The future-of-work leadership model places increasing and new demands on leaders, and never before has managing energy been so crucial to a leader’s success as it is right now. An analogy that springs to mind is when a plane hits heavy turbulence and a parent has to don an oxygen mask before helping a child with one. These are turbulent times as we pivot to entirely new ways of working and leading and that places increasing levels of stress on executives, which directly impacts the teams they lead.
“How can I consistently be at my best and give my best when the definition of our ‘new normal’ seems to be constantly changing?”
For many of the executives I coach, this question is top of mind. We are used to demanding a lot of ourselves. That’s normal given the ambition, discipline, and dedication it takes to become an enterprise leader managing large teams. The pandemic has challenged so many of the practices that got us to where we are, and from Zoom fatigue to being “always on,” we’ve all felt drained more often and to a greater extent than we’d care to admit.
Over the course of our professional lives, we have learned how to manage the day-to-day of our jobs and to look after ourselves – if perhaps not always as well as we wished we had. When the pandemic set in, it disrupted the rhythms we learned to work within and at the same time, offered an opportunity to stop and reflect. From going fully remote to hybrid, to some new version of "normal," we’ve all done what we can to make the best of a situation that we cannot control.
In some areas, we may have gained a new level of agency; in others, we’ve found ourselves continuing to struggle to find a balance that allows us to flourish.
Maybe you’ve felt that despite the abundant stream of self-help tools, resilience tips, and stress-reduction techniques that are available, you are still looking for how to integrate these various devices into an effective and flexible routine.
When you look at how to strengthen your resilience and wellbeing, I’ve found that what helps the most is being able to clearly focus on:
- Identifying what you need to be at your best,
- What being “at your best” looks like, and
- Building strong daily habits that motivate and sustain you.
Over my 24 years as an executive coach, I’ve helped driven, passionate professionals achieve and sustain their goals by intentionally improving how they manage their energy.
"The key, I’ve found, lies in charging your five batteries."
Your Five Batteries
Energy, in its simplest definition, is what allows change to happen. Your energy is like the battery in your phone: you want to keep it charged to use it when you need it.
Thinking of your energy as "one big thing" can feel abstract and make it difficult to understand and address. In my Professional Energy Management framework, I use a metaphor of energy represented by five batteries that drive and sustain you in tangible and practical ways. They are:
- Physical Battery: your health, stamina, and vitality.
- Mental Battery: your clarity, focus, and intellectual agility.
- Emotional Battery: your resilience, creativity, and emotional self-regulation.
- Spiritual Battery: your values, motivation, and sense of purpose.
- Social Battery: your relationships, surroundings, and professional environment.
Each dimension is recharged or drained by ten specific “indicators,” such as your habits, your perceptions, your lifestyle, and so on. What’s important to remember is that each dimension directly impacts and influences the others, which means that changing one battery can benefit us in and of itself and by reinforcing other areas, in the inverse way that stressors in one area boil over and affect others.
When you start to break down energy into these five batteries, you begin to have a clearer, more palpable sense of what’s affecting you and what you can change. If you are struggling in certain areas, you can begin to ask, “How have my habits, perceptions, or context changed? How are they currently helping or hindering me? What can I adjust? What do I need to accept for now?” Consider these anecdotes to help you reflect further:
- Physical: The “convenience” of working from home has left Jakob feeling more sluggish. He never realized how much he had come to rely on the rhythm of his daily commute to get him moving.
- Mental: With the day beginning and ending with her laptop’s blaring screen, Simona feels mentally drained by the monotone trawl of attending meetings and sending emails without a moment to properly disconnect.
- Emotional: Gustavo loves his work and his family but being at home all the time has made it harder for him to appreciate both of them, and it’s made him feel unhappy about the situation and himself.
- Spiritual: Yasuhiro’s truest sense of fulfillment came with seeing how his team’s projects affected communities. With everything remote, his sense of purpose has waned as his contributions have felt more abstract than ever.
- Social: With rigid, regimented Zoom meetings becoming the norm, Tamara lost the relaxed moments between in-person meetings that allowed her to speak with members of her team in an organic way, leaving her feeling disconnected.
When we feel stuck with our energy, we often try to figure out how we can get more or better. Instead, the question I invite you to ask is, “How can you optimize how you use your energy each day?” It takes building new habits and starts with getting clear on where you are right now.
Are You Optimizing Your Energy?
Whatever your situation may be, getting clear on how you are managing your energy is the first step to kick-starting new habits to help you consistently be at your best. Through Personal Energy Management, we do this through “Mini-Habits”: small, beneficial practices that can readily be interwoven with existing habits – like brushing your teeth, making coffee, or opening your computer – to get you into the rhythm of promoting the change that you want for yourself.
To do that, I created an Energy Check to help you establish how much charge you have in each of your five batteries, and to identify practical ways to address any areas that are running low by showing how you take care of your energy through fifty key indicators.
Click here to take my Energy Check. After taking this anonymous, brief assessment, you can download your personal energy results in a report with additional resources and effective steps designed to help you create new Mini-Habits aligned with where you want to focus your change efforts.
How can you consistently be at your best when work and the world around is constantly changing? Understand what energizes you and use that knowledge to sustain you through this pandemic and whatever challenges and opportunities lie beyond.