A Note from Ujima Donalson,
Too often, leaders shortchange themselves. We find ourselves having to meet obligations and manage relationships on all sides—“down” to our employees, “across” to colleagues on the management team, and “up” to our own boss and perhaps even others at higher levels across the University.
With demands in all directions, we often choose to take the hit ourselves, forfeiting lunch plans, taking work home, putting off an important task yet again. Taking the hit can mean not disappointing someone else, not having to renegotiate a commitment with a staff member or colleague, or not having to explain—or stick up for—ourselves and our needs. Our natural inclinations in the moment can have a detrimental effect over time.
When we perpetually shortchange, sacrifice, deprioritize, or undervalue our needs, we may end up feeling so burned out and used up that our brain’s executive functions are diminished.
Right now, we still have nearly six weeks left of summer. The second term of summer quarter is drawing to a close, and there are dozens of days before the academic year starts once again. I hope you’ll join me in taking advantage of this interlude by enjoying some R&R and giving yourself opportunities to refuel. Then, you can set your sights on the coming year with renewed focus.
To that end, I hope the two feature articles in this issue of the Leading Edge will prove useful. The first, by Jim Benson, may help you recalibrate how you approach and prioritize your work; the second, by Debrena Jackson Gandy, offers insights on self-care as an essential leadership practice.
Another way to "refuel" as a leader is to continue fueling your passion. Maybe you were drawn to your current, or a previous, leadership role through specific interests, hopes, needs, or aspirations. Whatever called you to leadership shouldn't be forgotten. Take some time away from the daily grind and let your leadership calling guide you, during this pause between quarters, as you work on a professional development plan or pursue new development opportunities.