Looking Out for No. 1

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workBeing invested in the people you lead is a hallmark of a successful leader. But when you invest so much of your time, energy and perceived success or failure as a manager on whether your employees are fulfilled and engaged at work, your own career satisfaction may eventually suffer.

Here are some tips you can use to make sure that you’re tending to your own workplace stress, challenges, and performance goals as actively as you do your employees:

––Put your feelings on paper. When you’re so busy tending to the needs of your employees, your own thoughts and feelings tend to get pushed to the back burner. Some may be passing frustrations, but others can hint toward stress that builds over time, and eventually, bubbles to the surface. Establish the habit of writing your thoughts and feelings on paper, for 15 to 20 minutes a day. Let the ideas flow without editing.

This time of self-care can help you stay in touch with your emotions about life and work demands so you can address any issues before they lead to burnout—and can help you find ways to solve challenges you face in your life, and as a manager.

––Find the good in the bad. Had a tough day at work? Experts at the University of California, Berkeley, say you can counteract the stress and negativity by writing down at least three good things that came from any situation that didn’t go your way. Researchers who have studied this practice found that those who consistently practiced finding “silver linings” in otherwise negative events for at least a few weeks become less pessimistic and more engaged in life as a result.

––Be your own nice boss. Just as it’s important to encourage employees who feel stressed and stuck, your own self-talk contributes to your attitudes about your job and the demands it presents. If your self-compassion is lacking, the experts at Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center say it’s helpful to consider your challenges as though you’re coaching one of your employees through it.

At least once a month, think about a problem you’re facing. Pretend an employee has come to you with the problem. Write down how the conversation would flow: What words and tone would you use when speaking to the employee? How much time would you give them to share concerns and work out a solution? What advice would you give to stay positive, manage fear and see the challenge through?

Reflect on how you’d speak to an employee about the issue you face, and how that compares to the dialogue you have with yourself during challenges. Do you allow yourself time to experience and acknowledge emotions in order to process them, and move forward? If not, what fears or self-judgments prevent you from caring for yourself as you would an employee?

Consider how your life might improve if you were as supportive of your own needs as you are those of your employees.

––Recognize that you are not alone. Being a manager can create a sense of pressure to stay positive and fearless, even when you feel anything but. Yet Kelly McGonigal, author of “The Upside of Stress,” explains that acknowledging stress doesn’t mean you’ve been defeated.

In fact, anytime stress appears, you have an opportunity to be a better manager. It’s an opportunity to form connections with people who share your experiences—not as a manager, but as a human being.

When you’re overwhelmed, recognize that you are probably feeling just like every other person in your company or industry has at some time in his or her career—despite where you may be positioned on the organizational chart.

McGonigal says forming connections in times of stress is the key to alleviating the feeling that the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Allow yourself to recognize the similarity of your experience with all the employees who surround you, and you can counteract fear with bravery.

(Source: TNS)