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Want to Be a Better Leader?

Stop Thinking About Work After Hours.

by Harvard Business Review

Summary. It’s not uncommon for managers to continue thinking about their job, even after the official workday is over. This may involve ruminating about an issue with an employee, trying to think of a solution to a client problem, or creating a mental to-do list for the next day. But new research shows that this tendency may not be beneficial, particularly for people new to a leadership role. In fact, constant rumination leads managers to be more depleted and less able to show up as leaders — something even their employees can pick up on.

Are you a manager who often finds yourself thinking about work late into the night?

Do you tend to continue to stress over work-related problems, or do you switch off your mind and relax in the evening?

If you are like many managers, you may feel a need to stay constantly connected with work, even after formal working hours. Given the high demands of a leadership role, you may perceive that the only way to perform well is to work around the clock. As a result, you find yourself ruminating about an issue with an employee, trying to think of a solution to a client problem, or creating a mental to-do list long after you have left the office for the day or turned off your computer.

 

Our research, recently published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, suggests that constantly thinking about work may hurt rather than help your performance as a leader. We found that not taking a break from work in the evening backfired for leaders, especially for those new to managerial roles, because it drained their mental resources. Instead, leadership effectiveness was highest on days in which leaders mentally turned off from work the night before and were able to recharge.

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