Sleep your way to the top

​It is summer time, the time to rest, digest and recharge before we hit the desks again. It is also an opportunity to treat yourself to something rare and amazing, a free tool that can improve your leadership performance immensely. And it can be done while you sleep. Literally.

While the headline might indicate otherwise, sleep is a very serious subject when it comes to leadership and leading yourself and others well. Recent research shows how the average sleep time has been reduced over the past decades and some doctors are calling this a ticking time-bomb for our health. We are not going to ponder the heath benefits of sleep – solely on the leadership benefit.

Leaders who sleep enough are better rested. That makes them more creative and less vulnerable. They get better ideas and have fewer conflicts. They are better at prioritizing, finding smart solutions and bridging conflicting interests. The old trick with putting a book under your pillow before an exam (as your preparation) is not so bad when it comes to leading people.

We have met leaders who clearly did not sleep enough. At times we have even been there ourselves. Sometimes it’s so obvious it almost becomes a joke in the office, like if the CEO is nodding off during a long and overly detailed presentation. Sometimes it’s just more subtle with poor judgement, poor negotiations, or poor people skills. Every time it’s 100% curable. Close the laptop earlier. Make tougher prioritization. And go to bed earlier.

What would you rather the airline captain did the night before flying you across the Atlantic? Stay up catching up on some emails, only getting 4-5 hours of sleep, or have a nice 7-8 hours well-rested sleep, arriving fresh and refreshed at the airport? Why should your job be any different?

May we suggest you use the summe to catch up on some serious sleep, while contemplating how to increase your daily intake when everyday life hits you again? It may be the best thing you have ever done for your organization and the people who trust you with their work life.