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Creating Successful Leaders

It always hits me when I’m fuddling over a new computer program or playing phone tag with friends: all this technology is great, but half the time I feel more stressed, rushed and overburdened because of it. The days of Fax machines and pagers seems practically in the ancient past, right alongside the Pony Express and telegrams.

While I sometimes do feel we are too connected to our Iphones, I’m not one to bash all new technology. Most of it is amazing, exciting, and truly helpful. But you can’t deny that being plugged into the web on a constant basis definitely adds hours to your work day. Being out of the office no longer means you’re out of reach. It’s the reality of the workplace these days.

As a result, we find ourselves working longer and longer work weeks. The way we’ve been told to deal with this is to manage our time better, rearranging one’s schedule in such a way that makes ideal use of every waking minute.

But this neglects the heart of the issue: an individual’s energy levels. If longer and longer hours are a given, then at a certain point, no amount of schedule-shuffling will enable a person to stay on top of things. This leads to burnouts, stress and unhappiness that bleeds into personal lives.

Don’t focus on your time management–just assume you’ll be busy. Instead, take care of your energy levels throughout the day.

Authors Tony Swartz and Catherine McCarthy  have written a book on this, Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time

They point out that your time is finite, but your energy levels can be replenished if you attend to them closely. They offer a few ways for you to do this throughout the day:

  • Take a break every 90-120 minutes. Physically get up from your desk and get a brief change of scenery
  • Eat light meals and many snacks throughout the day, every couple hours
  • Dedicate time every day to focus on what you’re best at and what gives you a sense of fulfillment.

They also suggest that leaders pay attention to their employee’s energy needs:

“To effectively reengergize their workforces, organizations need to shift their emphasis from getting more out of people to investing more in them…”

  • Keep a room devoted for taking breaks and relaxing
  • Subsidize gym memberships
  • Encourage staff to move around every so often

And I’ll add a suggestion of my own for leaders:

  • Energy is directly related to feedback. Positive feedback energizes folks and helps them keep the momentum going. Negative feedback, if delivered well, can also motivate people to make improvements. The point is, I find that giving specific, frequent feedback is one of the best ways to help people manage their own energy levels

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