Secret weapons of successful leaders: Sleep
Tuesday, September 12, 2017
It is easy to find MBA programs, seminars, conferences, books and podcasts teaching the various traits and characteristics of successful leaders. While many of us can use these tools to become more strategic, focused, confident and inspiring, having those traits does not guarantee leadership success.
Here are three secret weapons of successful leaders and ways we can all start using them right now.
Historically, having a strong work ethic or being a good leader has been associated with sacrifice. After all, claims of working long hours, weekends or into the night prove that an employee is committed to the organization, right? On the contrary, such work habits may illustrate how unproductive, unfocused and uncreative an employee is.
Earlier this year, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was the focus of many articles because he voiced unapologetically, his commitment to getting eight hours of sleep each night. Bezos noted clearly that he knows he needs to feel energized and excited.
But getting enough sleep is not just about energy. This Harvard Business Review study shows that key characteristics of leadership — like being results-focused or good at solving problems — are negatively affected by a lack of sleep.
However, it may be difficult for many of us to immediately find the time to sleep. After all, we have spent a long time looking at sleep as a luxury, and our packed schedules reflect that. Instead, the first step leaders can take toward creating a workstyle that allows for restorative rest, is to stop emphasizing, encouraging or rewarding behaviors that support less sleep.
Once we acknowledge the importance of sleep, we can begin to address the language and organization culture that undermine it. While few of us will go so far as to create napping rooms at work, simply removing anti-sleep sentiments from the workplace will allow employees the opportunity to build healthier habits.
Subsequently, leading by example and creating sleep-sensitive policies are also far-reaching, lower-cost ways to build a little more support for sleep into our work day.
As leaders, employees look to us for direction. Thus, it is incumbent upon us to do whatever we can to bring our best to work; we should be the example of our ideal employee.
Getting enough sleep supports clarity of thought, creativity, patience and perspective — characteristics required of leaders but also excellent traits for all employees. It is time for us to stop looking at sleep as the enemy and take the first steps toward providing more access to this often-scarce resource.
In Part 2 of this article, we'll look at more secret weapons of successful leaders and how to begin implementing them immediately.
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