It is too early to say if the last 3 months will be the most stressful ever for many business leaders. 2020 has thrown up a few left-field challenges for us, as business people and as humans, to overcome.
People look to their leaders in a crisis. And that means the pressure falls squarely on your shoulders.
To lead through a crisis means many decisions must be made, often quickly and with imperfect information, often in a way that is at odds with your natural leadership style. Some decisions are made in consultation, some conciliatory, others on the fly, others because a decision had to be made. The stress placed upon leaders is unique. At the heart of a business leader’s concerns are staff, other stakeholders and then the P&L. That means every decision has multiple real-world consequences.
To make such a vast amount and array of decisions quickly and effectively, leaders must have value-based decision making at their core. These values serve as guide rails for the business and can do the same for the individual’s personal beliefs. Honour, integrity, trust, gut feel and transparency are the business leader’s mantras. The Forbes Business Council’s article “What does it mean to make value-based decisions?” makes for good reading.
“When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.” Roy Disney
I want to talk candidly about leader fatigue. It’s a worrying side-effect of the stresses that exist right now. How many decisions can be made, how many questions be answered, how many solutions devised before the pressure valve needs to be released?
A lot of normal habits have been thrown out the window. The early morning gym session, the breakfast meeting, the after-work commute have all been taken away from business leaders over the last few months.
Instead of being surrounded by employees, we’ve been surrounded by family. Which is fantastic, in some very obvious ways and less so in others. That separation between home-life and work-life has been blurred.
As a leader, if you come off the boil, the repercussions can mean the 1000’s of decisions you’ve made may all come crumbling down. But when you are “in the moment”, you may not realise that these changes, these pressures and these challenges are wearing you down. You must be self-aware of the impact prolonged stress has had on you.
That could mean giving yourself a break. A chance to decompress.
I took 3 days off recently. Just a little freshen up. It did me the world of good. The business didn’t miss a beat.
Now, I am not preaching when I ask “Do you need a break?”As much as you may sometimes think your business would collapse if you step out for a week, it is important to let the place run itself. It allows staff to step up. Sometimes without the leader around, new leaders emerge or at least get a chance to hone their own leadership skills.
If you have been frustrated, a bit snappy or curt, it could be that your decision-making synapses need a break. If you’ve thought it, then it’s likely to be your subconscious telling you that you need one. Taking a break could not only re-energise you but also your business.
If you’d like to discuss more around value-based decision making, a leader’s role or creating the confidence that your business will run without you, then please feel free to reach out to me. I would love to hear from you and how you, as a business leader, have coped with the challenges of 2020 and what strategies you’ve successfully employed to better yourself or your business.
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