Build Up Your Leadership Stamina

A flash in the pan. He was great and then he fell. He couldn’t continue leading well.

You’ve probably heard these quips about leaders who burned out far too soon.

They didn’t have the stamina to continue in leadership. They couldn’t go the distance. They wound up with leadership fatigue.

But you can learn how to build up your leadership stamina.

I needed stamina during my mud run

If you’re wanting to lead for the long haul, you’ve got to build up your stamina for the trials of leadership.

Leadership can easily wear you down. You’ve got so much riding on the next project or the young leader you’re trying to mentor.

You know there’s a lot to be done. The key is to build your leadership stamina up before you hit the rough spots.

It’s no different than if you’re preparing to run a 25K (That’s a 15.5 mile run for those that don’t know, I didn’t until I ran my first 25K). You’ve got to slowly ease your way into the leadership position and work through the kinks.

Take on small responsibilities: You’ve got to start small. Find small leadership responsibilities that you can head up.

Complete the small leadership responsibilities with excellence. Do it repeatedly. Get used to the feeling of responsibility.

This responsibility will begin to weigh heavy on you at some point.

Take a break: When you’re prepping for a long run, there are plenty of running plans. One of those plans includes running a block and then walking two. You repeat this over and over.

Eventually you begin to run two blocks and then walk one. The walk is a resting period. Your body needs it.

The same holds true in leadership. Do a hard task and then allow yourself time to recover.

Your mind, and body, can only take so much. Until you’ve built up the stamina to continue past the point you thought you’d never reach.

Don’t feel ashamed if you need to rest. It’s okay. Take your rest and then get back in the leadership game.

Have a cheerleader: There’s nothing like running a race alone. It gets lonely and you fatigue much quicker.

During my first 25K, there were cheerleaders and bands and onlookers who told us to keep running. That we could reach the finish line.

This meant the world to us runners. We knew someone was cheering us on.

When you’re leader, don’t be a lone wolf. Find someone who can cheer you on. Find someone who will congratulate you and tell you that you can make it to the next mile marker.

You’ll need someone that can push you on when you think you can’t make it another day.

These are but the first steps in building up stamina as a leader. You’ll no doubt have other ideas on how this can be done. And I’m sure you’re implementing them into your leadership repertoire.

Build up your stamina today so you won’t flake out tomorrow.

Question: Have you focused on building up your leadership stamina? What are you doing to make sure you can keep going? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Joe: even at my age (61) I am still trying to learn as a leader. i fooled around for so many years thinking I was a leader and even trying to act like one, I feel I have so much ground yet to cover. I want to go out strong not whimpering.

    • Bill, take it step by step, just like you take cycling mile by mile. As you continue to lead, you’ll get stronger and stronger.

  • Part of growing my leadership stamina involves being more intentional with taking regular breaks. We need sabbaths to build our leadership capacity.

    • Steve Pate

      Even Jesus needed to rest!

    • Jon, I’m with you on that. This go-go-go attitude we see too often only hurts us in the long run.

  • Joe,

    You have justified my work as a leadership coach .

    In all seriousness, athletics have coaches, singers have coaches, there are fitness coaches. I do believe leaders, whether new, emerging, or seasoned can benefit from a leadership or executive coach for the reasons you cited.

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  • Knowing yourself and how to look after your own needs so that you can do your very best, is especially important – the mind and the body are inseparable.

    congrats on the 25k!

    • Jon, so true. We’ve got to be aware of both. If one is fatigued, the other won’t function properly.

  • Steve Pate

    having a cheerleader is huge for me. Knowing some one else is there to help me along or at least watching, gives me some great encouragement to not quit, even when its tough.

    • Steve, that’s a great feeling, huh? When we’re able to see someone is there, embracing us, cheering us things become easier to go through.

  • Good points.
    I have had to plan my rests to make sure that I can keep going. In my early days I was not good at noticing the warning signs. I think that I am getting better along the day. Planning rests might have helped me get that.

    • I’m glad to hear you’re beginning to recognize the warning signs. If we ignore them, we only run headlong into trouble.

  • RonnieTabor

    Joe, I love the first point. Many times I see new leaders try to grab as much as they can and end up producing a mediocre product. Taking the marathon approach to leadership is the right answer.

    • Thanks Ronnie. Another aspect of this is the other leaders will begin to recognize that you do great work. They see you taking on responsibility and doing the job. This build respect.

  • Joe, these are wonderful pointers you have here. As leaders, we tend to go out ‘full-steam ahead’ and forget to take care of ourselves. I am a victim of this, especially on taking small responsibilities and taking breaks. It is interesting that I was considering those two aspects this morning. As I think into about my future, I plan to build in enough rest time for me to recharge, strategize, plan and innovate.

    • That’s awesome Kimunya. We can’t forget to take care of ourselves. When we do, our effectiveness begins to decrease. What’s one way you can build rest time into your routines?

      • I hope to build in about 2 months into my plan. One for strategy, one for time-out 🙂

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