Five Reasons Why Leaders Need to Relax

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Written by DATIS Guest

July 19, 2018

Five Reasons Why Leaders Need to Relax

This DATIS Blog Article, "Five Reasons Why Leaders Need to Relax", was originally posted by Kevin EikenberryLeadership & Learning with Kevin Eikenberry, on August 15th, 2016 and was reposted with permission.

Leaders have a lot on their plate.

They have lots to think about, lots to do and lots to decide.

This likely conjures a picture of frantic busyness and not one of relaxed calmness.

Yet, I propose, and by the end of this article I hope you will agree, that we will be more successful leaders when we relax a little bit more.

Before this idea makes you more stressed and anxious because you have too much to do . . .

Take a deep breath and relax.

Think of relaxation by this definition: “to reduce or stop work, effort, application, etc., especially for the sake of rest or recreation.” You might like the idea, but don’t see it as a possibility in your world. That is fine, and while I could write an article addressing that from a time and choice management perspective, that isn’t my goal here.

Rather, consider these three definitions of the word relax:

  • to become less tense, rigid, or firm.
  • to become less strict or severe; grow milder.
  • to release oneself from inhibition, worry, tension, etc.

(all definitions from Dictionary.com)

This is my point: I believe leaders will be far more effective over time when these things are true for them. Here’s why:

You Can’t Do It All (Anyway)
If you are trying to do it all, you won’t succeed. If you are trying, you likely see it as a losing battle; which it is. Why? Because thinking you can do it all is wrong-headed and egotistical.

So let’s get this straight – this approach doesn’t work and causes stress and anxiety. Not only that – your team doesn’t want you do to it all anyway. They want to be a part of it, they want to make a difference, they want the chance to grow and prove themselves.

It’s Not All About You
You are leading a team; you need to engage them and use their time and talents to reach the organizational goals. Your job is to help them be successful, so why would you put all of the angst, pressure and stress on yourself? It isn’t only about you, and when you act as such, you add to your stress and don’t get better results anyway.

People Are Watching You
As a leader, you are the bellwether for your team. They are looking at you as a sign of what they should be doing, how they should be doing it and by your actions, what is expected of them. If they see a stressed overworked leader, there are four possible outcomes, and none of them are good:

  • They will lead the same way when it is their turn. (Is that you want?)
  • They will look at that picture and say “I don’t want to be a leader!” (Effectively inhibiting the development of future leaders.)
  • They will leave (and go work somewhere where leaders are running around pulling out their hair).
  • You are stressing them out. (If you have ever had a boss that stressed you out, you know that isn’t a good thing for anyone.)

Let me repeat that last point again – Leaders who never relax are stressing out their teams – and everyone suffers. (Tweet That)

It’s Not Healthy
While I’m not a doctor (and you likely aren’t either), we both know that there are many diseases and conditions caused by or exacerbated by the lack of relaxation. Here is a short non-expert list.

  • Blood pressure problems
  • Heart problems
  • Stomach problems
  • Dental problems
  • Muscle problems

Your work is important, but not as important as your health.

You Need to Be at Your Best
Leading effectively is hard work. To do it well requires that you are alert, present, and thinking clearly. To be at the top of your game demands your energy and stamina. Relaxation is the way to get to all of these characteristics. Or, stated another way, tension and stress – the opposite of relaxed – won’t get you there.

Your organization needs your best. Your team deserves your best. And you want to do your best. Can you get there the way you are leading today?

I’m not talking about the complete absence of stress or tension – the right amounts of this at the right times can heighten performance and results, but you could likely benefit if you were a bit more relaxed.

I’ve given you five reasons why you need to relax. It’s a compelling case, isn’t it?

Now is your chance to go do it. If you want me to write about how to do that as a leader, comment below! If I get enough feedback, I’ll do exactly that. But until then, I’m going to relax just a little bit more than I did yesterday.