Business leaders should have confidence to display personal vulnerability
Business leaders who pay due regard to the mental and physical wellbeing of their staff will undoubtedly see the benefits for their teams and their organisation as a whole.
If one sees a colleague limping or bearing evidence of a physical injury one would naturally ask after the person’s wellbeing. Are you in pain? Is it on the mend? What have the doctors told you? I hope you are back to full recovery soon. These are just some of the remarks which one might say or hear.
Mental wellbeing is just as important. The cost to the economy of poor mental health is calculated to be up £40bn a year. It is no longer a taboo subject. It is in our news frequently and discussed by members of the royal family and well known personalities.
There are times when the pressure on each of us gets too much and we need to take some time out. Recognising that time in ourselves and our colleagues is very important if we are to perform at our best and for our colleagues to do so.
Life moves at a far more rapid pace for the brain than it did in times gone by. There are far more sources of information seeking to feed the brain constantly. We live in a world of emails, social media, 24 hour news to name a few of the pressures. However the bandwidth of our brains remains unchanged. We can find ourselves getting overloaded very easily and needing to take time out to restore the right balance.
Inspiring business leaders create a culture in which staff at any level in the organisation feel comfortable in discussing a mental health issue at work. It is important to ensure that no one in the business feels that they will be judged by calling out for help and saying words to the effect “My bucket of stress is reaching full capacity and I need support”.
How can business leaders embody such a culture and spirit of openness?
For my part it comes by having the confidence to show personal vulnerability in front of the firm. I have shared the stress and anxiety which I felt prior to undergoing an organ transplant as well as the depths of despair when a close family member passed away who was there for me throughout my life.
We make it clear that a trouble shared is a trouble halved and that showing emotion/vulnerability is a sign of strength rather than the opposite. Take time to ask how people are feeling, show real and genuine interest. Wait and listen to what you hear when asking “How are you?” Don’t simply walk on by.
Work is a place in which the wellbeing of each of us and our staff should be enhanced. Building a culture in which mental health and resilience is talked about in an open and supportive environment will enable a greater sense of loyalty and trust amongst the people in the business, stronger performance, greater clarity of the values of the business and attract a wider talent pool and more customers. In short, people like to work for and to deal with businesses which treat their staff properly and as fellow human beings.
I call on all business leaders to use this Mental Health Awareness Week to commit to do something to support the mental wellbeing of all in their organisations. Look after your staff and they will look after you and your customers. The charity, Mind have further information on Mental health at work.