I wrote this blog during both mental health awareness week and learning at work week and it got me thinking that in the realm of leadership development, one often overlooked but essential factor in developing as a leader is developing our mental health and wellbeing alongside our leadership skills. Understanding the role good mental health plays is key in understanding our ability to not only function day to day but in our ability to learn, grow and move forwards and fulfil our potential.
Developing leadership skills, knowledge, behaviours, and experience are highlighted as essential for becoming an outstanding leader and are often the sole focus of leadership development programmes along with the terms “growth mindsets” and “positive attitudes and beliefs” which are commonly used to describe the qualities needed to excel as a leader.
But with continuous pressure to enhance both personal and business performance, constantly striving for better businesses or career results, we can often see it as separate to our performance and take our mental well being for granted, until it’s too late.
Long working hours, high-pressure environments, lack of work-life balance, limited autonomy and control, inadequate support systems, workplace bullying and harassment, unrealistic expectations, lack of communication and feedback, ignoring mental health conversations, limited opportunities for growth and development—these factors can all impact a leader’s mental well-being and hinder their ability to effectively lead and support their team, which impacts the mental health of the team.
Prioritising mental well-being as a leader is essential for maintaining a positive attitude, preventing burnout, fostering a growth mindset, and promoting a healthy work environment.
So when considering leadership development, I believe that you should look at a package that incorporates helping you learn about mental health and the relationship between leader behaviours, employee engagement and results and mental health of your team and business.
Good mental health in leadership development:
- Influences your self-leadership and forms the foundation for effective leadership through self-awareness, emotional regulation, and resilience.
- Enables you to authentically connect and build relationships in a supportive work environment.
- Enhances resilience, adaptability, stress management and the ability to guide teams through challenges.
- Improves emotional intelligence, empathy, and communication skills, fostering a business culture that values well-being.
- Boosts cognitive abilities for informed decision-making and innovative problem-solving.
- Inspires and motivates teams, leading to increased engagement, satisfaction, and productivity.
- Sets a positive example through role modelling and prioritising mental health and encouraging team members to do the same.
- Supports your ability to learn, stretch and grow, unlocking your exceptional leadership potential.
AND will help in your personal life because as individuals, our personal and professional lives always intersect and intertwine……….. whether we acknowledge it or not.
When looking for a leadership development programme
think about the elements that are important to you and your business and then think more broadly than leadership and management knowledge, skills, behaviours and experiences. Does it also incorporate some or all of the following….
- Mental Health Education: modules or workshops that provide you with knowledge and understanding of mental health issues, such as stress management, burnout prevention, emotional intelligence, and creating psychologically safe work environments. This should equip you with the policies, tools and language to address mental health effectively for yourself and your team.
- Self-Reflection and Assessment: self-reflection exercises that are integrated into the program to encourage you to examine your own mental health and well-being. This might include self-assessment questionnaires or activities that prompt you to evaluate stress levels, workload, work-life balance, and coping mechanisms etc.
- Self-Care Strategies: self-care strategies and techniques to manage your mental health effectively. This could involve sessions on mindfulness, meditation, exercise, sleep hygiene, healthy eating, and stress reduction techniques, encouraging your to develop personalised self-care plans that align with your needs and priorities in the day to day.
- Building Resilience and Mental Toughness: develop resilience to cope with challenges and setbacks. This may involve workshops or activities that focus on problem-solving skills, reframing negative thoughts, cultivating optimism, fostering social support networks, and developing adaptive coping mechanisms.
- Peer Support and Mentoring: fostering a supportive community among leaders by implementing peer support groups or mentoring programs. This allows you to share experiences, discuss challenges, and provide guidance to one another. Peer support can also help reduce stigma and create a culture of openness and support around mental health.
- Work-Life Integration: teach you how to integrate your work and personal lives effectively. This involves helping you establish boundaries, manage time, delegate tasks, and prioritise self-care activities. Encourage you to model work-life integration for you team members and create an environment that supports a healthy work-life balance.
- Regular Check-Ins and Support: should incorporate regular check-ins with to assess your well-being, provide support, and address any mental health concerns. Create a safe and confidential space for you to discuss challenges, seek guidance, and access resources when needed. Could also offer access to other mental health resources, such as counselling services or employee assistance programs.
- Evaluation and Feedback: continuously evaluate the effectiveness of the leadership development program in integrating mental health self-care. Feedback regarding the impact of the program on well-being, ability to support your teams, and any additional needs you may have should be used to refine and improve the program over time.
Leadership development programs that incorporate mental health training that makes the connection between leader behaviours and good mental health of leaders and their teams in the workplace provide numerous benefits.
By deepening self-awareness, leaders can address their own mental well-being effectively. Equipped with knowledge and skills, leaders become more empathetic and supportive, creating a work environment that prioritises psychological safety and employee well-being.
Recognising signs of mental health issues enables leaders to provide early intervention and support, preventing further escalation. These programmes also break down the stigma surrounding mental health, fostering open communication and a culture of understanding.
Leaders learn stress management techniques and can then role model healthy behaviours, boosting productivity and engagement.
Improved conflict resolution, emotional intelligence, and team dynamics contribute to more harmonious work environments.
Overall well-being and job satisfaction increase, enhancing employee retention.
By integrating mental health training into leadership development programs, businesses create healthier, more productive, and inclusive workplaces. It really is the hidden key to success.
Points to ponder:
- How do you currently support the mental health of your leaders and employees within your business?
- Have you considered integrating mental health training into your leadership development programs? If not, what are the potential barriers or concerns in doing so?
- What strategies or support systems will be put in place to reinforce the learned skills and encourage ongoing growth?