Encouraging inspired leadership and creating successful corporations requires the right attention to be paid to supporting those who lead.
Leadership Can Be a Lonely Game
When you are at the top of your game, you can find yourself in a lonely place. Expected to have it all together, to be seen as the 'expert' and to manage your people to a degree that keeps it all together and inspires everybody in some way too, the pressure can be intense. But how often do you hear about it?
And that's just in the workplace. What about your home-life? How's that going in between the long hours and workplace stress? And are you getting enough exercise? And eating well? And not papering over the cracks with just enough coffee, or alcohol, or worse.
When asked, 'How are you?', 'Fine!' is often the answer that leaders give, with a tense smile on their face. Fine is an interesting place between really great, and not at all ok. We can all survive on feeling fine for a good while, but is this place of just-about-keeping-it-together really wellbeing and what does it mean for our productivity, decision-making and personal happiness? What about thriving as a goal instead? Good decision-making and leadership doesn't come from a place of just existing, but from a place of real wellbeing - and feeling deep-down good. And sadly this is a fundamental issue at the top that is largely unaddressed or is just a confused issue. Those at the top of the chain, or rising, need to have a foundation stone that hold the rest of the structure in place. The problem comes that those looking at creating this are usually an expert in this themselves and don't know what to look for in finding specific support for leaders. And very often this is an afterthought at best, and at worst, not really addressed at all.
So depending on the culture of where you work, you may very well have had a coach provided for you by your employer for a while, and even access to a counselor should you need it. But most find this is related to up-skilling them for their role and keeping the phone battery charged to the 1% in order to keep you as an employee in the workplace. It's a firefighting move rather than a supportive, foundational one. What if the approach were for you as a leader to be resourced to exist far closer to the 100% charge? How would that make the workplace different? How would that make your life better?
To make a start ask yourself the following questions:
Who are your go-to supportive people?
Who has actually got your back?
When do you get time to breathe and let go?
What mindset issues hold you back?
What practical issues hold you back?
Who do you go to when you need to get a clearer perspective, deal with a therapeutic issue, or vision out the next big idea without having to look 'good' whilst you do it?
Statistics show that if you are in a leadership position you are more likely than not to be suffer from stress, anxiety and burnout at some point in your career. You are also likely to know more than you would like about Imposter Syndrome and have concerns or difficulties dealing with the people you are now managing, as most are promoted to positions of responsibility without adequate people-skills training. It is possible that you may have so much on your plate that you sometimes find juggling everything a challenge. If you are lucky you will have a wonderful assistant who holds a lot for you, but what else do you have in place as structured, meaningful support?
What can change?
Mindset - let go of the unconscious mind patterns that hold you back. Limiting beliefs, negative thinking and unhelpful stories.
Embodiment - How to embody strength, authority, clarity and/or whatever would most help you and what you want to achieve. Having a physicality that supports you rather than undermines what you are trying to say creates a flow state that makes it so much easier to lead.
Learning to fuel from the inside - Creating the inner conditions for success so you are not knocked off course by what happens around you.
Mindfulness - learn to be with what is happening around you in the most relaxed state possible. I'm sure you already know why this is essential. Google the stats on mindfulness and effectiveness in the workplace but also on mental and physical health. It's incredibly important.
These are all very doable goals achievable in a shorter time-frame than you might think using specific and measurable tools and techniques, some tailored directly to the individual and some that can be applied and used collectively. In my experience of working with hundreds of individuals and many years of investigating and working with transformational methods of change, I have found a combination of methods to be the most effective - creating an alchemy of support that is deep and long-lasting.
I long for a society where the individual is nurtured to create corporations and societal structures that encourage inspired decision making, bringing big and exciting dreams into fruition, powerful and effective, yet humane leadership. I long for leaders heal that rather than harm our people and our planet and get to the end of their careers having made a positive difference, no matter what their industry or role and create a workplace culture that is based advocacy and support rather than overwork and exhaustion, and inspires a better world.
Whatever your leadership role, you play an important part in this. For you and your people to thrive is important. Take it seriously and you will see the rewards in your bottom line, in your company's wellbeing stats and in the quality of the talent you attract. And very importantly you will also have a far more successful and rewarding experience of your own career and life - for you and also those you love. And what better motivation to have than that?
About Kirsty Macdonald
My job, as a Transformational Leadership Coach and Cognitive Hypnotherapist is to provide confidential, bespoke support to high achievers, leaders and creatives who often don't have a comprehensive wellbeing system. One-to-one sessions, workshops and talks are available. For more information for individuals, corporates and HR professionals email email@example.com or contact via this form.