We grew up learning ‘Early to bed and early to rise makes one healthy, wealthy and wise!”. In the last century though, while we have become wealthier and wiser, we seem to have received a beating on the health front. Many problems like Diabetes, Hypertension, Cholesterol, Thyroid etc. hitting individuals at a very young age. Senior leadership is expressing concern over lack of energy and enthusiasm in team in the second half of the work. They were found to have very poor attention and participation in meetings. Client calls were more like a ‘tick-in-the-box’ lacking much involvement. The main challenge was that all of them were mid-senior level and in their 30s to 40s of age, rather very commonly found in almost most of the organization.
Another observation from HR is a remarkable rise in sick leave, peer-level conflicts over minor topics, short-temper etc. among employees. Now, this again is not unique to a particular organization or geography, but very common across all levels and age. The intention behind sharing the above issues is to get closer to the reality of health challenges and its impact on our daily personal and professional life. This also is a major challenge on desks of leaders, since it will impact the individuals, client, productivity, performance, and business.
So what can the Leader do to address the challenge and bring about an organizational transformation?
The first & foremost step all leaders need to take is to ACCEPT the fact that health is important and needs to be addressed at all levels. Acceptance is the key step in dealing with the challenges. Most of the times, everyone asserts with the words “I am fine, it will not happen to me, my employees are fit” and so on, until one-day reality hits them hard.
Once as a leader you accept that health is a priority and needs to be addressed, 80% of the job is done. So what next after Acceptance, you may ask? Well once we accept, we can then take the next steps to have a Good Health Development. It can be done in a multi-pronged approach.
Create Awareness of Good Health
This can be done by the way of posters, mailers etc. Make individuals realize the advantage of Health and its impact on Personal and Professional life. We have heard of the famous Quote” If you don’t take care of your customers, competitors will”, but “If you don’t take care of your health, who will?”
As a leader, you have the power and ability to impact many, who will further impact many more.
A leader must drive this message followed by his own tangible actions. Everyone should undergo a medical check-up at least once a year. To ensure that we don’t miss, we can make it a habit to do so on our birthdays. We never forget our birthdays and it can also be a gift to ourselves. We can reserve one day like the last Friday or the first Monday of the month, to implement innovative ways to foster good health. We can try implementing basic changes in our lifestyle in simple ways like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, conducting stand-up meetings, avoiding sugar etc.
Today we have such wonderful apps on the smartphone which we can leverage in many ways. Leaders can encourage various individual and group/team/pair challenges. The participants can be rewarded for challenges such as walking the most number of steps in a day, holding a plank position for the longest time, etc. The more the diversity, the higher the participation and the greater the fun.
Good Health is not just about exercise. Such myths also need to be addressed by creating awareness with the help of experts. What we eat and drink, is what contributes to health. Leaders can create awareness on the importance of various elements in our diet which impacts good health of all and good health of organization. Rest / Sleep is another very important aspect. It should be encouraged and attention must be drawn to proper and sufficient sleep. For e.g.: 5 min rest after lunch can be made mandatory at a scheduled time.
Individuals look up to the leaders and follow them. As leaders, we lead by example in meetings, executive coaching sessions, project discussions, client negotiations, business presentations, etc. We should also lead by example in various good health habits. We can share success stories, benefits, and incentives due to good health practice. Leaders can create that ripple effect and initiate it as a movement. I would like to sum it all up on a poetic note by quoting the below:
“If we can’t fly, we must run.
If we can’t run, we must walk.
If we can’t walk, we must crawl.
Whatever it is we must keep moving.”