Last week while having dinner with a group of friends, our discussion turned to work. What came next was an interesting conversation about why anyone today would even want to be a leader.
One friend shared that she was utterly exhausted by the endless cycle of new demands and the constant flood of in-box messages. Another felt relegated to resolving every daily crisis rather than playing a bigger role in the company’s evolution. Several of them lamented the lack of time to coach and grow their staff members, much less invest in their own professional development.
Does that resonate with you? I wouldn’t be surprised. Over the years, as a leadership speaker and author, I’ve talked to thousands of people who struggle with the same thing.
The truth is, leaders are desperate to reconnect with the feeling that comes from igniting fires, not just putting them out.
Maybe leadership is losing its luster. But I believe there’s a way to reignite the flame. If you’re looking for ways to put purpose back in your professional life, start here.
1. Be willing to stop when everyone else is in motion.
Fight the urge to always move faster and do more. Take a mental “time-in” each day or each week to simply think. Let everything you’ve read, seen and heard marinate in your mind. Use that time to better prioritize your deliverables, make discoveries you may have missed in the moment, and take action on an idea that would otherwise never see the light of day. Constant motion isn’t the answer. Working on evolutionary ideas that spark your curiosity and drive is what will keep you from asking, is this worth it?
2. Make everything earn the right to be on your to-do list.
Put your “required tasks” under the microscope and get clarity about what actions actually add value. If it doesn’t help you and your team reach your goals, let it go. Don’t allow yourself to be buried by a growing set of recurring commitments and stop saying “yes” to every calendar invitation.
3. Schedule unbreakable appointments with your employees.
Commit to coaching your employees so that you can guide them in elevating their work, accelerating their professional growth, and helping them get closer their personal goals. You’ll get an enormous sense of satisfaction from being their advocate and watching their progress.
Leadership may sometimes feel like a constant drain, but it doesn’t have to be.
If you are proactive about taking control of your time and infusing meaning into your role, you’ll increase your confidence and begin to see proof that you are making a difference. At the same time, you’ll be sending a strong message of support to those smart, talented leaders of the future who are questioning whether management is really worth it.