Self-Care is Critical to Your Leadership Success

Key Insights:

  • It is common for leaders to feel burned out, especially with working remotely and managing through these challenging times.
  • Self-care can be viewed as being selfish or disengaged by others which is why some leaders shy away from taking time out for themselves.
  • There are real, measurable benefits for leaders who engage in self-care.
  • Top-performing leaders understand the benefits of self-care for themselves and their respective teams.

I have observed some leaders who have been exemplifying more humility and authenticity, providing positive role models for their people and the leaders of the future. This is amazing growth in the right direction, which will continue to transform leadership in beneficial ways in the years to come. I am extremely optimistic, but the hard truth is it does not mean that a leader’s job is any easier today than it was before the pandemic. If anything, it has become more challenging because of the level of uncertainty and change that is required to keep up and survive.

Recent events have changed expectations about what it means to work together with others in the structure of an organization. People want more freedom and flexibility. The lines between our professional and personal lives have blurred, and qualities like empathy, compassion and vulnerability are critical to modern organizational culture. Engagement has become a major priority, and organizations are discovering the power of open, ongoing communication. The business landscape is changing rapidly, and leaders are the ones at the forefront driving these changes.

I’m a firm believer that leaders will perform at their best, on all levels, when they are comfortable integrating essential self-care into their lives. It is not just a “nice to have”, it is necessary to keep up and to thrive in today’s times. Without it, leaders get burned out and are unable to provide inspiration. But when leaders practice self-care in a healthy manner, integrated fully into their lives, they benefit tremendously, and so do their teams and organization.

As we go deeper into the summer months, I am thinking you are most likely ready for a long- overdue break or vacation. Taking time off this summer is not only critical for your leadership success, but for your general health and happiness. It is time to disconnect and enjoy some quality time at home or partake in safe, local, in-country travel to get away from the daily stresses of life.  

Old-School Beliefs & Thinking

Self-care for leaders should not be a controversial topic, but because of lingering, old-school attitudes about leadership, there is still a stigma that surrounds this important need.

The old-school way of thinking dictates that leaders are above the idea of self-care and that they should just naturally thrive under pressure and work as many hours as it takes to get the job done. In many ways, this old-school leadership model diminishes the “human” aspect to leadership.

Here is what the old-school thinking and beliefs are lacking: Successful leadership is all about humanity. When we lose that connection, we become rigid and robotic, which sends the message that human qualities such as compassion and care are not desirable in the workplace. This is how negative cycles of ineffective leadership begin and disengagement starts to take shape.

Modern Leadership’s View 

If you are a modern thinker and leader, you recognize the value of doing what is right for and by your people. You view the people under your leadership and direction as human beings with meaningful individual lives. As a result, you pore yourself into the hard work of advocating for them, giving them what they need, listening, offering valuable feedback, and checking in with them on a personal level.  

This type of behavior is often observed with modern leaders who want to bring their whole selves to the workplace. They create safe spaces, either virtually or in person, where people feel valued and empowered to bring their best to their work, resulting in increased engagement when delivering for the company. But doing this can, sometimes, come at a cost, if we have not established healthy boundaries.  

You can give your entire self and be fully present for your people, however it is critical that you take time out to recharge your batteries. We all need down time, and leaders need to lead by example so their respective teams also take the time they need to recharge. This allows everyone to operate at a high level. Without proper rest, exercise, and healthy eating habits, we are not only putting our performance at risk, we are putting our lives at risk.

Balanced Perspective on Self-Care View

I often hear from the leaders I work with that they do not have time for self-care and that their workload is overwhelming, and they just cannot strike that right balance. They share their shame and guilt for even wanting just a little time for themselves to recharge. It’s time we wake up to the fact that not taking this time is hurting your performance, and your ability to lead. When we are under stress and feel fatigued, we do not perform well. That is the brutal truth.

Leadership is an important role, and it is only one role of many that we play in our lives. Leaders are also parents, children, community members and stewards of the planet. They deal with life and loss, sadness and laughter just like everyone else. These aspects of life are what make us human, and for leaders, these are the aspects that tend to get neglected, and when that happens, the work suffers, and leaders can become ineffective.

When leaders fail to take care of themselves, they reduce their ability to be productive. They make more mistakes, and the quality of work suffers. Naturally, these issues can extend to employees, and their work suffers as well.

Stress also leaves people feeling tired and physically rigid. This leads to emotional tiredness and rigidity, too, which doesn’t bode well for the healthy flow of communication within an organization.

If you feel like prioritizing self-care means that you are becoming “lazy,” or you feel like it should make you feel guilty, you need to let go of these ideas. Avoiding self-care is the opposite of lazy. It is proactive and shows that you are not only committed to your performance, but you are committed to your people, your family, and your loved ones. Leaders who practice self-care do not do it for themselves so they can get away from doing what needs to be done. They do it because they recognize that they – and their respective organizations – operate much more efficiently when self-care is prioritized.

Leaders should be prioritizing self-care as a must do and deliver the same message on a consistent basis to their respective teams as the same logic applies to them and their performance, health and well-being.

Athletes don’t feel guilty for taking necessary rest days to let their muscles rest and rebuild. The most brilliant scientists take time away from their labs to enjoy life, and their work benefits from it. But for some reason, leaders are constantly given the message that they should feel guilty about their self-care efforts. There should be no guilt felt by leaders who maintain their lives in a healthy manner. In fact, self-care is a key differentiator between high-performing leaders and those who do not engage in it.

More Self-Care Tips and Advice

What are your thoughts about self-care as it relates to leadership? Have you felt guilty in the past when you have taken time for yourself? Have you found effective ways to integrate self-care into our new world of work?  

I would love to know what your thoughts are so please reach out. Please give me a call at 1.855.871.3374 or send an email to I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

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