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The 7 steps to becoming a happy healthy leader

Leaders have faced unrelenting pressure during the pandemic, as they juggle the economic and psychological impact on themselves and their team members. This has meant they have had to find even greater resilience, and new ways to adapt to uncertainty and unexpected change.

If we wish to survive, we need more happy, healthy leaders at all levels of all industries and professions. It is that critical. These 7 steps are a little like a journey towards becoming a happy, healthy leader.

Step 1 – Review the status quo

It’s time to pause and be honest with yourself. Ask yourself:

  • Are you happy with how you lead?
  • Are you sleeping well and feeling energised each day?
  • Are you drinking or eating more or taking illicit drugs to get through the day or night?
  • Have you been given some feedback recently that you are not performing or are you losing important team members?
  • Do you check your values at the door? And feel guilty about what you do or the time you spend away from loved ones?

This can be the hardest step, but it is possibly the most important. Get really clear about your current situation, and why you are not happy. It’s time to get real!

Step 2 – When your engine overheats

Understand what sets you off course. What are the factors outside of your control that you have noticed get in the way of you feeling happier and healthier in your leadership career? For example: pandemics, weather, people, traffic! And how about the factors that are within your control, such as how you manage stress and your mindset. How would you evaluate your ability to manage a tough day? Get really clear about your physical and mental blocks.

Step 3 – What is your destination?

Set your sights a year from now and clarify what is important to you. Write down 2-3 goals you would like to achieve in the next 12 months. Ensure these goals are aligned to your values. If you are not sure what your values are, this 4 step activity is very helpful.

Step 4 – A map to guide a healthy mind

Identify tools, strategies or get support in guiding you towards what is important to you. Along the way you may have read some excellent books or attended seminars that provided some helpful techniques that have been filed away. It’s time to revisit these! This step is where a mentor or Leadership Coach can also be very helpful.

Step 5 – Your lifeboat: Mindfulness

Include stress management strategies as part of your daily routine. I encourage my clients to try Mindfulness, as the science behind this ancient tradition is proving to help Leaders and their teams be more resilient and cohesive. Google, Nike, Goldman Sachs and Apple have implemented wellbeing and mindfulness programs, realising a 7% decrease in healthcare costs and a productivity gain of nearly $3000 USD per employee, which represents an 11-to-1 return on their investment (Schaufenbuel, K, 2014). The best part about Mindfulness is that it is free! There are lots of free Apps out there you can experiment with. Here are the most popular in 2022.

Step 6 – Being a happy, healthy leader

Develop a long-term plan. Imagine waking up in 10 years, and you are about to start your day. What are you doing? How old are your kids or those around you? What is your financial position, and how is your physical and mental health? Once you are clear on these, then consider where do you need to be in 5 years to be on track for your 10-year goals?

Step 7 – Bon Voyage!

In your final step, break down your 5-year goals into 1-year and then 90-day goals. Plan backwards so that you can see how what you do today, can lead to your long-term goals. Importantly, include strategies in your plan to deal with unexpected changes or obstacles. Be realistic while hopeful about your future.

Margie Ireland is the author of The Happy Healthy Leader – how to achieve your potential even during a crisis. Margie is a registered Psychologist, Leadership Coach and Workshop Facilitator, highly sought after to help Leaders and their teams navigate stress and change with healthier coping strategies, leading to happier, healthier and high-performing teams.

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