Leaders must look after their mental health first

Leaders must look after their mental health first

The perception of your organizational culture depends upon the actions of your leaders

Leaders are under enormous pressure to succeed. They also have the success of their people in their hands: more pressure. Add to this the everyday concerns that affect all of us – from family to finances, health to home, and everything between – and the affects of mental anguish in the workplace are hugely magnified. Leaders, as well as employees, are prone to distress, anxiety, depression and trauma.

The effects of mental anguish

Mental aguish affects us in many ways:

  • One of the first effects is often to deplete motivation. The desire to do is diminished.

  • Attitude is also affected, with previous optimism replaced by pessimism.

  • Mental anguish often causes irritability and anger

  • A lack of focus, and possibly a decrease in memory

  • Mood swings

A leader who is suffering from poor mental health and mental anguish could become demotivated, pessimistic, volatile, and lack focus. That’s not the leadership that any organization wants. The effect on employees, teams and the organization could be devastating. In a world in which employees are engaged by an influencing style of leadership, the mental health of leaders is critical.

To be able to promote good mental health and well-being, an organization must create the environment and culture in which vulnerability is embraced and people can be open about their mental health. This must start with leadership – to empower employees to care for their mental health, leaders must look after their mental health first.

Be emotionally connected to yourself

Leaders are, of course, responsible for the mental health of their people. Organizations are leading this by creating cultures in which mental health is understood and that stigmatization is eliminated. It is disingenuous to think that such a culture can exist if leaders do not recognize their own issues and share their vulnerabilities.

Employees are led by example. Values-based leadership transforms organizational culture – but culture is evidenced by the way that people within the organization act. If the organization says one thing and its leaders do another, the authenticity of organizational culture will be questioned.

An organization that desires to be caring must demonstrate that it is empathetic in how it operates. Its leaders must demonstrate the emotional intelligence to acknowledge their own ability to listen to their own feelings to be able to affirm their empathy to others.

Leaders must take care of their own mental health first

Leaders who fail to take care of their own mental health risk their actions and reactions creating a toxic workplace environment. The potential for mood swings, pessimism, diminishing motivation, and a lack of focus to negatively impact an organization’s employees is very real.

Perhaps worse, when a leader overlooks their own mental health, they emasculate the importance that an organization places on mental health across the whole organization. It becomes an espoused value, and your culture will be held as hypocritical.

It is, therefore, imperative that we understand that leaders can suffer from stress, mental anguish at work, and low self-esteem. In a caring organization, it is critical that leaders are connected to their emotional self and look after their mental health first to reinforce the human-centric nature of the organization’s culture.

Mental health strategies are key to achieving the full potential of your employees and your organization. To learn how improving emotional intelligence can help your leaders and managers create a caring, values-based organization of which all can be proud, contact us today


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