The most dangerous leadership myth is that leaders are born-that there is a genetic factor to leadership. That’s nonsense; in fact, the opposite is true. Leaders are made rather than born. – Warren Bennis
I have written a fair bit in this blog about how leaders could improve the way they lead and set up their businesses to benefit employee resilience and wellbeing. However, I have seldom spent time writing about how employers and conscious business leaders could be looking after themselves.
Being the person at the top is hard for many reasons, not least that the buck stops with them. Leading is stressful… which I’m sure is an understatement for any leaders reading this article. A stressed leader is one that is not clear-sighted enough to lead to the fullest of their potential. Therefore, make sure you are looking after yourself because it doesn’t just benefit you, it benefits everybody.
1. Self-Care is not A Sign of Weakness
For all the improvements in the way we talk about mental health and the general importance of wellbeing in the workplace, there is still rhetoric, even amongst conscious leaders, that looking after yourself emotionally is a sign of weakness. However, it takes a great deal of courage and strength to step back and look at yourself, and admit that you aren’t perfect. It’s hard to admit that there are things that you find difficult and other things that scare you. It can be tough to come to terms with the fact that you might, as a leader, need to stop to recharge for a moment. But failing to address these things will not help you to replenish your energies, or to improve in the emotional places where you are in fact, a bit weak. Thus, self-care is absolutely an act of searching for strength, and not at all an admission of weakness.
2. A Happier Leader is A More Effective Leader
As alluded to in the opening paragraphs, leaders lead by example. Whatever your outlook, ethic or mood, they will trickle down to those working under you. A happy worker is a better worker, and that is doubly important for those in charge. A happy leader is a better leader. The happier you are, the more clear-sighted you will be about your decisions and your priorities. It will make you more available to be patient and receptive to your employees, and you will be more able to lift up your workforce and drive them forward when challenges arise.
3. What is Your Work-Life Balance Like?
If you are a conscious leader, you probably encourage employees to have a good work-life balance. Indeed, you may even have implemented various systems to ensure that they do so. But do you expect the same of yourself? Do you take the work-life hit so that your employees don’t have to?
4. How Does Your Workplace Work for You?
Again, you may have put loads of effort into making the working environment efficient and enjoyable for your employees, but does your set-up make your job easier? Again, if you are able to do your job efficiently, then this will trickle down into the rest of the organisation. So, ask yourself, is there anything that you can improve for yourself?
5. Listen to Your Workforce
It might sound counterintuitive to advise that you encourage criticism in order to improve your personal self-care, but hear me out! Leaders are talked about by their employees. It is very hard to please everyone, so there will undoubtedly be some criticism. It is in your best interests to create an environment where your employees feel safe to come to you with fair criticism. First of all, if they can do this without fear of scolding, and with some evidence that you will act on these things, you will foster a positive and trusting relationship with them. If employees feel warm towards you, this will undoubtedly make your life more pleasant. Secondly, you can act on criticism in order to make positive changes in yourself and in your company.
By Chris Thomson
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