Check any social media feed in recent months and it will not take long to fall upon discussions around wellbeing, burnout and stress. Solutions are being offered, ideas are being shared and awareness is continuing to grow. The presumption is often that this is a direct and sole result of the pandemic. However, despite the growing awareness and emphasis on prioritising employee wellbeing, there is still a long way for many organisations and leaders to go before they can truly say their employee's wellbeing is a crucial part of their new culture.
Despite wise and kind words by senior leaders, the day-to-day reality of the majority may be very different to the rhetoric. Since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, "wellbeing" has become quite the buzzword within the world of business and for many organisations, they have quickly adjusted to the "new normal" implementing a new culture which focuses on the wellbeing of their employees. However, there is still an abundance of leaders that have found the pandemic has left them neglecting the wellbeing of their staff by no real fault of their own. The unrelenting nature of work, combined with new pressures from remote working has piled pressure on people to the extent that they need a break. This is not just related to people who work in the offices 5 days a week, it is across organisations where working practices are flexible and people are engaged to undertake interesting work.
The problem is the historic nature of how business leadership has been perceived throughout the years. Leaders are implicitly encouraged to be heroic and solo, whereas reality requires them to be humble and collaborative. Some leaders, at the core, are thinking and acting alone, which means that their team are also acting and thinking as solo contributors. This leads to disregard and overlooking the real problem. A true leader works with their team and brings them on the journey. They share their successes together and acknowledge the efforts it took to get to where they are. What can you possibly achieve in your organisation without linking to, aligning with, or collaborating across other people or teams? Doing so effectively, with care, compassion and interest only creates a better atmosphere and improves the wellbeing naturally.
So, what is the solution? The most important step is to acknowledge that leadership is a collective endeavor. Operate as leaders in a joined up and concerted manner. This is the essence of true leadership. Act collaboratively, encourage togetherness, share the highs (and the lows), share opportunities, allow others to share. These actions will reduce stress and burnout, while building a collective awareness of what is happening around you, so that you can develop a wider repertoire of responses. If your team know that you are open and will collaborate, it is easier to take challenges head on together, rather than alone. The most important thing is using the word 'us' when speaking to your team.
'Us' is such a simple yet powerful word that includes everyone in the endeavor together. Try using it more and you will see the difference with how your team reacts.