Leadership and Legacy lessons from “The Book Thief”

Leadership and Legacy lessons from “The Book Thief”

I’ve just had one of the most moving experiences of my life. More aware than ever of my own mortality and the need to bring joy to everything we do and to live life with purpose, – I’ve just finished watching “The book thief” at our local cinema, the Regal, in Evesham.

The book thief is a story about a young girl living with her adoptive German family during the reign of Adolph Hitler. Taught to read by her kind-hearted foster father, the girl begins “borrowing” books and sharing them with the Jewish refugee being sheltered by her foster parents in their home.

Above everything else, I’d advise you take tissues, yes I cried and I hope you do too. Cry because you’re thankful for what you have, cry because you realise you have more to give and cry because you are touched by the legacy of humanity and the way in which individuals collectively or individually have the opportunity to stand up for what they believe and make a difference.

It’s incredibly moving, but I’m not just writing to tell you to go see it – oh no. The reason I’m writing is because it reinforces the difference each and everyone of us makes when we live and work with purpose and are clear in our own minds about the legacy we wish to lead.

In a world of potential short termism, we each have the opportunity to be greatful for what we have, whilst focusing on what we want to achieve. As leaders and ‘followers’ we have the chance to reflect on the greater good we want to deliver and the impact this search and striving for something greater has on those around us, our customers perceptions and the longevity of our business.

The book thief touched me deeply and made me stop and pause about my purpose, which I’ve written about before, and to re-ask myself these questions, I found them enlightening. I’d love to hear your thoughts:

>What am I grateful for?
>What is going well in my life?
>What do I want my legacy to be?
>What should I stand up more strongly for and what should I let go?
>How could I live more purposefully?
>How could I help others live to more purposefully?
>Where in my life would I like greater meaning?

If you would love to bring greater meaning to what you do, achieve more of your desired outcomes or fashion your legacy to a greater degree, I’d love to hear from you.

Stefan

Tel: +44 (0) 77369 42382
E-mail: stefan@yourleadershipcounsel.co.uk
Website: http://www.yourleadershipcounsel.co.uk

Stefan Powell is Your Leadership Counsel and has been developing leaders, teams and organisational capability for change for well over a decade. Inspiring, committed and devoted to the success of his clients, he excels in working 1:1 with leaders and business owners to bring inspiration, clarity and focus to everything they do.

Sample testimonial

“Inspirational – easy, thorough and methodical to work with while also intuitive, imaginative, creative, incredibly flexible and very accommodating”. Wendy Stern – Chair of Action For Involvement – http://www.actionforinvolvement.org.uk

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8 Ways to Reduce Leadership Fatigue…

8 Ways to Reduce Leadership Fatigue

Leading in today’s busy world can be both invigorating and exhausting. It’s not just physical tiredness from attending meetings, visiting multiple sites and providing enthusiasm and energy, but it’s the mental strain we experience in understanding and disseminating the wealth of information and decisions we have to make.

Being tired is not a sign of weakness, it’s your bodies way of telling you that you’re working hard and that you’re human too.

Take a look at the following eight ways of reducing tiredness and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do I know this? If so,
  2. Do I do this? And if so,
  3. How well? If as well as you’d like,
  4. Do you do it as often you could?

All the approaches below provide opportunities for you to reduce fatigue and increase the energy you need to lead your organisation in the wonderfully complex business world of today.

Your 8 Ways…

1) Write down and prioritise your workload

It may sound like a wonderfully mundane idea, but holding a thousand and one tasks in your mind is tiring, we’ve all been there – “I need to write that down”, or “I need to remember to do that”, you say to yourself. This wears you out more than you realise. Committing your thoughts to paper and then having an effective way of prioritising your list clarifies what you need to do, improves focus and in turn creates efficiencies. What’s more, it enables you to see the progress you’re making and leads to the opportunity to do more of number 2.

For support in prioritising your workload, get in touch or if you love to read more, here’s a great blog from mind-tools:

2) Delegate and Empower

It’s easy to hold onto work, sometimes you think it will be quicker if you do it yourself and sometimes you may say to yourself, “I can’t ask x to do that for me” or “it won’t take me that long to do it”. Holding onto work you could hand over to others, can take you away from what will add the greatest value to your organisation and in turn, eats up your energy.

Empowering your people to take on additional responsibilities – some of your responsibilities – reduces your workload and is incredibly inspiring and rewarding for your people – no matter their ‘level’. Collaborating with and handing over responsibility to your people develops trust, commitment and increases efficiencies. What’s more according to Gallop, organisations that enable employees to be more empowered and engaged, experience 27% higher profits (Wagner & Harter, 2006).

There are many reasons we choose not to delegate. If you find it hard to paint a picture of what you want, to motivate others to deliver strategy on your behalf or to let go of tasks, contact me I can help.

If you’d like to read more before contacting me, here’s a great blog from inc.com, on how to delegate – a large part of which I explore with my own coaching clients.

