Connecting The Dots Between Leadership And Wellbeing

In a podcast with Allwork.Space, Jamie Shapiro, author of Brilliant, emphasizes the need for leaders to “walk the talk” on wellness.
  • In a podcast with Allwork.Space, Jamie Shapiro, author of Brilliant, emphasizes the need for leaders to “walk the talk” on wellness.
  • Too often leaders fail to model wellness behavior, which leads to energy depletion and burnout at all levels of the organization.
  • Shapiro introduces the idea that “to be our best leaders, we need to have a foundation of wellbeing in the workplace.”

In a recent podcast with Allwork.Space, Jamie Shapiro, author of Brilliant and founder of Connected EC, said that “one of the biggest issues of workplace wellness is we were talking a lot, but we weren’t actually walking the talk.”

She goes on to say that despite the fact that leaders are saying wellbeing is important to their organizations, leaders are failing their employees by not modeling wellness behavior.

If employees see their leaders working 12+ hours a day, not taking any breaks, going from meeting to meeting without even pausing for lunch, then workers are not likely to feel comfortable taking advantage of an organization’s wellness benefits and programs. 

Connecting the dots between leadership and wellbeing

In order to be good leaders, we need to be able to give people and organizations our best. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to give our best when we’re depleted, exhausted, burnt out, and stressed. This leads to lower engagement, reduced productivity, and overall a poor professional performance. 

When leaders are experiencing any of the above signs, they’re not able to give people the best of them; they’re only able to give people what’s left of them. More often than not, that’s not good enough. It’s not enough for the leader and it’s certainly not enough for employees or an organization. 

Shapiro introduces the idea that “to be our best leaders, we need to have a foundation of wellbeing in the workplace.” A foundation that should have at its base the notion of taking care of self and giving permission (through modeled behavior) for employees to do so. 

What’s the point of having a gym in the workplace if no one is going to use it? The same goes for hosted yoga or meditation lessons, or any other workplace wellness program. 

Taking care of self: 4 key pillars 

In the podcast, Shapiro states that there are 4 key pillars to build a foundation of wellbeing:

  1. Mind
  2. Body
  3. Heart
  4. Spirit

To be great leaders, individuals need to work on these four pillars on a regular basis. 

Mind

This pillar encompasses our mental health. Leaders are often prone to burnout and increased stress levels given that they tend to work long hours and are in a position that often creates a lot of pressure. 

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From stress management to meditation, there are various activities that individuals can engage in to take care of this pillar. A key thing to notice is that whichever activity we choose should give us mental energy rather than draining our mental capacity. It’s worth noting that what might work for some, might not work for others. 

For example, you may find that practicing meditation isn’t working for you and that you find more relief and energy from practicing deep breathing or coloring.

Body

This pillar focuses on our physical health. 

But beyond eating healthily and going to the gym, Shapiro recommends people think about ways in which they can incorporate more movement throughout their workday, especially if they tend to find themselves going from meeting to meeting on a regular basis. 

Another key component of our physical health, Shapiro says, is sleep. Many leaders tend to be sleep deprived and they are therefore chronically exhausted. Needless to say, this affects our physical wellbeing, but it can also have a negative impact on our mental health; being exhausted can lead to increased stress levels, less ability to problem-solve, a loss of creativity, and other negative outcomes. 

Heart

This pillar focuses on our emotional center. 

To take care of this pillar, Shapiro recommends we think about the relationships and activities that nourish us. These activities and relationships can be with our families, friends, or our communities. It’s about engaging in activities that contribute to our happiness and to our sense of fulfillment. 

If our emotional center is strong and taken care of, we are in a much better position to improve our work days, our work environments, and our relationships with colleagues. 

Spirit

Spirit is what connects you to your best self, it’s what connects you to something greater than you. 

Many take care of spirit through religion; others may find that connection in nature, simply by being outside. 

A key element to taking care of this pillar is to identify in which ways you have access to something greater than yourself. Once you’ve identified how to connect with that, then it’s all a matter of practicing and engaging with it on a regular basis. 

Shapiro believes that when we take care of these four pillars, we will find ourselves much more energized and better suited to lead organizations, engage in our work, and create workplace communities that have a strong foundation of wellness. 

Jamie Shapiro’s podcast will be available this Friday (June 26th) on the Allwork.Space Future of Work Podcast page. You can listen to all episodes here.

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