How does CIO Chris Fielding retain the rising stars on her IT team? She sets a positive, respectful, and inclusive tone – and takes advantage of individual strengths.
8 self-care tips for CIOs
You know all about tech maintenance. But you’d better take care of yourself, too – or your performance will suffer
5. Set boundaries
In the digital era, everyone wants something from the IT chief, and CIOs may be hesitant to say no. But sometimes that’s exactly what needs to happen. “Maintain healthy boundaries with others, sifting yes and no carefully,” says Amy Jen Su, managing partner of executive coaching and leadership development firm Paravis Partners. “You will never make everyone happy. Instead, focus on what the business needs and share transparently your business judgment on why you’ve prioritized things the way you have.” Take the opportunity to delegate tasks to others – including your superiors, advises Greenberg. “Say no to work that isn’t important for you to do.”
6. Practice self-compassion
The best IT leaders set high standards for others and themselves. But it’s just as important to give yourself a break when things don’t go according to plan. Being hard on yourself can lead to burnout and depression. Practicing self-compassion instead can have significant positive benefits, according to research, including increased motivation and resilience, and decreased stress.
Dr. Kristen Neff, who has researched self-compassion for more than a decade, says there are three steps to practicing self-compassion: recognizing the reality of a difficult situation, realizing that such situations are a common part of being human, and extending kindness to yourself in the same way you would to a friend or loved one.
7. Make time to move
There’s overwhelming evidence of the myriad benefits exercise provides, but it can be the first thing to go for business executives. For those folks, Brown advises exercising before work: “It energizes your mind, body, and metabolism, is a place for stress-release and clear thinking, sets up achievement thinking for the day since you’ve already achieved two things – getting out of bed and completing your workout – and raises natural chemicals in your mind and body for higher performance.”
It doesn’t need to be a marathon workout session. Tabata drills, short high-intensity interval training, a few critical bodyweight exercises – whatever gets you moving consistently throughout the week is most important.
8. Get outside yourself
While self-help implies independence or individualism, one of the best things IT leaders can do for themselves is to spend time with loved ones. “We are interdependent beings,” says Jona Genova, a meditation and mindfulness trainer who has developed programs with Equinox Fitness, digital agency YMarketing, investment firm PAAMCO, and Hyundai Capital. “Loving relationships put us in a biologically and emotionally rewarding feedback loop that has real benefits like reduced inflammation and healthier immune systems. Additionally, spending time with loved ones strengthens bonds that remind us that we are never alone, that we are always supported.” Spending time with family, friends, or pets, or visiting a beloved spot, has a real return.
Acts of kindness to co-workers and strangers can serve a similar purpose and “boomerang back to us as self-care,” Genova says. “Moments of care and connection are important.”
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