Many of us get the wrong end of the stick when it comes to creating women’s leadership with impact. Whether you want to be moving your organisation forward; making waves with your business; or stepping up as a really powerful role model for your kids, the mistake is the same: So often we start with the outcome, and work backwards.
Maybe it’s a performance indicator you want to hit at work. A big client you want to land. A change you want to see happen in your industry, or a way of dealing with conflict you’d love your daughter to absorb.
Women’s leadership with impact: the mistake many of us make
We take the goal, and figure out what might get us closer to it.
I need to motivate my team more powerfully – better get some leadership training.
I need to achieve more in my day – time to sign up for a productivity course.
I want to teach my kids to be calm and steady in the face of challenges – this parenting book must hold the answers.
It’s totally understandable, because logically it makes so much sense. Only, have you ever noticed how it doesn’t work?
Life isn’t (often) linear
You might be the most well-equipped leader on the senior management team. But when you’ve been answering emails until midnight on your phone – there’s no way you’ll be present enough at the meeting to really move things forward.
Maybe you’re totally au fait with the kind of parent you want to be. But you’re covering for a colleague at work, trying to work out what to wear to an upcoming event when changing room mirrors make you want to cry, and stress eating half a loaf of bread feels like the only way to feel sane again when you finally get home. Is it any wonder that your kids get the sharp end of your temper when you see the state they’ve left the kitchen in?
Your scenario is different. Mine too. But you get the picture. After a recent “Why does it take us 2 hours to leave the house?” fiasco, I found myself reflecting that leading a team is child’s play, compared to leading a family out the bloody door! Yet it’s the energy drain of trying to get the kids moving that will deplete me for work tomorrow.
Maybe for you it’s caring for a parent, or dealing with a legal battle with your neighbours, or weeping with frustration at the climate crisis (and tearing your hair out at how you can make a difference). Whatever it is, what saps your energy and exhausts you is very likely not directly connected to your goals at all.
Which is why when it comes to leadership, we do things a little differently.
Let me give you an analogy.
Why leadership is like a long journey
Imagine you’re heading off on a big trip by car. You need to get to your destination in a certain time. One way to approach that would be to ask “how can I get from A to B in the quickest way possible?”. You might decide to drive faster, and push harder, to get there.
The trouble with that is, you might well end up doing damage to the engine. Breaking down, or even writing it off completely.
In human terms, this is what we’d call overwhelm or burnout. And it’s inefficient as well as unpleasant. When the radiator blows, it actually costs you more in the long term to slow down, let the engine cool off and wait for a mechanic.
Or, worse still, blowing the car up completely and being forced to abandon the journey all together – AKA total burnout, something many of us have experienced.
Our approach is different
Instead of starting with the end goal, we take it as a given that you have the skills you need as a leader. Sure, you might have more to learn along the way – we trust that when it comes to extra skills or education, you’ll handle that the way you always do.
But to go back to the analogy of the car, if your big impact as a leader is the destination we’d prefer to focus not on the destination, but on the vehicle itself.
Are you using the right fuel? Is the engine working optimally? Are you choosing to drive in the right conditions, and take breaks when you need them?
In other words, we start with you.
Women aren’t machines
Because here’s the thing. We’re not engines. We’re not production lines, or factories, and when we spend too much time looking at ways to maximise getting to our goal we actually underestimate our power.
We assume that we must be deficient in some competency, rather than realising that most of the time we have the skills we need when we’re in the right frame of mind, body and soul to use them.
I truly believe what holds great leaders back has much less to do with skills and much more to do with simple energy management.
- How easy is your home life?
- How much sleep did you get?
- Are you exercising and vital?
The best we can do for our leadership is to charge up, rest and replenish. Because the world needs your leadership. Now, more than ever.
Give yourself the time you need
You might be reading this and thinking “Yes, Jo. I know I need to take better care of myself. I just don’t have the time to do that.”
We’ve created something to help you with exactly that conundrum.
BeFruitful is our signature time and energy management programme, designed specifically for busy women leaders – to go and check it out.
Our mission is to change the world and we know you can’t do that when you’re frazzled, exhausted and running on empty. So this simple, yet life changing training will show you how to start to manage your time and energy in a sane way.
A way that honours your natural rhythms and cycles. And that will ultimately free up — at minimum — 5 hours a week for you to spend on the people, causes and activities you really care about.
Getting your rest. Giving your best. Feeling whole, happy and replenished.
This is what will free you up to be the leader you already are – so you can get out there and change the world.
Our intention is simple. To support professional women to handle the day-to-day so they can unleash the bigger impact they feel called to make in the world.
We believe real leadership is less about skill, and more about having a well of physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual strength to draw on. Every week we support thousands of grassroots leaders globally with our free articles, videos and online trainings with powerful tools and methodologies created BY women FOR women.
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