4 Practices of Sustainable Leadership

Recently, I read two articles on the Harvard Business Review blog: Fatigue Is Your Enemy and Manage Your Energy, Not Your Time.

Tony Schwartz writes …

Two years ago, I began hearing the phrase ‘It isn’t sustainable’ over and over from senior executives. They were talking about the everyday demands at work.

The day of reckoning seems to have arrived. During the past month alone, no less than a half dozen senior executives have told me that fatigue, exhaustion and even burnout are the biggest issues they’re facing both for themselves and among their troops.

Sustainable capacity — meaning sufficient fuel in the tank — is what makes it possible to bring one’s skill and talent to life. Not even the most talented and motivated employees can run on empty.

This resonates with what I’ve been reading, writing, and experiencing over the past six months and it got me thinking about sustainable leadership. What practices are conducive for a lifelong journey in leadership, and specifically, spiritual leadership?

4 Practices of Sustainable Leadership …

  1. Cultivate a relationship with God.
    For spiritual leaders, God is the source. Sometimes, God is described as Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. We can live a life of sustainable leadership by cultivating a relationship with God. In other words, spiritual leaders must first be followers (of Jesus). It takes time to cultivate a relationship (It Takes 20 Years to Make a Sermon). It involves spiritual disciplines like prayer and reading Scripture. When we cultivate a relationship with God, we have access to power that we wouldn’t otherwise!

  2. Lead yourself first.
    Before we can lead others effectively, we must lead ourselves first. We lead ourselves by making sure we’re connected to God, living with integrity, growing and developing our God-given gifts, and living according to God’s call and purpose for our lives. It takes discipline because the hardest person leaders will ever lead is themselves!

  3. Minimize adrenaline.
    This has been my biggest lesson learned over the past six months, to live in a healthier manner by avoiding, or at least, minimizing my reliance on adrenaline. Sometimes adrenaline is unavoidable, but we can’t live on it long term without doing harm to our bodies. We minimize reliance on adrenaline by building margin into our lives, getting enough rest and sleep, eating well, and eliminating hurry (as much as possible) from our lives.

  4. Stay the course.
    If we’re cultivating a relationship with God and living in a disciplined and healthy manner, we’re much more likely to stay on course, to live with a sense of call and purpose, and to live at a sustainable pace.

To those who are living at an unsustainable pace, Jesus says …

Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Put on my yoke, and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble. And you will find rest for yourselves. My yoke is easy to bear, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11.28-30, CEB)

What other practices would you suggest for sustainable leadership?

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