Leadership Step 1: Help Yourself
Everyone knows about the stereotypical self-centered leader who only cares about themselves and their bottom line. You know the ones: those who pay themselves a bonus every year while their employees are working for minimum wage and putting in the extra hours. The leader who goes about their work without even the first bit of consideration for the employee at the bottom of the corporate totem pole.
We’re not talking about those leaders today. Instead, we’re talking about the other kind of leader who strives to do the best for their team, making sure they are as comfortable as possible and setting them up with all the tools they need to do their best work. These are the seemingly selfless leaders that overwork themselves and put in the long hours instead because they want to ensure their team is succeeding.
It’s to this leader that I say, great sentiment, but start thinking more selfishly.
See, the problem here is that we aren’t looking for a completely selfless leader in the workplace. Someone who takes on too much work themselves and refuses to delegate will quickly burn themselves out before they get far enough to reap the rewards of their labour. A leader who is completely flexible and who always puts their colleagues ahead of themselves will frequently find their authority undermined, and it can be a very big problem.
An avid reader of the Focus Inspired blog should find this kind of sentiment familiar. Self-care is a regular topic of the blog that is an extremely important part of both work-life balance and at-work balance. It also applies to everyone, not just employees at the bottom.
You’ve probably heard of work-life balance a lot already, but balancing your workload while still at work is an often overlooked detail. A good leader can delegate work appropriately and recognize when they have too much on their plate. Giving your team the proper training and trusting them to do good work ensures you’re not overworked while helping your team feel fulfilled and useful. You will be much less likely to feel overwhelmed and can put your focus on what you’ve been trying to do all along: help your team be at their best.
There are other more subtle things too. Things like setting yourself up to work by making sure your home and/or office space are comfortable to help you be productive. Take the time to reflect on your accomplishments, you’ve earned them, and you deserve to recognize all that you have done. Be open and available to receive feedback, because your team and your colleagues know a lot of things that can be very useful in the most unexpected of moments. Encouraging your team to talk to you and to encourage free thinking are excellent ways to consistently improve your processes.
A good leader doesn’t have to take on everything, nor do they have to prove that they are the hardest worker on the team. The best leader is simply the one that has the most efficient team with the best work-life balance for all members, including the leader themselves.
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