Early in the pandemic, one of my clients asked, “How can I be effective in my role and not deplete my energy”? As Division Chief at an academic medical system, a broad scope of people depended on her. Each person has different pandemic-related stressors. Leaders at all levels are finding it takes more energy in the current healthcare atmosphere to show up and engage with the needs of people and the urgent problems that need to be solved. Energy is a resource to manage, just like time and money. This means it is limited—so you need to be smart about how you use it and know how to boost your energy.

Managing energy is not the inclination for healthcare professionals, most of whom are taught to prioritize others first. And for women, there is a long line in front of you before you address your own needs. This puts you at risk, personally and as a leader.

Leaders Play A Vital Role In The Workplace

Most leaders don’t appreciate how important they are to the mood, and ultimately the productivity and level of engagement of those around them. In Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence, Goleman states that 50-70% of how employees perceive their workplace is attributable to the actions and behaviors of their leader.

The tips and strategies that follow emerge from helping clients like the Division Chief figure out how to maintain her energy. The surprising result: She also felt better about herself as a leader. 

The Cost Of Not Managing Your Energy

Not managing her energy would come at a cost to her organization and to her sense of personal contribution. To maintain the reputation and bottom line of her organization, she needed to stay engaged as a leader, and make decisions to balance the needs of faculty, interns and patients. Finding a way to manage her energy is personal, too. She is committed to being a leader that puts people first and bringing more humanity into healthcare. 

Identify What Drains Your Energy

The first step to boost your energy is identifying what drains it. Even when you have a good idea of what drains your energy, the intensity of a pandemic will show you more clearly. My client learned she was drained by:

1) Lack of clarity about who was responsible for a new project or for a response to a policy question.

2) A mirage of details to attend when her strength is to see the big picture.

Identify What Raises Your Energy

You probably know what I mean when I ask what drains your energy because you experience the result in your body every day. You raise your energy and enhance resilience any time you make a physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual deposit to your wellbeing account.

Resting your body and being appreciative are common ways to raise energy. Confronted by new situations and the intensity of the current need, no doubt you have found new ways to maintain your energy. My client made time to connect with faculty personally. She wanted to hear their experiences and give them the time to be heard. This gave her the personal contact she needed and helped her be an effective advocate at the leadership table.

Turning Challenges Into Opportunities for Growth

My client gained these insights as we worked through what situations drained her energy and identified what activities helped build her resiliency.

The lack of clarity about who was responsible for new projects created a need for her to reduce her perfectionist tendencies. She shifted to giving responses she could give or admitting that she didn’t know but would come back with an answer.

Instead of trying to keep track of all the many details, she turned to collaborating effectively and more frequently with staff who did know the details, allowing her to continue focusing on broader strategic issues.

“My energy is lifted now that I have a new perspective on how to go forward constructively,” she said after our work together.

Boost Your Energy To Effect Change

Manage your energy, so that you are prepared to cope, adapt, and engage effectively at work and home. Minding your energy is essential to be effective and have the influence you need as a leader. Pay attention to what is draining your energy and explore simple, timely ways to boost your energy. Even small steps can effect change in the people around you and in your organization.

Stayed tuned for Part 2: Managing the energy of your team and a handout on Strategies for Raising Energy. For leadership coaching, fill out the form on this page or call our office at (541) 912-9708.

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