Earlier this year, Miramar hosted the inaugural HR leadership forum which tackled the theme: “How to elevate resilience in your leadership team”. The goal of the workshop was to enable the leadership team to think more strategically around how they lead and identify specific actions and behaviours to sustainably improve teams’ performance. Some of the key behaviours highlighted focussed around the structure and good habits of executive leaders. It was clear that a leader maintaining their own energy levels was key – with sleep, exercise and nutrition acting as the vital ingredients to maintain and ensure resilience. Bill Lawry, CEO at Ascend World, shared the four best ways for executives to optimise their personal heath, wellbeing and resilience, and ultimately improve performance:
Sleep is nature’s best performance enhancer. Not only is it important for rest, repair, recovery and growth, it improves our memory and our decision making ability. Most of us do need 7-9 hours of sleep a night because the glial cells in the brain need time to clean up our synapses and remove the toxins that build up during the day. It is perhaps better to think of us needing 50 – 65 hours of sleep a week because the odd bad night is not going to affect us too badly. Best sleep tip: Prioritise sleep and develop a pre-sleep routine to help maximise the quality of your sleep e.g. turn off your tech an hour before you go to bed – don’t worry the world won’t end!
We all know that exercise is important for our health, fitness and energy resources – even the Government recognises that in its recent COVID-19 lockdown sanctions.
Ideally, you want to be doing a combination of strength (more important the older we get), cardio, flexibility and high-intensity interval training each week.
If you’re in the exercise groove, fantastic! However, if you’re not sure you’re doing enough or the right kind of exercise, ask yourself:
• Why aren’t I doing enough?
• What am I prioritising instead of exercise?
• What do I need to do to commit to the right exercise regime for me?
Food fuels and supports your body and brain, which is why it’s important to nourish your body and mind with the right nutrients, especially during stressful times. The key thing about nutrition and resilience is ensuring that blood sugar levels remain constant throughout the day. This is because when blood sugar levels drop, we are less able to focus, make poorer decisions/choices and are more likely to be emotionally hijacked/triggered.
The trick here is to not leave large gaps between meals. For example, skipping breakfast or leaving a large gap between lunch and an evening meal. We often encourage people to have an extra small meal between 4 and 5pm. It’s also best to eat foods with a high glycemic index (foods that make you feel fuller for longer, like complex carbs and proteins). Eating a balanced and nutritious diet takes planning, and a key habit of successful, resilient leaders is being disciplined with their planning.
4. Identify things that drain and boost you
A great way for increasing your energy resource is identifying the tasks, cultures and people that drain/boost you and do or see less/more of them.
This might mean you start delegating certain tasks that suit other people’s strengths better than yours, and/or identifying the energy drainers in your work and social networks and spending less time with them. One of the biggest drains on energy is a lack of alignment with your purpose and core values and the organisation or climate you are working in. You are more likely to be resilient and bounce forward from setbacks if you are aligned in these areas. And by knowing the things and people that boost your energy, organise your routine so you spend more time with the energy givers. Like when installing any new habit, making the necessary changes to increase and maintain your energy levels, takes patience, discipline, planning and of course, consistent implementation. You may or may not see or feel the powerful benefits instantly, but you will reap rewards with regards to personal health, wellbeing and enhanced resilience.