When You Lose Your Leadership Mojo

In so many ways, being a leader is a labor of love. Leaders have the privilege of sharing good news, but also the responsibility of delivering bad news. Leaders work to bring out the best in their employees and watch them flourish, but also mourn when they decide to move on to other opportunities. And when times are tough, they have to put on a brave face and inspire everyone to charge ahead even when they disagree with the battle plan.

In today’s VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) business world, it’s easy to lose your way. After you’ve been merged, acquired, re-organized, and audited a few times, the passion you once had for leading and mentoring others can be overshadowed by exhaustion, doubt, anxiety, and even depression. And even after you’ve made it through the dark days of the economic depression and corporate downsizing, it’s hard to rekindle the energy you once had. Everyone makes jokes about dreading Monday, but when you find yourself slipping into a depressed state every Sunday evening just thinking about the week ahead, it’s time to make a change. You have to get your mojo back.

Ask yourself these questions:
• “When was the last time I was excited about going to work?”
• “Who was I working with?”
• “What were we working on?”
• “What made me feel valued, special, and fulfilled?”

And after you take yourself back to that moment, ask yourself what has changed since then. What can you fix? Is there anything under your control? If so, make some changes to see if that helps you feel more like the passionate leader you once were.

If not, it’s time to gain some perspective. The one thing that isn’t helping is showing up to work every day and going through the motions. Ignoring the situation won’t make it better. The following steps can help you get your mojo back on:

  1. Talk to your trusted colleagues. Chances are your friends have already seen a change in you, but they aren’t sure how to ask if you’re okay. Great work friends are like a second family. They want the best for you. They know better than anyone else what makes you thrive. Ask your friends for their insights. They may be able to light a path for you.
  2. Take a sabbatical. A well-rested leader is invaluable. No one works well when they’re emotionally, physically, or mentally drained. Whether you need a day, a week, or a month, take some time to completely unplug from the daily grind so you can clear your mind.
  3. Engage professionals. While talking to a good friend can often help you regain your momentum, sometimes it takes a trained professional to help you get back on track. So many organizations offer Employee Assistance Programs or other counseling services that are under-utilized. These resources offer professional, confidential support so you can rest-assured that the concerns you share will be heard while your privacy is maintained.
  4. Get a hobby. This hobby could be a side project at work or completely unrelated to your day job. Seek out something that engages you mentally or physically. Have you always wanted to take an art class? Run a marathon? Learn to play a musical instrument? Dance? This hobby may help you recharge your batteries and become more energized to handle the challenges you experience at work.
  5. Beware of easy exits. When you’re feeling burnt out, every single offer seems like a good alternative to your current situation. Be wary. The grass always seems greener from the other side. Now is not the time to consider other job opportunities, because you’re more likely to act impulsively and end up in the same position. The goal is to fix the root of the problem. Taking a new job just to escape the old one doesn’t necessarily fix burnout in leadership.

No matter how well you think you’re hiding it, when you’ve lost your mojo, everyone around can feel it. Your employees will sense the frustration and despair. Your boss will notice the lost spark you once had in your eyes. The only person who can give you your mojo back is you. Some things are worth fighting for. Your passion is one of them.