Monday, May 11, 2009

Good Relationships Prevent Leadership Burnout

A lot of leadership burnout can trace its roots to draining relationships. Some leaders are just plain stressed and drained of emotional energy because of relationships that demand increasingly more from them each day. When is the last time you took time to think about your world of relationships?

As you move through different types of interactions throughout your day you can almost predict the emotional dynamics and whether the setting will leave you energized or drained.

Are your relationships mutual, receiving or demanding?

A mutual relationship is a wonderful give and take of friendship, respect and interaction. Both parties enjoy it and are strengthened by it. You feel safe to share across a broad range of experiences, feelings and levels of intensity. No unwanted demands are made. Good things flow both ways.

A receiving relationship moves mostly in one direction, towards you. You are on the receiving end of it. Someone is attending to you. They concentrate their time upon you, primarily without expectation of return.

A demanding relationship moves in the opposite direction to the receiving one. It moves away from you. You are attending to the needs of another. As you well know, this last type of relationship can have varying degrees of intensity and energy drain to it. At its best you receive fulfillment in giving to others. At its other extreme it can be a draining experience, the other person focused on themselves, rarely inquiring about you and by action dictating that all giving flow towards them.

Make a picture of the “relationship world” around you at the present time. Take a sheet of paper and draw a large circle. Put your name in the center. Divide the circle into three sections. Name the three sections, mutual, receiving and demanding. Write the names of the people in your relationship world in their appropriate sector. Do they demand from you, purely give to you or is there a mutual, energizing give and take?

Is your relationship world lop-sided? Does it demand more than it gives? Is it sucking you dry without the emotional return you need to keep giving from a full self?

Each of us needs a balance that is unique to us. If you are continuously giving out and are feeling the strain of it, you may need to take action to find greater balance.

What would it take to turn a demanding relationship into a mutual relationship? Would it take educating the other person, setting or enforcing a boundary, a change in your own attitude, a change in setting or dropping the relationship altogether?

See if you can balance your own relationship world to make it healthy. Do you need to cultivate mutual friendships that have been neglected for some time because of other demands? Do you need to seek out receiving relationships that will nourish you? It may not involve many people but it needs to involve the right people.

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