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The Importance of Well-being in Leadership: How you can cultivate a team that thrives

Promoting well-being is essential for today’s organizations to thrive. In fact, research shows happy workers are 13% more productive. As leaders, it’s important that we pay attention to our well-being and manage it effectively. By taking care of our own needs, we subsequently become better equipped at addressing the needs of our team and improving community wellness. Today, I’d like to share some practical steps you can take to manage your well-being and that of your team.

What is well-being and why is it important for leaders?

Our wellness comes from physical, mental, and emotional health. When we take care of ourselves and ensure our needs are met in all three areas, we’re capable of helping others do the same. You’ve probably heard the old cliché, “you can’t pour from an empty glass.” The saying is true: if you’re not taking care of yourself properly, you can’t provide the necessary support your team is looking for from their leader.

Your well-being affects your leadership ability

Our ability to be effective leaders are directly affected by our well-being. When we neglect to care for our own needs, it becomes that much harder to be good leaders for our team. If you’re not taking care of your needs fully, you may find yourself more prone to making decisions you later regret. When our well-being starts to flake, we may become more likely to make impulsive decisions that are based on emotions rather than logic. This can this lead to sub-optimal performance in your team. Additionally, team members may experience trust issues when they become uncertain of their leader’s ability.

As leaders, our ability to effectively manage stress and lead our team are significantly impacted by our well-being. When we fail to take care of ourselves, we are more likely to become overwhelmed by stress. This can cause us to make poor decisions, lose our temper, become impatient with team members, doubt our abilities and affect our ability to maintain healthy relationships—all of which are essential for good, effective leaders. We may experience difficulty staying focused on our tasks and we may feel more withdrawn from our team and become less willing to interact positively. These issues can make it challenging for leaders to maintain healthy relationships with team members. This is why as leaders, we need to be aware of our well-being and actively take part in managing it.

Here’s why wellness promotion is important for leaders

Leaders who are willing to promote and discuss their well-being with their team are perceived to be more open, authentic, and trustworthy. Abbey Lewis from Harvard Business Publishing writes, “When leaders are open and relatable, it builds employee engagement and trust.” In response, team members may feel more inclined to share their own feelings and well-being. This creates a cycle where the leader’s energy feeds to the team members, which then feed back to the leader, creating a positive loop. When stress isn’t managed effectively, it can lead to burnout in employees which then negatively affects their health and well-being. A thriving community understands the importance of promoting healthy lifestyles that extend beyond the barriers of the organization and inspires team members to take control of their own well-being. A healthy organization thrives when leaders and team members take initiative of their well-being.

Promoting well-being through a human-centred approach

The needs of each individual team member is different and there is no universal approach to promoting well-being. However, as a leader you can implement self care strategies to improve overall well-being in the workplace. Promoting well-being through a human-centred approach means you understand the true assets of the organization are the people that work in it. By taking care of your team members, you help your team thrive. Effective leaders understand that encouraging employees to receive necessary help and support are crucial in creating healthy, human-centred connections. Perhaps one of the easiest ways leaders can promote well-being is simply asking their team how best they can support them and then doing their best to deliver those supports.

Practical steps in improving community well-being

Empathic leaders encourage their team members to take regular breaks. They understand the importance of a healthy work-life harmony and it can help prevent burnout in employees. Having regular check-ins with your team is crucial in maintaining a healthy and open relationship for wellness in the workplace. These check-ins serve as opportunities for leaders to be authentic in sharing their wellness goals and in turn encourages team members to do the same. Starting the day with a quick meditation exercise, having a quiet hour, being flexible with work hours and hosting events where team members can connect and engage with their peers are practical steps leaders can take to improve community well-being and organization morale.

Neil Gaught, sustainability consultant and author of CORE: How a Single Organizing Idea can Change Business For Good states, “Leaders have a responsibility to ensure they are driving forward human sustainability across the organization, so that issues like employee wellbeing become part of their DNA. The result is that rather than having to spend time investing in resources to support employees to recover from workplace-induced stress and illness, there will be less instances of it in the first place.” When leaders take a proactive approach in ensuring that team members are thriving, they will reap the benefits of these implementations.

Leaders should cultivate a positive and inclusive workplace where team members feel valued, supported, and appreciated. Encouraging your team members to take care of their physical, mental, and emotional needs can help your organization reach the next step in cultivating community wellness. By taking a proactive approach to managing your own wellbeing as a leader, you can set a good example for your team to follow. Help your team thrive by seeking ways to implement wellness initiatives and create a culture where well-being is celebrated.

If there’s one takeaway message I’d like to leave you with, it’s this: don’t underestimate the power of promoting well-being.