September 6th 2021

Wellbeing and Leadership

For me, leadership is not about a job role or a pay band but all about values and behaviours. Whether we are leaders in our communities, the organisations where we work or the networks where we connect with others, it is fundamental that we consider our approach to wellbeing.

Some of the most inspiring and respected leaders I’ve met have been in teams at all levels, yet so often we hear about pay bands or titles as if that automatically equates to having the skills and knowledge needed to lead. Never more so than now should we listen to, hear and learn from leaders across our communities and organisations to create space and support for wellbeing.

Josh Bersin, leading HR consultant and author, has published findings from research undertaken with 100s of international businesses around the context of leadership and wellbeing within their organisations. Developing strategies around “Human-centred Leadership”, Bersin outlines key skills and capabilities and key behaviours and actions for effective leaders.

Quote from Brene Brown’s book “Dare to Lead”
Quote from Brene Brown’s book “Dare to Lead”

Skills and capabilities:

  • Human skills are as important as technical skills
  • Change is iterative and a series of small, measurable steps
  • Always make time for the most important issue
  • Spend as much time as possible with your team, to listen and contribute
  • Lead more, manage less, develop leaders
  • Treat people issues as part of their job (they’re coaches)

Behaviours and actions:

  • Take time to talk about problems, to learn and evolve
  • Leave ‘whitespace’ to think and create
  • Create the conditions for people to support each other and lift others up

Many of the organisations participating in the research talked about the switch in now teaching managers about mental health and emotional fitness and including education programmes on stress, anxiety, behavioural health for leaders.

Investors in People describe 4 leadership behaviours that improve wellbeing for the whole team:

  • Reduce uncertainty and increase certainty through facilitating a strong work-life balance, supporting employees to play to their strengths and be creative, and just being honest with your team
  • Help staff stop leaking energy through manageable workloads, taking regular breaks, increasing movement and connection with others
  • Offer constructive feedback and praise through adopting a strengths-based approach, learning opportunities, time for reflection and peer support
  • Reinforce relevant messages through accessible communication processes, regular support meetings, encouraging leadership opportunities across different roles

“Your time to Thrive” book recognises the challenge for those in managerial or leadership roles to create space for informality, support, working relationships and whether or not they should be “congenial or authoritative”. It’s now agreed that leaders can be both! The book also cites Gallup research that shows employees are 70% less likely to report burnout if they feel supported and listened to in the workplace. This creates a sense of wellbeing that as a social species we know will have a positive ripple effect.

As a leader in a diverse range of teams, I have experienced positive outcomes when I’ve brought a values-based approach to my work, when I’ve been honest, acknowledged when I’ve made mistakes, inspired and motivated others to step up, develop and grow and I love this infographic that highlights the feasible and simple steps we can take in creating a culture of wellbeing wherever we interact with others.

simple things to improve culture and wellbeing

Catherine Murnin

The Wellbeing Pathway Founder