Leaders often feel they ought to put their teams first. But, in order to protect their colleagues, leaders actually need training in how to proactively build and protect their own mental fitness first and foremost.
Ahead of the Make A Difference learn & lead webinar sponsored by Fika Mental Fitness on 23rd February, and The Watercooler Event in May, we wanted to share some evidence-based tips and techniques in how to model positive mental fitness behaviours as a leader – the first step to driving lasting cultural and behavioural change across your organisation.
3 ways to model mental fitness at work
>> Share your gratitude
There are many benefits associated with taking time each week to reflect on the things that you’re grateful for – increased happiness, improved sleep and reduced stress to name a few.
But as a leader you can bring the benefits of this practice to your teams by starting each meeting by thanking one team member for their contribution. This is something that we often forget to do during busy times, but this practice can ultimately boost team collective efficacy, satisfaction and positivity.
>> Bring mental fitness into feedback sessions
Too often feedback sessions focus on the outcome rather than the processes that led to that outcome. Leaders can encourage their team members to better reflect on their process by scaffolding conversations around the 7 skills of mental fitness (positivity, confidence, motivation, focus, stress management, connection and meaning).
Leaders can not only invite team members to reflect on their strengths and areas for improvement, but also share how they feel they can better support their team members’ mental fitness. Taking connection as an example, do team members build strong cross-team relationships and seek out the support of others and how can leaders help create stronger connections?
>> Be vulnerable
Vulnerability is a demonstration of both trust and courage. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable with our team – sharing our mistakes, concerns and struggles – improves our relationship with them and grants them permission to do the same.
3 steps you can take to look after your leaders
1. Include mental fitness training in leader onboarding
Make mental fitness training a necessary and formalised part of leader onboarding. This sets the tone for a culture which not only normalises but prioritises mental fitness – seeing it as an essential ingredient to good working practice, productivity and delivering commercial results.
2. Bring your leaders together to set your Mental Fitness vision
Set your Mental Fitness vision as an organisation. Ask your leaders to contribute to this vision to increase buy-in from the top down.
3. Make mental fitness visible and integrate it into the everyday
Encourage your leaders to visibly integrate mental fitness training into their everyday schedules – clearly committing to an activity or reflection time to build their mental skills . Seeing leaders make time for their own mental fitness encourages others to do the same and can transform workplace productivity. This also protects against chronic stress and burnout – reducing the need for your people to take time off when stress gets too much for them.
The evidence-base for Mental Fitness
Fika believes that just five minutes of Mental Fitness training a day, three times a week for six weeks, not only prevents mental health decline, but improves performance, positivity and self-efficacy.
Upskilling managers and leaders is the crucial first step to transforming culture, output and productivity across your entire organisation.
Learn more about Mental Fitness training and how to integrate it across your organisation by joining our Make A Difference learn & lead webinar from 10.00am – 11.00am on 23rd February and our workshops at The Watercooler Event in May.
About the author
Dr Fran Longstaff is Head of Psychology at Fika Mental Fitness. With more than 15 years’ academic and applied experience in sport and exercise psychology, Fran oversees Fika’s Behavioural Science output, designing and implementing organisation-wide Mental Fitness training programmes for Fika’s client-base of more than 80 businesses, education institutions and healthcare organisations.
She is passionate about training leaders and managers in how to build their own and their team’s Mental Fitness in order to transform the culture, output, productivity and happiness of their workplaces.
Fran worked as a lecturer in Higher Education for 13 years before joining Fika, and still works closely with Fika’s board of academic experts.