Why leaders want to know more about mental wellbeing

Mental Health Words

Change fatigue, stress and burnout are increasingly becoming major issues for leaders. At a recent workshop we asked the leaders why they wanted to know more about improving mental well-being in their teams. After all, everyone is busy, so why did they invest time in a workshop to know more about this subject? These were some of their answers.

Learning more about mental health

Tom, who runs a recruitment company, saw me present at a finance industry event on leadership resilience.  I stressed the importance of asking “Are you OK?”, to someone you are concerned about. He explained that as a recruiter, he spends a lot of time discovering what is happening in people’s lives. He knows he adds value through the questions he asks and what he talks about with clients. He witnesses mental health issues on a regular basis and wants to know how he can help. He saw the workshop as professional development opportunity.

Improving team skills

Jan who runs a communications consultancy said she had previously been helped by Sue Barnes, an employment lawyer (who also presented at the workshop), when some of her team were experiencing anxiety issues. Sue was incredibly helpful at helping her explain to her team what anxiety does, and helping her resolve some associated issues. Like Tom, Jan realised that she didn’t know enough about this topic and decided to do something about it.

This was important not just for her as an individual, but also in her role as a leader advising others. She observed that it has become very common for people to experience distress. It’s not unusual anymore.

Personal life affects work performance

Karen is a practice manager in a medium sized law firm and explained that they have a number of staff experiencing anxiety, because they’ve been going through lots of growth and change. She noted that a number of their younger staff are having issues in their personal lives which was affecting their work. She was also keen to understand what leaders can do differently to help all team members grow with the business.

How to unstick people

Maree works for a rehabilitation consultancy whose role is to help injured workers get back to work. She has come across a lot of people that get stuck in their recovery. She was keen to help them identify their strengths and feel good about themselves, with all the change that’s happening in their lives. Her company deals with a lot physical injury claims, but there is a strong likelihood that many of these clients will also develop mental health challenges. Her main desire was to help them feel good about themselves so that they didn’t fall into victim mode.

Better cope with rapid change

Michelle works for a high growth tech company which like Google is going through extraordinary change and innovation. He satellite imaging company is going from 2D to 3D, which has massive implications for those working in software development and new products. It’s such a rapid pace that she’s wanting to know how we can embrace it, and help her team become better.

Why this can’t be ignored

WHO now nominate depression as the leading cause of disability in the world, Medibank research shows that depression and stress disorders account for the most lost productivity, and a 2017 survey of HR Managers by Kronos estimate that up to 50% of employee turnover was due to burnout. This is an extraordinarily serious and expensive community and work problem, and yet it shrouded in silence.

Why the leader’s role is critical

These leaders have recognized that when they are in good shape, they are best able to help and inspire others. If they lead a sustainable life it helps their team follow their example. The evidence for this is compelling; with Gallup research showing that 70% of a team’s engagement and energy is determined by what a leader says and does.

As Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

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