Keeping the tank full: how to prevent leadership burnout

Mark Soanes

By Mark Soanes, Director, Call of the Wild

Like many of you, I’m sure, I was quite shocked to hear the announcement last week that Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s Prime Minister is stepping aside. It’s not something we hear very often from political leaders, or leaders in general. But what interested me the most was her reflection ‘I just don’t have enough in the tank’. As leaders our time is constantly in demand, the pace is fast and the decisions we make can have enormous repercussions, but how often do we stop to check in with ourselves?

How full is the tank?

There is so much talk, endlessly, nowadays about mental wellbeing, work-life balance and a high level of awareness of what stress does to our bodies. They are certainly things I’m aware of when looking at my own team, but how often do we check-in with ourselves? In all likelihood – not often enough. Jacinda’s admission is a nudge we didn’t know we needed to consider how full the tank is, are we giving ourselves enough opportunities to keep our tanks full, so that we are giving our best to our organisations.

But who has time for that?

Ah, time. The endless battle for time. Although it might sound like a self-indulgence to block out time for something other than work, it’s vital. Our MD, Geraint, and I have recently started taking a day off a week and it’s been revelatory for both of us. It’s given us an opportunity to catch up on life-admin, to spend time with family we’ve missed out on and to do the physical activity needed to refill our tanks. A whole day may not be feasible for all of us, but when was the last time you took a lunch break? When was the last time you stepped away from your emails, your meeting schedule, your constantly ringing phone and went for a walk around the block? Why not start today? Do one thing that fills up your tank and see what a difference it makes to your day, to your team and to your business.

This all harks back to our ethos at Call of the Wild, and one of the reasons we started the business 25 years ago. First look at understanding yourself. What makes you tick and can you be honest with yourself when the hard times come as inevitably they will. If you don’t first understand how you lead yourself then how are you going to be effective in leading others and the organisation?

Mark Soanes has been Director at Call of the Wild for 25 years. Find out more about the work we do to support leaders and get in touch to see how we can support you, email or call 01639 700 388.