What type of leader are you? How would you rate your leadership skills? I’ve been working with leaders throughout the pandemic and what I’ve seen is a lot of perfectionism, unrealistic expectations and burnout.  I’ve worked with people who desperately want to do well and do right by the people working with them but are burying themselves in the process. If you adopt a “go hard or go home” attitude to your work you may well find yourself going home, because it’s neither desirable nor sustainable.

You want to be a better leader? You want to invest in your career and develop your skills?

Great. Read on to find out how you can do that sustainably. 

You don’t know what you don’t know 

The last 18 months I have been on a fitness journey. After a debilitating bout of glandular fever and post viral fatigue that seemed to last forever, a walk around the block was a challenge. I was heavily into yoga as a “gentle” way to exercise and “be kind” at the same time, but as someone who is naturally flexible there was an imbalance between my flexibility vs strength. As you get older this is far from ideal and as a “woman of a certain age” label waiting in the wings I also knew that I needed to address this to proactively look after my bone health.

Initially, I set myself the target to show up in the gym 6 days a week – this might sound a lot, but I allowed myself to do the minimum amount but consistently. I was trying to create a habit. Three weeks into my new “regime” I attended a talk about maintaining fitness goals as a business owner. And this is where everything changed. 

Greg Mikolap spoke in a way that transformed my approach to my fitness quest.  I’m not new to exercise, this wasn’t my first rodeo and I didn’t think this talk was going to tell me anything I didn’t already know.  I was wrong.

I began to see the parallels in fitness and leadership so last week I asked Greg what his top tips would be a to a new starter. He said:

– Start where you are

– Plan for a relapse

– Measure what matters

– Create accountability 

– Have fun

Fast forward 18 months and I now train 5/6 days a week in a way that I had never imagined for myself and if I am honest was quite intimidated by. Most of my workouts are strength based using the equipment that I always perceived to be for the “big boys” in sweat box gyms. 

Why should you care?

The reminders and lessons that I have experienced along the way about life and leadership may help you maintain perspective and get through the tough times. Here are just a few:

Start where you are

It is so easy for the inner critic to take over once again when you feel like you are not where you “should” be. As human beings we also overcomplicate things far too often. We don’t need to get all sophisticated to create change. Keep it simple, start where you are and adjust from there. 

There’s more than one way to be an effective leader. For example, think about managing team performance. We can introduce fancy systems and processes, with all the bells, whistles and trackers, however all that may be needed is a simple conversation about performance. So if here is where you are and there is where you need to be, how do we close the gap? 

Plan for a relapse

When you start exercising, motivation can be high but it oscillates with your involvement. Learn from your levels of motivation. When you are highly engaged and motivated, think about ways to make sure that you make it easier for yourself when you are not. 

Out of the gym and into the boardroom how does that translate? You have a moment of insight and you’re ready to take over the world and build your corporate empire. Then something happens, it’s harder than you thought, there are curveballs along the way (including a never ending pandemic) and you start to disengage.  Before you know it you are not making progress and you are giving yourself a hard time about it. Resilience is key. Slipping backwards, having a bad day is OK. It’s how quick you get back on track that counts. 

Resilience Quotient Inventory™ (RQi™) is a psychometric tool that measures beliefs, behaviours and environmental factors that are proven to protect people against stress and burnout. If you are interested in an RQI assessment for you or your team hit REPLY to get in touch.

Measure what matters

If you want to feel more energetic, step away from the scales. If you want to look and feel better in your favourite pair of jeans, step away from the scales. If you want to be stronger and leaner, step away from the scales. Get the idea? There are so many other ways to measure progress than the obvious ones or the ones that we have been conditioned to use. 

Know what your goal is and set the measures accordingly. So often when I work with my clients, their measures are geared to what other people do and don’t do. Yes, you might be trying to influence a key stakeholder or team member but if what you are working on as a leader is having explicit accountability conversations then look at how you can break down the criteria into smaller measurable steps that you can measure. The ultimate outcome isn’t always the best measure when developing yourself as a leader. 

Create a supportive environment

ICON gym is without doubt the best gym I have been to. Not only for the expertise in Greg’s team (and the Molton Brown toiletries!) but because the staff (and members) are without judgement and full of supportive challenges. Everyone wants to stretch and push you to your potential but there is no shame when you can’t do something. They just find another way. Plus, if you don’t ask for help you are risking a face plant into a barbell. I know, because I did it. Motivation was high that day, self awareness not so much. 

We practice vulnerability based trust and declare any limitations.  The coaches are always committed to finding a workaround and the same principles should apply in business if you want to progress. 

I have been working with an organisation on Vulnerability based trust for quite some time. This is the notion of building a high performing team by showing up as your whole self, warts and all. By being able to ask for help, sharing your limitations, declaring your mistakes you can make progress and strengthen connections at the same time.

Have fun 

Without doubt, we have loads of fun at ICON. There are many moments that feel far from fun. I will just mention the 100 burpees that were on the end of today’s workout to illustrate my point! If you know, you know. With the right mindset and people around you, even a torturous workout can be engaging and fun if you choose to make it so. 

You have more choices than you think. Perceptual reality is whatever you make it. We get caught in the illusion that how we feel is giving us feedback on something that is happening to us. The truth is that it is only giving us feedback in that way that we think about what is happening. If you are not enjoying it, change the way you think about it. 

There is an easier way to achieve your goals.  You don’t have to do it the way everyone else is doing it to do it well.  You certainly don’t need to struggle alone.  No man is an island.  Apart from Greg, and he’s probably Ibiza.  Effective leaders have self awareness and are committed to their own development. You don’t need to be perfect, you need to be willing to try. My signature coaching programme is designed to support aspiring or newly promoted leaders to establish themselves in their role.  We will get clear on the type of leader you want to be and focus on developing the skills and attributes you need to get the best out of your team and excel in your organisation.  If you think this sounds like it could be what you need, send me a message or book a call and lets chat.  

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