You can lead through anxiety by identifying and managing it, and have a positive impact on your staff too. Change is inevitable, but it seems it’s everywhere and all at once these days. Elections are brewing, the workplace will be adapting pandemic precautions yet again, employees are hard to find or keep, not to mention the accelerating paradigm and communication shifts. Yet you have to show up and meet goals, solve problems, incorporate new practices without a hitch, setting the tone for all, and lead as if you know how to do this… or do you?
And then you may be anxious as summer draws to a close… Are you feeling stressed at the thought of facing the last quarter of the year, with major work to complete? Or is it just the sensory change as the daylight grows shorter and the temperature shifts? If so, I’ve got news for you – you’re not alone.
It’s hard to be inspiring and supportive if you are feeling like Atlas. One thing that can be a great leveler is to realize that most that you work with, whether your clients, co-workers or staff, may be feeling this too, to one degree or another. My blogs on self care, creating more time, a better work-life balance and the tools to navigate the paradigm shifts going on in the workplace have been the most popular for a reason.
How can you inspire others when you are struggling yourself?
You can’t work on something you can’t name. By becoming aware of and labeling what you are feeling or fearing, you can sort it out. That alone will take away half its power. Come at it with curiosity and a sense that relief can come from unmasking it. This should be interesting to you, not shameful, or make you feel like failure. Far from it.
You have enough on your plate so make it easy. Once you’ve identified a fear or stressor, Take the next 5 days to see if you can stay aware and pinpoint when it appears. If you don’t have a lot of time, just check in midday and end of the day for a week and see what comes to light.
Next, find a little time to write about it. When does it come up? Can you identify why? Note how it affects you physically, mentally, and/or emotionally. You can write it all out, or just put down simple phrases, even one word. Once you know what you’ve got going on, you can work on it.
Then accept that it’s there – and make it ok. How? Well, sometimes just seeing what’s going on lets half of the air out of the thing. It’s not so mysterious, bubbling down inside you, coloring your day, moods or performance…tiring you out. Ask: Is there a positive or gain on the flip side of any kind to refocus on? And know that now that you know its face, you can think of strategies to deal with it. But you don’t have to do that alone.
Start by sharing with your support network. An outside perspective from someone who gets you and has your best interests in mind can relieve the strain you might not have even noticed you were carrying around.
Don’t have that network? It’s time to build one. Great options are to go to someone neutral, who is guaranteed to have your back – a professional coach like me, or a therapist. If you could have a conversation with an equal in the professional world (so they have the experience to get what’s going on), preferably in an entirely different field than yours so there are no consequences and you both feel free to give and take.
A best friend or family member may or may not be on this particular team. Sometimes those too close to you might not have enough outside perspective. Or they may be great. Listen to your insides before you do, and make those choices wisely.
Anxiety can be managed. The efforts you make to do the above – becoming aware, accepting it and coming up with ways to act on it will empower you. But it’s also important to step away and recoup so you will have more when you step back. Doing that 2 step dance is the ticket. Think of other cultures where they work when they work, but take time to savor their meals, and take their days off to relax, and enjoy life.
Recharging can come through small actions like a call with a friend, or writing a note to a loved one ,. Take breaks at work. Fit humor into your life, get physical activity, ease up on alcohol and nicotine, and allow yourself enough rest (which needs to start rating as important as green tea or health shakes). Lastly, identify people who have interesting perspectives or approaches to things and find inspiration and ideas in their interviews, Ted talks, or audio books.
As an added bonus, all the work you do on yourself, will make you into a better leader benefiting your company, and your team. You can even give these tools to your staff, by inviting your team to acknowledge the challenges they are facing in a safe way. I’ll cover this topic in next month’s blog.
If you are interested in having some additional support and encouragement, contact me and let’s talk!