What is self-care anyway?
I’d probably be more likely to say, it’s how I enjoy life and stay well.
I have a whole range of habits I’ve learned over the years, everything from the amount of sleep I get; to the food I eat; the exercise I take; the hours I work and the time I spend with family and friends. It’s important for me, possibly selfishly, to get these things right otherwise I really start to struggle. I’ve come to realise that it’s also really important as a leader, that people see me doing these things.
Why do you have to be a role-model?
It’s very simple – if you talk about a wellbeing culture but the senior people don’t contribute, then it’s likely others won’t either. This means being intentional about certain things – I don’t want to be contacted outside working hours (except in specific, defined and agreed circumstances) therefore I shouldn’t be contacting colleagues then either. It’s no good sending a bunch of evening and weekend emails, and then saying ‘oh but I didn’t expect you to answer!’. Even those email footers that say something like: I’m sending this now but you don’t have to reply’ don’t get you off the hook – some poor soul has had to open the email and read to the bottom before they find that bit out!
Modelling self-care made simple
Here’s an example of how simple it can be – a while ago at BetterSpace, it was even busier than usual – clients, fundraising, product development you name it. I noticed there was quite a lot of work visibly happening out of hours. You can bet that what you can see is not the half of it. So I called it out in our weekly team meeting. I thanked people for how hard they were working, I said I was getting into bad habits that I don’t like. I said: ‘we’re not going to become that business – you know the one, the start up with good intentions that then just turns into every other business that drives people to burnout.’ I said we’re going to keep a lid on it, inviting everyone to keep each other honest in case we regress again!
Intentional. Honest. Equitable.
What’s the impact of modelling self-care as a leader?
There are a number of impacts:
- Your colleagues are less likely to burnout;
- They will be more productive – tons of evidence for this, we all quote it to each other, about how long hours don’t equal good work!
- You yourself will feel better – you need the self-care as much as the next person, we’re all human;
- You’ll be contributing to a culture where your people will want to give their all, and talent will seek you out.
Give it a go and see how you get on – we’d love to hear your insights, join the conversation over on LinkedIn!