We hear and read so much about how good leaders lead with their hearts and not only heads. A perspective that urges leaders to return to basics when faced with increasingly dis-engaged and confused cultures in the world of work and business. A wonderful concept that urges authenticity from aspirational leaders that are committed to inspiring and motivating their workforce.
This is really all well and good until, uh – oh, you wake up one day and realise that your heart really isn’t in it at all. We are all human after all and even with projects, values or causes that we truly believe in, our energy for it can wane over time or we can face obstacles that feel just too overwhelming and zap us of our zeal. So what to do in this situation? When so many people are relying on us to drive a message and action do we just quit? Hell no! In the words of Banksy; ‘If you get tired, learn to rest, not quit’. And in the words of Infinity HR Solutions; use that rest time wisely as a time to reflect, learn and refill your bottle.
What do we suggest you do exactly? Well, here are our top tips to leading when your heart isn’t in it.
Pretend and the rest will follow
Isn’t this quite the opposite of authenticity? Why yes, it definitely is. But there may be short periods of time where you really aren’t feeling it and rather than pass that on to people who are looking to you for the answers and then have to go back and fix this ripple of disillusionment you have caused it would be easier and better for the bigger picture to simply fake it until you make it, and that should only be for a short while. We hope. Also according to an article in Psychology Today ‘our habits become our destiny’ so make a habit of staying positive and the negative will soon pass.
Go back to the beginning
Sometimes on a journey towards an end goal we can wander down a different path or turn a corner and lose sight completely of our starting point. We get lost, we feel tired. We get frustrated and before long we have forgotten how we felt when we set out on this adventure, inspired and hungry to make a real difference. Sometimes we need to stop trying to re-map our route and just go back to the beginning again. Find and connect with your organisations mission and vision. Go back to initial values, objectives and aims. Re-visit initial action plans. Remember what motivated you in the first place.
Inspiration is out there. Get your head out of that dark place and into a book. Or better still get out of the office and onto a training course. Learning can inspire us to be better and do better and through learning something new we may just find the key that we need to unlock a door or unblock an obstacle.
Let others lead you
Talk to people and encourage heartfelt contributions from your immediate team and the people who you are trying to make a difference to. It is OK to make yourself vulnerable. A leader is not supposed to be strong all the time. A leader also doesn’t need to have all the answers, without your team, you are not leading anybody in fact. A good leader listens, cares and can relate to others. Step back for a while and let others offer solutions and ideas. Set up one to ones, action planning meetings and brainstorming sessions. Absorb some of their excitement and let that pull you through.
Use the opportunity to grow as a leader
While a time of disengagement for you may mean a slow down on project related actions, it needn’t be a waste. Use it as an opportunity for reflection. Look at why you became disengaged and what re-engages you and keep store of this powerful knowledge to support the people you are leading when it is their time to feel this way (which will come, as it does to us all).
Give yourself a Health Check
When you realise that you are feeling disconnected and disengaged from something you were previously quite passionate about then give yourself a quick health check. Is it temporary? Is there a cause that will pass? Or is it the start of a deeper problem with work life balance or the beginnings of burn out. If it is something more serious than a few days of disheartened disarray then act quickly to prioritise your self-care before all else. Speak to your own managers, know your limitations, delegate and take adequate time off in this case.