In the world of business, the concept of “self-care” is sometimes met with skepticism from senior leaders. And there can be pushback around taking time for oneself. This opposition usually stems from the misperception that self-care involves taking a half-day at the spa, or time meditating in a field or something that invokes a feeling of being too “woo woo” to be taken seriously.
As leaders set the example within the company culture, self-care needs to be embraced and prioritized by everyone, especially senior leadership. Yet, while leaders watch out for well-being of their direct reports, they often ignore signs of fatigue, stress, or burnout in themselves. Many leaders resist the idea that self-care is important, either because they don’t see the value in slowing down or they see it as indulgent or frivolous.
Here’s the thing: The tsunami of mental health issues is on its way, and we all need to get proactive about getting our own oxygen masks on first. No matter how talented or how successful, no one is invincible. By investing in our own mental and physical health it enables us to be more productive and successful leaders and all-round better people to those around us.
We all know that we need to get good rest, exercise and have a healthier diet. Yet the best of intentions can go by the wayside over the course of a hectic workday. The simple act of reframing self-care as a leadership tool in our toolbox can really help to prioritize it. Here are some tips for leaders to help keep self-care top-of-mind.
Guard Your Calendar
We schedule meetings, we block off time to work on that oh-so-important report, and if it isn’t on our calendar, things can fall through the cracks. Block off time every week for your own self-care. Whether you opt to take a walk or meet up with an old friend, carve out an hour or two every week and make it part of your routine.
Champion Your Best You
We all know what our own best version looks like: happy, fulfilled, giving, etc. Just like the metaphor of putting on our own oxygen mask first, we need to take care of ourselves to be great leaders. If you are overwhelmed and tired, you are ill-equipped to handle work (and life!) challenges. Think of activities that you can do that will help you feel better in areas of your life or career.
Learn & Reflect
One of the things that we see and hear continually in our Roundtable programs is that learning new skills and behaviours feels natural and (dare I say it) enjoyable. Creating space to learn from peers and mentors, or read a book and attend a workshop, as well as time to soak in and reflect on what we’ve learned helps stretch our learning and creativity muscles.
Leaders often try to go it alone and saddle themselves with tasks and responsibilities that could be given to others. Learning to delegate is a crucial leadership skill, and in the process, it helps build capacity in others. Win-win as they say.
Broaden Your Network
Having a mastermind group or network of trusted peers and mentors can diffuse the emotional burden of leadership. Being able to share ideas and experiences not only brings about a lot of “aha moments” but also reduces the stress of being in a leadership position.
Being present and self-aware are two very desirable leadership qualities. Leaders who are self-aware are more self-controlled, discerning, and adaptable. They can respond to a situation and change their own behaviours for more favourable outcomes.
If you’re curious about how The Roundtable can help develop your leaders let’s start a conversation. And, be sure to download our 2022 L&D Trends Report for more insights into the issues affecting L&D professionals in the year ahead.