I was coached by a Zen Monk some years ago and I still remember him saying, “the fireman is not there to die”. He meant by this that there will be times when we need to put ourself first; if we want to continue to help others

As a leader, the temptation can be to focus all your energy and efforts on those you serve. However, if you want to be a truly effective leader, you need to be aware of your own physical, emotional, mental and spiritual states

If you are unable to manage and sustain your own energy, the effectiveness of your leadership will quickly diminish – especially in a crisis situation

“Managing energy, not time, is the key to high performance”

To be able to perform in our daily storms, we need to build the capacity to sustain high performance when needed; we need to manage four energies:

Our Physical energy; this fuels our fire and enhances stamina, vitality, alertness and recovery time

Our Emotional energy, this transforms threats into challenges and helps build constructive, healthy relationships

Our Mental energy; this keeps us appropriately focused and helps to concentrate on what matters most

Our Spiritual energy; this keeps us connected to our values and helps in decision making and priority setting

There are times in the day when we can hardly stay up on our feet, our eyelids are dropping and our stomachs are rumbling – it’s time for a break

There are times in the day when we are annoyed, frustrated, disappointed and angry – it’s time for a break

There are times in the day when we’ve looked at the problem from all the angles, reformulated the arguments till they make no sense and can no longer concentrate – it’s time for a break

There are times in the day when we are lost and wondering why we are doing what we are doing – it’s time for a break

There are times in our lives when all the above are present – it’s time for a big break

To be able to perform in your daily storms, you need to build the capacity to sustain high performance when needed; this means

  • Developing your ability to expend and recover energy
  • Creating routines for managing your energy levels
  • Eliminating negative habits that waste, deplete or contaminate your stored energy
  • Selecting when to engage and when to disengage

To paraphrase Winston Churchill, use your energy, “at the right time, in the right place and in the right way”

You can manage your physical energy by eating correctly, respecting your Circadian rhythm, exercising regularly and taking breaks during your day

You can manage your emotional energy by accessing pleasant emotions, developing self-confidence & self-control, looking for the positive in the negative and doing things that you like

You can manage your mental energy by controlling what you can control, avoiding multitasking, setting priorities and developing Mindfulness

You can manage your spiritual energy by respecting your values, clarifying your purpose and doing meaningful work

If you want to demonstrate calm and optimism in a crisis, you need to create a personal operating model that helps you function at your best; an operating model that ensures:

  • The greatest quantity of physical energy
  • The highest quality of emotional energy
  • The clearest focus of mental energy
  • The maximum depth of spiritual energy

Ideally, you need to oscillate between high and low positive energy

A broken leader – physically or mentally – is no leader at all

Field Marshal Montgomery

If you would like to talk about managing your personal leadership energy, do not hesitate to contact me



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