One thing we often forget to do…

 Profile image of Steve Lobley From Spring Leadership

Steve Lobley

I remember always being curious why business leaders and their businesses didn’t grow and develop as effectively as they could – and in line with their stated ambitions. It was a great puzzle – despite knowing exactly what to do, nine times out of ten they couldn’t make the changes needed or make the right decisions to truly achieve the step changes required. It led me to the mantra from the Chinese Proverb ‘it’s not the knowing that’s difficult, it’s the doing’ – because THAT is really what it’s all about after all…

And as a result I reshaped my career from business adviser and mentor to launch myself fully into the world of coaching. My 30+ years in business from a shift manager in a textile mill to MD of a £15M business in the corporate world allowed me a unique perspective on the challenges people were facing, and with loads of experience on how to address them. 

Have you been climbing the walls dealing with all of the fallout from this crisis? Furlough, remote working etc; etc; …..? And finding how hard work it is? Me too. Relentless.

I did something unusual on Tuesday – I took a day off. First time for a very long time. This is a big deal in our line of work – most of the time we’re available to help out and give advice, and never more so than now. Also, the new convenience of Zoom and Teams means people can hop on a call and talk something through, or ask a question about a challenge very quickly and easily – and is much more the norm now. But a whole day on Zoom is pretty exhausting!

In some ways the Calendly app we use is brilliant, in others not so – it’s a bit unpredictable – you never know what’s coming down the line and, although we love getting engaged it can make it difficult to create some space to take time out.

That’s the tip for today. I’ve spoken to at least 8 leaders in the last week or so who have managed to take time out – and have had varying experiences – good and bad. Lessons:

First Question: Have you actually taken time out yet? Or have you got a holiday booked in the coming weeks – it’s been nigh on 16 weeks (4 months!) of this after all? And if you haven’t, then why not?

  • There’s a very real danger of burnout for leaders in these times – and stress is a killer, not only personally, but professionally – it affects the business. You WILL NOT make good decisions, engage effectively and work productively – fact, no use denying it. And that’s not a good thing either. Sort it out, honestly, work out how you are going to do it, now.

The Killer Question: Is it proper time out or is it “time out”

And you know what I mean – you’re out of the office but not really. You’re still getting your emails, you’re still available, you tell people to send updates, you call up to ask a question that’s occurred to you, and the rest of your team call you too (because they may be a bit wobbly you’re not there) – all that sort of palaver.

And you know who the problem is as well. It’s you. The leaders who’ve had good experiences with taking some time out recently have bitten the bullet and switched off, properly, those who haven’t, haven’t.

It was a big change and took some planning, work and discipline to do it but they did it.

So, I hereby give you permission to book a holiday (as long as it is a proper one) and take time out. You know you need to, and you know you should.

I did, it was only a day, but it made all the difference in the world. How did I deal with the above challenges – easy, ish– I went to Cheddar Gorge (no signal) and did something that forced me to think about something else other than work for a change. Now I’m not saying you should do this but it worked for me!

Now you understand the ‘climbing walls’ analogy..