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Wellbeing: it is important for senior managers too

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Plagued with the day-to-day responsibilities of being a manager, wellbeing is not often front of mind for senior staff. Strategies to ensure they look after their own mental and physical health are, however, critical to ensure company burnout does not become systemic

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The past three years have had a toll on employee wellbeing. And senior leaders have not been exempt from this phenomenon.

They managed transitions to hybrid working models, and back to the office in some instances; they were responsible for lay-offs and restructurings, and they supported their teams through one of the worst health crises in over fifty years.

It is unsurprising then that DDI’s Global Leadership Forecast from 2021 notes that 60% of leaders feel used up at the end of the workday.

And while mental health is currently firmly top of mind for many businesses, senior leaders can be some of the most reluctant to manage their own wellbeing.

Hintsa Performance, the world’s leading, evidence-based coaching company, has seen what happens when mental and physical health issues among senior management are not addressed – burnout, and sometimes it can be company wide.

“They [senior managers] are not as comfortable talking about it. De-stigmatising some of that is one of the most powerful things we can do,” says Annastiina Hintsa, chief executive and co-founder of Hintsa Performance.

Why wellbeing is just as important for senior managers

An organisation’s senior leadership team can be its greatest asset, but also its greatest liability if they struggle to keep pace with the changing environment.

Keeping senior staff in both top mental and physical health is one of the best ways to ensure an organisation continues to grow and thrive.

“Everything that we do as leaders is actually mirrored by our organisations,” Hintsa emphasises. “Employees observe the way you behave and may follow those healthy or unhealthy examples as a result.”

Paid Time Off (PTO) policies are a perfect example. Hintsa explains that if a company leader is not taking their entitled time off or exhibiting negative behaviours toward those who are utilising their PTO – such as sending emails after-hours or requiring unrealistic deadlines upon their return – it can often lead to company-wide problems.

Setting an example for employees and modelling positive wellness practices leads to success in personal and professional ways. It must start at the top, however, or it will not become an ingrained part of the company culture.

Why wellbeing for senior managers is different

Traditionally, senior managers are tasked with responsibilities that reflect their level of expertise and career development. Previously, wellbeing took a back seat as the drive for results and fulfilling ‘more important’ company demands took priority.

“It requires a fundamental shift in your mindset and your core beliefs: from seeing wellbeing as something you try to maintain on the side of your job, to recognising it as a prerequisite for sustainable high performance,” Hintsa adds.

Furthermore, senior managers are tasked with specific responsibilities in the workplace. As a result, the approach for supporting their mental health must also be specific, even beyond what is recommended for the employees they manage.

Putting in the work

Hintsa Performance’s coaching philosophy is founded on the late Aki Hintsa’s methodology which denotes that wellbeing is holistic, and elements such as rest, exercise, nutrition, and mental energy must be in balance. His methodology was built on his experiences as a missionary doctor in Africa, working with Olympic athletes, Formula 1 drives, and leaders of Fortune 500 companies.

Today, Hintsa Performance is supported by the next generation of coaches and is constantly being fine-tuned, with much of the original methodology highly applicable to leaders in today’s workforce – sleep being a key factor.

Sleep is one way professionals can focus on their wellbeing and contributes directly to their workplace presence, productivity, and ability to connect with those they manage.

“When we are stressed, when we are sleep deprived, our empathy scores actually go down,” Hintsa Performance’s CEO explains.

“We’re less capable of recognizing micro-emotions and facial expressions, less aware of how we feel, and less capable of actually controlling our own reactions.”

Coaching and its benefits for manager wellbeing

As a coaching company, Hintsa knows positive outcomes are possible with personalised attention.

This is especially important for leadership because it allows team members to discover what’s relevant for them, set up a plan designed for their needs, and hone in on their strengths.

“It’s about changing your current operating model, tweaking your current operating model to make it more sustainable in the long run,” Hintsa adds. “To really create sustainable behaviour changes, coaching is the number one intervention you can do.

Clients get started by assessing their current situation, goals, and environment. A coach helps create a personalised game plan, emphasises accountability, and offers support during particularly tough times.

“We all inevitably hit those tough times when we feel like, ‘I can’t do this anymore. It’s too much.’” Hintsa explains.

“That is where a coach can help you figure out how to adjust. They see you both in your good times and your bad times. And I think that is the beauty of the Hintsa coaching program.”

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