What Do Leaders Do When They Are Exhausted?
By: Randy Wolken, President & CEO

Leaders get exhausted and run down.  Why? They are people too.  They have home responsibilities, relationships to maintain, and many commitments.  Many are running too fast and doing way too much.  It can even be a surprise to leaders when they reach this point.  But, us leaders will reach this stage of exhaustion.  So, what do we do?

Rest.  Yup.  It is can be as easy as taking the normal, everyday approach of giving ourselves the time we need to slow down, share a meal with family or friends, have a drink with a co-worker, or a cup of coffee with a friendly colleague. It can be a weekend morning we sleep in or a long overdue vacation.  Whatever works for us – and we usually know what works for us – we need to just do it!  It’s not just a nice thing to do – it is our responsibility as a leader.  If we are exhausted, everything about our way of leading is compromised. Do this long enough – and we are not leaders at all – we are just surviving.

Sometimes leaders make the mistake of thinking that everything happens because they are involved and always “on.”  It makes us feel useful, important, and excited.  If we are honest with ourselves, we realize that is just not true—we don’t always need to be involved for our organizations to thrive.  In fact, if we are a good leader, our teams and colleagues can do just fine without us – at least while we rest and recover.

Time and time again I see good, well-intentioned leaders letting themselves get run down.  They get sick or can’t recover from a lingering cold.  They are getting a lot done, but are they leading in a way that others can follow?  Are they able to “run the marathon” and not just the “sprint”?  Can they build the organization of the future that is sustainable?  How would they know if they can?  They rest, take a break, go on a vacation, and let others lead.  They step back and get well. They lead by letting go.  The great leaders who have inspired me did and still do these things.  That is why I am trying to do them as well.  Sure, I fail too.  I am human just like everyone else.  But I am trying.  Are you?