Arianna Huffington: Leadership and the Third Metric of Success

All this week, CoxBLUE will be blogging live from Hubspot’s Inbound 13 Conference in Boston.

Too often we hear of success solely defined by achievements based on money and power. Leaders need to consult a third metric in order to truly drive success in the ever-changing business world of today, one based on well-being, taking care of human capital, and tapping into wisdom and creativity.

Arianna Huffington, the iconic president and editor in chief of The Huffington Post Media Group, addressed this third metric with a captivated audience at the 2013 Inbound Marketing Conference in Boston. Tying in personal anecdotes and her experience as head of one of the largest media groups in the world, the icon of modern journalism outlined how leaders need to evolve their thinking to truly achieve success.

“If you look at leadership, it’s a little bit of a split-screen world,” Huffington said, noting how smart people make suboptimal decisions about significant issues because of outdated thinking and high levels of stress. “We need to find ways to renew ourselves if we are going to be creative leaders.”

She spoke to the methods employed by visionaries like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, who would both remove themselves from society to recharge their respective creative batteries and gain a new perspective on the world. Instead of living in a constant “fight or flight” world, these leaders chose to take consistent breaks from the draining pursuit of heading innovative companies.

Huffington stressed that no great ideas came from people who were burnt out and exhausted. Rather, individuals who changed the world were able to relax and reconnect with their work following a respite.

The Link Between the Bedroom and The Boardroom
Huffington noted that the bedroom was just as important as the boardroom for any great leader, as sleep and relaxation are imperative to success. The issue of Time Famine – walking around in life feeling as though we are running out of time – drains any creative organization and the people who truly drive innovation. If personal issues aren’t addressed, and a life-balance isn’t achieved, creative solutions won’t arise in the workplace.

“If you are behind on something, it is hard to lead,” said the famed editor in chief.

Leaders often self-destruct because they have no foundation on which to stand. Their personal lives become intertwined with their work, and they exhaust themselves both mentally and physically. It comes down to finding a place to center oneself, a place to stand.

“The kind of leaders that we need right now, have to remember what Archimedes said. ‘Give me a place to stand and I can move the world,'” Huffington noted.

Finding this standing place is the hard part. But, as companies begin to take note of the importance of a content and healthy workforce, they will find success.

Rest Your Way to the Top
Leaders help their employees gain a balance in life, which in turn manifests itself positively within the office. Huffington spoke to the importance of a collective move by an organization to foster a relaxed atmosphere for success.

“It’s not just about leaning in, it’s about leaning back and then leaning in again,” said Huffington. “Recharging is essential.”

A culture of burnout is never going to be a culture of creativity, and this starts at the top. Leaders like Huffington have to be an example of a balanced life, and often the “Aha! moments” will come during a vacation or a brief escape from working.

Sleep and relaxation can be leadership tools, and a rested mind will always be more effective than one rife with stress and tumult. Once a leader recharges the battery, and gets the most out of their life outside of work, they will be able to find that place that Archimedes found so long ago.



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