Every Empathetic Leader Needs to Unplug From People

Those of us who are particularly sensitive or empathetic tend to feel the emotions of others. We not only have to contend with our own emotional experiences, but we literally feel what others feel. And sometimes we’re not sure of the distinction between our feelings and the feelings of others.

We see tears and our own eyes fill with tears. We see anger and something inside of us fires up. We see tension and something inside of us tightens up.

The empathetic leader internalizes the notion that relationships are a big responsibility.

What does it feel like when…

  • Your team pulls on you from every direction?
  • Children whine about the choice of food for supper?
  • Students walk in the door with their head down to their chest?
  • Colleagues knit-pick every decision other people make?
  • Your team bombards you with questions about the upcoming transition?

You may be completely capable of meeting each of these scenarios with grace and wisdom, but it doesn’t take long before they all add up and the needs of the people around you begin to feel overwhelming.

Quiet Time

Empathetic leaders need to unplug from people.We’ve all heard a lot about the importance of unplugging or disconnecting from social media, email and electronics, in general. It’s definitely important to give our bodies and minds a break from the barrage of media and information overload. Taking time away from these things helps us refresh and remember why we engage in these mediums in the first place.

But electronics are not the only thing we need to unplug from. We need to unplug from people, too. I call it Quiet Time. QT is a period of disconnection from emotional stimulation. It is a time when no one is pulling on you to meet their needs or give them attention. The amount of QT you need each day depends on you and your circumstances. You may have a limited window of opportunity for it and it may take some creativity to work it in.

Be proactive in planning your QT. Don’t wait for overwhelm to strike before you lash out at everyone to get them to leave you alone. Don’t wait until you’re about to crumble under the weight of the emotional storm around you. Plan ahead! Work QT into your daily routine and have a plan in place for a quick moment of down time in case you need it.

Here are some ways you can work QT into your daily routine:

  • Drive around for an extra 10 minutes after work. You will be more engaged and prepared to serve your family when you walk in the door if you are not feeling rushed and frazzled.
  • Take 15 minutes of your lunch time to sit or lay quietly with your eyes closed listening to calming music or praying with a calm heart. For added benefit, do it in a dark room.
  • If you have children at home, implement QT for everyone, regardless of their age. I prefer to have everyone go to their rooms after lunch to play quietly while I lay down on my bed in the dark.
  • Plan to go for a quiet walk before everyone else gets up or after everyone goes to bed.

Here are a few go-to ideas when you need a quick QT emotional reboot:

  • Go to the bathroom and lock the door for a few minutes.
  • Close the curtains and turn off the light in your office with a “Do not disturb” sign for 5 minutes.
  • Use noise cancelling earplugs or earphones and use them in a noisy, chaotic environment when you don’t need to engage fully.
  • Place a wall between yourself and others. Take your work to another room.
  • Ask a friend to trade playdates with your kids or have a babysitter come entertain your kids for a couple of hours while you rest or go for a walk.

Reboot for Greater Impact


Caring leaders want to be there for their teams. Moms want to be there for their families. Teachers want to be there for their students. But for the person who truly cares, there is a heavy weight of responsibility with each of these relationships. You will be more prepared to meet the needs of those around you if you unplug from them on a regular basis.

If you feel like it’s impossible to accomplish, don’t give up. Employ your creativity and honestly state your needs to the people around you.

How do you reboot emotionally? What suggestions do you have for other empathetic leaders?

If you’re looking for someone to help your hurting team unify and restore to health so you can make a bigger impact together, I’m here to help. CLICK HERE to schedule a no-obligation, 20 minute complementary Voice of Influence Needs Discovery call.

 

 

 

How To Lead a Drama-Free Team

Aaron called us the A-Team when we started dating and now we think of our family as a team. What kinds of teams are you on? Whether your team is a family, friends or a team of professionals, you’re a vital member of the group. And whether you are the team leader or you lead by example, you are uniquely equipped with your strengths, personality and experience to empower every other person on your team.

But do you know what gets in the way of teams unifying and empowering one another?

“Drama, drama, drama!”

Does your team struggle with any of the following?

  • Overwhelm
  • Communication
  • Stress of team transitions
  • Anxiety
  • Emotional pain

Do you wish your team could…

  • Get more done
  • Unify so you can tackle the real problems and change lives
  • Be happy
  • Offer the best of who they are to their students and teammates
  • Be drama-free

Drama FreeTeams-3

Drama-Free Team Leadership

Leadership can be a lonely road filled with tedious distractions, especially when your group is overwhelmed or hurting. No matter how much you care about your team, the fact is that you have too many other things to think about to expend time and energy on keeping everyone feeling happy and fulfilled.

