By Chad Bandy, MBA
A big part of leadership is helping an employee get from where they are now to where they want to be in the future. Sometimes our employees do not know where they want to be in the future, which makes development even more difficult! Or, in some cases, we are merely trying to get an employee to a place where they are a productive member of our team so they do not lose their job!
We as leaders are put in the position of coaching our employees, daily. During that coaching, we provide examples of opportunities to improve and, more importantly, articulate what success looks like for that employee. Ultimately, that employee will likely look at us, their leader, to see if we model the same traits and talents we are asking them to exhibit. Uh oh!
I contend that our confidence and belief in ourselves as a person equates into being a better manager and leader. Our self-image can be greatly influenced by two basic areas; physical and mental fitness. I believe that good managers feel good about themselves, and this enables them to be good leader. To make it simpler, good managers “like” themselves.
Let’s begin with physical fitness and wellness. Diet and exercise have proven to change the way we feel about our appearance as well as provide us with more energy. When we feel good physically, we are in a better mood, we have more patience, and overall, we generally have a better demeanor. Physical fitness does not mean that we have to spend a bunch of money on equipment or join a gym. There are few basic fitness tips that we can incorporate into our daily routine. The first simple suggestion is take the stairs. Why wait for the elevator when you can get great exercise climbing stairs. If you work on the 30th floor, walk to the 10th floor and take the elevator from there! Second, walk around at your desk or your cube. Most companies provide headsets so we are able to walk and talk on the phone at the same time. The worst way to kill your energy and enthusiasm is to sit at a computer all day long! Many times, there are walking clubs at work or places where you can get outside during breaks and your lunch hour. Make the effort to keep your blood flowing and stay lively!
Mental fitness and wellness has great benefits as well. When leaders attend seminars, listen to books on tape, read articles or books on leadership, it enables them as a manager to have points of reference during leadership challenges or better understand certain situations. Many times attending a certificate program, a degree program, or even a single course can “jump start” a leader’s motivation and hunger to learn. Great leaders never feel like they know everything and the really great leaders are always trying to help their employees learn as well. Studies show time and again that employees do not leave companies, they leave managers. If we are the manager that challenges our self to learn, it sets a great example for our employees to do the same.
I often think about the employees I work with and what they say about me to their friends and family. Can you picture them catching up with their family during the holidays and the question “How’s your job?” comes up? What will they say? I hope my team members talk about how much they love their job because of the belief they have in the organization and the benefit they get from working at our company. I want my team to look forward to getting out of bed each day to come to work. I think it is that simple. I want them to express how much they learn about themselves and they feel better as a person working for me and my organization.
Now, I am going to issue a disclaimer. I know I will sound like your mother, but, here it goes. We need to get our sleep! Please do not bother staying up after midnight to watch “Honey Boo Boo Child” or “Bridezillas!” If you find you must watch those shows (no judgment!), set a bedtime for yourself and stick to it! Do yourself a favor and invest in a DVR. You can watch your shows before your “bedtime” and not sacrifice important sleep time. Personally, I do my best to have “lights out” by 11 pm. I feel so much better when I get to bed at a regular time. I had to institute myself a curfew after too many nights of staying up past 1 am trying to get all my work done. I can always make an excuse to stay up later to get those last emails sent, that last document read, or that last project completed. Discipline to stick to 11 pm has forced me to be more organized and achieve what I need to before bedtime. This discipline is even more important when you travel. If we as leaders come to work with a lack of enthusiasm and energy, what example does that set for our team? Proper rest enables a great attitude!
The last area of mental health is spirituality. Yep, I went there! In my life, the better I feel about my spiritual life and connectivity with my religion, the better I feel as a person. I am not trying to make any statement here about what you should believe but spirituality can bring about peace to a person, therefore enabling them to be a happier and more fulfilled person. If you are not a spiritual person, make time for quiet moments of reflection. One suggestion is yoga. Yoga is a great way to slow down your pace, clear your mind of all the “noise,” and connect with your body. I find that yoga is a great way to clear my mind and get rid of stress. Taking the time to exercise your spiritual side allows us to have a better understanding of who we are as a person. Your faith in something greater than you is no different than what we ask of our employees. We ask our employees to have faith in our coaching and leadership and “take the risk” and implement our suggestion. Faith is vital to be being a great manager.
The better we feel physically and mentally, the better we are going to be to our people.