International Leadership week is the week of the year to fly the flag for great leaders and to celebrate people who are passionate about raising the standards of leadership practice for themselves and others.
In today’s article celebrating International Leadership Week, sponsored by WellBeing World, Nimet Rener, Lead consultant at Rener Wellbeing invites leaders to take a moment to pause, to reflect and to consider their own wellbeing.
As an executive coach, I am always moved at the point in our coaching conversations when leaders recognise and articulate the true longing of their heart.
Almost without exception, they express hopes of a lifestyle that can support them to engage in activities that matches their interests and natural abilities, activities that brings them joy and energy. They share their longing for meaningful personal and professional relationships, to do work that is purposeful, to feel healthy and well, to work with people with whom they have good rapport and to be financially secure.
I have also learnt that initially, for many of us, taking the time to pause, to focus inwards and take personal stock is unfamiliar and can feel like an indulgence. Reflecting on the life we wish to live and person we wish to be is not always an easy question to answer.
We seem to be able to connect more readily with what we believe we ‘should’ be aspiring for, ‘should’ be feeling, ‘should’ be wanting. These responses are often informed by our strong identification with our job titles, responsibilities, and the roles we hold in our family and community.
Many of my clients come to realise how they have become increasingly disconnected from themselves, from their feelings, from what they need and want in order to thrive. They notice that they have numbed their gut instincts and ignored the tell-tale signs that lets them know that all may not be well within themselves.
Many can feel they have little choice in how they engage with their work. Considering alternative ways of engaging with their work or personal life can sometimes surface anxiety. For some, it can challenge long-held beliefs about successful leadership behaviours. These can be reinforced by social media platforms and organisational cultures that unwittingly reward and praise leaders who ‘deliver’, no matter the personal cost.
As an ex-global executive director, I empathise deeply. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and there is much I wish my younger self could have known to have navigated the leadership journey with a lighter heart and more kindness towards myself.
So, this article is an invitation for all leaders.
We do not have to wait until hitting rock bottom before we pause and consider how we wish to live, how we wish to be with our loved ones, ourselves, our colleagues and all who come into our lives. We do not need to wait, before we ask ourselves,’ how do I want to have lived my life, so that, on my last day, I feel peace and fulfilment about how I was as a person and the choices I made?’.
I have learnt that it can begin with a courageous first step – to pause and to ask ourselves in the privacy of our own hearts, ‘how am I feeling about myself and the way I am living my life?’
Starting a compassionate conversation with our inner self is significant. It’s an acknowledgement that we have an inner world and a personal self. An aspect of being human which is all too often ignored.
We deserve to give ourselves an honest answer and to hear the answer with compassion and acceptance. Recognising our current emotional status is the basis from which we can begin to make choices and take the steps towards a life that is aligned to our values and aspirations.
Next can come the awareness of the endless stream of thoughts which affect and influence how we feel and how we interpret what is happening around us and within ourselves.
It’s no longer considered wishy-washy to invest in our wellbeing. It is becoming a non-negotiable investment.
Whilst we cannot control the thoughts that pop up, we can introduce thoughts that feel good – like changing the tv channel. We can counter the negative with a positive, choose to focus on what is good, recognise that there are many perspectives to any situation, cultivate feelings of gratitude and recognise those who love and support us.
In this way, we strengthen our self- management and influence positively the quality of our inner world, our interpretation of situations and our interactions with others.
Next can come an appreciation of our physical bodies. We start to recognise that our body is doing all it can to serve us to experience life fully. We decide to partner with our bodies, listen and respond and make good choices as it tells us what it needs.
Increasingly, leadership research confirms that our wellbeing is intimately tied to attending to both our inner and outer worlds and what distinguishes the world’s top performing leaders is their level of emotional intelligence.
It’s no longer considered wishy-washy to invest in our wellbeing. It is becoming a non-negotiable investment. Allowing ourselves to pause, focus inwards and reset priorities may be one of the smartest leadership decisions we make.
Nimet Rener (main picture) is a Lead consultant for Rener Wellbeing, an experienced executive coach, trainer, and facilitator. Her professional career of over 35 years includes experience as a global executive director, senior manager, executive coach, trainer in facilitation and people skills and an educator. She holds a graduate degree in developmental psychology, postgraduate teaching qualification, and a Masters in organisational change (dissertation executive coaching). For further information, please email.