It’s easy for people to become hyper-focused on everything that’s not going well when they feel overwhelmed and under-appreciated. But the truth is that no bucket will ever be full as long as there’s a hole in the bottom. You will never be able to fill the needs of your team as long as they are dependent on others to make them feel valuable. They need inspiration and training that will empower them from within so they can turn around and use their gifts to empower others.

Give others the benefit of the doubt and the best of who you are.The Plan

  1. Empower your team instead of rescuing them. You might care deeply for others and have the skills needed to solve difficult problems, but refrain from always doing that for your team. If you want a drama-free team that tackles the real problems with the best of who they are, they need to grow their problem-solving muscle. Empower them by standing with them and offering suggestions without trying to rescue them.
  2. Demonstrate relational and emotional health. How? Be honest without over-sharing. Work on your own self-awareness and ability to take your own concerns to God or someone you trust so you don’t inadvertently spread your burden to the entire team. Go to counseling, spiritual direction or see a relationship/emotion coach to help you process the more difficult issues you face.
  3. Defuse instead of escalate emotionally charged discussions. Recognize when you start to feel pulled into emotionally charged discussions. Take a breath and then ask calm questions that might help the other person think about what they are saying. You can put out fires by simply remaining respectfully calm when others feel intense emotion.
  4. Offer a fresh voice. You can’t do it all and sometimes people need to hear a fresh voice to offer a fresh perspective. Bring someone in to talk to your team and help them see the beauty of what they have to offer, and how they can offer it with a calm confidence. They will begin to realize the freedom and peace that awaits them and the team will strengthen exponentially.

You aren’t in this alone. If you want to know more about how to empower others to improve their emotional, spiritual and relational health, I’m here to help. Subscribe below this post (mobile) or on the side of this post (desktop) for weekly encouragement, strategy and tips.

Are you looking for more?

Andrea Joy Wenburg, B.A. Music Education, M.A. Counseling Ministries

I would be honored to have the opportunity guide your team into a fresh awareness of their own value and purpose so they can give others the benefit of the doubt and the best of who they are. They will find new strength and confidence as they act on behalf of others.

My experience as a Kindergarten – 12th grade music teacher, retreat planner, blogger, college ministry leader and leader of small groups allows me to customize this message for religious and secular audiences of all ages.

I can help in a variety of formats from a single speaking engagement up to a 9 month team-support program. Talk to me. We’ll figure out what would be best for you and your team.

You can’t do it for them. But you can empower them to do it for themselves.

Contact me for more information. (Click Here)

What others are saying…

“Andrea was great to work with. She was pleasant in communication and prompt in providing information and graphics needed during the planning process. Andrea’s presentation had great content and her follow-up guide was an excellent tool to assist attendees in processing the message on a deeper level. I definitely recommend utilizing her gifts and talent for future events!” ~Susan Hageman, Event Chair

IMG_7476“Andrea really listened to what I had to say prior to the presentation and it was evident in the information she presented to us. Topics, advice, suggestions, and encouragement that was customized for us! Andrea is using her gifts of compassion, listening, and leading to empower others to be the best versions of themselves.” ~Amber Larson, Early Childhood Education Team Leader and Retreat Planner

“I appreciate Andrea inviting us to think about what we do well; and then how we can use that to empower others. I sure hope to hear her again in the future!” ~Sue Sheneman, Retreat Participant

“Andrea’s presentations are both amusing and poignant. Her love for Jesus and her compassion for people are evident in every word she speaks. She will encourage your heart, but also challenge you to see what God is up to in your own life. Andrea is passionate about helping people move past roadblocks, so they can participate fully in the unique ways God desires to work through them.” ~Sam Elliott, Speaker

“Andrea is an amazing listener. She listens with purpose. I’ve been so impressed with her insight and ability to recognize the ideas and topics that not only inspire me, but motivate me to do more. Speaking with Andrea has been such an encouragement. I felt very understood and known. She helped me see that my voice and perspective mattered. She gave me concrete strategies to help me put my abstract ideas into action. Andrea has a gift, and she will help you discover yours.” ~Jessica Samuelson, Educator

Book Andrea Here <—Click

A Short Message for LEADERS

 

I know. I need this message more than anyone else.

There is a place for self-evaluation and growth. But when self-awareness turns into self-deprecation, you turn into someone who JUDGES.

Belittling yourself in front of other people makes you UNSAFE and influences others to believe that it is normal and even good to belittle themselves.

I want to see people grow in their positive impact on the world. I want to see an END to slavery in my lifetime. But my voice is counterproductive to the #enditmovement when it is self-deprecating.

So I’m calling all leaders and all activists and all mothers and fathers and older siblings and anyone who has influence over anyone else…

If you want to be a leader and make a difference in the lives of others, take this to heart:

build up - tear down

Let’s end it.