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Working Too Hard? Leaders Struggle to Find Right Balance

Working Too Hard? Leaders Struggle to Find Right Balance
Credit: Niyazz/Shutterstock

The energy level for many business leaders isn't quite right, new research suggests.

Too many business leaders are working above or below their optimum energy level, which translates to a loss of productivity all around, according to the recent Leadership Pulse study. Specifically, 82 percent of business leaders are not working at their best energy level, which is when they maximize productivity, meet challenges head on and look for opportunities to accomplish more.

Of the 540 business leaders who participated in the study, 61 percent reported working below their optimal energy level, while 21 percent are working above their best energy level. Just 18 percent of those studied were working at their most productive energy level.

The findings are a cause for concern, said Theresa Welbourne, an affiliated researcher at the Center for Effective Organizations at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business and the study's author.

"We have over 15 years of research from hundreds of thousands of individuals showing that optimizing and directing energy positively drives high performance and growth," Welbourne said in a statement.

Welbourne said working above your best energy level is counterproductive because mistakes are made more frequently, and small obstacles easily become big problems. She said working at this level for too long can lead to burnout.

Conversely, when leaders work too far below their optimal energy level, they avoid challenges and boredom sets in easily, Welbourne said. The research found that among the leaders surveyed, this was particularly a problem for senior managers, vice presidents and CEOs.

Welbourne said in order improve energy and productivity business leaders need to measure and understand their own energy and that of their employees.

"Energy changes on a regular basis; thus, to optimize and direct it, more frequent measurement needs to be taken," she said. "Once an organization knows what the energy levels are, then leaders, managers and employees can focus on how to make improvements that directly drive positive energy."

Often, small and quick changes can have lasting and substantial impact on employee energy at work, according to Welbourne.

"The best solution may be working with employees directly; teach individuals about their own energy and help them learn how to start the right conversations needed to make small changes to improve performance one person at a time," Welbourne said.

Welbourne conducts the quarterly Leadership Pulse study in partnership with CEO, human resources consulting firm Mercer and technology partner eePulse.

Originally published on Business News Daily

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years in media. A 1998 journalism graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff full time as a senior writer. Before Business News Daily, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Chad has also worked on the other side of the media industry, promoting small businesses throughout the United States for two years in a public relations role. His first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.