How Rest Impacts Your Leadership Ability

Let’s talk about the most unappreciated power to your leadership and productivity: REST. Yes, that’s right. Simple rest.

Well, it’s not as simple as that because most leaders have a hard time finding rest. But no leader is made for 24/7, and rest directly impacts your performance.

1 – Leading Thought

Take good care of yourself – no one else can do it for you. — Unknown Share on X

2 – You Choose

Perhaps you’re so full of energy and ideas and have a firm belief that more hours (at work) are better. 

Let me challenge that belief. Do you know why you believe more is better? Do you think you achieve more in more time? Do you hold to the Silicon Valley paradigm that the office is the living room of the successful?

Science has debunked the myth that more work hours equal more productivity. There is the law of diminishing returns. You can observe this when you work late into the night for the fifteenth week in a row, with less and less productivity. Or, you realize that you’ve created work with a lot of errors which you’ll need to correct the next day.

Most leaders I have worked with fill their calendars with a lot of stuff. Not all of it is adding value. Prioritization isn’t the topic of this edition, but poor time management (priority management) contributes to the dilemma of pushing rest off the agenda.

How Rest Impacts Your Leadership Abilities

Rest has a powerful effect on our abilities to be creative, productive, humane (yes, you’re not the only one getting cranky when you’re tired), and our ability to lead well. Rest helps you be present, mindful, focused, and able to respond quickly and process large amounts of information — unlike a tired brain. That’s how being insanely busy and not planning rest is counterproductive because it negatively affects our performance.

“Rest helps you to be present, mindful, focused, able to respond quickly and to process large amounts of information.”

Lack of rest in professional athletes is known to impact their performance. That’s why athletes tailor their rest and recovery periods into their training regimen.

Fitness trainers make use of the power of rest in between activities by creating “rest-based training.” “RBT is a system that makes rest, not work, the primary goal of the workout. It allows participants to take a rest for as long as necessary.

Rest becomes a tool for increasing intensity because exercisers can strategically use rest to work harder than they could without rest. Rest also provides a buffer against overexertion, making even high-intensity workouts safe ( Warburton et al. 2005).”

Did you catch that? Rest becomes a tool that enables you to work harder. Rest increases your strength.

How Sleep Affects Your Work

If you work through your nights and lack sleep, cortisol levels go up. “Cortisol, the stress hormone, can damage brain structure if its levels stay elevated for too long. Basically, it changes the brain’s neural networks, contributing to a host of mental disorders.” (

Enough high-quality sleep, on the other hand, improves both your creativity and mental alertness. That impacts your performance at work. You’ll get more done in less time, are ready to make decisions, and respond to requests and information better and faster.

You will also achieve more goals because you’ll stop procrastinating. Procrastination is linked to sleep deprivation. You see, lack of sleep and productivity are connected.

3 – Way to Grow!

How can you build rest into your schedule when the tide is high, and you work under extreme pressure? Now and then, you will have peaks and will work late nights and weekends. The issue is when it becomes the norm.

To prevent that, you need to define the norm. Then you’ll also be able to articulate what qualifies as an exception.

  1. Have a schedule that defines your regular waking and resting hours.Plan regular breaks — even if you only take abbreviated lunch breaks. Just a 5-minute break has an impact on your performance.
  2. As a leader, you will particularly benefit from the impact on decision-making. Breaks can prevent so-called “decision fatigue “— something you as a leader have to do all day, every day.
  3. Use your lunch break for a power nap. Power napping is an aged trend by now. Still, many people aren’t aware of the benefits or have experienced the powerful boost of energy and mental alertness they get from it.

Power Napping is simple with the Power Nap app: set a timer for 20 minutes (other use other settings). Place the phone in your pocket. The app will track movement and wake you up before you fall into a deep sleep. The sleep you’ll get is enough to give you a quick boost — a better one than coffee!

Additional Resources

Here is more on the topic if you’re curious. These resources by sponsors I may earn a commission if you click on the links.

  • How Sleep Affects Productivity (Article) – 3 min. read
  • Sleep Your Way To The Top (Of Peak Productivity) – (Article) – 6 min. read
  • Accomplished: How to Sleep Better, Eliminate Burnout, and Execute Goals (Book) – 114 pages
  • Sleep Well, Lead Well (Book) – 227 pages
  • It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy At Work (Book) – 235 pages

Here’s to making great choices!



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