The Secret to Being an Effective Leader for the Long Haul

As a leader you want to be effective, to bring your best. It is not possible to do that if you are always on call, always busy with something. To be effective for the long haul means paying attention to your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. For me it is about getting out and about in nature. One afternoon while away found me looking out to sea watching the sun set. The sea that day was amazingly calm it looked like a mirror, there were a few clouds around the sun as it was setting, it looked as though they were catching fire as they turned a deep orange. I could look at things like that for hours. Those kind of things speak to my soul. What does that for you?

“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” Eleanor Brownn

As a leader you will only be effective and around for the long haul if you take care of yourself. This is not just around physical exercise although that definitely has benefits. It is also around feeding your mind, will and emotions – what some would call your soul.

Questions to Reflect On

  • What lifts you up?
  • What are the activities you do in work and outside work that give you energy?
  • Are you making sure that rest is built into your life?
  • Are you spending time with people who give you energy, your family and friends?
  • How are you taking care of your body with exercise and healthy eating?

It can be a challenge to pay attention to these things, but they all have an impact on your performance.

For me it is about getting outside and inhaling some fresh air. I am inspired by being able to see a long way, so whilst I love trees and the variety and colours particularly in Autumn, I also like to get up higher and see further or look out to sea so I can see the horizon. Each of us is wired differently. One component of resilience is about feeding your soul. It doesn’t mean that everything is going well in our lives, but we need spaces in our lives from which we can draw strength.

As a leader, those you lead deserve a leader who is at their best. I have made it my practice most years to get away for a retreat, to think, reflect, give thanks and think ahead. This is a central part of my faith and working life – making space for being refreshed and inspired. Whatever you need to do as a leader, giving yourself space for thinking and reflecting will help you process what is happening. It enables you to live your life more intentionally; it enables you to be more effective as a leader.

We are living in a complex and fast changing world. Leadership needs some objectivity to see the direction of travel needed. To achieve that we have to occasionally step off the merry go round and step away from our place of work in order to see it more clearly.

When I asked one leader what they wished they had known at the beginning of their leadership journey they said:

“Looking after myself as a leader – when I am in a good place, I am a better leader.”

Are you in a good place? Are you depleted by the variety of things you do and the expectations on you? It is not sustainable. Our bodies and minds will rebel at some point.

Research done by the Mayo clinic indicates that if just 20% of your working week is invigorating (gives you joy, energy) then burn out goes well down.

I would love to hear what you do to feed your soul. What do you do that helps you bring your best? Get in touch on I look forward to hearing from you.

Photo by Tobias Tullius on Unsplash

Mark Billage

Mark Billage

Mark’s passion is to help realise individuals’ potential, be they leaders or team members, through empowering organisational culture. He has spent 7 years leading an organisation based in the non profit sector. In that time, he focused on creating a culture that enabled and empowered individuals, with the aim of seeing a high performing team better able to achieve the organisation’s mission.

Our Vision

To train and equip leaders to transform culture, build successful teams and organisations where everyone is seen, heard and valued for their unique contribution.

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