Being an outstanding leader requires many traits and talents. A quick look at the business literature includes concepts like a need for vision, transparency, honesty, innovation, focus, enthusiasm, optimism, hard work, and hope. What is rarely included in the list is energy. Leadership requires energy.
I’m not just talking about physical energy, even though that is imperative. Recently, there was a video of 82-year-old Pope Francis walking down the steps of an airplane ramp. Despite his age, he walked unassisted and at a steady pace. You may also recall former President Obama’s jogging up and down the steps for Air Force One. Travel of any type, even on a private plane or by limo, requires energy, and travel is often a necessary component of leadership.
The daily grind of a leader requires energy, too. Consider the number of meetings a leader attends in a week. Even with good time management and staff assistance, many leaders have packed calendars and go from one meeting to another. It takes energy to stay focused and engaged for hours every day.
It also takes energy for meeting preparation and for decision-making, and it can take great energy to motivate colleagues, board members and staff. Similarly, being responsible for others and dealing with negative feelings and criticism can deflate a leader’s energy level. In addition, leaders must worry about achieving their mission, finding adequate funding and resources, and managing the bottom line.
Every level of leadership takes energy, but many people believe that becoming the boss means that life will be easier. They figure that there are numerous perks and many people to do your bidding. That may be true, but being the boss often means working harder, not slacking off.
So how do leaders do it all? Some leaders are simply high energy people, and many draw energy from their missions and dreams. Even so, this innate energy still needs to be coupled with excellent time and people management skills, the ability to delegate and enlist the aid of others, and good self-care.