November 12, 2018

What To Do When You Experience Leadership Fatigue

by Russ Sarratt

This morning, I went to the gym for the first time in two weeks.

My workout was difficult to begin with, and only grew more taxing as I experienced physical and mental fatigue. To say the least, I had to fight my way through most of it.

Over the next 24 hours I will be paying close attention to my body to make sure I recover well. Proper stretching, nutrition, and rest will be necessary to recover and be prepared for my next workout.

For me, leading can feel like a difficult workout at times. Particularly in the past few weeks, tons of questions, tough decisions, and difficult conversations have left me exhausted with leadership fatigue.

Like many leaders, I can get worn out from leading. When I experience leadership fatigue, it’s not simply a result of busyness. It comes from my desire to serve and lead well, coupled with the weight of my responsibility.

Have you experienced leadership fatigue? What exhausts your leadership muscles? What do you do when you catch yourself experiencing leadership fatigue? How can you revamp your routine to expand your perspective and combat that fatigue?

I often think of a quote by author and pastor Mark Batterson: “A change of pace and a change of place equals a change of perspective.”

A Change of Pace

Switch up the speed of your routine. Does it seem like your life is racing along at a breakneck pace? It may be time to slow down, or come to a temporary stop. Do you feel stuck in a rut with life seeming to pass you by? Find a way to get your adrenaline pumping. Go for a walk, workout, read for an hour, travel, sit outside in the sun--the options for recalibration are endless. Even small breaks in pace are helpful; take as much time as will fit into your life.

A Change of Place

Switch up the location of your typical routine. Take a different route to work. Eat lunch in a different spot. If you normally work inside all day, find a place where you can work outdoors. If possible, rearrange your schedule and work from home for a day. New surroundings will most likely result in new voices to speak into your life.

A Change of Perspective

Fatigued leaders often miss things that are seemingly right before their eyes. A fresh point of view can do wonders for a weary leader. Take steps to get a new vantage point on your current situation. Talk with a trusted friend or mentor; read a relevant book; ask for input from co-workers and team members. A new perspective on the tough decisions and difficult conversations that you are facing can bring new solutions and ideas to overcome challenges.

Most people are drawn to a comfortable routine. Routine can bring a certain level of security and safety. However, when we are experiencing leadership fatigue, routine can work against us. It can give the illusion of control and create complacency. Our physical bodies need rest and recovery following a tough workout, and our leadership muscles need a reset occasionally too.

When you are facing leadership fatigue, you owe it to yourself and the ones you lead to pursue change. The time you spend on rest and recovery will lead to a reenergized perspective for the day ahead.

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