During the high-stress, adrenaline-inducing, always-on days, you may find yourself thinking wistfully of calmer moments with fewer obligations. Until the quiet hits you. Then there’s a whole new set of challenges to face.

Take David, a young CEO who comes to me for performance coaching. He’s an exceptionally intelligent strategic thinker and innovator building a very successful marketing company. But David’s life was constant chaos. He was working until late at night, handling crisis after crisis. He was emotionally reactive, often making difficult situations worse with his intense responses. He realized his leadership style was not just unsustainable, it was diminishing his performance.

Coaching David was a highly-charged experience. To harness his intelligence, he had to learn to manage his energy. I trained him to recognize and control his emotions before they derailed him. Within a few months, David and I found ways for him to work in a more focused, impactful manner. And then one day, David presented me with a surprising new problem.

His work flow was manageable. The emotional temperature in the office was reasonably mellow. And David had no idea what to do with himself.

You may be thinking, “That’s a problem? It’s a problem I’d like to have!” But many high-energy executives thrive in high-demand, tight-deadline situations. Some leaders are so dependent on that kind of adrenaline that they unconsciously create crises, much to the dismay of their teams.

Performance coaching is not just about learning to manage through hysterical times. It is also about learning to manage through tranquil times. So David and I talked about how to navigate a lull. There are three very important activities a leader can commit to when the tempest has died down:

  1. Strategic planning: Nearly every leader I know is frustrated by the lack of time for strategy — for thinking big-picture, exploring visionary directions, planning long-term, reading widely, talking to people outside your usual circle — all the stuff senior leaders are supposed to do. Too often, your time gets consumed by what Sean Covey calls “The Whirlwind,” all the meetings and tasks and commitments that are needed to keep the business going. Take advantage of the quiet times to prioritize strategic thinking and set new directions and goals for the organization.
  2. Developing talent: Many senior leaders say that developing the leadership talent in their organization is the most important thing they can do. But few leaders actually set aside time to make this a top priority, especially when there are pressing operational challenges. A calm period provides the opportunity for a leader to focus on assessing talent, building relationships with key players, and providing development opportunities such as personal mentoring.
  3. Recharging: A slow phase gives a high-intensity leader a moment to look after him/herself. Engaging in activities you enjoy, spending time with people who energize you, and looking after your health and well-being are all really intelligent ways to prepare yourself for the next firestorm.

David learned how to maximize his performance during both the crazy times and the calm times. To learn more about how to manage your energy for peak performance, contact us at ggolden@gailgoldenconsulting.com

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