Exemplary leaders are strong-willed individuals that lead their teams to glory. They just don’t succumb to pressure or any mishap, but remain resilient against any adversity. But what if depression, a serious mental illness, suddenly comes into the picture? Will the kind of leadership stay the same?
I have been functioning as a senior content writer for years now. My team looks up to me for article topics, ideas, and other forms of assistance. I’ve been clinically depressed for 2 months, religiously taking Zoloft and other SSRI meds. However, none of my team members noticed that there’s something wrong with me.
How did I mask depression while working?
The following tips are sure fire ways to stave off depression for leaders:
1. Get Yourself into a Good Mood Early
The thing with depression is that it feeds you with negative vibes and drains your whole energy. Getting out of bed and eating breakfast may even appear as overwhelming tasks for a depressed individual.
You can’t snap out of the gloomy feeling in an instant, but anything that you do in the morning surely impacts the rest of your day. When I say early, it’s the very moment you open your eyes in the morning.
You have to tell yourself, “My team needs me, and I can’t let them down.” Get out of bed as fast as you can because it’ll suck you like a whirlpool for every second you stay there.
Be grateful for the littlest of things you have in life.
Depression alters the way you think, so you have to devise strategies to get back to reality. Here are my personal favorite mantras that I stuck on my closet:
- Like what I always say to my team: I only fear never trying.
- It’s depression who’s speaking to your mind, not you.
- If you quit now, you’ll regret this for the rest of your life.
2. Strike a Deal with Yourself Before You Enter the Workplace
Before I leave my humble abode, I always tell myself, “8 hours – that’s how long I need to be competitive.” This mantra inspires me to not leave a trace of doubt in my employees that I’m on a decline.
Though my body, at times, does not cooperate, I knew I was still in control.
Another technique that also works is self-rewarding. For example, “I’ll sleep right after my shift” or “I’ll be binge watching all those Netflix movies once I get out of here.”
Depression kills your motivation, so you need internal inspiration to lead your team better.
3. Initiate Communication and a Positive Atmosphere
This may sound very ironic, but you have to want it like I did. When depression hits you in the workplace, it feels as if you’re isolated and no one wants to approach you.
You’ll feel as if you’re the topic of those murmurs and chitchats spreading in the office.
Reverse that thinking. If your colleagues aren’t talking to you because they’re too preoccupied with their work, then start the conversation.
You can sit on their side and talk about work-related stuff like performance, appraisal possibilities, internal problems, etc. Small talk works wonders too!
Whatever it is, the end goal is to lighten the mood of everyone (especially you).
4. Put a Premium on Individual and Team Productivity
The best way to beat depression to the ground is having a productive mindset. To have this, you have to set your eyes on the real prize.
Lead by example. Your underlings will get pumped up if they see their superior trying to carry the team. To attain high team morale, never give up on every single member of your team just like how you’re combating depression.
Your success – and theirs – largely hinge on your hands. Never let depression get the best of you.
5. Know and Assess Your Stressors
For a leader who’s depressed, monitoring employee progress and dealing with their workload becomes twice (or thrice) as hard. What was once a gleeful job became a bludgeoning task.
To combat anxiety brought by depression, ask yourself, “Is there any truth to what I feel?” For instance, you get twice annoyed when your team didn’t meet the quota. You take very deep breaths which just scare your team members as they wait for your remark.
Does that move you anywhere? No. It just worsens the situation. Even there’s a storm in your head, you can still choose to stay calm outside. Know your triggers and devise an action plan for each of those.
6. Make Mini Teams
At times, when you feel like the worst, it’s ideal to ease the pressure by utilizing friendly competitions within your team. It could be in triads with one leader for each mini team. The leaders then relay goals and unmet quotas to you, making it easier for you to track individual progress.
Of course, reward is of utmost importance. Through mini teams, you’re informally passing the monitoring function to your team members without them doubting your leadership.
7. Smile a Lot
From the utility staff to the higher ranked officials, always flash that grin. It’s free and it’s a universal message of joy. It may appear as if you’re trying to fake it, but smiling can temporarily relieve the melancholy you feel.
Your impression and reputation in the workplace matter, so you’ll want to protect it when depression attacks. Smiling makes your team members want to approach you more.
If you decide to isolate yourself from them, what good does it bring anyway?
State of Mind
As a concluding thought, no leader wants his team to suffer because of his personal problems. Depression is one of the most debilitating diseases in the world; untold stories of anguish inside a person’s head are innumerable.
Though you may be hit by depression, you can still perform at a high level. Believe me when I say that the largest accomplishment for a depressed leader is to get through the day knowing that his performance wasn’t substantially affected.
Needless to say, it’s all a state of mind. How hungry are you in terms of success and being regarded as a leader? The answer will dictate how tough you’ll be.
How Can Leaders Work Through Depression?
If you have ideas that you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!
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