Adaptive Leaders: The Leader’s Care

“If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.” – Daniel Goleman

Effective adaptive leaders are continually working on their self-awareness.  Often called insight, self-awareness supports keeping one’s emotional and physical abilities in good shape.  It will helps manage distressing emotions and respond to others with empathy and a healthy “other-focus.”  It will help one to recognize when one is not physically, emotionally, cognitively, or spiritually at one’s best performance.

Effective adaptive leaders take care of themselves.  They do so for their own good, of course, but also for the primary purpose of taking care of the people under their leadership.  Taking care of the enterprise, the team, and the individuals on the team is primary, and the work of such leadership is by definition selfless work.

How do adaptive leaders care for themselves in the midst of an adaptive challenge?  The same as they do all the time, if they are wise. Here are a few strategies:

  1. Adaptive leaders take care of themselves by doing what it takes to maintain stamina – they get enough rest, get the exercise and movement they need, and they engage with those outside of the enterprise who can energize them for the journey – family, friends, and mentors.
  2. Adaptive leaders must let go of guilt that accumulates from missed opportunities and missteps –letting go of guilt frees them to move forward in confidence and to support team member.
  3. Adaptive leaders are effective in balancing time for doing “deep work” with effective recovery time – they manage time for working in the “flow,” and they get time to recharge, recover, and refocus.
  4. Adaptive leaders pay attention to their physical and cognitive health, making time for rest, exercise, study, and personal development – they encourage others to do the same.
  5. Adaptive leaders pay attention to their spiritual and emotional health as well, making time to focus on maintaining a solid spiritual foundation for their character as well as practicing effective emotional well-being strategies.
  6. When faced with an obstacle that seems insurmountable, adaptive leaders do not give up; they become more creative and leverage the creativity in their team – they clearly give the message, “there is always another way.”

“We are not powerless. We have tremendous potential for good or ill. How we choose to use that power is up to us; but first we must choose to use it. We’re told every day, “You can’t change the world.” But the world is changing every day. Only question is…who’s doing it? You or somebody else?”  –  J. Michael Straczynski

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