Monday, June 3, 2013

Jet Lag and the Global Leader-A tipsheet

In spite of the advances in technology, travel across multiple timezones is a reality for leaders in global organizations.  I strongly believe that paradoxically, technology makes face to face interaction more important, not less important.  It's the face to face interaction and relationships that give you speed when working virtually.  My own theory is we create thousands of impressions of others, most unconscious, when we are together.  Facial expressions, tone of voice, the use of humor, interpreting silence and dozens of other impressions are formed when we interact face to face.  Those impressions make teleconferences, video conferences, web casts, and email exponentially more effective.  Creating those face to face opportunities means lots of long haul, multiple time zone, international travel, often of short duration...3-5 days for leaders in global organizations.  On a very practical level, leaders in these organizations have to develop strategies for dealing with the effects of jet lag.

Today's Wall Street Journal has some useful tips and the results of current research on jet lag. You can access it at this link. Wall Street Journal article on jet lag.  Strategies listed include some combination of adjusting one's sleep schedule days before a trip, taking the hormone melatonin, seeking light at certain times or forcing the body to eat and sleep on local time immediately on arrival.  The article suggests that the right combination of these strategies will vary by individual.

My own experience supports the suggestions in the article.  To that list I'd also add a few other  things.  One is getting sleep on the airplane.  Some people can do this better than others but it was especially important for me traveling West to East where I left the USA in the afternoon and arrived in Europe the next morning.  I'd also not schedule meetings in the morning of my arrival day but check into a hotel early and get a couple of hours rest before afternoon meetings. I forced myself to stay up as long as I could that first night.  Melatonin didn't work for me so I also used prescription sleep medication under a physicians supervision to insure I was able to sleep though the night.

The global leader will necessarily experiment with some combination of these strategies to discover the approach that works best for them.

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