What is Healthy Leadership?
There are countless books, theories and expert opinions on leadership so rather than go over old ground, we want to talk about a slightly different angle: how to integrate the principles of health into your leadership style.
Many people hold a belief that in order to be successful financially or in your career you need to sacrifice your personal health (and/or your personal relationships)
Whilst many may have achieved career or financial success with this approach does it justify the personal cost to the individual, their teams or their families? Is it necessary at all?
For us, the answer has to be “no”.
As we talked about in article 1, a healthy business is more than just the personal health of its people - but equally it's more than just the bottom line.
So how might a “healthy leader” go about achieving business success, whilst also taking care of their own personal health and well-being? And how does that extend to their teams and to an organisation? What behaviours might a healthy leader exhibit?
We think healthy leadership involves 2 things:
The ability to lead in such a way as to create a “healthy business”
The ability to maintain and / or improve our own health - whilst being a leader in your life-career-business endeavours - and inspiring those around us to do the same
Healthy leadership begins with self leadership: if we lead ourselves well, and prioritise our own health, then we are able to both serve and lead others more effectively - personal health and wellbeing must be the very foundation of everything we do.
We are probably all familiar with some of the fundamental things required for that: good nutrition, frequent physical activity, good sleep etc. At Motus we talk about a “wider concept of health” that goes way beyond just the physical - and that's true for healthy leadership too.
As thought leaders and visionaries, healthy leaders typically create the time and space to think. They may take regular time away from the business or day-to-day life to do this, or they may create space through personal daily rituals such as meditation.
Simon Sinek, says (of leadership generally): “Leadership requires two things: a vision of the world that does not yet exist and the ability to communicate it.”
These practices work to create clarity of thought which then flows through in communication of their vision, providing a sense of certainty to their teams.
Healthy leaders embody the mantra that “behaviour breeds behaviour”. They often achieve this through a framework of principles: behaviours for themselves and their people to work by and ultimately live by.
All of these behaviours combined create an example. When healthy leadership is in place, people choose to follow those who truly live and breathe it; those who walk the walk rather than just talking a good game.
Healthy leaders put their people first, making it clear how health and wellbeing fits into the business vision, company culture, the environment, systems and processes. This will create the opportunity for people and teams to prioritise their health too.
Great leaders in fact pull off a magic trick: it may sometimes appear that the leader is doing nothing. In fact what they are doing is creating space for their people to grow into: a space for them to step up and be inspired to take action and to pursue growth and improvement. They will be excited by seeing people grow, as well as the profit margins.
Healthy leadership is about achieving this congruence/alignment between vision, culture and a higher purpose.
As with leadership generally, there is no one perfect model or role model for healthy leadership. How one goes about leadership is unique to the individual. That's true authenticity. Healthy leaders embrace this uniqueness. They aren't afraid to share their weaknesses when appropriate either and they are fully aware of what they don't know.
Referring back to our earlier point about self-leadership, we think it's important to also recognise that anyone and everyone can be a healthy leader, not just those at the “top”. We can all be leaders: leaders for our partners, family, children, friends and colleagues based on how we conduct ourselves daily and how we choose to live our lives.
So how to go about making your leadership style healthier?
Start with you.
Have a plan. Work out the small, incremental steps.
Seek guidance in order to create the right environment, the right systems and the right processes. Have a system and accountability to know if you are on course or need to correct - supporting these is often the function we fulfil for clients
We have no doubt that in terms of business health, with healthy leaders at the helm you will see your business and your people energised and motivated. Their resilience and capacity will build, their creativity will flow and the results will follow
Imagine how far you could take your business and your life if both you and everyone around you demonstrated healthy leadership?