No such thing as ‘duvet days’ for leaders
As I was pulling myself out of bed at 4.45 this morning for the third day in a row, I allowed myself a moment to contemplate why I was doing this…especially as on this occasion, it really did feel like a huge effort. The warmth of the duvet, the darkness of the room both easily suggested that a day under the covers was a far more appealing option than getting myself up and out for my planned day.
In my moments of contemplation I was reminded (very quickly) of a recent movie clip that I had shared at a presentation I gave on inner leadership. It’s the one where Mandela is meeting with the Captain of the South African Rugby Team (Invictus) and Mandela recounts how, when he was in prison and feeling in need of sustenance, he would recite an old Victorian poem. The poem gave him the fortitude and resilience to ‘keep standing when all [he] wanted to do was lie down’.
For me that sentiment is something I firmly associate with leadership and whilst I recognise that as leaders we also aim to be in touch with our humanness and to express this through our leadership, I feel that we are called upon for something ‘more’. The ‘more’ isn’t a brittle toughness or hardened suit of armour. It’s that deep felt sense of the commitment we make as leaders to ‘keep showing up’ no matter what the inner or outer challenges may be – and not just physically show up, but emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
How can we expect our teams to bring their best self to the corporate goals if we aren’t committed to doing the same even when the metaphorical ‘duvet day’ is calling? Whether it’s an off-site strategy or development meeting, a routine operational activity, a 1-1 with a team member or colleague or an exciting, creative thinking session it matters not. We are leaders 24/7 and that requires our presence, our attention and our commitment to be engaged and engaging at the same consistently high level.