Leaders: Rest!

tired manOh, the driving zeal of many leaders! Little rest seems normal—but what are the consequences when the leader’s passionate pursuit precludes appropriate rest? How can rest seem important when the need is pressing? Maybe this is the day you’re supposed to be honest with yourself about rest. After all, you’re reading this!

In our fast paced world where one may expect immediate and plentiful results, it is tempting to participate in this frenzy in the name of leadership. Energy runs high, motivation is strong, and a desire to succeed may dominate the leadership persona. Fatigue, exhaustion, and burnout may be “badges of honor” for those who abandon themselves to work. But does this type of obsession, without rest and care for one’s personal being, call for rewarding—or rebuking? Author Esther Schubert notes that leaders who give of themselves without appropriate rest say they “…sometimes feel like Garrison Keillor’s Catholic church in rural Minnesota—Our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility.”

Leaders Who Don’t Rest

Lack of real rest leading to fatigue, exhaustion, and possible burnout, is a red flag of danger to any leader. It could even lead to family breakdown or termination of employment. Psychologist Dale Ackley, in his article The Effects of Burnout, points out that those who are suffering from lack of proper rest may be headed for burnout, and he notes several symptoms concerning relationships with others, including: emotional detachment, cynicism, irritability and impatience, perfectionism—“Only I can do it right,” and feelings of not being appreciated—resentment of demands of others. Noting any of these symptoms on a regular basis may indicate a need to modify rest habits.

Leaders Who Model Rest

Proper rest enables leaders to function more effectively with others. When you rest, you model care for self; you ultimately model the importance of this value for others. Those who live and work with one another on a daily basis are the most likely to receive the negative impacts of lack of rest in each other’s’ lifestyle. They are also the most likely to benefit from even one person among them who is adequately rested. Self-control, focus, energy to work–it’s part of modeling a healthy lifestyle, one that communicates care and concern for others.

So, how are you doing? Let’s run a quick check. Do any of the following describe you on a regular basis?

  1. emotional detachment, cynicism, irritability and impatience, perfectionism
  2. feelings of not being appreciated
  3. resentment of demands of others

If so, examine your true rest habits. According to the National Sleep Foundation, we need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. And, if you’re thinking you can get by with less on a long-term basis, check out this article 10 Things to Hate About Sleep Loss.

Let rest be the preferred choice for consideration of self and others—not busyness! It’s the choice for good relationships, not strife; the choice for health, not illness; and the choice for joyful participation in life.

About the Author

ReneeDr. Renée N. Hale is Lead Consultant at WellSpirit Consulting Group, Inc. WellSpirit Management Consulting provides custom company/organizational management solutions, individual leadership coaching and stand alone workshops.  Located on the 84th floor of the Willis Tower, Chicago. Call (312) 283-8020 to schedule an appointment today. To join the Business Worth Living  community, use the sign-up form on this page to receive our weekly Business