As managers and leaders we are often expected to somehow be impervious to the challenges and stresses of the work environment and even life in general. The thinking is that although part of our jobs is to guide and support our employees through stress, that by some miracle, we ourselves, as managers, should be immune to factors that threaten our effectiveness, our productivity and even our health.
Of course, the notion that we are impervious to stress is nonsense. In fact, as our responsibility and accountability grow as we rise in organizations, we generally become exposed to both greater quantity and intensity of stressors. The stakes of “getting it right” increase as the level of our responsibility increases.
The irony is that not only is the mythology wrong, but the less time and effort we devote to taking care of ourselves, the less capable we are of taking care of others and of achieving the results that are expected of us. This dilemma is well articulated in the paragraph below, excerpted from the February, 2015 edition of Entrepreneur magazine.
“Ethical leadership starts with how you treat yourself. You can’t inspire or motivate others when you are running on fumes. Self-renewal is a leadership responsibility (emphasis mine); it shifts attitude, energy, and a sense of possibility. Take steps to take better care of yourself–whether it involves time out for reflection (meditation), yoga, the gym, eating better, more sleep, deep breathing exercises or, yes, a day off to hang out with your family.” You can link to the story here.
The fact of the matter is that, like our employees, we are human beings with all the needs and frailties that come with the human condition. Not only is taking care of ourselves a smart thing to do, it is a leadership responsibility.