Culturati: LIVE — Energy Management for Executives Recap

Last week, Culturati: LIVE hosted a conversation with Professor Jeremy Hunter, Brian Kreischer, and Chela White-Ramsey, Ph.D., for a discussion of the physiological and psychological realities of what we are dealing with during these trying times.

Here is what we learned.

Leaders are asking themselves “How do we solve a problem that we have no control over?” As the nation faces an economic downturn, increased racial strife, and a global pandemic, leaders and their employees are increasingly fatigued both emotionally, and as a result, physically.

Energy levels are low, motivation is far from where we were in January, and people at all levels of the corporate structure are burnt out.

During the LIVE discussion, a poll assessed where people were emotionally in January compared to now. The top 3 words used to describe January were “hopeful”, “motivated”, and “optimistic”. The top 3 words now were “tired”, “drained”, and “exhausted”. Although it should be noted that “hopeful” was still at the top.

As we continue to “live at work” rather than “work from home”, we are increasingly blending work, play, and rest without mental or physical separations.

So how do leaders manage their energy for themselves and create a space for employees to do the same?

Avoid trying to “solve” your emotions.

Professor Jeremy Hunter further explains how, as humans, our default setting is to stuff our emotions and pretend they don’t exist. All this does is set us up for a lot of pain as all of our decisions will be centered around avoiding the emotional reactions vs dealing with them. Our feelings act as information and if we can decode that information, the emotional skill with which we bring to stressful situations will influence the quality of compassion and care that can be displayed.

Create a “well of trust” through open and honest communication.

Brian Kreischer, argues that there needs to be a “well of trust” within the company amongst colleagues and between upper management and team members. One way to replenish this “well” is to overcommunicate with staff to help manage the fears of employees. Create space to allow people to ask the difficult questions, such as if there will be layoffs, and answer candidly. Even if the answer is not what they want to hear, the honest and open nature of this style of communication will go further in the long run.

Don’t shy away from depending on others.

Chela White-Ramsey, Ph.D., Indeed’s senior manager of employee insights training & development, also runs a coaching group for black women. She notes that some women feel a sense of guilt for needing to unload their struggles on people knowing that we are all facing hardship. However, we cannot be afraid to talk to others, be it personally or professionally, about what we are going through. The people who care for you are not going to turn you away.

Stick to or develop your core values.

Revisit your values and determine if you are practicing them during this time. Brian recommends this article by Patrick Lencioni as a guide to core value development.

Recognize our humanity.

Leaders often get dehumanized in the workplace, especially when making high-level decisions. But there is something to be said about exercising humanity and being vulnerable and transparent when making difficult choices, especially as they affect other people. Don’t follow in the footsteps of Bird and layoff hundreds of workers in a faceless, webinar-style firing event!

Consider your Energy Gainers vs. Energy Drainers

Chela reminds us, when you need to restore yourself at the end of the day, think about what activities are an energy gainer vs. an energy drainer. Ask yourself, what kind of energy do I want? Restful energy, metabolic, energy, loving energy? If I want to feel one of these ways, what can I do to create that energy?

Try this exercise. Decide which activity is an energy gainer or drainer if you are trying to create restful energy.

  • Taking a nap vs. drinking a bottle of wine
  • Scrolling through social media vs. doing a deep breathing exercise
  • Catching up on work email vs. taking a relaxing bath

If you feel like you don’t have time for some of these energy gainers, seek out 5–10 minute mental or physical exercises you can do to restore yourself.

Train yourself to focus on the good.

Jeremy notes that attention needs somewhere good to go. We often tend to default to what’s wrong, what’s scary, what’s bad in our lives and in our surrounding environment. Try to retrain yourself to focus on what’s good, what’s here, and what’s now.

Recognize the additional stress felt by black and brown employees.

We need to give recognition to the extra exhaustion being felt by Black and Brown people across the nation. If you are a BIPOC, try to filter these images out of your media consumption and draw boundaries. If you are a White person, flip the script, and make yourself uncomfortable. Watch these images to gain deeper understanding and empathy.

So now what should you do?

Focus on the quality of relationships, both with yourself and others. Connect with people who share your experiences so that you can skip explaining yourself and get into the raw conversations that can no longer be managed by stuffing them deep inside. And most importantly, check-in frequently with yourself and others.

You can watch the discussion here:

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Culturati Team

Culturati Team

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Culturati is a community of CEOs, entrepreneurs, investors and other c-suite leaders who practice & study culture building and share our play books.