Recovery after work is crucial for recharging your batteries before the next work day. We have talked about the importance of recovering from work before. There are many ways that employees might recover from their work day, including by relaxing, mastering a skill, or disconnecting.
While recovery is important for everyone at work, we find that leaders struggle to allow themselves to have time to recover. Leaders may feel more responsibility to their team to always be “on”. Or they may strive to demonstrate a work ethic that they think will impress leaders who are more senior than they are. But, new research shows that, when leaders recover, they actually boost their team’s performance. If you’re a leader, read more to find out why you should focus on your own recovery today!
How can leaders recover?
While research on leader recovery is still in the early stages, research suggests that leaders can recover by engaging in pleasurable activities after work. Importantly, these activities have to embody a few key characteristics. First, they have to be freely chosen by the leader. When leaders are forced to engage in particular activities, they can’t recover. Second, they have to be personally preferred over other activitites. In other words, leaders can’t recover during an activity if they’re wishing they were doing somthing else.
Finally, leader recovery has to be enjoyable. Even better, it might be something that brings them joy. Ask yourself the following questions. What activity to you feel motivated to do, but you’re not doing it? What activity do you often think about doing but you don’t make time for it? Is there a particular activity that brings you joy? Reflecting on these questions will help you to determine which activities would be best for your recovery.
Why is leader recovery important?
Leader recovery is important because it sets off a chain of events that promote positive team outcomes. First, when leaders take time to recover at night, they show up at work happier the next day. In other words, leaders’ recovery makes them feel happy and they take that happiness to work with them. This is good news because, when leaders feel happy, their employees feel happy. Emotions are contagious so they can spread from leaders to followers.
Happy employees are productive employees. So, when leaders’ happiness spreads to followers’ happiness, performance increases. If anyone in your workplace tries to argue that leader recovery will set the team back, this evidence should help! Also, and even more intriguing, happy followers are more creative and innovative. If your organization is trying to get ahead of the competition, leaders should be supported in setting aside time to recover. A bonus: Followers who are more depleted will benefit even more from the boost they get when their leader has recovered.
How can organizations support leader recovery?
Leaders are not able to recover without support from their organization. The most senior leaders need to role model and encourage this behavior. When leaders recover, the people around them perform better and are more creative. This goes for leaders who role model these behaviors to less senior leaders as well. So, while it may not be the norm currently, all leaders should take time to recover. If they do so, the entire leadership ranks will have better performance and higher innovation.
Second, leaders should talk about their recovery time. If they are recovering in the evening but no one knows it, others can’t role model it. Similarly, they should respect others’ recovery time. Instituting black out times for emailing, for example, can help with creating healthy boundaries. Overall, it’s important that leaders are happy and healthy, and they pass these benefits to their followers (especially those who are most burnt out). If you’re a leader who isn’t currently taking time to recover, remember that you’re helping your team when you do!