How Can Your Hobbies Help You Be A Better Leader?
Outside of our professions, and the leadership skills they require, we all have personal interests and hobbies. These diversions can help us lead a balanced life.
For one person, those interests might be reading, exercising or golf. For another, gardening, cooking, photography, running, playing games or doing crossword puzzles. No matter what it is, spending time on something you enjoy and getting away from the daily grind of work can be energizing both mentally and physically, and can help you be a stronger and more effective leader. On the surface, these activities may appear to have nothing to do with leadership, but if you dig a little deeper, you see the correlations between what we do in our “down” time and what we do as leaders on the job.
Tino is CEO of a non-profit, and his job requires travel and long days. Every Saturday he plays chess with a group of men at one of their homes. We spoke to him about it, and he shared that he loves playing chess not only for the social aspect of it, but the competition and the strategy of the game. The strategic element of the game helps him at work since he must always be thinking ahead to his next move, and that’s one of his major strengths as a CEO . Tino sees the landscape, anticipates how his competitors will act, what the market reaction will be. In this way, what appears to be a relaxing hobby is actually keeping his mind sharp, helping him see what’s possible to proactively manage and lead his people through whatever comes their way.
Michelle is an executive at a respected public relations firm. She manages the largest client and the demands are great. She stays on top of her leadership game by staying grounded to her beliefs and values by starting each day in solitude and reading scripture and asking for divine presence throughout the day. She told us that this daily routine helps her to be more grounded and centered as a person. She said this important time enables her to be her authentic self at home and at work. People flock to leaders who are grounded in their values and demonstrate real authenticity.
Ed is President of a security protection company. Ed loves to play golf. It helps him to unwind and relax. One of the main reasons he plays the game is the ethical component of the game. What other sport do you call a penalty on yourself if you violate one of its rules? One of golf’s rules is to play the ball where it lies. He mentioned that during one round he found his ball in a divot after his tee shot. His playing partners were located on the other side of the fairway. It would have been easy for him to move the ball out of the divot to give himself a better chance of hitting the ball cleanly; a clear advantage for him over his playing competitors. But Ed knew that was violating a rule and he did not want to compromise his integrity, his values and love of the game. The same behavior shows up at work when Ed is facing a difficult challenge or situation.
Hobbies are fun and can help you get away from the daily stresses of work. Those things that aren’t part of work and yet keep us happy at work can ground us, re-energize us mentally and physically, test our character and help us to strengthen leader skills and competencies.
So next time you are deep into one of your hobbies or interests, ask yourself, how does what I am doing translate into my professional skills, how can this help me and my ability to lead?