Seven common things destroying leaders’ well-being

Is it possible to destroy or, at least, damage a leader's well-being? Unfortunately, the answer is, “Yes.” Regardless of who it is or the size of the business

Seven common things destroying leaders’ well-being

Well-being refers to a life lived healthily, including finance. The person and their circumstances or a combination influences it. For leaders, there are extra components, their position, power, and authority and those they lead. Any or all these components can be detrimentally affected and so destroy a leader’s well-being. Here are some common things that can do that. 

The pressure of leadership

Can, if not managed, be damaging to a leader’s well-being. Especially if they have poor self-care, low self-esteem, and self-respect -a dangerous combination. Limited coping habits-being inactive, overeating, limited fluid consumption, mismanaging finances and no recreation can have a cumulative negative effect. The quality of personal and work relationships matter. Ones that don’t support the leader but make them feel ‘less than’ or obstructed can have a cumulative and damaging effect if not altered. 

Many leaders do not prioritise and often forget about self-care. This can be notably true for start-ups. And yet it is vital in these uncertain times.

Destructive habits

Ignoring personal mental health works against any efforts to maintain wellness. Not looking after or accepting yourself as a person who has succeeded despite difficulties can only lead to a limited leadership style. Including ignoring any aspects of your past that are likely to emerge or at least have an unwanted impact. This is when people resort to avoidance of issues, suppression, blaming others, only seeing the negative, procrastinating, resorting to negative self-talk, etc. 

Higher risk strategies include addictive behaviours or living well beyond your means. Not paying attention to physical health issues can lead to risky situations for the leader, staff, and colleagues. 

Some leaders can use a combination of these behaviours endlessly and so they self-sabotage. Or they may misuse their power and authority as a leader. In the end, they are likely to experience a cumulative and deleterious impact on themselves unless they recognise how they have been and decide to seek help to change. 

Not paying attention to emotions

Is never helpful, principally, if you use suppression or avoidance. There will be times you need to withhold your emotions. If you do this all the time, it can lead to a build-up of suppressed feelings that may explode at an inappropriate time and place. After such moments, there is always an aftermath for the leader and those who were present. Frequent events like this will erode self-care and wellness.

The people in a leader’s life and work

Can make or break the leader. Sometimes, the leader will select people to work with them. If they have chosen wisely, then well-being won’t be affected. However, if they have recruited staff who are selfish, competitive, focussed on their own gain rather than that of the organisation, then the leader’s ability to function and maintain their wellness will be affected. Good quality social support is vital and a predictor of the person’s ability to manage stress. If there is injurious support, then this may lead to the leader questioning themselves and selecting maladaptive coping strategies. 

Organisational toxicity

Is always present, even in small amounts. People in a start-up can create it as they bring their own histories and, sometimes, feel inclined to build what they know and are comfortable with. Rather than letting it go. Toxicity is always poisonous, whether it is present in the person or in the culture. 

Failure to address negativity and acknowledge the positive aspects can lead to a cumulative and damaging effect on the leader’s performance, psychological well-being, and ability to think. Over time, this phenomenon is called weathering – toxicity gradually wears you down, similar to how weather affects houses. 

Toxic behaviours

Are how toxicity arises. Sometimes in the leader themselves or those around them. It is rare that such individuals realise the force of their actions on others in terms of work and well-being. Leaders, by not paying sufficient attention to dealing with these actions, either in themselves or in those they lead, give tacit permission for these harmful actions to continue. 

Lacking the skills and expertise 

To do the job of leadership can make people insecure and this will affect how they lead. Their priority will be to protect themselves and that may mean belittling others or preventing others from succeeding through abuse of power.

None of the factors mentioned above occur by themselves. 

This co-existence can destroy the well-being of the leader (and those around them). 

Now that we are talking about these factors, it is also in our gift to address them- for ourselves, the people we lead and the greater intention of our communities and societies.

Anna Eliatamby
Anna Eliatamby

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