…and then assist the other person.”

Those of us who frequently travel by plane recognize these words from the Flight Attendants’ pre-flight instructions to the assembled passengers.  Those of us who prefer flying with Southwest Airlines have even heard comedic versions such as putting your mask on first “before assisting your favorite child!” In any case, the message is clear; take care of yourself first!

As you approach your goals for a new year, I could (and have) say the same thing to every leader responsible for leading a team, business, group or project; take care of yourself first! To be clear this is not a manifesto for being a self-centered leader or to put themselves on a pedestal of self-involvement.  It is quite the opposite.  Here is what it does mean:

  • In order to give 100%, you have to be 100% ~ I coach several solopreneur business owners who provide services to their clients (coaches, consultants, accountants, etc.). A common refrain is they do not have time to take care of themselves as they are so busy taking care of clients. As we talk about how tired, stressed and frustrated they are, we land on the same question, “If you are the service you provide, by not taking care of yourself, what is the real quality of your services?”  No successful business consciously sets out to provide poor service. Yet by not taking care of yourself, that is essentially the resulting outcome!
  • Physical exercise stimulates mental health ~ We all get to points where we feel mentally lethargic. The question is what we do about it? I find the best response is to get physical, which in my case means going for a run or jumping on the bike for a ride. If that’s not your thing, find something that will get your heart rate up several times a week. How ever you respond, the science is clear on the connection between your physical and mental health, both of which are necessary to be sustainable leaders!
  • Let you be the example for your team ~ While the first two paragraphs focused on the leader as person, this one addresses the value of a leader to their team. Arguably, one of the most important aspects of leadership is creating an effective team to achieve desired results.  Getting 100% out of 100% of our team requires, among other things, setting the right example of personal leadership.  Making personal care an important element of every person on the team means everyone is capable of doing their part to succeed as a team. Look at any sustainable successful team in any field (business, military, sports, etc.) and you will see successful personal leadership across the entire team, not just in a few members!

Truly successful leaders serve their followers. However, they do not do it at the expense of their own personal health because they know the importance of being there for their team over the long haul.  When needed most, these leaders know their own physical and mental health will help them give 100% to their followers 100% of the time.

What level of service are you giving your stakeholders?

Lead Well!