In 2018, Bupa global research revealed that 64% of business leaders have suffered from mental health conditions, including anxiety, stress and depression – work was regularly cited as a key contributing factor.
We leaders tend to have an exaggerated view that we can manage our own stress, or we sacrifice our approach and put ourselves last. “Leaders eat last” as Simon Sinek says. We need to appreciate that the message of this book does not mean we should forget about our own well-being, but It may be worth taking a deep breath and peeking through a wider lens to ask if this is truly the right methodology for sustainable, positive leadership. Should we truly eat last? Maybe we should be designing a culture by which we all eat at the same time, like a family eating at the table together.
We as leaders often discuss the essential nature of our employees, associates and contractors to speak up about the inherent psychological challenges we all face within healthcare (within any industry really!). We invite them all to come to us for both clinical and non-clinical mentoring or guidance. Cultivating a climate in which it is safe for leaders to disclose mental health vulnerabilities is just as critical.
Now, more than ever, it’s crucial for leaders to take charge of their own mental wellbeing in order to continue guiding their teams while keeping their own morale in check. By reaching out, celebrating you, stepping back, learning, linking your physical health and having fun, we can heighten our own well-being as leaders and be better able to pay our positive well-being forward to others.
Reaching out to peers creates a safe space to discuss issues you’re facing. Perhaps more importantly, asking for help when you need it is not a sign of weakness or ineptness to your role. By requesting help, we are simply gaining a fresh perspective on an issue and allowing ourselves the room to develop along the way.
The mental and physical link: Mental wellbeing works in tandem with physical health. Remember to exercise, eat well, breathe and sleep deeply and stay hydrated (with water).
Don’t forget to celebrate your own achievements and milestones. Many leaders will only want to try and highlight their team’s triumphs, but rarely shout about their own.
Take a step back from the “always-on” mentality. Work hours tend to blur under pressure, and while your responsibility to deliver remains priority, your health should take precedence. Try to “chunk” your giving to work and others. Set out a clear start and finish time each day.
Finding the time to upskill your leadership style is becoming increasingly important. As the climate of industry changes, so will your approach to leadership.
Don’t relinquish hobbies and interests that excite you. By fuelling your passion for other interests, you remind yourself of who you are outside of your role. This is especially helpful to build resilience when things go wrong in the workspace.