Defining Leadership

Dare to Engage Personal Sustainability: the Lynchpin of Effective Leadership

Anese Cavanaugh asked:

If you are going to lead the way, you’re going to need some tools to support you on your path. Competence, instinct, inspiration, integrity, joy and the ability to engage people and create results are just a few of these things. There is something deeper. Often taken for granted, screaming for attention when it’s missing, foundational to all other qualities: “Personal Sustainability.” When you have it, you don’t notice it; when it’s borderline, you ache for it; and when it’s gone, you beg for it.

What is “personal sustainability?” Some executive coaching experts call it “self-care.” I define it as doing those things that bring your self alive, nurture your body and soul, give you more joy, energy, stamina and OOMPH, so you CAN engage again and again, making the impact you want in your life and organization.

Personal sustainability is all about doing the things that sustain you, so you can sustain your game, perhaps via clean eating, exercise, self-care, family time, engagement, joyful activities, scheduling, boundaries, etc. It’s an individual concoction and, without it, we risk burnout.

Personal sustainability of the leader is crucial. It is the lynchpin of effective leadership that supports us and holds it all together. Taking care of your self for effective leadership and executive coaching for “work/life balance” will not be a new idea or topic for this audience. We’ve all been there, done that. But what if:

• We REALLY created the space for people to hold personal sustainability at as high a priority as they would hold for bringing in a multi-million dollar deal, or improving performance for a promotion or for good parenting.

• More organizations provided the space, permission, championing and vehicles to engage in self-care regularly.

• We connected, on a daily basis, to our own PSPs (Personal Sustainability Plans).

• We lovingly invited folks to stop talking about it and get into action by taking on a whole new level of self responsibility, valuing self and others enough to engage in AUTHENTIC personal sustainability?

These performance improvement habits are worth the attention. It’s not rocket science, but the application and integration of it is. We’ve heard the statistics of rising healthcare costs and disease. (The latest: we will spend 4 trillion dollars in 2017 on healthcare.)

We see burnout around us, in the news, in our communities, in our own families and even in ourselves: a high-level executive suffers a heart attack, an over-extended working mom suffers a breakdown; the community hero gets a divorce after years of being disengaged from his family. These are not new scenarios. No one will disagree with me that personal sustainability is important; yet, I notice how quickly performance improvement undertakings fall to the bottom of the Outlook task list in service of doing almost anything else.

We need to help people find the space to give them permission to indulge in the art of self care. By engaging in our own self care, we create a more alive, engaging and joyful way of being (which is contagious.) We are all at choice here. This is about our IMPACT in effective leadership roles and how we set ourselves up to have the best impact possible.

Observe the impact of individuals practicing work/life balance and performance improvement, and how that affects their presence, clarity of thought, and performance.

• There is more “space” from which to lead.

• They’re more centered and present.

• They can do the work of twelve hours in eight because they’re present, clear-minded and energized.

• Their engagement is full-force, vs. surviving through the day at half-force making foggy decisions resulting in extra work for others and lower productivity for themselves.

Today’s effective leadership has the opportunity to create a future culture that nurtures and reveres self care. It’s not just about personal sustainability; it’s about being fully alive. This is not just about “self-focus”; it’s about being our best in our relationships, our work and our lives. Leading from this place, combined with the heart, the talent and the brilliance of each person, is where we can truly lead the way. It has to start somewhere and, as coaches and leaders, we are in a beautiful place to make an impact.

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