A new perspective on leadership suggests that your biology might have something to do with how you lead best. This is called “chronobiology”. Leaders’ ability to be effective varies with what time of day it is. And this varies by person. If you pay attention to your unique chronobiology, you might be able to lead better. Want to learn more? Read below for some tips!
Recognize that Your Biology is Unique
First, it’s important to recognize that your biology matters and that it may differ from others’ on your team. Everyone has two forces that operate to make their body energized – or not- during the day. You have an energetic drive that is produced over the course of the day. This is called your circadian rhythm. You also have a drive toward sleepiness that pushes you toward taking a nap or going to bed. This is a homeostatic process.
These two forces battle it out over the course of the day to determine how tired you are. When your drive to sleep is strong and your drive to stay energized is weak, your body tells you it needs to sleep. They fight when both are at even levels. But, these forces don’t change levels in the same exact way for everyone.
Is Your Biology Geared Toward Morning or Night?
Most people tend to be sleepier at night and more awake during the day. But, a morning person will reach peak activation and have lowest sleep drive in the morning hours. Evening people will do the same in the afternoon. Some folks are in between and they reach their peak sometime around lunch. People might vary as much as 12 hours in when they are most alert!
Ask yourself the following questions. When do you get your best thinking done? In other words, what time of day are your “a-ha” moments likely to happen? At what time do you feel most distracted? Are there times during the day where you feel your body pushes you harder to rest? The times when you feel you’re at your best may be your peak. When you feel a slump, you may be in one of your less activated periods.
Why is this important for well-being?
When you’re less alert, but leaders push through anyway, they’re more likely to burn out. Unfortunately, the workplace is oriented toward those who are most activated in the morning. This is part of why so many people need coffee to get through their day. For those who are not activated in the morning, coffee can help for the time being. But, it can mess with your sleep rhythms later on.
A more sustainable approach is to pay attention to leaders’ circadian rhythms. If leaders are more likely to be activated in the morning, they may start earlier. If they are more likely to be activated in the evening, they may start later. The team can work to coordinate when they are all activated versus not, and decide how to manage workload in a way that leans in to that. We hope that this article got your wheels turning about how your workplace can take a more sustainable approach to leader with biology in mind! Interested leadership? Read another one of our posts about how to improve yours!