As a change practitioner, it is likely that others look to you—and interact with you—as a leader, whether or not you hold a formal leadership role. You may be an independent consultant whose clients count on you to counsel them on how to address the tough change challenges they face. You may be leading an internal (or external change team). Or, you may be “in the change ranks,” working with mid-level managers and line workers who are looking to you for guidance and support. Being a change practitioner can be exhausting!
Writing in Harvard Business Review, Klodiana Lanaj. Trevor A. Foulk and Amir Erez address “How Self-Reflection Can Help Leaders Stay Motivated.” While the research they cite focused on organizational leaders and managers, there is no reason to think the findings are not applicable to those in our field as well. Applying positive psychology research, the authors determined that a short self-intervention in the morning helps leaders stay energized throughout the day.
The intervention is simple. Leaders take a few minutes in the morning to think and write about three things that they like about themselves and that make them a “good leader.” The leaders in our study wrote about personal qualities that they valued (e.g., “I am a good leader because I’m willing to take a stand in the face of injustice”), skills they possessed (e.g., “I am a good leader because I consider others’ opinions”), and achievements they were proud of (“I am a good leader because I helped my team meet deliverables during a crisis”).
They ran two studies. Both showed that on days when leaders practiced the intervention, they reported feeling less depleted, more engaged, and as having a greater positive impact on their employees. The authors also noted that expressions of gratitude by followers may also help to offset some of the depletion that leaders experience throughout the day.
If bringing a leadership lens to your work doesn’t seem like a good fit, try the intervention through a change practitioner lens. What are the personal qualities, skills, and achievements you have as a change professional that you can use to get your motivation re-charge in the morning? It will make a positive difference in your experience, in your effectiveness, and in those around you.