It was President Harry S Truman who made famous the saying, "the buck stops here", as an indication that the responsibility for everything under his control ended with him. When it comes to corporate wellbeing issues, the process is in fact the reverse.
The buck starts with the leader and flows through the system. If you as the leader get it right, the organization grows and flourishes. If you get it wrong, the organization's wellbeing can suffer.
I have identified five key elements that form a matrix for positive human behaviour, with all the elements capable of being the starting point. Briefly the five elements are:
- The mind processes information purposefully, with enthusiasm, passion, creatively and thinking laterally, with an open mind and activating your natural talents and abilities
- There is positive energy driving the process – an emotional, mental, energizing process
- The process lifts self-esteem, self-confidence, self-belief and sense of self worth
- Strong personal growth occurs, furthering your desire to blossom as a unique individual, and
- the behaviour infects the people around you.
I was explaining this to a senior manager in a large organization at the height of the (then) emerging global financial crisis. He said "you are on to something here Peter". But he went on to explain that in his case the process was workin in reverse. As the crisis began to bite into the Company, he found his energy dropping, his self-esteem down and his decision-making processes sluggish. Far from growing as a person, he was feeling depressed. But it was his next point that was most pertinent.
He went on to say his negative behaviour was filtering through to his staff. The team's energy was down and the team output was suffering. Because my friend hadn't got it right, his people weren't getting it right either. He realized if there was going to be an improvement in his team's sense of wellbeing; it was going to be up to him to start turning the negative behaviour around.
We identified that he loved cooking up a storm for his family. Work had left him with little time or energy to do so. We agreed he should do so again. Focusing on something he loved and which energised him took his mind away from his problems for a couple of hours. He enjoyed repeating it more often. Small though the change was, it was "the tugboat that gradually turned the Queen Mary around". He experienced a ripple effect of enjoyment that enabled him to start seeing his problems differently. His work outlook began changing and growing in a new and positive direction.
Here are a few tips on how you, as a leader can ensure you:
- have your own lifestyle wellbeing in order, and
- emotionally (not just academically) 'walk your talk'.
When you lose yourself in an interest you love, you find yourself. When you are absorbed in a passionate interest, every fibre of your true self comes alive, you feel enthusiastic, your mind is open, your outlook is positive. Your natural talents and abilities come to the fore. It is in effect nature's way of managing today’s prolonged excessive stresses.
We are burning energy constantly and only those with a good energy management program are regularly creating the new energy needed to replace burnt energy. If not, the natural outcome eventually is burnout.
One of the best messages you can give your people is to tell them that you personally know and feel the benefits of having passionate interests outside of work and that you want them to feel that way too.
You may need to say it in so many words, but hopefully it will show in everything you do, virally infecting positive human behaviour in all of your people.
It's no good simply delegating the program responsibility to one of your senior managers. It has to come from the top. As a leader – not just being the boss - you will always want your people to enjoy sustained high work productivity and commitment to corporate goals through positive human behaviour.
For this to happen and continue to happen, the buck has to start with you.