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How can leaders give when they are personally running on empty?


The other day I was on an executive leadership coaching session. During the call the leader asked me how he could fill others buckets (the act of appreciating, recognizing and rewarding employees) when his was so empty? This is a great question.

It is fairly common for a leaders bucket to be empty from time to time. Dealing with others problems all day can be draining, particularly these days when employees are being asked to do more with less. Many people are uptight and many time’s leaders get the brunt of it whether through complaining employees, upset customers or falling profits.

So, how do you think I responded? I mean this guy had a point, right? It is pretty hard to give something when you don’t have anything to give. I taught him something I learned many years ago that has kept my bucket full, for the most part, all of my working life. It’s an amazing truth! And if practiced will keep your buckets full as well. Here it is:

When you are down, sad, in a bad mood and your bucket is empty – find someone else’s bucket and fill it.

Okay, I admit it’s pretty simple, but it works! It is incredible what happens when we are focused on helping others. There is a positive correlation between serving someone and love. The more we serve (fill buckets), the more we love (and that feels good, filling our own bucket). And the more we love, the more we want to serve.

So the next time you are running on empty and need your own bucket filled – find someone else’s bucket and fill it. Tell someone who works with you how what they do helps you in your job. Bring breakfast to your team. Write someone a thank you letter or card. Genuinely and sincerely recognize someone in a team meeting. Attend a special event of one of your employees. Offer to help on a project. The key is to find out how others like their buckets filled and then turn on the spout.

Mike Rogers

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