LEADERSHIP RESOURCES BLOG

Guidance on leadership development & strategic planning.

Is Stress Killing Your Productivity? The Counter-Intuitive Reality of Taking Time to Self-Manage and Pursue True Longevity

By Leadership Resources 12/24/2018
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In the workplace, it often seems like nothing matters more than productivity. In theory, when workers are more productive, the business thrives, profits increase, and everyone is happy. But productivity can come at a cost. The truth is, people only have so much mental and physical energy in a given day to get things done. And it doesn’t take much to push someone over the edge into the land of stress. Stress tends to take a hit on productivity in the long run, so there is a fine line to walk between working hard and burning out. This applies to leaders and staff members alike So, how can managers help employees deal with stress? And what about managing leadership stress?

Encouraging Self Care

The workplace is meant for work, of course. But if a work environment offers no small escape or time away from work duties, the quality of work will suffer. Therefore, a workplace culture should encourage staff and leaders to take some time during the workday to socialize, refuel mentally and physically, play games, and step outside for fresh air. These little things add up and allow all team members more space to gather thoughts and gain perspective.

At first, this all might sound counterintuitive. After all, the goal is to increase productivity. How does playing a pickup foosball game or taking an extended coffee break get anything of value done? Well, these activities reduce stress and allow one’s brain to reset. People will come back to work refreshed after partaking in a small act of self-care, and their work will be better as a result. So, in the long-term, these seemingly pointless excursions can increase productivity.

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Fostering an Open and Honest Environment

Stress is like pressure and often feels like it. It gets bottled up and eventually will explode if not released on a healthy, regular basis. So, leaders and staff members need a way to air their personal and work-related concerns in an open environment, free of judgment. A company’s culture and values should allow every employee to feel comfortable speaking their mind to their peers and managers when necessary. Otherwise, problems get swept under the rug and fester. These issues can devolve into resentment or worse.

There is nothing more harmful to productivity than a workforce that feels stifled by a lack of communication. Things may occur in a company or office that leave some team members angry, confused, or feeling left out. Leadership in times of stress and change such as these is more important than ever. Leaders must not only reassure all staff that their concerns are being heard, but they must actually listen and act accordingly. Otherwise, that pressurized stress will eventually boil over and the team might fall apart completely.

Long-term productivity sometimes depends on short-term sacrifices. Sometimes a staff member just needs a personal day. Others might need an hour to blow off steam and recalibrate priorities. The work will always be there. The key is to ensure that the work gets done well. A workforce that is overstressed and unable to communicate will eventually fail in this pursuit, as will leaders. Managers and employees alike must encourage each other to take care of everyone’s well-being first and foremost.

At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. To learn more about what we do and why, contact us here.

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How Self Care Can Improve Your Performance as a Leader

By Leadership Resources 10/03/2018
leadership development omaha

Some modern media have portrayed the hardworking leader as a sleep-deprived, stubborn, borderline manic individual obsessed with the bottom line and neglectful of self care. While some people do fit this category, most do not. This stereotype can be harmful even if it’s meant to lampoon and discourage this behavior.

In reality, the best leaders make time to take care of themselves physically, mentally, and emotionally. Being able to balance the challenges of work with the importance of self care is one of the most important leadership qualities. Failing to achieve this balance is a strategic error and bleeds out into the rest of the business.

Ignoring the needs of one’s mind and body hurts one’s ability to think, focus, and help others in need. Conversely, engaging in self care boosts the mind, body, and spirit, which lifts those in proximity up as well. Here’s a deeper dive into how self care can improve your performance as a leader.

  1. Proper Sleep: Alertness and Ability to React

The science of sleep still largely remains a mystery, but researchers have found a critical link between good sleep and improved work performance. The National Sleep Foundation reports that 29% of workers regularly feel sleepy while at work. Missing out on a good night’s sleep can consistently lead to a loss of focus and increased irritability.

When work piles up and deadlines loom, people often put sleep on the back burner. This is a big mistake. The importance of proper sleep can’t be overstated, especially for leaders. Effective leadership depends on maximum alertness. By sacrificing these precious hours of slumber, leaders are less equipped to react to challenges, prioritize tasks, and help other employees deal with stress of their own. Conversely, getting proper sleep allows one’s mind to refresh, retain important information, and handle new problems as they come.

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  1. Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

While improper sleep plagues a large chunk of the population, so does poor nutrition and exercise. So many workers and leaders are always rushing from one place or task to the next. To keep things moving, people may skip meals or grab the nearest, fastest option from the vending machine, fast food line, or microwave. While these choices may be convenient, they can do serious harm to one’s work performance.

Foods low in nutritional value can result in more trips to the bathroom, sure. But beyond this, they can also negatively impact brain function. Nutritional science is ever evolving, but most studies have shown that a diet of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and minimal sugar contribute to improved mental health. Additionally, regular exercise doesn’t just improve metabolic function and burn calories, it also produces endorphins which increases alertness, reduces tension, and improves mood. In this way, eating well and exercising are two of the best ways of managing leadership stress.

  1. Setting an Example: Helping Others with Self Care

Self care does not equate to selfishness. Quite the opposite. By practicing self care, leaders can do more for employees. How can managers help employees deal with stress? First, they can share their own experiences of dealing with stress with employees. By giving advice on sleep patterns, diet, exercise, and other methods of stress reduction, leaders can set a great example for the workplace.

Additionally, leaders who practice self care will have more energy to help employees. With enough rest and restoration, leaders can prioritize their workload to set aside time for helping others, honing these crucial leadership skills. With a workforce committed to self care, everyone benefits – and so does productivity.

Leadership in times of stress and change truly tests one’s abilities. Self care should remain at the forefront during these times, for the sake of leaders, employees, and the business itself. At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity.    For more information, contact us here.

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