For women serving in c-suite and senior leadership roles, the ability to sustain high levels of performance becomes a necessary evil. What we learn early on is that it can feel like there are not enough hours in the day.

The ability to manage your energy, however, and not necessarily your time, is the key to high performance. However, taking the time to understand that peak performance can be managed, manipulated, and controlled by the individual, this is an internal resource that is created from within; and, your ability to renew that energy requires a conscious and systematic effort.

In this month’s newsletter, I want to address the importance of peak performance for women in senior leadership, but also explain why it is critical for career longevity, overall wellness, and can lead to the biggest return on investment for your organization.

Great leaders are skilled in managing energy, pulse, and purpose on both an organizational and individual level. In today’s technologically driven, and high-paced work environment, business needs and expectations are constantly adapting, changing, and evolving.

Therefore, the ability for one to be able to adapt is critical. Generally, women leaders tend to multitask well and can maintain focus on managing their respective energy levels, in line with their competing priorities (i.e., family, friends, community). However, oftentimes they end up shortchanging themselves as part of the decision matrix. Additionally, cultural norms can further impact women’s view of their expectations and unfortunately reinforce the mindset that we as women, come last to our other priorities.

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar:

  • Your typical day is a 10-12 hour workday. Your second job starts when you come home to take care of your family. Although you may feel exhausted, you continue to work, clean up, and think about the next day’s priorities. You feel irritable, lacking in focus, and guilty about what you didn’t complete. Your head doesn’t hit the pillow until 11 PM or later, with a long list of to-dos for tomorrow. You never feel that anything is complete, and you wake up feeling tired.
  • Your typical day can include back-to-back meetings, where you’re managing the nuances of senior leadership, deflecting microaggressions, dealing with pushback, and sometimes verbally combative colleagues. You often feel as though you have to defend your position, opinions, or initiatives. It feels like a “chore” to get things done, and challenges seem unsolved. During your final hours of the workday, you feel drained, watching the clock, ready to turn off your computer or leave your desk. You know you need a vacation, but don’t feel like you can take the time off.
  • You’re a business owner with 12-14 hour workdays, and you’re a ‘hands-on’ leader feeling as though your team requires your constant attention, feedback, and guidance. Not only is your business your livelihood but, it comes before everything else, including your family time, and yourself. Your long days interfere with your sleep, you feel like you have no energy to engage in activities you used to enjoy, and that gym membership remains unused. You feel like you’re aging rapidly, and don’t know how much longer you can keep up this pace. You’ve gained weight, feel ‘crazy’ busy, and feel like you’re headed for a ‘crash.’

With all of this going on, it’s no wonder you haven’t had a chance to even consider what your next big career move would be, or devise a plan on how to get there. Reaching peak performance in the workplace isn’t always an easy task, but it can help you meet your goal of promotion.

Analyzing your performance and practicing the necessary steps to take it to a higher level can help you raise your self-awareness, which directly relates to your ability to perform to the highest standards.

As a high-achieving woman leader, one of your top priorities when it comes to reaching your promotion goals should be reaching peak performance, and here are 3 ways to do it.

1. Managing stress

Managing stress is an essential skill for every high-achieving leader, as well as every successful employee.

As stress can greatly and negatively affect cognitive function by leading to impaired memory, learning how to cope with stress in the workplace and how to make everyday work life less stressful, is an essential skill if you want to reach peak performance and meet your goal of promotion.

Every person has different stress triggers, so practice raising self-awareness by inspecting which actions trigger stress for you. In a review of previous research studies, we have looked at the stress levels of leaders that work in an organizational context of the “always-on” culture, where people find it difficult or impossible to switch off. Research reveals that women in senior positions, such as CEOs and board presidents, are 11% more stressed and 16% more anxious than their male counterparts. These numbers are magnified for women in mid to senior-level management. While executive stress is of concern in every population subset. Corporate executives in their leadership roles bear the outsized responsibility for societal influence on their organizations, the stakeholders, and their employees.

If you’re a leader that’s experiencing challenges associated with stress showing up as poor diet habits, difficulty recovering from stressors, diminished ability to concentrate and maintain focus, inability to multitask, and/or increased tension resulting in anger and impatience – I’m telling you that your brain and body are signaling to you that you are in danger of burning out!

By paying attention to your stress signals, you’ll be able to proactively manage and reduce stress, which will improve your productivity in the workplace, and make you a more confident leader. Confident, efficient, and productive leaders, that show fast and good judgment, good decision-making in high-pressure situations, and efficiency in project-solving, are more likely to get a promotion.

2. Regular breaks

Not having enough breaks during working hours can often lead to brain fatigue and it can negatively affect your efficiency in the workplace.

According to the Willis Towers Watson’s Employee Health, Wellbeing and Benefits Barometer 2019 survey, 64% of non-smokers don’t take regular breaks, even though more than half of them believe regular breaks would improve their efficiency, ability to think, and productivity.

While taking breaks sometimes feels counter-productive, especially to the highly motivated and hard-working individuals and leaders, the reality is very opposite – giving yourself time to rest and relax is considered a productivity-reaching task that will help you think and function better when you continue working.

When you’re trying to reach your goal of promotion, you often put too much on your plate, and you don’t let yourself rest until you finish everything. That typically results in burnout, slower brain functions, and a lack of efficiency.

Take regular breaks while working to reach peak performance and to show your highest standards in everyday work life.

3. Organization

Studies show that lack of organization leads to distraction, lack of thinking, inability to function efficiently, and wasted time.

Therefore, being organized with your projects, as well as having an organized workspace, can greatly improve your brain functions and help you think better, which is one of the key parts of reaching peak performance.

Having a clean desk and having a clear to-do list for your projects will help reduce stress, boost efficiency, and have a clear mind.

By having a well-developed strategy and plan organized into tasks, you’ll be able to finish every project efficiently, and that will have an impact on achieving your promotion goals sooner, by showing the results you’re capable of reaching.

Practicing these 3 things will impact your path to becoming and staying a high-achieving leader that reaches peak performance every day. By showing your highest abilities, your efficiency, and by getting results, which all result from reaching peak performance, you are more likely to get the recognition you deserve and meet your promotion goals.

If you’re a woman in a c-suite or senior leadership role wanting to expand your leadership skills so that you can strategically navigate issues related to emotional safety in the workplace, apply for a 30-minute consultation here.

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