The inextricable links between wellbeing and leadership
If we really want to lead, and do it authentically, we have to get our wellbeing nailed.
I was recently discussing what we do at Fresh Air Fridays with one of the senior team from the Institute of Leadership and Management.
She shared with me their Leadership framework of Authenticity surrounded by Achievement, Ownership, Collaboration and Vision. It became obvious as we were talking that those five things are at the heart of what we coach on our programmes. Every one of them feeds our wellbeing and it’s clear that leadership without wellbeing falls down.
We often come across senior people in business who are keen to implement wellbeing strategies for their teams, but think it’s OK to work 16 hours a day, not take a lunch break and take their work phone on holiday. If we really want to lead, and do it authentically, we have to get our own wellbeing nailed.
Every time we run a Fresh Air Fridays session in business we talk about personal responsibility. It’s crucial to understand the things you need to be responsible for and, just as importantly, the things you don’t.
If you have no freedom around this it can be very emotionally challenging, but recognising the right level of ownership, and doing what it takes to maintain balance, is vital to our own wellbeing and that of the organisation. However, as with much of what we explore on our programme, there is a huge difference between knowing something cognitively and understanding it experientially.
Awareness is the first step, but don’t assume you have really grasped it until you can feel it showing up in your life.
So much of what we explore is about collaboration.
Collaboration requires understanding that we are not designed to function alone, good communication, a desire to reach a good outcome and an appreciation that together we can achieve so much more.
Effective collaboration depends on our perception of people, situations and outcomes. Creating the space and time to listen to others and be heard, to step back and understand what you are seeking to achieve are vital to this process.
Wherever you lead in your life, for it to be happy and fulfilled we need vision – it’s a core component of leading the lives we wish to lead.
A vision gives us purpose, focus and a reason to jump out of bed in the mornings. It creates drive, releases serotonin (the so-called happy hormone) and helps us feel happier in our lives.
Mental wellbeing is very hard without some kind of vision. When we have a clear vision or purpose our wellbeing soars.
If we achieve nothing we are demotivated, lacklustre, unhappy in its mildest form and depressed at the extreme.
We need to be able to see achievement for ourselves and some recognition from the people around us. Seeing ourselves move towards our vision and purpose, recognising our value, seeing our place in the world are all vital to both leadership and wellbeing.
A simple gratitude practice helps us acknowledge what is working in our lives. Learning to recognise the achievements of ourselves and those around us is important to good leadership at all levels.
When we are authentic, we are comfortable with all that we are.
We’re able to recognise and accept our strengths and our weaknesses and can bring all of ourselves to a situation, not afraid to be the person we were born to be. We can be both vulnerable and strong and there is no need to hide. We can be open, honest and true to our values.
Anyone who has found authenticity will have experienced “flow” (take a look at this video for more on this) and will probably understand what their best life looks like. Those who attempt to live their lives in an inauthentic way will struggle – it’s impossible to be inauthentic and well at the same time.
When we feel fully able to be ourselves, then our wellbeing and leadership will be at their peak. It takes courage to be authentic but is definitely a state worth striving for.