“Leaders!  Take Back Your Life!” [Part 3]: Energy Management

In this third post, in my series on effective leadership, I want to single out the Three Secrets to Energy Management.

Leadership is harder than it looks to those who’ve never tried it.  It exacts a real toll in mental and emotional energy that must be methodically recharged to avoid burnout.

Effective leaders, like world-class athletes, create boundaries and rituals in their lives to marshal their energy. 

In the classic Harvard Business Review article, “The Making of a Corporate Athlete,” Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz share their findings of research into world-class athletes.  What athletes do well – – and what too many corporate leaders ignore – is the principle of oscillation between energy expenditure and energy recovery.

The science of physiology has revealed the inescapable limits on the physical capacity for any kind of work – – physical as well as mental work.  World-class athletes learn to perfect the rhythm of performance and recovery.  But too many corporate leaders violate this principle, and their performance suffers for it.

A powerful picture of the power of the energy oscillation principle was in full view at the 2016 World Series.  Aroldis Chapman, the ace relief pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, was invincible when he was called out of the bullpen in the 5th and 6th games of the series.  Major league pitchers live and die by their cycle time between outings.  When Chapman was called upon again in the 8th inning of the crucial 7th game, color commentator John Smoltz wondered if it was a wise move.

It wasn’t.  The Cleveland Indians quickly took him for a double to center and a home run, tying the game and taking it to extra innings.  Chapman wept in the dugout:  he knew he had been asked to exceed the design limits of his energy management.  [The story had a happy ending: The Cubs rallied to win the game in the 10th inning, making Chapman the game’s winning pitcher and earning him his first World Series title of his career.]

Leaders owe their best performance to their teams and their organizations.  Those who fail to marshal their energy are destined for sub-par performance and failure.

Learning how to “turn it on” and “turn it off” is what energy oscillation means, and it takes the shape of a set of rituals and boundaries that one selects to recover their energy.

At the foundation of any set of rituals and boundaries are three secrets to effective energy management.  If you listened to your mother you’d already know what science confirms:

  1. Sleep: early to bed, early to rise; a consistent bedtime; 7+ hours per night
  2. Nutrition: eat breakfast, cut refined sugar, drink lots of water
  3. Exercise: 3 to 4 workouts per week: a mix of cardio and weight-training

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”Chinese Proverb

Today would be the best day for you to make a fresh start on Managing Your Energy.  Loehr and Schwartz offer an Energy Audit that you can take by clicking here.

Photo of Eric P. Norwood, FACHE, PCC

written by:

Eric P. Norwood, FACHE, PCC

Chief Development Officer, Executive Coach

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