Lead to WellnessManley Hopkinson
We were exhibiting at the Business Revival show in Excel, London in March this year when it dawned on me that we are getting it all wrong; they can’t be separated. What can’t?
Let me explain.
There was a massive area of the show devoted to wellness, with many exhibitors offering a smorgasbord of wellness and mental health solutions. Obviously quite a few on the theme of mindfulness in the workplace, yoga, meditation ranging from pods to apps and everything in-between. There was even a busy stall offering neck and back massages on the spot, “…and we will come to the office too” (assuming you might be there)! There was a sizeable amount of exhibit space given to those working to improve our mental health – and a vital focus too as it is only too clear to us all how mental health issues are on a steep rise. From spiritual healers to a “burn-out coach” (yes that is now a job in demand) it was all covered; a massive effort to heal the un-well, but … there was something missing. Something absolutely vital to the whole well-being effort.
Leadership was absent!
Our Compassionate Leadership Academy stand was the only space devoted to leadership. I scoured the floor plan and went from stand to stand to make sure I had not missed anything, but no, I could find no other stand focused on developing leaders. But surely, this is the whole point isn’t it? Who is it that creates the work environment where mental health and well-being becomes a problem? Who is it that is driving a culture of disengagement and unhappiness? Who is it who has the ability to make a real tangible and lasting difference to our current working practices? The leadership of course.
Yes there are extenuating circumstances out of anyone’s control that are all adding to the problem, Covid, for one, which is why we need people to be working in the mental health and well-being space, but we must not detach it from leadership. This is the point I wish to make.
Yoga is good. Mindfulness practices are good. Meditation is excellent. Massage helps and even meditation pods have their place in our lives, but, this is effort spent trying to alleviate the symptoms when we need to also focus on the source – the source that we can influence. We need a more holistic approach that works with source and symptom, developing leadership as well as supporting our well-being. More specifically, developing compassionate leaders.
I see companies spending great effort, and not inconsiderable sums, in bringing onboard resources and support to help their teams cope with the growing mental health and well-being pressures that there are in the world. For some this is a genuine desire to be compassionate and good on you for that. For others it is a tick-box tactic to say that they have acted, thus deflecting the attention away from themselves, – and shame on them. But, for both groups, let us be more vocal and more active in recognising the link between leadership and wellness.
Compassion is “understanding with positive action” and compassionate leadership is “to secure the best for all”. Clearly, if we developed compassionate leaders throughout our organisations, as well as providing the mental health and well-being support required, we will make a fundamental and long term positive difference to all of our lives. Leadership and well-being are inextricably linked; they are hand in glove, yin and yang, intertwined.
So, let’s do both. Let’s bring them together.
Let us “lead to wellness”