Executives – Have you thought about your wellbeing lately?
By Madison Hanscom, PhD
It is common to assume that executives, CEOs, and highly successful entrepreneurs just ‘have it all’, but many of these individuals are silently suffering. Executives can have a lot on their plate. They might feel responsible for the ups and downs of employees. They might work long hours and feel pressure to make the company more successful. They also can feel very isolated, like they can’t be vulnerable without looking weak.
Despite having a great deal of weight on their shoulders, it is important that leaders are doing well both psychologically and physically. When executives are doing well, this has a positive impact on stakeholders. When an executive is struggling, this can do damage. There is a great deal of research showing how leaders make more unethical decisions, exhibit more abusive supervision behaviors, and make poorer decisions when their psychological health is suffering (1). If you are an executive — what can you do to focus inward so what you project outward will be more successful?
Quick tips for executives:
• Be preventative. If there isn’t an issue yet — great! This is the best time to take steps to maintain mental health and the resources that strengthen it (like social support).
• Consider screening. Not sure if you have an issue? Talk with a professional to detect signs of health problems and mental distress. Early detection can be an incredible way to prevent decline down the road.
• Foster your health. Our physical health is highly related to our mental health, so it is important to approach wellbeing as a holistic system. It all works together — exercising, eating right, sleeping well, engaging in stress reduction, and building mental health resources.
• Seek out someone who understands. Many executives feel they do not have anyone around them who understands their struggles. Fortunately, there are outlets for this. For instance, there are CEO support groups or entrepreneur communities that bring people together with similar experiences. It can also be helpful to speak with a therapist to get vulnerable and build cognitive tools for psychological wellness.
• Build a positive culture around wellbeing. If you take care of your wellbeing and have a positive attitude surrounding self-care, this will signal to others it is culturally acceptable for them to do the same. Healthy workers are happier workers, and happier workers are more productive workers. Lead by example.
• Strike a healthy balance at home. It can be difficult to “turn off” work thoughts at home when you are an executive because there is often a weight on your shoulders to be working all the time. Try your best to disconnect from work and enjoy things in your personal life. This might include a workout class, a hike, a sports game, or a family dinner.
At Propulo Consulting, we care about the health and wellbeing of all workers. Executives are a critical piece of the puzzle. We partner with you to improve the world of work using the latest insights from research. Our team has the expertise to help your business build a safer and healthier culture.
(1) Barling, J., & Cloutier, A. (2017). Leaders’ mental health at work: Empirical, methodological, and policy directions. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 22(3), 394.