Mentally Healthy Leaders

This year I launched my e-book The Mentally Healthy Leading Manager, which details how to manage yourself and your team in a mentally healthy way. The aim of the e-book is to:

  • qualify what positive leading management is;
  • highlight how to create a workplace environment to openly discuss mental health and mental-ill health and;
  • help you look after your own wellbeing as a manager.

I decided to create this resource in response to questions I have been asked during training sessions, as well as my own experience as a manager with intense pressures.

To build on the concept of the e-book, I decided to launch an online course for anyone who wanted to address the way they lead and show-up in their lives. The focus of the course centred on work-life balance using tools, techniques and tips that I have found invaluable that I uses in my 1-2-1 coaching.

Work-life balance

So, what exactly is work-life balance and how does it influence being a mentally healthy leader?

Work-life balance can be defined as:
The balance that a working individual needs between time allocated for work and other aspects of life, this can include personal interests, family and social or leisure activities.

I don’t think there is a one size fits all model for how things should be. Everyone will vary. For some, it’s a case of work being vital to their wellbeing, which could result in a 70%-30% split. For others it’s spending less time in an office and more time with their friends and family akin to a 15%-85% split. I personally don’t think a 50-50 split is what everyone should be aiming for. It will also depend on your current life stage and thus the split will shift as time moves on.

Think about where you are now in terms of work and personal life, are you happy with it the way it is?
Where would you like your split to be now?

What is a Mentally Healthy Leader?

Being a mentally healthy leader in the workplace is about creating an environment where you remain approachable, with systems in place to manage your own wellbeing and that of your team effectively. From the managerial perspective it’s about being proactive not reactive. To plan and speak about wellbeing at team meetings, at 1-2-1s and annual appraisals. To realise that there may be a challenging organisational culture you are working in, but that you can be a beacon of best practice.

In the personal sphere it’s about being mindful of your own wellbeing and seeking support as and when you need to. Having the head space and emotional capacity for friends, family and other kinds socialising through ring fencing time. Spending time how you want to (where possible) and building your resilience for tougher times.

How do you manage your tasks?

One of the first things to consider is how do you manage your time? What is draining your energy and time? Are there tasks you really resent doing, that add to your mental load?  Is there anything that you can delegate in the home and/or work space?

It may not be possible, I appreciate this, but it could be worth considering. Which roles are up for negotiation and change? The other option is to find ways to manage the tasks with all the technology we have at our fingertips via apps. How could it make your life easier?

Do you find it easy to say no?

Saying no, or being assertive can be a real barrier to becoming/being a mentally healthy leader. When you are assertive you express your needs, opinions, feeling and ideas and take responsibility for them. It is underpinned by a belief in yourself that you have control over things. Indeed that you are in charge of your outward behaviour and dissecting your emotions. You are capable of achieving, adapting and being flexible.

When we are assertive we know that others have rights and responsibilities. Assertive behaviour is about your needs, views, ideas and feelings and taking responsibility for them and expressing those needs. Whilst also recognising that everyone else will have needs, views, ideas and feelings. Essentially, it is the win:win. I always say assertiveness is like a muscle; you have to use it, train it and strengthen it!

Being assertive doesn’t always mean you will get what you want. However, it does mean you respect yourself and the other person and sets a standard for boundaries. Assertiveness is also about body language. Good eye contact, even tone, open body language and non-judgmental language to communicate your boundaries in a positive way.

Do you spend time recovering?

After a long week at work and/or caring how do you unwind. In this article I introduce you to the Mood Map™  developed by The Wellbeing Project (Europe) Ltd, with whom I am accredited with to deliver Wraw®.

I find this a very useful model to think about energy levels, recovery and resilience. On the left hand side of the Mood Map™ we can see the symptoms of mental health challenges in red and mental ill-health in the grey area. We may well spend time here, but it’s being aware of how we are feeling that enables us to tap into our resilience. On the right hand side we can see the mental wellbeing and resilience traits in the green and yellow areas.

Which activities put you into the right hand side of the mood map and which activities put you into the left hand side?
Part of building resilience is to try and spend more time in those right-hand zones. This will enable you to have the time you need to rest, re-energise and recover.

Maintaining momentum

Well, it’s easy for me to write this blog as if shifting things to where you want them to be is extremely simple. I appreciate it’s not the case that you snap your fingers and everything changes quickly. Knowing when to realise that you are taking on too much prior to things reaching a crisis point, is a great starting point. In addition, you don’t have to make changes quickly adding to your workload! Rather, it’s about identifying where you want to start and addressing elements step-by-step. That’s what we did on the mentally healthy leader course. You are the CEO of your own life, but make sure you have people on your board to support you.

Next steps

If you want to take charge of your work-life balance and then join the next online course of the Mentally Healthy Leader you can join the waiting list here: http://bit.ly/MHLWaitList

You can also work with me 1-2-1 through a coaching programme, all information can be found here.

How do you manage your work-life balance? Let me know in the comments below.