnout Conflict Resolution Employee Engagement Leadership Motivation Stress

A recent Gallup Poll of more than 1 million U.S. workers indicates the #1 reason people quit their jobs is a bad boss or supervisor. Wondering if you or one of your managers is struggling as a boss? Look at your turnover rates. If they are low, you’re doing well. If they are in the middle, it’s time to start paying attention. If your turnover rates are high, you’ve got a problem. Unfortunately, turnover rates are often overlooked or explained away with a, “They’re leaving for more money.” Research indicates otherwise.

Your ability to communicate and resolve differences is key to your leadership success and employee satisfaction. For almost a quarter of a century Dr. Arnold Lazarus’s “Rules for Fighting Fairly” has been my go-to guide for teaching people to respectfully resolve conflicts.

If you want to maximize your effectiveness as a leader and strengthen relationships:

Rather than criticizing the person, address specific behaviors. While it may be accurate, telling someone, “You’re inconsiderate, lazy, or rude” only escalates problems. Instead of attacking their character and forcing them to either shut down or become defensive, state the problematic behavior. “When you are late,” “When you interrupt,” “When you leave customers waiting,” all clearly identify a problematic behavior without attacking someone’s personhood.

Addressing problematic behavior allows you to get to the heart of the matter quickly, decreases defensiveness and significantly increases your likelihood of being heard, which is critical to resolving conflict.

Refrain from telling employees what they are thinking/feeling, how they’re going to react or what they do/don’t know. Sentences that start with, “Now don’t get mad, but…” or “I know you think you know best, but…” are pretty much guaranteed to escalate into arguments. While you might be spot on, it’s not helpful or productive to micromanage another person’s emotions or thoughts. Instead of throwing gasoline on the fire, say what you need to say, then allow the person to respond.

Avoid saying, “You always” and “You never.” Unless you’re complimenting someone, “You always/never” is guaranteed to escalate emotions and derail disagreements. Instead of coming to a resolution, you’ll be hearing about the time(s) they did or didn’t do “xyz.” Drop these two phrases from your vocab and you’re well on your way to a productive disagreement.

Avoid right/wrong, good/bad categories. Most of how you desire things to be done as a business owner or boss are a preference rather than a rule that exists proclaiming there is only one way to do things. While cheating, stealing and lying are non-negotiables for most, how and when something gets done is generally a preference.

Determine your non-negotiables, values that are unshakable if someone wants to work for you and things that must be done in a precise way. Then, with clearly established goals and expectations, give your employees the freedom to determine how to best accomplish their tasks. They’ll be less argumentative, feel respected and be far more productive.

You’ll want to be prepared with appropriate consequences for employees who are chronically late, treat others poorly or do subpar work. As painful as it is, good leadership entails holding people responsible for their actions or lack thereof. Other employees take their cues about what is and isn’t acceptable behavior from you.

While conflict may not be pleasant, it doesn’t have to be destructive. These four guidelines are a great starting point for productive disagreements. If you’re thinking, “Wait, Sherene, there’s got to be more,” you’re right. Stay tuned. I can hardly wait for the next blog.

Originally published in Garden Center Magazine, August 2014, http://www.gardencentermag.com/article/garden0814-leader-employees-relationships/

Burnout Or A Better Bottom Line

Burnout Or A Better Bottom Line

Burnout Employee Engagement Leadership Motivation Stress

Run, run, run. Do more with fewer and fewer resources. Deal with difficult people. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. It’s another day in the life of a leader.

Depending on your position and personality, you might flourish working under the gun. If you’re like some, rushing around, rising to the occasion and problem solving brings out the best in you. There is no mountain you can’t climb. No obstacle you can’t overcome. Your biggest challenge might be turning off your brain long enough to get a good night’s rest before you dive in all over again.

Unfortunately, what you find stimulating, inspiring and exciting, can be overwhelming and stressful for others, especially those under your leadership. It’s one thing to create a vision and quite another to be tasked with bringing it to fruition. As a leader, it’s critical to look at stress and burnout and how you can create an environment that maximizes productivity and improves your bottom line.

Stress is generally caused by having too much to do, and the worry and anxiety that accompanies problems in and out of the workplace. Stressed individuals lose their tolerance for frustration, take things personally, and either become agitated or emotionally shut down. Not good for business, productivity or employee satisfaction.

Burnout, the collapse of physical or emotional strength or motivation resulting from extended periods of stress or frustration, also negatively impacts your bottom line as it leads to exhaustion, loss of motivation and ineffectiveness. Highly stressed or burned-out individuals are not good for employee morale or engagement, stellar customer service or the bottom line.

Here are quick tips you can immediately implement to minimize workplace stress and burnout:

1. Take care of yourself physically and encourage your employees to do the same. Get plenty of water, nutrient-rich food and a good night’s rest so that you aren’t burning the candle at both ends. Encourage your employees to do the same. Whether your people are engaging in outdoor labor or working in a temperature controlled environment, a hydrated worker is a more efficient worker. Think of your employees like athletes. Coolers full of Gatorade aren’t just for dousing the coach after a big win.

2. Express appreciation regularly. Employees who feel valued and appreciated are motivated to work harder and are far less likely to be stressed or burned out than those who are treated like expendable objects. Appreciation is a wonderful antidote to stress and burnout.

3. Make sure everyone carries their load. It’s tempting to not want to rock the boat with a temporary employee or someone who is slacking off. Unfortunately, overlooking the slackers puts a lot more pressure on your high performers. It also is incredibly frustrating and demotivating, and leads to stress and burnout. Why should your best people perform at their highest levels if others are allowed to lollygag?

4. Address problems as they arise. Problems are never pleasant and often ignored in hopes they will go away. Unfortunately, problems rarely disappear on their own. Taking care of problems is like weeding. Baby weeds are easy to pull, but once they take root, they can be a bear. If an employee is unhappy, have a conversation. Find out what’s wrong and if you can do anything to help. Unresolved and ongoing arguments drain energy and take a huge toll on productivity and work satisfaction.

Even during your busiest season, you have the power to minimize stress and in doing so significantly decrease the likelihood of burnout among your staff. Implementing even one of these tips will bring about good results.

Master all four and you’ll have the satisfaction of watching productivity, job satisfaction and profitability soar.

Originally published in Garden Center Magazine, April 2014, http://www.gardencentermag.com/article/garden0414-avoid-burnout/