Most of us have had the dreaded experience. It’s a cold dreary night. You open the car door, sit down and put the key in the ignition. It’s a mindless exercise. Without thinking, you turn the key or push the ignition button. Your unconscious expectation is interrupted by silence. You expect to hear the engine start. Instead, nothing happens. The battery is dead. There is a momentary pause as you grip the steering wheel, drop your head and roll your eyes. After the initial wave of frustration, you click through your mental checklist. Did I leave my lights on? Was the door ajar? What caused the drain on my battery?
Switch gears from your car to your leadership. It’s less about Cold Cranking Amps and more about your ability maintain focus, stay on purpose and finish what you started. What does it feel like to show up at work and realize you’re not cranking at your best? Home is not much better. Maybe it’s a little worse. Do you have the inner strength and vitality necessary to steward the opportunities before you today? Intentional leadership is hard. Distractions abound and your time and energy is finite. All of these factors point to an inescapable conclusion. You can’t afford to ignore issues that drain your battery. You need to identify and overcome the things that siphon your energy.
Find The Drain
Before you can fix the problem you need to find the source. You can always buy a new battery for your car. But, unless you find the drain you will be right back where you started. A new battery is temporary. Leaders change jobs every day hoping to jumpstart a new season of life. The buzz lasts for a few days until the honeymoon is over and then the drain returns. The solution is much deeper. When it comes to a dead battery, we usually think of the “low hanging fruit.” In other words, you will search for the most obvious culprit first. Did you leave your lights on? Problem solved. When it comes to leadership, surface adjustments don’t provide much of a boost. The source of drain begins much deeper and spreads from there.
Check Your Beliefs and Behaviors
If you notice a downturn in your energy it could be due to a lack of resonance, a lack of integrity. Monitoring and managing your energy begins with a couple of probing questions. Are there significant gaps between what you say is most important and how you live your life? Do you engage in habitual behaviors that you recognized as detrimental long ago? If your spirit lacks spark, then these questions will lead you down a path of discovery. You can diagnose the source of your drain.
Live Out Your Inner Values
Choosing to live with the duplicity of values and behaviors has the opposite effect of devoting time to the things that really matter to you. Living a life of purpose is one of the easiest ways to energize your leadership. Conversely, self-deception or blatant hypocrisy can be exhausting. The slow drain of behaviors that are clearly contrary to your beliefs will result in significant energy loss. These questions require more than a cursory review. You will need to set aside some time and get serious about your leadership.
When you wrestle with issues of integrity, you can discover things in your life that have diminished your vitality. These issues signal the need to engage in transformation and change your behaviors. There is a good reason for an increased emphasis on the importance of emotional intelligence in the field of leadership. One of the hallmarks of an emotionally intelligent leader is the connection between self-awareness and self-management. This connection provides the basis for saying “yes” and “no.” It is a great way to combat the perceived scarcity of time and energy. When you embrace your identity and take responsibility for your choices then you will be able to maximize your energy. When you restore integrity you will refresh your battery. It’s a great way to improve the quantity and quality of your leadership influence. An accurate self-assessment is not some ethereal exercise that remains distant from the real world of leadership. It is the beginning of preventative maintenance. Shut down the energy drain, engage in transformation and refine your focus.