24/06/2014

By Phil Higson and Anthony Sturgess,

When we’re under pressure, especially for prolonged periods, anyone can suffer from loss of energy, inspiration or motivation. Even leaders! It’s very difficult to perform at your best or hold on to positives, when you feel you’re overburdened, or lacking in you time, space or energy. But if leaders can’t be energised, inspired and motivated, how can they expect people to follow? So it may well be timely to stop and think for a moment. If you’re starting to feel the stresses and strains of being a leader, here are some tips on how to regain your leadership mojo.

Are you in the zone or zoned out?

Would you say your work is interesting or do you get bored? A crucial factor in maintaining mojo is whether or not we find our work absorbing. We work best when we’re absorbed in activities that are challenging, interesting, we can do, and build on our strengths. So try asking yourself:
• Does your work put you “in the zone”? If so, how often? If not, why not?
• Are you challenged by your work? Or do you think your work is too challenging for your skills, knowledge and experience?

Are you buoyed up or weighed down?

Think about your overall workload. Is it weighing you down? Is this due to the volume of work you have to do, or to the type of work you’re being asked to do? If it’s the former, prioritise ways to deal with this. For example, make sure you’re not substituting activity for productivity. If the work you’re doing is essential, focus on doing it as efficiently as possible. If you think it’s the type of work you’re doing that’s affecting you, think about how you might be able to focus more on the things you’re good at. The things that put you in the zone. Doing more of what we’re good at is good for our mojo!

Do you feel freed-up or fed-up?

If you don’t manage the demands on your time, you may end up feeling trapped. Think about how you could create more discretionary time in your work, and less imposed by others. Seeking more control over how we spend our time, and how we perform our work, can reduce stress and make work more fulfilling. All jobs have demands and constraints but it’s worth thinking about how you can minimise these and maximise your choices in how you work. Your mojo will be significantly improved if you feel you are more in control, both of what you do, and of how you do it. Freeing up your time, to focus on strength-based activities, will also deliver better results for you and the people you lead.

Are you re-energised or burned-out?

Sustaining any worthwhile activity is difficult without energy or passion. And without these it’s also difficult to sustain your mojo. If you think you’re starting to feel burned-out, then maybe it’s time to focus on re-energising. This means you’ll probably need to do two things. Firstly, think about the things that are draining your energy and try to reduce or remove as much as you can. Secondly, identify the things that renew your strength and endurance and try to factor these into your life, either at work or in your leisure. This might seem like common sense but it’s all too easy to overlook the obvious when we are under pressure at work. So step back and think seriously about how you are managing your work-life balance, and what you can do about it.

Feeling fresh or settling for stale?

It’s very difficult to be creative when you feel stale. Creativity often requires space and time, so think about whether you are giving yourself enough of both. Then think about how you can re-kindle your creativity. It’s useful to periodically stand back from your work routine and ask yourself some questions. What exactly are you doing? How are you doing it? Why? What things can you do to improve your creativity?

Perhaps the real key to regaining your leadership mojo is to routinely and deliberately try some fresh thinking. We can all benefit from thought-provoking insights. But often it’s only by looking at something differently that we gain the fresh perspectives and renewed energy needed to make a real impact. So start by thinking about how you might define mojo. Some think it means energy, passion, excitement and there is a ring of truth to each of these. But perhaps it’s more — maybe it’s re-discovering the magic in what you do.

Uncommon Leadership — How to Build Competitive Advantage by Thinking Differently by Phil Higson and Anthony Sturgess, is published by Kogan Page, priced £19.99. For further information including helpful tools and resources see www.uncommonleadership.co.uk

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