Wellbeing Questions Senior Leaders Should Be Asking Themselves
Linac has worked with hundreds of C-Suite leaders over the last few decades. Our work highlights that the majority of these leaders have something in common, and that they tend to struggle with the same 3 key areas.
1) Neglecting Own Physical & Mental Well-Being
They tend to not take care of their own physical and mental well-being. It's a common challenge. Hours seem to slip away, one day merges into the next and when not travelling and at home over the weekends they try and squeeze in as much as possible to make sure that they are present for family and friends, leaving them feeling less guilty but often more tired and before they know it they jump back onto the relentless treadmill of global business on Monday.
2) It's Lonely At The Top
Many feel lonely. For many the higher up the food chain they go, the lonelier they start to feel. Everyone is watching their every move, judging their every decision, and deciding whether they should trust them enough to buy in to the values of the business and follow them or not. Ultimately, the buck stops at the top. The very existence and the future of their business, its profitability and productivity rests with them.
3) No One To Turn To & Confide In
It's a fact that many senior leaders keep their cards close to their chest. Disclosure and opening up about their challenges and stresses can be tricky. Many perceive that sharing their challenges may be seen by others as a sign of weakness.
All the more reason for senior leaders to really take care of themselves.
Setting aside time to invest in themselves so that they are able to lead the business by doing some form of exercise, eating a nutritiousdiet, creating that sense of headspace etc all takes time. For some carving out this time comes naturally, they find their routine, enjoy their structure, and boom their well-being and their lives improve. For many though it is either short lived or simply does not happen at all. Why? They have fallen into the age old trap of thinking they do not have the time. Rather than thinking if I make the time then everything else will improve. The fact is that many leaders believe this stuff is easier said than done and do not do it.
So what can leaders do? The answer - 5 simple questions
Here is a simple routine, that takes very little time but can encourage leaders to self reflect and ask themselves 5 simple questions that lead to better self-appreciation and wellbeing.
QUESTION 1: WHAT AM I GRATEFUL FOR?
The science behind demonstrating gratitude is well documented and we know it can really shape and change your life for the better. The interesting thing is that when you ask leaders this question very few mention work, most mention family, friends, health, travel, life etc. Being thankful and showing gratitude is way down on most leaders lists. However, when they ask themselves this question every day, it gives them perspective, it reminds them of what is really important to them, ultimately helping them to prioritise and balance things a little bit better.
QUESTION 2: WHAT AM I DOING THAT MAKES ME SMILE?
We all like a Dopamine hit! The happy hormone that dopamine is, boosts our feeling of happiness and well-being. Many leaders are too busy to register the good stuff, they don't see it, they don't feel it and it passes them by. This question acts as a primary driver of the brain's reward system, and it helps leaders to stop and think about an experience that has been pleasurable. When leaders praise their people they get a dopamine hit. But sometimes there is no one to praise the leader. Leaders often know what their people are excited about, but rarely know what excites them as they are too. Asking this question, pausing to reflect and think can help to guide leaders.
QUESTION 3: WHAT IS GOING WELL FOR ME?
Leaders often focus on what is lacking rather than what is present. By focusing some of our energy on the stuff that is going well, we inspire others, we create an environment that is positive, where people are more likely to innovate. Leaders that remind themselves of what is going well, can make themselves feel more optimistic and can inspire ideas and other creative thoughts. Leaders that explore at what is working for them and going well find it easier to drive results and inspire themselves and their people. Positivity breeds positivity!
QUESTION 4: WHAT IS CHALLENGING ME?
Leaders need to stop and ask this question. Sharing their answer with themselves, allows their inner voice to speak, and say 'I can hear myself'. Self disclosure can often lead and build towards more public disclosure with peers and friends an family. It’s inevitable that struggles will occur and it's ok to remind ourselves of what that they are. Why? Because life can be challenging. When this leads to leaders speaking openly about their challenges and vulnerabilities, people tend to connect more, relationships deepen, people trust more and support and check in more.
QUESTION 5: WHERE CAN I FIND SUPPORT?
Accepting and seeking support is a strength not a weakness. Leaders that look for guidance and support, someone to share a problem with, chat a challenge through, often navigate difficult times well and learn a huge amount about themselves in the process. It can bring a different lens and a new perspective, and it can feel like a shared problem. Whether support, insight and advice come in the form of a trusted colleague, an executive coach or mentor, a friend or family member or through the leader’s new gained perspective from simply talking things through, is not important. What is important is that the leader asks for support.
Leaders that ask these questions, start to appreciate themselves more, start to feel better and more positive about their life, start to disclose more and open up, and show up each day with the stress dialled down a notch or two, and a different kind of mindset.