Leading Workplace Wellness

How shall we best lead in the workplace?

Wellness at work needs our attention; it is deteriorating. Or is it just that we hear more about it in the media we see or hear? Or that people are willing to speak out? Maybe all. And then there’s you. How are you?

Why care about wellness?

Alignment and momentum will both suffer if people are not in a state of mind or body to participate fully while at work. Your organization must be in a state of Aligned Momentum (alignment + momentum) to make breakthrough performance even possible.

Any and all wellness challenges need to be addressed if we are to lead a vibrant business (one that stays ahead, maintains high value, and is a great place to work).

Where to start?

For this newsletter, I’m not delving into mental illness or obvious physical health challenges that wellness programs typically address. As you create a more vibrant workplace, people will speak up and self-manage more effectively.

You’ve got to start somewhere, though. Start with what you can be aware of with information you can gather right now, even without people speaking up about their challenges.

You can’t lead what you aren’t aware of. So let’s make this your best next step. If you’ve read Pivot to Clarity, you know this example. Let’s revisit it:

What does a lack of wellness look like?

I’ll start with two signs of unwellness that you can look at also in your workplace without much effort:

When Satya Nadella took over as CEO of Microsoft in February 2014, the company was unwell. The share price had declined over 40% during the prior 13 years.

  1. If your company’s financial or market performance is ailing, it indicates that the workplace is also unwell. Poor business performance is rarely due solely to a bad strategy.

What Nadella first looked at was the crux of what was killing vibrancy; what was stopping people from working well together.

Competitiveness was woven tightly into the workplace culture. From this there also grew a fear to show vulnerability with peers or subordinates.

Even though Nadella had been in this culture, happily, for many years, he paused long enough to recognize—to become aware that—competitiveness was making the company and those within it unwell.

Other than the “signs” of unwellness showing up in poor visible performance (financial results, share value, and market share), he found signs of unwellness within the company through group workshops and conversations.

One observation was at a meeting of senior managers. A coach asked the group to write down their purpose statements. They wrote. But when the coach then asked them to share with others, no one wanted to do so.

  1. If those in your organization in a position to influence others do not feel safe to share with their peers, your workplace is unwell.

The steps taken by Nadella, which you can access readily in my books and in online news, are excellent examples of leading an organization to wellness, including the workplace. Nadella continues to be a model leader.

A note about timing

Point #1 above is extremely late. When you only look at financial and market performance “results,” you are seeing results of wellness challenges that have gone on for a long time. They are likely embedded, like competitiveness was within Microsoft. Affecting workplace wellness once it is so pervasive, will take longer to pivot out of. My recommendation is to be continuously looking at indicators such as #2 so that you catch wellness challenges earlier.

A note about the image

A conch shell has been used as a symbol of protection, power/leadership, order, unity, peace, fertility (birthing the new), prosperity—attributes not dissimilar to what we desire in a workplace. Keep your workplace well.

Your best next step

For “Your 1 Best Next Step,” observe your business performance and workplace culture for signs of wellness challenges.

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