4 Reasons Self Care Makes You a Better Leader

Higher Ed Leadership Series

You might think “self care” is just a buzzword that promotes an unrealistic or selfish lifestyle where you’re always putting yourself above your work, your family, or other responsibilities. But did you know that prioritizing self care can actually make you more effective as a leader?

We’re often surrounded by messages – explicit or implied – that success comes to those who are first in the office and last to leave. The ones who put their work above everything else are seen as dedicated and “team players.” But that doesn’t always mean they’re the most productive or effective at what they do.

This message is compounded for women of color. We’re already working harder to prove ourselves in the workplace and advance our careers. We’re hyper-aware of wanting to be seen as a dependable team player, and someone who prioritizes our work. The last thing we want to be seen as is selfish.

But not only is this idea of always being “on” impractical (especially for us Boss Moms who also have a household to lead…), it’s actually counterintuitive. Many studies have shown that when you feel your best, you are more productive and more effective at your job. It’s time we ditch the idea that burnout should be worn as a badge of honor.

So here are 4 reasons why prioritizing self-care is essential as a leader:

1) It helps you to make better decisions. As a leader, making decisions is a critical part of our day-to-day world. When you prioritize your health – get enough sleep, eat healthy foods, and exercise regularly – you tend to experience less stress. And with a clearer mind, you’re able to approach challenges with a fresh perspective to make the best decisions for your department.

2) It improves productivity. We’ve already been over this one, but it’s worth saying again. Prioritizing your well-being makes you more productive. You’ll be able to get more done in a day, and do it better than if you were sleep deprived, stressed out, and running on Empty.

3) It sets an example for your team. Like you, your team members also do their best work when they feel their best. Cultivating an environment that prioritizes well-being will translate into a healthier, happier, more productive team.

4) It boosts your confidence. Think about how different you feel walking into work in your favorite power suit vs an old, worn out blouse. Your confidence has a major impact on your energy and how you’re showing up at work. You want to walk in every day feeling your best!

Self care doesn’t have to mean taking a 2 hour spa break every day. It can be as simple as taking 30 minutes every morning to meditate, journal, or go for a walk. It can also look like advocating for yourself and setting boundaries when necessary.

Anything that helps you feel grounded, focused, and at your best will have a positive impact on your effectiveness as a leader.

Looking for some self care ideas? Check out our recent blog post on preparing for the start of the semester.

Are you looking for additional resources to help you navigate senior leadership in higher ed? Download our free University Leadership Roadmap: 7 Steps to Jumpstart Your Leadership Journey for Women of Color in Higher Ed.

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