Overview: Persistent exhaustion can defeat leadership and employee productivity. Exhausted leaders lose focus and motivation. They cease to be sources of inspiration and optimism for their teams. Exhausted employees disengage and leave their organizations. Find out what leaders can do to stave off exhaustion.
“Rest is not idle, nor wasteful. Sometimes rest is the most productive thing you can do for your body and soul.” – Erika Layne.
To maintain productivity, engagement, and motivation, everyone needs to take breaks now and then. That includes leaders and employees. High-stress leadership jobs can place huge strains on your health, stamina, and motivation. If you decide to “burn the midnight oil” or “burn the candle on both ends,” you will have a cost to pay later. In most cases, that cost is steep.
We all like to think of ourselves as superhuman juggernauts ready to sacrifice our momentary comfort for future gains. “I will rest when…” is the bane of leaders everywhere.
Here are some reasons you can’t function as a leader without rest.
Exhaustion Kills Motivation
Leaders must be optimists. They must believe in brighter futures and give hope to those around them who are not in positions to see past their day-to-day activities. Tired leaders cannot envision clear futures. As their optimism wanes, so does their motivation.
When an employee loses motivation and disengages, the damage is limited. When a leader does the same, the damage is impossible to contain.
It’s easy to get stuck in the grind of the moment when exhausted. As leaders lose energy, their horizons contract until they end up in survival mode.
Exhaustion Damages Faith
The most effective motivating force is the belief that what we do matters and works. Leadership coaching uses this concept to help leaders improve their skills and motivate their teams.
Exhaustion saps leaders of this belief, replacing it with fear and doubt. When we no longer believe what we do is right, our motivation disappears.
Being exhausted is not a problem; rest can counter exhaustion and restore faith. When we adopt a working style that keeps us exhausted, however, that’s when problems ensue.
Rest can reignite faith, hunger, and creativity. When we’re well-rested and almost start feeling bored, our imaginations and creativity swing into action. We start to ponder solutions to long-nagging problems. Often, we happen upon creative ways out of fixes we never would have considered otherwise.
When Exhausted, We Perceive Challenges as More Daunting
When exhausted, we’re acutely aware that we’re unable to do our best. When we face a challenge in this depleted state, we know we’re less likely to navigate it successfully. This perception bias leads to distortions and makes us exaggerate the extent of the challenge, effectively defeating ourselves and rendering our leadership useless.
To prevail through turbulent times, we must have perspective. Exhaustion denies us the ability to rise above problems and contemplate them from diverse angles.
Exhaustion Impacts Decision-Making
When we’re tired, we don’t see the world objectively. Our tolerance for everything we perceive as distractions drops. We miss details and might make hasty decisions we later regret.
Exhausted Employees Are Not Productive
Executive coaching teaches leaders to do whatever they can to avoid overworking employees. Tired employees who can never recover from exhaustion lose motivation, disengage, and eventually leave their organizations.
Here’s what leaders can do to help their teams avoid exhaustion:
- Make it easy for employees to use their days off. Some organizational cultures despise those who use all their vacation days. Leaders can ensure their organizational cultures reward those who do.
- Make vacation part of the natural work cycle. Leaders should set up systems that cover work when people go on vacation. This way, those who rest don’t feel like their absences are significant strains on their organizations.
- Ensure people don’t have to take work home. A healthy work environment allows employees to do all their work at the office during regular hours. This way, employees can relax and recharge once they leave the office.
Well-rested employees are energized, happy, and motivated. They’re more productive and engaged. Rest is a worthwhile investment for both executives and employees.