5 ways to know if you’re a heroic leader, and what to do about it

leadership developmentAs a leader it’s easy to fall into the black hole of focusing all your attention on the needs of your business and the team. All of it. Every single day without fail your to do list includes task after task of things that you need to do to serve the needs of others.

Then at the end of the day you might feel energised and motivated for a job well done, or you might just feel frustrated at another day of ‘treading water’ and tired from ‘running non stop on the hamster wheel’

If this is you, let me ask you a question, where do you find time for yourself? At what point do your own needs feature in your day?

If you’re wondering how to squeeze them in? Take a look at these common habits and what you can do instead

1. Checking your phone whilst still in bed

I think we can all agree that unless you have a job where you’re on call 24/7 your bed is your territory and you’re definitely not at work. That said, so many leaders check their phone for e-mails and messages just before they go to sleep, and then again as soon as they open their eyes.  Doing this, not only hinders your sleep as your brain is struggling to wind down and switch off, but also gets you off on completely the wrong foot every morning.

What to do instead – Turn your phone off, or leave it in another room.  You might argue that you need your phone for your alarm, and if this is the case do yourself a favour and invest in a good old fashioned alarm clock instead. Your brain will thank you for it, and you’ll get the rest you really need.

2.Being reactive all the time

If you’re caught in the trap of continually ‘fighting fires’ it’s time to take a step back. Although it’s great to be able to think on your feet and react when required, it’s equally great to be pro-active. This will allow you to feel a lot more in control and be able to plan effectively so fewer fires need fighting.

What to do instead – Stop. Just stop. Yes you might think ‘I can’t there’s too much to do’ but the only way to get off the hamster wheel is to force yourself to stop. Book a meeting with yourself where you can think, reflect, and plan properly for events that are coming up, and make this meeting a regular occurrence in your calendar. By doing this on a regular basis you’ll start to feel a lot more in control of your day.

 3. Missing Lunch

When was the last time you had lunch, away from your desk? If the answer is….“erm I can’t remember”, then it’s time you had a re-think. We all need to eat, we’re not robots, and having lunch isn’t (or shouldn’t) be a sign of weakness. In fact, it’ll benefit you in spades as not only will your body have the fuel it needs to operate, but you’ll also have given your brain a bit of breathing space.

What to do instead – Decide the time you’re going to have lunch and set your phone alarm to remind you. Then off you go. If you’ve got a canteen then great, but if not simply eating somewhere else will do you the world of good. Take a walk, read a book, listen to some music, chat with colleagues about non work related topics and just take the time to relax. Do this every day and then check in after a week or so to see how you feel.

4. Not stopping work

When you’ve got a work phone it can be really tempting to keep it on when you get home. You might check e-mails through the evening, answer calls or pick up texts – and to be honest you might even convince yourself that this isn’t work or that ‘it’s best if I do it now rather than have to do it tomorrow.’ But the thing is, it is work and whilst you’re doing that you’re not doing things that will bring you happiness or relaxation.

What to do instead – Tell your colleagues that after a certain time you won’t be picking up messages and stay true to your word. Turn your phone off and do something else. Play with your kids. Hang out with your family and friends, do something you love like a hobby or just relax in front of Netflix. Either way, your brain will have the chance it needs to re-charge and you’ll probably find yourself getting some great ideas, and A-Ha moments as you chill.

5. Not checking in with how you feel

Just because you’re a leader doesn’t mean you don’t have feelings. You’ll still feel a certain way, whether that’s frustrated, exhausted, drained, motivated, energised etc. By taking the time to check in to how you’re feeling and acknowledging them you’ll be able to tweak your day.

 What to do instead  – Take some time to reflect at the end of each day on how you feel the day went. A great way to do this is by keeping a journal (whether that’s paper or electronic) on what went well, and how you feel. You can then leave work with a clean slate ready to pick up again tomorrow.


I’d love to hear your thoughts on  how not be a heroic leader. You can let me know by leaving a comment. You can also join me for free live workshops every month to keep your development topped up. To get on the invitation list simply sign up at the top of the page.


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