By Geraint Lewis,
Call of the Wild
As business owners and leaders, many people have experienced that moment when enough really is enough. One-of-a-kind leader Jacinda Ardern certainly knew her time was up last week when she bowed out saying that she ‘no longer had enough in the tank’ to do the job.
As the world’s youngest serving female leader, she had her fair share of crises during her two-term tenure but that’s been apparent throughout is her strong emotional intelligence and seemingly endless resilience. In her own words, she hopes that she has left New Zealanders with a belief that you can be kind, but strong, empathetic but decisive, optimistic but focussed. She is certainly a leader who knew when it was time to go.
One of the most important characteristics of a business leader is self-awareness, and the ability to understand your own strengths and weaknesses. Something that we frequently work on with clients. Like many of you, I’m sure, I was quite shocked to hear the announcement from Jacinda Ardern. It’s not something we hear very often from political leaders, or leaders in general. But what interested me the most was her reflection ‘I just don’t have enough in the tank’. As leaders our time is constantly in demand, the pace is fast and the decisions we make can have enormous repercussions, but how often do we stop to check in with ourselves?
There is so much talk, endlessly, nowadays about mental wellbeing, work-life balance and a high level of awareness of what stress does to our bodies. They are certainly things I’m aware of when working with our clients, but how often do we check-in with ourselves? In all likelihood – not often enough. Ardern’s admission might be a nudge we didn’t know we needed to consider how full the tank is and if we are giving ourselves enough opportunities to keep our tank full, so that we are giving our best to our organisations.
But who has time for that? Although it might sound like a self-indulgence to block out time for something other than work, it’s vital. For instance, when was the last time that you took a lunch break? When was the last time you stepped away from your emails, your meeting schedule, your constantly ringing phone and went for a walk around the block? Why not start today? Do one thing that fills up your tank and see what a difference it makes to your day, to your team and to your business.
This all harks back to our ethos at Call of the Wild, and one of the reasons we started the business 25 years ago. Now working with organisations like Amazon, BP, Barclays and Admiral, our approach to leadership development is based on the ‘learning by doing’ method – experiential learning. We provide an opportunity for managers to develop leadership skills in an environment where they can safely explore their own methods and styles which will help improve their performance when back in the workplace.
Importantly, we encourage all leaders to understand themselves. What makes you tick and can you be honest with yourself when the hard times come as inevitably they will. If you don’t first understand how you lead yourself then how are you going to be effective in leading others and the organisation?
Jacinda Ardern’s resignation should teach us all a lesson about burn-out. She’s right – a leadership role does come with responsibility. The responsibility to be true to yourself and take care of yourself before the tank is empty.