Are your employees stressed? Are they experiencing poor health, low energy and drive? You, as their leader, have the ability to improve your own health and lifestyle for the betterment of the entire team. Sceptical that your own choices have anything to do with your team members’ performance and health?
In truth, when a leader is stressed, that sets the precedent in the workplace. Team members are likely to model their leader’s behaviour, burdening themselves with unmanageable workloads, complaining that they are too busy but also reluctant to confide in you, or avoid seeking help when they feel overwhelmed for fear that you’ll see their stress as a weakness.
When a leader makes poor dietary and activity choices, team members may follow suit. They will participate in fast food lunch breaks and snacks (if they take a break at all). They may struggle into work feeling unwell—when they would have been better off at home—all the while spreading viruses around the workplace. And before you know it, the entire office is feeling sluggish, unhealthy and demotivated.
Leaders have been leading for centuries, and therefore there is loads of information and research about how to develop a happy, productive and healthy team…as well as how to destroy one. Great leaders have learnt the following:
The Pareto Principle, or 80/20 rule, can be applied to many different areas of life. For example, 80% of sales come from 20% of your customers, 80% of your enjoyment comes from 20% of your work, 20% of your workout brings 80% of your results, or 80% of your stress may come from 20% of your clients. The 80/20 rule can help you to ensure that you are focussing on results rather than hours invested. Concentrating on this principle can help to reduce workload and stress levels.
One-third of workers get less than six hours of sleep every night; however, proper diet, reduced stress and exercise promote more and better sleep…as well as more alertness and productivity, and less anxiety, at work.
Too many workers spend too much time sitting. Exercise should not be reserved for free time; rather, movement should be promoted at work. It not only relieves stress and keeps us healthy, it speeds up the mind, stimulates brain cell growth and increases executive function… all of which come in handy when production is crucial.
Employee engagement is relative to energy levels; and eating right, sleeping well and great health improve both. People with high energy levels are three times more likely to be engaged in their work—and that means they’re getting things done, well, and that they’re engaging customers.
So how can you—leader, manager, mentor, coach—influence and improve the health and lifestyle of your entire team? Whilst improving your own in the process? Try these team-wide performance-enhancing tips for achieving the following:
Stress Management: It is impossible to entirely avoid stress. In fact, a certain level of pressure is essential for team performance. Stress is essential for motivation; it can be stimulating and exciting and pushes us to perform. However, without the appropriate mind-set, support and strategies, stress piles up and starts to affect our sleep, our energy levels and our ability to concentrate; it’s no longer productive. Reduce stress within the team by modelling stress-relieving behaviour. Take a short walk during your break—which not only releases stress, but also increases resilience against future stress. Encourage your team to take frequent walking meetings. Store your healthy snacks and lunch items in the refrigerator for everyone to see. If you order out, order heart-healthy foods and invite others to join you. Encourage open communication amongst team members—talk it out, to reduce stress and alleviate any feelings of being “in this alone.”
Build Resilience: Resilience is a key component of stress management; it is the ability to mitigate the effects of stress (i.e. factors such as emotional, cognitive, physiological, and behavioural responses to work, the work environment or the organisations). Psychologists have identified the key factors that make people resilient; they include having a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotion, the ability to learn from mistakes and the ability to deal with feedback. Although a specialist may be best placed to provide bespoke training (to support your team in building resilience), it’s well worth considering how you can create the conditions in which to cultivate the key factors. For example, maintain and encourage a positive attitude at work, and support people as they learn from their mistakes. Learn how to give timely and constructive, specific feedback, which can help people to develop and grow. By supporting your employees in building their resilience and helping them to tap into their inner strength, you will support them in developing long- and short-term strategies for sustaining them through various work and life struggles—all of which will not only benefit their health and happiness, but their personal effectiveness, too.
Improved Engagement: Use your role as a leader to promote open communication and involvement. Not only will this encourage others to model your healthy lifestyle choices, it will inspire them to come to work every day with an open mind, a willingness to interact, and a desire to engage customers and endear them to your brand. When people feel a part of something open and welcoming, their general moods improve, they work to promote better conditions for everyone, they feel more freedom to be creative and they are vested in the team’s purpose. This is good for all involved.
Facilitation of Change: Coach your team and support them to make better decisions, which will support them in maintaining a healthy work/life balance. Workload, clear prioritising and assertiveness are key areas that people struggle with—although they often don’t like to admit it. When people are feeling stressed, they can be tough on themselves and this can make it difficult to ask for help. Address these issues and create a positive, supportive and balanced work environment, with area of stimulation and relaxation.
Increased Productivity: Too often, managers adopt the belief that if they separate themselves from team members and “lead” with a heavy hand, they will stimulate greater levels of productivity. When employees are over-worked, they can become disengaged. This may leave them suffering from disenchantment, illness, weight gain, low energy and more. This doesn’t work. Instead, the path to a productive workforce is paved with leadership that demonstrates and encourages things like rejuvenating breaks with stretching (for mind-clearing and posture restoration), discouragement of long work hours and late night working (because viewing a screen 60 mins before bed is bad for your quality of sleep, and losing just 90 minutes of sleep can reduce daytime alertness by one-third), healthy choices in the cafe (because the body and mind need nourishment and energy), avoidance of after-work alcohol binges (because no one feels bright and productive the day after alcohol consumption) and pursuance of hobbies and interests (because everyone works better when they have a complete break from it and there’s nothing like learning a new skill to focus your attention on outside of work).
Are you interested in learning more about how you can lead your team to longevity, healthfulness and productivity through example? Then my leadership lifestyle program is just the thing for you. Complete the contact form and we will be in touch.