The Impact of Leaders on Mental Health: How to Lead for Wellbeing
New data suggests that for almost 70% of people, their manager has more impact on their mental health than their therapist or their doctor—and it’s equal to the impact of their partner – Tracy Brower
In today’s rushed, demanding work environment, mental health has become a critical topic of discussion. While therapy and medical professionals play a significant role in supporting individuals’ mental wellbeing, recent data has shed light on an unexpected influence: managers. Let’s have a look at a few ways to empower those we lead.
Start With Yourself
As a leader, prioritising your personal wellbeing is essential for leading and promoting a healthy team environment. By taking care of yourself, you set a positive example for your team. This includes practicing self-care techniques such as regular exercise, mindfulness, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. By managing your own stress levels and nurturing your mental health, you not only enhance your own wellbeing but also create a culture that values and supports mental health.
Use Your Influence
As a leader, you have a powerful influence over your team’s mental wellbeing. Recognizing the impact of your words, actions, and attitude is key. By fostering a positive leadership style, you can create a ripple effect of positivity and support throughout the business. Being mindful of your interactions, offering constructive feedback, and showing empathy can go a long way in building trust and promoting a healthy work environment where individuals feel valued and supported.
Foster a Sense of Purpose
One of the ways to lead for wellbeing is to create a sense of purpose among your team members. Help them understand how their work contributes to the company goals and values. Regularly communicate the positive impact they have on the team and the company. By establishing a clear connection between their tasks and the larger purpose, you ignite intrinsic motivation and job satisfaction. When individuals find meaning in their work, their mental wellbeing improves, leading to increased engagement and productivity.
Build a Supportive Community
Leaders play an important role in building a supportive community within their teams. Encourage healthy communication, intentional listening, and genuine interest among team members. Organise team-building activities that foster connection and collaboration. By creating an environment where individuals feel safe, supported, and valued, you cultivate a sense of belonging. When employees feel connected to their colleagues, they experience improved mental health and a greater sense of camaraderie, ultimately enhancing overall team performance.
Balance Challenge and Growth
Providing meaningful challenges is essential for employee growth and mental wellbeing. Recognise your team members’ skills and provide them with opportunities to develop and expand their capabilities. Set clear, attainable goals that stretch their potential. Striking the right balance between challenging tasks and reasonable expectations is key. When individuals are engaged in stimulating work that aligns with their abilities, they experience a sense of accomplishment, personal growth, and improved mental wellbeing.
Empower through Autonomy
Giving decision-making freedom to your team members can have a profound positive impact on their mental health and overall satisfaction. Empower individuals by giving them some control over their work methods, schedules, and decision-making processes. By developing a sense of ownership, you reduce stress levels and promote a healthier work-life balance. Empowered employees are more likely to feel motivated, engaged, and satisfied in their roles.
As a leader, championing employee wellness should be high on your list of priorities. Create a work environment that prioritises physical and mental health. Promote wellness initiatives such as providing access to healthy snacks, designing ergonomic workstations, and encouraging regular breaks. Support work-life balance by offering schedules with some flexibility or the possibility of remote or hybrid work options. By valuing and supporting employee health, you create a workplace culture that fosters wellbeing, productivity, and overall satisfaction.
While therapists and doctors play vital roles in supporting mental health, the influence of leaders in the workplace cannot be overlooked. As a manager, your leadership style and actions directly impact the mental wellbeing of your team members. By managing yourself, using your influence, giving people a reason to care, connecting people, providing challenge, giving choice, and encouraging wellness, you can create a work environment that fosters positive mental health outcomes. By leading for wellbeing, you not only contribute to the success of your team but also improve the lives of those you lead.