If you are not healthy enough, your performance as a leader is going to suffer on all levels.
As a business and success coach, I have worked with many leadership teams to assist them to enhance the productivity of their business and the performance of their people. One of the first places I start is with the leadership team itself. I look at how the team is working together and how they are performing as individuals. In most cases, executives are over worked, over stressed and overweight. No one functions at their best when their body is out of shape and in need of a tune up.
‘Leaderdip’ is a term I developed to explain the status of leadership when they are failing to fire or deliver the leadership, vision, action and energy required of them in order to support their organisation to succeed.
It’s no secret that there is no shortage of stress in leadership positions. When stress levels increase, so should a leader’s determination to respond and manage their health and wellbeing. Better eating, exercise, time management and mental health management are all important parts of the process. Sadly, very few leaders take action where required.
Businesses do have a responsibility to encourage their people, especially their leadership team, to improve their health and wellbeing. Leaders also carry individual responsibility too. Research shows that healthier executives perform better, have higher levels of concentration, make better decisions and get sick less often.
When working with businesses and leadership teams, one of the first places I start is in the area of time management.
Many may be surprised by this, but eating well can improve your time management abilities. Essentially it revolves around improving your schedule. Eating a proper breakfast, lunch and dinner every day while avoiding snacking can do wonders for you and your mental health. This comes down to forcing yourself to structure other aspects of your work life around when you are required to eat. Wake up earlier, have a balanced breakfast and make a healthy lunch for the day, the effects on other aspects of your work life will be instantly noticeable.
By eating regularly and at set times, you are helping your body to put in place good habits. Improving the food you are consuming also ensures that you are giving your body the nutrients it needs to perform and function well.
Adding in walking four times a week, going to the gym or going for a ride or a run, further increases your body’s health and wellbeing and also helps to drop weight.
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A leader is expected to be an example of an organisation’s brand and a person of respect and inspiration for staff. Maintaining strength and respect is fundamental to creating a productive working environment. If you’re seen to be ineffective in your role by your employees, this may ‘rub off’ onto them. Workplace morale will decrease and work ethic with it.
The most drastic change eating better can provide is the boost to your mood and energy levels. The lack of energy provided from foods with poor nutritional value is a big reason that many people get stuck in the habit. They’re too tired in the morning to make a proper meal so they get a bagel and a coffee on the way to work, for lunch they’ll get takeaway and though it may taste good, and they get an instant hit, the energy soon evaporates and they are left with empty calories.
Healthy eating has also been linked to lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress as well as giving the mind a subtle boost. A diet filled with leafy greens as well as an appropriate amount of other fruits and veggies, a good source of clean protein and unprocessed carbohydrates has been proven to improve mood as well as sleeping patterns. It removes the fundamental need for the three coffees a day lifestyle to calm the mind and increase productivity.
Cutting out junk food greatly improves the health of the gut. Now I won’t get too technical on the scientific jargon here, but the ‘microbiota’ a collection of bacteria in the gut has recently been implicated in having a fundamental effect on the mood and overall health of the brain. This little community strengthens the immune system, preventing illness and assisting in the restraint of mood swings. In other words the way to happiness truly is through the stomach. They control serotonin regulation and make you more likely to feel happy and confident. A happy boss means happy employees and happy employees are productive employees.
A strong leader breeds a strong workplace, strength which cannot be obtained from poorly educated dietary and lifestyle decisions. It’s much simpler than it sounds and your body will thank you for it in the long run. Swap that burger for a salad, make yourself a little extra of that stir fry and take it for lunch the next day. Small changes can create a world of difference for you in the workplace and move your leaderdip situation into the leadership zone – which is where you need to be if you are going to perform at your best.