Research shows that today’s leaders are suffering from poor well-being and mental health issues more so than ever before. Too often, they put the needs of the business or their team before their own needs. But, much like airline pre-flight instructions to “put your oxygen mask on first, before helping others,” leaders need to take a similar approach by managing their own well-being first. By doing so, they can become role models for their employees and build stronger team relationships that lead to better health and productivity outcomes.
I’m so passionate about this topic that I decided to create a new LinkedIn Learning course: Managing Your Well-Being as a Leader. The course just launched last week, and it’s specifically designed to give leaders the inspiration, advice, and real-world examples to guide them on their journey to better well-being. And there’s never been a more critical time for leaders to take charge of their health: a study of over 12,000 workers conducted by my firm Workplace Intelligence and Oracle found that 71% of leaders feel that this has been the most stressful year ever at work.
The course starts by asking leaders to reflect on why they aren’t prioritizing their health. Are they too busy, too focused on taking care of others, or is their well-being simply not a priority? No matter the reason, well-being should be a top priority — because when leaders ignore their own health, it’s bad for them and it’s bad for the business. Depression alone can decrease productivity by 35%, and poor mental health can affect judgment and decision-making. These issues can also trickle down into the company, with profound consequences on your team members and your business.
In fact, one of the key points I drive home in the course is that there’s a strong link between your actions as a leader and the health of your teams. Because whether or not you recognize this, your employees look to you as a role model and take behavioral cues from you — and if you don’t take care of your own well-being, your whole company will suffer. If you ignore your own needs, work long hours, and have no boundaries between your work and personal life, you’re communicating to your people that this is what’s expected of them, and this is what’s needed to be successful at your organization.
And especially right now, that’s the wrong message to send. Research from Deloitte finds that nearly 4 in 10 Millennial and Gen Z employees do not believe their employers have taken actions to support their mental well-being during the pandemic. What's perhaps more alarming is that only 38% of millennials and 35% of Gen Zs said they’ve spoken openly with their supervisors about the stress they’re feeling. Other research finds that just 41% of managers check in on the well-being of their employees regularly, and more than 50% of employees have never brought up personal matters with their managers. The reality is that your teams are probably struggling more than you know, and you too may be dealing with burnout, stress, and poor physical and mental health.
I understand that it’s not easy to set aside time for yourself. In fact, for most leaders a lack of time is the biggest obstacle preventing them from improving their well-being. But I’ve spoken with hundreds of leaders who have figured out how to be at their best both personally and professionally, and my course is packed with their real-world examples and advice. Many of them have found creative ways to incorporate wellness activities into their busy schedules, and they use technology to help keep them on track. Whether it’s taking breaks during the day, setting aside time for morning and evening routines, or knowing when to shut down from work at the end of day, they’ve mastered the tips and tricks to be able to “do it all.”
But finding time for your health is just one piece of the puzzle. Beyond offering practical advice, Managing Your Well-Being as a Leader also encourages leaders to consider whether a mindset shift is needed in order to put their health front and center. This could mean redefining your perspective on self-care, rethinking your priorities in life, or learning how to be more vulnerable and receptive to receiving support from others.
In fact, the need for greater vulnerability among leaders is a key topic I cover in the course. Too often we believe that vulnerability is a weakness, when it's really a great strength. That’s because opening up to your team isn’t just critical for your own well-being — it also encourages your employees to open up, which fosters greater trust and authenticity and creates more meaningful workplace relationships. Similarly, if you join a peer support group, you’ll not only get support from others who know what you’re going through, you’ll also be a source of support for them.
All of these examples point back to the overarching message of my course: it’s not just you that stands to benefit from improving your well-being. Your family will benefit from a healthier version of you, your employees will follow your lead, and you’ll be setting an example for other managers and leaders. So it’s up to you to remind your teams and your colleagues what success really looks like in today’s workplace. It means having boundaries, it means taking care of yourself, and it means learning how to be more vulnerable. Above all, it’s about paying attention to your needs and remembering that at the end of the day, you’re human too!
Along the way, you may also realize that you’re not alone in your struggles, and you don’t have to deal with them by yourself. In fact, acknowledging that you need support is an important first step as you embark on your journey to better well-being. It’s my sincere hope that my new course can play a role in helping you succeed, no matter where you’re starting from and no matter what your goals are.
Managing Your Well-Being as a Leader takes a holistic and comprehensive approach to enhancing your health and wellness. The course includes 16 modules covering these topics:
- The benefits of better well-being
- Why your well-being as a manager is a priority
1. Manage Your Work Life from Anywhere
- Set workplace well-being goals
- Create boundaries with your team
- Use your calendar to your advantage
2. Create Daily Habits to Feel Reassured
- Start the day with a routine
- End the day with a routine
- Experiment with self-care rituals
3. Stay Connected to Prevent Isolation
- Be intentional about reaching out
- Use technology as a lifeline
- Know both your limits and your team’s limits
- Seek help from other managers
4. Be Vulnerable About Your Mental Health
- Be vulnerable with your team
- Relate to your team’s struggles
- Perform regular check-ins
- Your well-being affects your teams