Are you emotionally fit for executive leadership?

Author: Linda Simonsen

Invest in emotional fitness to elevate your performance and engage your employees.

n today’s business environment, customers want more and expect the best, as do employees and shareholders. High expectations from a range of stakeholders mean business leaders are under greater pressure to deliver results and always be switched on. This kind of intensive emotional labour can take its toll.

A recent CEO Institute study found CEOs and leaders were statistically overworked, stressed and at greater risk of developing health problems. A CEO health and wellness study by Apollo Life found CEOs had a 58.97 per cent risk of developing cardiac problems due to work stresses, which could result in inactivity, poor diet and lack of sleep.

Alarming findings such as these are motivation enough for leaders to invest in their own emotional fitness and for organisations to prioritise the emotional wellbeing of their leadership teams.

Prioritise your own emotional fitness

Just like physical fitness, emotional fitness is about developing the inner strength to overcome obstacles, especially when it comes to emotionally demanding executive leadership. Before mountaineers start an expedition, they ensure they are physically ready for any challenges they might encounter. Business leaders need to be doing the same.

Emotional fitness for executive roles ensures that leaders are flexible, adaptable and resilient, with the ability to bounce back from the upsets of modern business. By being emotionally fit, leaders can deal better with frustrating or stressful situations while engaging more meaningfully with employees. The knock-on effect of emotional fitness for leaders is improvement in areas such as emotional wellbeing, creativity, mindset and effective decision-making. This has an impact at work and more broadly in life.

Emotional fitness opens the door to outstanding executive leadership

The role of Emotional Intelligence (EI) in high-performance leadership has been well documented. Leaders with high EI have more highly engaged employees who contribute more productively to the bottom line.

A common belief is that EI is something a person is born with, when in fact it can be developed. Emotional fitness training focuses on equipping leaders with the practical skills to hone the EI competencies that relate to self as a precursor to engaging others.

Leaders who focus on enhancing self-awareness and managing their own emotional states help foster the right mindset in their people. They can adjust their style to better motivate and connect their people to a purpose. They navigate stressful situations with greater ease.

Why you should invest in emotional fitness

  1. It can be lonely at the top

    Executive leaders are constantly under pressure, often making crucial decisions that affect the lives of others. This responsibility can add to a sense of isolation from other people within the business and this can carry over into their personal lives. By building up emotional fitness, leaders can learn to manage the stresses of leadership more effectively.

  2. Enhance team performance and collaboration

    Just as positive emotions can help with productivity, negative emotions can impair those skills necessary for efficient work, such as decision-making, analysis and logic. Emotional fitness leads to an open and collaborative environment, which effectively boosts a leader’s capability and creativity.

  3. The mind and body are interlinked

    As well as looking after mental and emotional wellbeing, it’s crucial for leaders to prioritise their own overall health. When health is improved, mental and emotional wellbeing are automatically lifted, with a positive flow-on effect to employees. When leaders are healthy and well, they are better able to engage in their roles, be present and available for their people, and form strong relationships at work and in life.

  4. Foster an awareness of mental health in the workplace

    For leaders and employees alike, work-related stress is inevitable. However, when emotional fitness is a priority, stress and mental-health risks can be better managed and minimised. Leaders have a legal duty of care to create an emotionally healthy work environment for employees and put necessary programs in place to support and nurture people – both themselves and others.

Emotional fitness is a key foundation for organisational performance. When we are physically and emotionally healthy, our performance at work improves and our happiness in life increases. Placing emotional fitness high on the priority list for the New Year is a smart choice for leaders.

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April 24, 2017

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