3) Low and moderate intensity exercise

Whilst exercising may appear counter-intuitive to helping you with tiredness, a Georgia University study showed that low and moderate-intensity exercise makes a 20 percent increase in energy levels, whilst low-intensity exercise reduces fatigue levels by 65 percent compared.

Walk, bike or jog at a pace that you can still hold a conversation for 20 minutes, three times per week and you’ll reap the rewards, along with your people and your organisation.

For support in identifying strategies to empower you to create time to exercise, or overcome the limiting beliefs that hold you back from exercising, get in touch today.

Alternatively, to read more on the Georgia University study and the impact of exercise, click here

4) Take a break

When was the last time you had an hours lunch, during which you didn’t answer emails, take phone calls or talk business? Your body is designed to rest and your brain cells work much better when you take a break from what you’re doing and add in some variety.

I’ve worked with business leaders, who have felt guilty for taking time away from their busy to re-charge, concerned that their people will think that they are “slacking”. Talk to your people, tell them what you’re doing and talk to them about the importance of taking a lunch break, rest break and holidays too. You’ll do all of you including your customers a favour.

Taking a break doesn’t even have to mean time off, just changing activities can make a big difference? If you’d like to read more, here’s a great blog from the New York Times – “Take breaks regularly to stay on schedule”:

5) Generate meaning in what you do.

Have you ever noticed how tired and lethargic you feel, when you feel that your work isn’t making the difference you want to make? This feeling in both the short and long term can lead to a lack of motivation, which in turn can turn into apathy and in turn mental tiredness.

If you want to generate meaning in your work, try turning off your laptop for a moment, great a piece of paper and a pen and answer this question; what is important to me in work? Keep listing until you can’t think of any more, and then force yourself to come up with more. Now pick your top 5 things and rate on a scale of 0 – 10 (with 10 being high) how much of that you are getting.

Once you’ve placed a rating next to your top 5 drivers and motivators, now answer this question; what could I do to increase this score? You may or may not be surprised with what you come up with. Acknowledging what’s important to you and then taking action will invigorate you and those around you – because you’ll be working with meaning. 

6) Focus on your successes

Another way of invigorating you and lifting tiredness is to focus on your successes, on occasions, when we feel that things aren’t progressing as we might like or at the rate we’d like, we can lose motivation and enthusiasm. You’ll be pleased to know that there’s something you can do. Again, take out a pen and answer this question: what is going well?

List as many things as you can think of, do this with your leadership team and you’ll be surprised to see how great it makes you feel and how energised and awake.

We don’t stop often enough to reflect on the successes we’re having or to see them written down in black and white – go on give it a try…

7) Beautiful Basics

When looking at all of the reasons for feeling fatigued, or the ways in which you can increase your energy, it’s easy to forget some of the basics. Are you for instance:

  • Getting enough sleep
  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Limiting Caffeine
  • Forgetting when the last time was you had a health check with your doctor

Making some simple changes to your diet and lifestyle can make a big difference to your energy levels. Be honest with yourself, some of these changes could be a lot easier and quicker to implement than some of the other items you may have noted are contributing to your sense of fatigue.

8) Talk to someone you trust

They say that a problem shared is a problem halved and worry or over thinking things is one of the greatest drains on our energy. Leading today, whilst rewarding, is an incredibly complex and time precious role. Whilst you may have built a great team around you, there may be some things you feel you just can’t talk openly about with them. If you can find just one hour in your busy schedule to speak with someone who will listen to you, remind you of your successes and help you reflect accurately on your current situation, finding ways forward, you could find yourself saving hours of mulling over those business related decisions you need to make – and in turn a whole lot less fatigued.

Summary…Your Leadership Counsel – Here for you…

I hope you’ve found my 8 ways to reduce fatigue useful; the next step is to act. After all, if you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll always get what you’ve always got. If you’re struggling with any of the elements outlined in this blog, would love to know more or are looking for a critical friend and trusted adviser to help you and your leadership team, I’d love to hear from you.

Stefan

Tel: +44 (0) 77369 42382

E-mail: stefan@yourleadershipcounsel.co.uk

Website: www.yourleadershipcounsel.co.uk

Stefan Powell is Your Leadership Counsel and has been developing leaders, teams and organisational capability for change for well over a decade. Inspiring, committed and devoted to the success of his clients, he excels in working 1:1 with leaders and business owners to bring inspiration, clarity and focus to everything they do.

Sample testimonial

“Stefan has played a significant role in helping me to move up several gears very quickly in my new role as Director via transition coaching. His ability to listen, to accurately paraphrase and to succinctly summarise critical issues has helped me to develop clearer insight and understanding of my current challenges and create focused action. I look forward to continuing my work with Stefan and to embark on other successful future projects with him”. Vanessa Clarke – Director of Undergraduate Leadership Development Programmes at Birmingham City University