In the scope of my work, I observe many leaders every month. I see great ideas executed flawlessly, and I see great ideas that don’t take off too well. When that happens, the leader and I often spend a great deal of time defining why the idea didn’t go over well, and what we can glean from the situation.
On occasion, I watch a leader who has executed beautifully begin to change. Maybe it’s something small, like not exhibiting the energy they have in the past at a meeting or two, or maybe it’s something a little larger, like not managing their emotions well when receiving information that was contrary to their expectations. In either case, there’s a change, and it needs to be checked out. A great leader should be self-aware and possess the ability to check within to see what’s going on. If not, hopefully a coach, mentor or close colleague can find out what’s going on with this otherwise stable leader.
Stress in the Workplace
Stress in the workplace has become much more prevalent over the past few years, as technology has helped with speeding up the pace of the work environment. Budgets are being cut, forcing employers to send qualified employees to the employment lines. In our area, Government Contractors especially are constantly being asked to do more with less. Then, adding family responsibilities, hobbies and other life priorities to the mix, there can be a lot on anyone’s plate these days.
There is research showing that something called “ego depletion” could be part of the issue. Ego depletion is the concept that an individual only has a certain amount of internal resources from which to pull. Once these resources are depleted, there is little ability to maintain one’s willpower or self-control. And what one is trying to control doesn’t have to relate to the cause. For example, if someone is dieting, once they reach the state of ego depletion, it is more difficult to ward off that tempting piece of chocolate cake that he/she easily defending him/herself from in prior days.
Ego depletion can be muted with a shift to a positive attitude, even if only for a short period of time. It, however, will not be sustainable. If a person feels particularly rested, this can also have a positive effect on the ability to control oneself.
So when you find yourself out of sorts and you don’t know why, you may just be out of steam and need a break. Consider ways to reduce stress, like vacation (even if only for a long weekend), exercise, eating right and other relaxing activities to restore you resources. You may be surprised at how much easier it is to get your plate clean!