Healthy organizations contribute to the well-being, engagement, and productivity of the people in them. This may sound transparently obvious, but it is a fact that is routinely overlooked or ignored. Perhaps more importantly, leaders who are patient, understanding, compassionate, and clear communicators contribute directly to the health of the people on their team.
Conversely, leaders who rule by rigidity, intimidation, and manipulation may get short-term results, but they will ultimately diminish the well-being, engagement, and productivity of individuals as well as the organization.
This is not touchy-feely, new age, management jargon. This is basic human biology. In the short term, the chemicals of stress motivate us. A deadline, a target, a goal, competition – these can lead us to marshal useful internal resources. Over time, however, a constant drip of stress hormones will take a significant toll – on our individual health, our performance, and on our relationship to others.
This is why it is vital that people in an organization feel that they matter and that their well-being matters. This is the role of the leader. Maintaining the bandwidth to do this is why leaders have a duty to work on their own well-being. There are some obvious ways to do this — get enough sleep, exercise, put good food in your body, and spend time with people you love these all support vitality.
Equally fundamental is the cultivation of awareness, acceptance, gratitude, compassion, awe, and joy. These are building blocks of good life practice. These internal resources support resilience, connection, and calm in the face of constantly changing demands. Spending time on these things enhances our ability to return our attention to what is most important when we get distracted and to use our energy purposefully and powerfully.
It’s funny that these are talked about as “soft skills” when, in fact, these laser like tools make us sharper, more insightful, and better able to make tough, principled choices that leverage our energy in the most meaningful ways.
Your brain may tell you that these are a waste of time, or that you simply don’t have the time to practice these things. This is only true if the health, engagement, and productivity of the people in your organization is not a priority. The main reason that your brain tells you that you don’t have time is so that you will return to the way you already do things. This is a great trick that your brain uses to save energy. It takes energy to consciously develop a new skill, and your brain hates to use more energy than it absolutely has to.
And here’s the crazy part – it doesn’t take that much time. You can cultivate awareness, acceptance, gratitude, compassion, awe, and joy as you go about your day.
Here are some options:
Begin with two minutes when you wake up, simply asking “What am I most grateful for?” Wait until you can feel a sense of gratitude and breathe deeply into it.
Stop several times a day and consciously bring your attention to what is going on within you and around you with a sense of acceptance.
Practice box breathing before a meeting or at lunch.
Look around, and let yourself wonder about the complexity of the lives around you. You can acknowledge that we all struggle – no matter how put together we look on the outside.
Sitting up or standing — drop your shoulders, open your chest, breathe deeply and smile as you savor the miracle of being alive.
Check-in with someone on your team and ask three simple questions – and then listen without interrupting to solve, fix, or compare their situation to yours. The questions are:
What’s going on? What feels most important right now? How can I support you?
The opportunities for practicing a good life are limitless. The payoff for your organization is significant. Leadership is the practice of looking out for the well-being of the team and that begins with your own.
Would you like a more graceful and powerful relationship to life?
Dave’s coaching and consulting provides individuals and teams the tools they need to live and work peacefully, positively, and purposefully. If you are seeking greater well-being, stronger relationships, more effective communication, or healthier culture, then contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org www.appliedattention.com