Leaders: Self Care Can Supercharge Your Team

Bob Selle, Chief People Officer ,Ocean State Job Lot

Bob Selle, Chief People Officer ,Ocean State Job Lot

There is a whole new wave of trendy new terms being tossed around over the past couple years in leadership circles. The terms that come to mind are engagement, employee experience, wellness, wellbeing and self-care.

What irks me about our workplace today is that so often, these terms get put into acategory of “fluke.”It is easy to assume that these trends have nothing to do with leadership or business results.

My take: these “trends” are all foundational components that have made me a better leader. Here’s why.

Most research on what makes strong leaders show common themes in the traits they have developed over their journey.

1. The best approach to leading is as a partner and not as “theboss.”

2. Great leaders take an empathetic approach to team members. They know that each team member is a unique human with different needs.

3. The best leaders share a purpose that inspires everyone to drive to a common goal.

4. Strong leaders understand that everyone is watching their every move and decision.

Leaders are navigating incredible challenges today. They are balancing the needs of five generations in the workforce. On top of this, along came a global pandemic which brought unprecedented voluntary turnover and record low engagement. Before we knew it, how and where we worked changed as well. On top of this change, a new health crisis emerged. People experienced higher rates of stress and burnout because of multiple personal and family demands and the inability to turn off work while working at home. When we combine these challenges with the worry and anxiety driven by current events in the world, it is clear that each person in the workforce has a whole new set of complicated barriers that stand in the way of their ability to be their best.

It is clear that strengthening leadership traits and behaviors will position leaders to thrive in today’s complex environment and will prepare them for the future. In fact, a new social contract with our people has been formed—as a leader, it is OK to be a human and to make self-care a priority.

The leadership dilemma. How do we face the future and acknowledge that as a human, we are feeling and living everything the teams are? Simply put, just be honest and lead people with LOVE:

Where can you begin? Start by knowing your own well-being takes precedence over everything else. To do this, I have found it is helpful to establish a routine. Through trial and error, I found that journaling at the end of the day and doing a quick 15-minute yoga session calms my mind. It is important to prioritize getting the right amount of exercise and sleep. I also started exploring meditation and the benefits that come from quieting your mind and focusing on being present.

These habits did not come overnight. It took a real focus and time to find what was right for me. I can assure you, when you find it, life is enriched beyond belief.

Another key tosuccessiscarvingouttimetoprocessallthechallengesthatare coming at us at a feverish pace. The best leaders use their ability to break down complex situations into digestibleparts.

It’s also important that we remember that no matter what generation you come from, Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs transcends generations. Regardless of whether you’re a Baby Boomer, a Millennial or GenZ, we all need to know we are safe and are appreciated for our effort.

What we are witnessing is the understanding that evolved leaders who practice self-care lead their teams with empathy. They listen, ask questions, and validate the team members’ struggles through a relationship of trust. We find any and all resources needed to ensure our people feel fully supported and are assured their wellbeing is a priority. Maintaining flexibility to help them manage their lives goes a long way in showing they are important. Leading by example, fostering trust and letting people know that mental health is a priority. This sends a message that we care only about what you need at this moment to be your best.

Leaders who prioritize self-care and lead with L.O.V.E. (Listening, Observing, Voice and Empathy) are thriving in business because their people are their best brand ambassadors and they have industry-leading commitment. Talent not only wants to stay with their companies, and these companies attract new talent because of these shared values.

As a final thought, there is a strong correlation when we as leaders focus on being the best version of ourselves, both inside and outside of work. Evolving leaders know this and have unlocked the key to driving retention and strong engagement among their teams. Let’s be clear—job-seekers are hearing about these leaders and want to join these organizations. Creating an organization where leaders encourage people to meet their full potential drive bottom line business results and keep their best people engaged.

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