One of the transitions I made career wise was from being a consultant to an organization to becoming an employee of that organization. As a consultant, you come in from the outside, complete your engagement and leave. Regardless of how effective you are, you are an outsider and are viewed as such. When we go to the zoo to visit animals we may admire them and be intrigued by them, but we do not, generally, imitate their behaviors or seek to understand those behaviors too deeply. In some ways, as consultants we are like those zoo animals, an observed curiosity. As a manager or a leader, though, within an organization, it becomes quickly apparent that they dynamic is very different. It took me a long time to understand how closely my behaviors were observed and the impact that my choices had on those who worked with and for me. In fact, it was in observing how closely others modeled my boss' behavior that I truly recognized the depth of this impact. In this instance, a boss who yelled and cursed led his employees to do the same and to treat others with the same type of disdain with which they were treated. One great element about modeling healthy, rather than unhealthy behaviors, is that it is better for you. Moreover, the science is that if you treat employees with kindness, you will be a more effective leader and they will be more productive. Here are four tips for being a healthy leader:
- Be mindful. If you are feeling tired and frustrated in a meeting or a discussion, odds are the others involved are as well. Suggest a quick break, a stretch, stepping outside, or, if your team is trained in HeartMath ™ a scientifically based stress reduction technique, take a moment to do HeartMath. Be respectful of other people’s time
- Eat and Drink Well and Don’t Smoke. If you bring unhealthy foods or beverages to meetings, people will not only copy that behavior in meetings, but elsewhere as well. If you are only available for consultations during smoke breaks, people will spend time with you while you are smoking. Even if they don’t smoke, they are experiencing the negative impact of second hand smoke. If you regularly do business at bars, you will find that your staff is hungover more often and is more likely to drink to excess.
- Exercise – however you define that. Consider walking meetings, stretch breaks, even putting things in inconvenient locations in your office so that you are forced to get up and move around during the day. Even better, provide opportunities for employees to exercise during the work day or to bond during an after work or weekend event such as a bike ride, hike or 5 K.
- Practice work/life boundaries. The best way to ensure that the people who work with you respect work life boundaries is to ensure that you do. Just because access to your work is ubiquitous, it does not mean that you need to access it all of the time. There is strong science that demonstrates that using computer or other screens in the hours immediately before bed, negatively impacts sleep. And, increasing evidence that sleep is important for your health and your well being.