By St. Albans, Hertfordshire
There is no denying that the last 12 months have posed some of the biggest challenges that business leaders have faced in their entire careers. Many have shown their resilience and outstanding leadership qualities by stepping up, often out of their comfort zone, to ensure that the organisation survives and maintains a productive, healthy workforce. They succeeded where many didn’t, but at what cost?
Many leaders have been holding the fort at the expense of their personal wellbeing, taking on intense stress from above whilst also tackling the emotional complexities involved with managing people. In fact, research by Glint and LinkedIn Learning revealed that manager burnout increased during the pandemic, a rise of 78 per cent by the final quarter of the year in comparison to Q1 of 2020.
This Stress Awareness Month, Mindy Gibbins-Klein, a successful business owner, author of The Thoughtful Leader and host of The Thoughtful Leader podcast, is urging leaders to take a step back and focus on protecting their own wellbeing. Only then can they truly fulfil their role as thoughtful leaders.
‘As leaders we want to support and lead by example but if we fall victim to burnout or stress then we instantly lose the ability to support or influence others,’ Mindy explains.
As businesses make plans to return to the office, albeit in a different pattern to post-pandemic times, the transition is already causing increased anxiety and stress for those who are set to re-enter the workplace for the first time in a year. Leaders are not immune to these same worries and so may also be feeling anxious about the future. Mindy is keen to remind leaders that to be able to guide others through times of change, they first need to manage their own stress levels.
‘Many leaders will have already gone beyond the obvious, beyond the call of duty, and stuck their neck out multiple times over the past few months. This is bound to have had an impact on them, even if they are still in ‘firefighting’ mode and don’t realise it yet.
The most successful leaders during the pandemic have demonstrated that they truly care for others within the business, but this has often been to the detriment to their own health and wellbeing. Leaders now need to consciously take time to reflect on their own needs so that they are able to embark on the next phase of business re-integration with all cylinders firing,” explains Mindy.
5 tips for maximising wellbeing
To help leaders to regain control of their stress levels, Mindy shares her five tips improving wellbeing:
- Practice Grounding– You need to do whatever it takes to centre yourself, and to approach life in a grounded way. By definition, a leader has followers, people who look up to them. They are looking for guidance and direction. The first step is to centre yourself, so that you can hold a stable place in others’ perception of you. And this definitely spills over to their perception of your business, if you are the leader of the business.
- Conduct a Personal Audit – All thoughtful leaders are willing to examine their lives and look to improve themselves continually. Some folks think coaching is all about fixing problems, and it can be used for that. However, the leaders who work on themselves regularly keep themselves centred and grounded, which means they are better equipped to handle problems as they arise, and tend to handle them with more grace and ease. Coaching is an ongoing mental and emotional conditioning tool, one that strengthens your core more and more.
- Block out ‘Time to Think’ Sessions – This work on yourself is not something to be done once and then forgotten about. As you are going to continually change and evolve as a person, you want to ensure that your life plan and your life itself continue to make sense and make you happy. My best advice is to schedule time to go through important personal goals, outcomes and vision, not just once a year, like New Year’s resolution time, but regularly – say, once a quarter. Thoughtful leaders carve out the time to be thoughtful.
- Balance your Risk – You probably need, and hopefully have, people around you who complement your skills and experience. What about people who complement your approach to risk? Sometimes, when you need to make big decisions, that alternative view can be critical. I have a fairly high risk profile, in most things. Therefore I have found slightly more risk-averse business partners, mentors and advisers are the best people to surround myself with. They ensure that I don’t jump in too fast without considering options and consequences.
- Reframe your Language– Watch the words you use on a daily basis, especially about others. It is amazing what a high percentage of the thoughts we have and words we use are negative. We have tens of thousands of thoughts every day, and according to various sources, between 80 percent and 95 percent of them are negative! Make a conscious effort to speak in positive language.