There is one timeless leadership lesson of conventional wisdom that applies in the post-pandemic era: to take care of your followers and improve their mental health, you must first take care of yourself.
This is especially important in times of stress or crisis. If you are not well equipped to manage yourself emotionally and physically, the people you lead will notice.
The idea of taking care of yourself, charging regularly and showing up with your best self always starts with the leader modeling the way for his employees to do the same.
As you go through each of these techniques for your own personal development, you will soon find that others will follow suit. The best-case scenario is to create a culture of highly engaged, motivated and healthy employees who are committed to doing great work.
1. Have fun
Work doesn’t have to be boring. Get in the habit of energized with celebrations and fun activities that engage, stimulate, and motivate. Science has discovered that having fun at work is not only good for your mental health, but also for your business. People who have fun at work are more creative and productive, make better decisions and get along better with colleagues.
Ring a bell, play a special song over the sound system and hand out kazoos as you gather the whole team to celebrate someone’s achievements or special moments. As a leader, give it freely and learn to accept it gracefully in return.
2. Help people heal and grow
Leaders and employees alike agree: two years of social distancing was not good for a person’s mental health. Wise leaders consciously create opportunities for people to satisfy their basic human need for connection (both in real life and virtually). Have you thought about how social activities, collaborative projects, and unstructured time allow relationships to revive and social learning to flourish?
3. Take Short Breaks
A while ago I wrote about the importance of downtime and how neuroscience recommends that we take a 10-minute break for every 80-120 minutes to calm our brain activity so that we don’t become overstimulated and lose our sharpness. I have recommended (among other things) activities that can take as little as 5 to 10 minutes, including:
- Mindful meditation.
- Listening to music
- Take a short nature walk.
Now that you’re taking time out with brain-replenishing activities, encourage your employees to do the same.
4. Experience moments of joy
Choose every opportunity to express your joy as a leader and make it a habit to share it with your team – quotes, funny pictures, uplifting stories, jokes, positive books, blogs, podcasts and good news to pick them up and add to add color to their lives. It is contagious and builds a culture of positive energy, passion and enthusiasm for the life and work you (and them) do.
5. Practice work-life balance
Research by Georgetown University and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation confirms that 80 percent of employees would be happier with more flexible work options and alternative schedules that meet their personal needs. Think out of the box for yourself with some of these strategies. Then make it a working policy for your team to boost morale and increase satisfaction