Taking Time to Heal
At Impact, we’re doing more work than ever right now helping leaders manage stress, exhaustion, higher levels of frustration, difficulty concentrating, and sleep issues. We saw some of this during the pandemic, but it seems even more pronounced now.
It’s a consequence of spending three years keeping the trains running. Operating under a constant state of uncertainty. Making things up as you go along. Worrying about the survival of your business and the wellbeing of your people. All while also dealing with challenging personal issues. Often, many of them at once.
Leaders have been taking care of everything and everyone for so long. But no one has been taking care of them.
The staggered return to work, rather than alleviating some of these stressors, has only intensified them.
We need more leaders
Because we still haven’t figured out how to do hybrid well1. Having people in the office sometimes and not others has created more work for leaders. It requires more conversations. More planning and orchestration. It takes more time and effort to get teams aligned and moving forward.
As RBC’s CEO, Dave MacKay, highlighted recently, “All CEO’s in every sector I talk to are struggling with a balance of developing talent, promoting talent, building culture, creating productivity. It’s tough, we don’t have the final model yet.”2
We’re also using meetings in unproductive and unhealthy ways. Microsoft says the number of meetings attended by the average Teams user doubled between February 2020 and 2022. And the amount of time spent in meetings tripled.3 But even with the return to in-office work for many companies, these numbers don’t seem to have decreased.
And we’re using old decision models that no longer serve us. The amount of work leaders did during the pandemic increased dramatically, but still hasn’t returned to normal. It’s as if there’s an expectation it never will. But continuing to do more work with fewer people, in an environment of fear and worry, with no end in sight, is unsustainable. And it’s taking its toll. The fact is, we need more leaders.
Leaders need to put themselves first
Like everyone, leaders need time to heal from the impacts of the pandemic. They need to recognize the signs of stress, burnout, depression, and anxiety. And they need to find and prioritize ways to put themselves first and address them. Things like:
- Going on vacation during the year as a way to let go and recharge
- Taking time every day to do something just for yourself – something that feeds your soul, your sense of joy
- Seeing a therapist consistently to do the inner work to enhance your relationship with yourself and the people around you
- Working with a coach regularly to show up as your best self – and feel supported throughout the process
Doing some or all of these things is essential for leaders right now. Taking the time to heal is not something you can push to the bottom of a to-do list. Because the emotional repercussions of neglecting yourself emerge whether you want them to or not. And the to-do list never really gets any shorter.