Support yourself – 5 ways to look after yourself as a leader

July 2021

Leadership can be a lonely and difficult existence – not everyone understands your position or what you must go through. Especially during the pandemic.

In this article I show you five techniques that will help you to take care of yourself and empower you to feel resilient, humble, open, and able to deal with whatever comes your way.

1. Deal with overwhelm

We can all feel overwhelmed at times. Also, in the current situation, this feeling of overwhelm can come out of nowhere. It shows itself as a feeling of drowning, being incapable, or unable to handle what we are doing. It often comes when we feel our selfimage – how we see ourselves and our capabilities – is under threat. If we feel something is beyond our capabilities, or it doesn’t fit with our self-image for ourselves or our life, then we feel overwhelmed.

Action point

The next time you feel overwhelmed, picture your mind as a vast blue sky – the clouds you feel will pass but you will remain. Tell yourself, ‘This will pass,’ then enjoy it when it does. Keep this expansive image of blue sky in your mind to remind yourself that you can handle a lot more than you think you can. Over time this can train your mind not to react so quickly to cloudy feelings of overwhelm.

2. Commit to lifelong learning

The current situation may mean you’re having to learn new things. Remember, your learning capacity is an unlimited skill set that you can continually invest in, something you can constantly refine, tweak and fine-tune. If you keep investing in yourself, your abilities never stand still. If you maintain a learner’s mindset – remaining open and willing to learn – you will gain confidence from knowing that you are continually learning. Do this consciously and with focus and purpose.

Action point

Invest in your learning with books, audiobooks, courses, articles, and conversations. Make it a point to keep learning new ideas to strengthen your knowledge.

3. Care for your people

In Angela Duckworth’s book (and accompanying TED talk) Grit: Why passion and resilience are the secrets to success, she identified two things that empower people to be resilient and gritty: support and accountability.

In my experience people leave jobs and situations if they feel neither supported nor held properly accountable. Care for your people by showing them empathy and compassion; support them and give them accountability. This is now more important than ever.

Action point

Offer support with mental health and wellbeing initiatives, ongoing two-way discussions, wellbeing check-ins, and offline and online communication opportunities. You can provide accountability with training, delegation, mentoring, extra responsibilities, and by responding positively to their initiatives. 

4. Handle impostor syndrome

Impostor syndrome reveals itself as a feeling that you are incapable of fulfilling your role. You are an impostor. A fake. A fraud. What’s more, you are going to be exposed as such. Impostor syndrome is surprisingly common, especially at present when people are operating in a different context, with different expectations, while simultaneously having to up their game.

Keep this phrase in mind. The next time you think to yourself, ‘Who am I to be doing this? I am not worthy,’ ask yourself this: ‘Who am I not to?’ Someone needs to do what you’re doing, to be the person you are, it may as well be you. We often forget that many of our gifts, relationships, and positive work situations are not earned, they are gifts given to us by life. Acknowledge them for the gifts they are and be grateful for them.

Action point

Remind yourself regularly that someone needs to do your role well, and that person is you. Remind yourself you do not have to earn your role or your gifts, they have been given freely. Focus your energy on delivering quality results, helping your people, and making the most of your gifts.

5. Bring your love to work

There is a wonderful phrase that I like to keep close: you are what you love, not what loves you. It can be easy to define ourselves by what other people think of us, whether clients, colleagues, shareholders, or loved ones. If they do not like us or what we do, we feel bad. But the problem with looking outside ourselves for validation is that we become dependent on others. In leadership positions, others expect us to lead by example, to draw from somewhere else, a place deeper than one of fleeting and changing opinions, trends, and situations.

Action point

Remember the positive energy and vitality that the people and things you love give you. When you create, when you lead, when you interact with your people, do so from this place. Remind yourself that this place cannot be damaged by others, this place of what you love will sustain and nourish you. Visit it regularly and where it includes people make sure you tell them just how much they mean to you.

Next steps

Study these five techniques and pick your favourite. Commit to taking this action for a week and see how it helps you. For your people, you give your all as a leader; be proud of that. Use these techniques, as well as your own habits and routines, to take special care of yourself – you are an important person.

About the author

Michael Quigley
Preston, United Kingdom

Michael is a former primary school teacher with extensive experience of teaching, coaching, leading and team membership. He is a published author and regular blogger. His life-long passion for and interest in fitness, wellbeing and growing people has led him to building online professional and personal development courses with his company Kataholos.

Michael is experienced in public speaking, delivering for both the public and private sector regionally, nationally and internationally. A regular speaker for Russell Bedford, one of his most enjoyable events was Russell Bedford’s Managers and Young Partners Meeting in 2019, in Malta, where he delivered a keynote speech and workshop on world class leadership.

Author: Michael Quigley - Kataholos, Preston, United Kingdom

The Russell Bedford website employs cookies to improve your user experience. We have updated our cookie policy to reflect changes in the law on cookies and tracking technologies used on websites. If you continue on this website, you will be providing your consent to our use of cookies.

Find out more
I accept