What do you demand of yourself?

So tell me, as a leader, what example are you giving to your teams and to your colleagues? What impact is your example having on the people around you?

Steffan Surdek
April 10, 2017
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One of the interesting and challenging things for me with the Pyxis Cultures team is how often my colleagues remind me to be kinder to myself as a person and as a leader. They do this for me in subtle (and sometimes not so subtle ways for some!) and they do it out of a genuine place of concern and wanting me to take better care of myself.

To give you some quick context, my life can get very hectic at times, between travelling, regularly delivering training courses, working with many clients simultaneously and all the public speaking and writing that I do.

These conversations between me and the team forced me recently to take a step back and rethink how lead my life. It gave me some inspiration to write this post to share some of the lessons I am in the process of learning.

What is my impact on our team?

As a leader in our group, I often find myself questioning the example that I am giving everyone on the team. How can I demand so much from myself while telling my colleagues around me to take care of themselves, work at a sustainable pace and not overdo things?

When I work with management teams and leaders in organizations, I often tell them they set the tone, they set the example that others will follow. When I tell them this I am thinking about how they handle conversations and collaborate with their teams, in my head, I often attach this with their negative behaviours.

In my case, I am more of a passionate workaholic looking to make an impact and change the world, how bad can my example really be right? Sometimes I worry my impact could be more subtle and others on my team may feel forced to emulate my pace because I do it or even worst, that a few of us feed off each other’s passionate behaviours and that we forget it is ok to take care of ourselves too.

The other potential impact to our team is around how demanding am I towards everyone maybe without even realizing it or making my expectations clear? Do I put them in situations they should not be in? In my quest to help us all grow, do I put people too fast in the deep end of the swimming pool?

What is the impact on myself?

My personal WHY is to contribute to a greater cause, make a difference and add value. While this can be a very powerful WHY in service of others for me it also comes with a dark side where it is easy to forget myself in order to be of service to others.

As an entrepreneur, I see a lot of opportunities and things that I can do or get involved with. A lot of what I do is actually a lot of fun for me as I get to learn new things and push my limits. I also demand a lot from myself at times because one of my core beliefs is that I am doing the right thing for the business and sometimes, this means I need to unplug the emotions, push myself and get things done.

When I was younger, I was much more of an achiever type (full disclosure: I still am, it is probably one of my top strengths, but I use the skill very differently now) and I was not really in touch with my emotional side. It used to be easy to neglect because I was completely unaware it even existed at times.

Over the course of doing my integral coaching course a few years ago, I got back in touch with my emotional side and became a more “whole” person so to speak. So now, when I intentionally pull the plug on my emotions to get through a demanding period in my life, I actually realize the personal price I am paying for doing this and I feel the weight of it. I hear my soul at times telling me I am being too demanding on myself.

What is the impact on our clients?

As a coach, I often find myself in positions where I need to have a high level of presence and capacity to be in the moment for individuals as well as teams. My work can be very rewarding when I see my clients grow but it is also very demanding in deep listening skills.

So the question becomes: If I demand so much of myself all the time and find myself not taking enough time for rejuvenation and self-care, what are my clients losing out on? Are they truly getting all of me? Am I fully present for them or are they missing out on part of the experience we could have together if I did a better job for self-care?


The self-care piece is one of my biggest personal life challenges. I am grateful to my team when they remind me that I matter too as a person in this complex equation and that I should take better care of myself.

As leaders, it is important to find ways to remind ourselves of our deeper intentions and take a look if our actions are truly in line with what we want to do. I use my conversations with my team to better understand myself, my silly little patterns and how they impact us as a whole. From there, I can work on making different choices and engage in different conversations.

So tell me, as a leader, what example are you giving to your teams and to your colleagues? What impact is your example having on the people around you?