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"Managers manage for yesterday, because that is where they got their experience. Leadership is about tomorrow."
Theodore Levitt

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Good morning, and my apologies for not sending out a Leadership Notes last week. My mother-in-law died, and it was important to be with my wife and her family over the past week or so.

I must admit to being exhausted after the past number of days, and am reminded of a recent piece I read on line at Harvard Business Review. The piece, published on Labour Day, explored “emotional labour”, the hard work we leaders (and many others) do everyday managing our own emotions in order to support others, to move untried ideas forward when there is doubt, or keeping frustrations inside. The challenge is of course that while we may not be physically working very hard (lifting boxes or hammering nails), those of us in leadership positions are exhausting ourselves emotionally as we listen with empathy to the employee who has come in late for the third time this week, and all the while knowing that reaching across the desk to strangle them is not good management behaviour.

I have two suggestions for dealing with the chronic results of emotional labour like exhaustion and irritablity. One, find a confidante; someone who knows your business or your position, but is not inside the organization. And I want to stress, this is not to be your partner or spouse. S/he does not need to hear your complaints about your day everyday. Talk with this confidante about how you feel, and don’t necessarily worry about “fixing” things, simply vent. Secondly, find a way to physically release the emotions; watch a sad movie for example, or listen to music that moves you emotionally. Or watch a funny movie, or tell yourself a joke. (My wife and I found reciting limericks made us laugh out loud this week in preparing for situations where we needed to  keep our emotions in check.) I can also attest to the value of exercise; go for a run, or a walk and compete against yourself, or pay a team sport where you can safely engage with the ‘thrill of victory, or the agony of defeat.’ Such actions will not only help physically, they will help release the emotions.

More and more of our work requires emotional labour, finding ways of releasing the resulting pressure will ensure we are able to keep doing what we love that much better.