4 Ways to Lead a Team that Goes the Distance

A marathon isn’t enough anymore.

Around one million people took part in marathon races in 2018, but ultramarathons (ranging from 50 km to multi-day races) are one of running’s fastest-growing fashions. Ultramarathon participation is up more than 1,000 percent over the last two decades! 

While physical endurance is paramount to success, one of ultramarathoners’ outstanding qualities is mental endurance. To travel 100 miles by foot or run around a track for a continuous 24-hours, mental resilience is essential. These races are repetitive, involve hundreds of thousands of steps being taken, and are as much of a test of a person’s ability to push through monotony as they are a test of physical strength.

Record-setting US runner Camille Herron says a key to her success is to mentally “break up the race” and to find coping strategies to do so.

Maintaining Professional Momentum Over the Long Haul

Mentally motivating your team can involve a similar approach.

The work done by your team has a significant impact. But your team members cannot serve effectively if they’re under major stress; they will break down before they go the distance. This is especially true in the holiday season – and even more so during a global pandemic.

How can leaders help people succeed over the long haul? By cultivating the concept of relaxed concern. Though it may sound like a contradiction, teams cannot thrive if they don’t take mental breaks along the way. Although people must realize their work is important, they won’t last if they can’t take their foot off the accelerator.

When you want to encourage an attitude of relaxed concern in your team, here are a few habits that can help: 

1. Have realistic expectations

Don’t expect every person on your team to work at the same energy level all the time.

Everyone is different – some people are a racehorse, others are a snail, and many people fall somewhere in the middle. Set your focus on output, not on the process, and allow people to work at a realistic pace to their professional DNA.

2. Be aware of external drains on energy and compensate for them

When someone on your team experiences illness or personal crisis, realize it will drain their energy, and then compensate for it.

Reportedly, 80% of workers drag themselves into work during illness, and an alarming 37% of people say they do not get sufficient sleep. Physical struggles and personal stress increase errors and fuel conflicts at work. Do everything you can to encourage personal well-being in your team, and allow margin when people are struggling. By prioritizing people above results, your team will be better off in the long run.

3. Work smarter, not harder

If the ax is dull, a difficult chore becomes impossible.

To make the best use of energy, work smarter, not harder. You may have people on your team who are working harder than anyone else, but their productivity is low because they aren’t working smart. Encourage and support your staff as they look for ways to make their work easier. This not only increases productivity, but it frees people from frustration and weariness.

4. Make work fun 

The most successful people in life are those who get paid for doing what they like to do.

And that’s true for businesses as well. Close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50%, and companies with happy employees outperform the competition by 20%. Whether you host quarterly “feast days” or post a wacky wall of fame, investing in relationships is always worth the effort.

For your team to maximize potential, they need to stick around. Cultivate relaxed concern to build teams that go the distance!

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