In years past, perceptions of what made a good leader spanned from how quickly a person made a decision to how many hours they worked in a week. In a modern workplace, however, strong leaders are positive, mission-driven, and they willingly put their teams first.
If you’re thinking about how to be a better leader, that’s great. But one of the things we as leaders tend to do is forget to invest in ourselves first. To stay energized, you need to put yourself first, and do it in a way that will encourage your team members to take care of themselves, too. Here are a few ideas for how you can start to do just that.
Take good care of yourself
When you’re feeling your best, you’ll have the capacity to take care of others in your sphere. Feeling good starts with taking care of your whole self. Choose good foods to put in your body, drink plenty of water, and work on getting enough sleep so you can focus clearly during the workday. Getting plenty of exercise can help reduce anxiety and improve your mood, so find ways to fit it into your schedule.
Taking care of your mental health is critical in a fast-paced job, too. You need to make sure you’re valuing yourself enough to provide balance in your week. Whether it’s a game of golf, a crossword puzzle, or gardening, make sure you’re finding the time to enjoy your hobbies each week. Finding good coping strategies for your stress or practicing mindfulness throughout the day can also ensure you’re at your best while you’re leading your team. It’s likely they’ll notice and work to treat themselves with the same care.
Live by your values
If you’ve taken the time to identify your core values, you need to live by them. And I don’t just mean your company’s values. I also mean your own, personal values. Maybe they intertwine, and maybe they don’t. You’ll need to do the work of deciding what matters the most to you and how to be more authentic in your life.
It pays to do the work of defining your values and writing out what you want them to be. When you’ve put in the work to fully understand how your values drive your decisions and to recognize when something conflicts with them, it makes you a more genuine person. Knowing what you value can make a massive difference in how you show up as a leader.
Leaders always need to be open to learning and taking on new ideas that will challenge you to see things differently. When you take the time to ensure you’re growing and processing the changing world around you, it opens your eyes. In the end, it helps you know how to lead a more diverse team and answer the needs of those who think differently than you.
Whether it’s reading books on leadership, obtaining a new degree or certification, upskilling, or simply trying to focus on seeing things differently, there are countless opportunities for you to expand your knowledge. You owe it to yourself, and to your team, to not settle for the status quo. Never stop learning.
Know when to say no
Entrepreneurs and leaders often know it can be difficult to walk away from opportunities when they present themselves. But you need to learn the boundaries of your energy and when something just isn’t working. Maybe a business decision you made isn’t panning out, or you’ve taken on more than you can handle in your workplace. Know what your limits are. Then know when to bow out gracefully.
Remember, saying “no” doesn’t mean you can’t be polite about it. Practice saying things like, “Thank you for asking, but this isn’t quite in my area of expertise,” or “I wish I had the bandwidth, but it’s outside of my scope of work.” It will make a major difference in how you’re perceived.
In a post-pandemic workplace, it’s increasingly important that you take care of your team, and yourself. Your team is a reflection of you, so when you care for yourself, you’ll naturally show them the importance of caring for them, too.
Do you have advice on how to care for yourself? Share your ideas in the comments below.
Jim Allen is a business leader and entrepreneur who has built one of the top-producing real estate groups in the Triangle. He is President of The Jim Allen Group, which is consistently named one of the top real estate teams in North Carolina and even North America.
One Response to “How to invest in yourself to be a stronger leader”
Always review goals with values. Goals and timelines will change.