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Leading by Example

Leading By Example

I read a fantastic post this morning about a chef who cooks his staff proper meals and makes sure that they take regular breaks – truly leading by example. It really resonated with me.

I truly believe that breaks are important for both our physical and mental health. However, do I actually follow my own advice? If I’m totally honest with myself, I don’t.

I know that I protect the breaks of any staff or crew I’m working with and I will fight to ensure they get the downtime they need. Normally this means that I’m in that downtime with them. But do I really take that break when they do? Again, if I’m being totally honest with myself… No, I don’t. I continue to work.

I’ve noticed this personal trend for ‘ignoring’ breaks increasing while I’ve been working from home.

My lunchbreaks have become shortened. Any breaks or time away from my computer screen have become almost non-existent (apart from the daily walk to pick up my son from school).  When I start work, I just seem to keep at it until the day is done. I feel that I’m being ‘drawn’ towards my computer. Maybe this is a side-effect of craving contact with people? I’m not really sure. Whatever it is, I know that it’s not good for my health.

Alongside my Hypnotherapy and Talking Therapy business, I still work in the events and film industry. I’m very lucky to work for a company who firmly believe in supporting the mental wellbeing of their staff. A lot of businesses I’ve worked for previously (and businesses I’ve come into contact with along the way) talk the talk… but don’t walk the walk. Equally, a lot of the bosses and team leaders who I’ve seen over my career do the same as I do – They tell their staff to take breaks, check that they are doing so and then don’t do take those breaks themselves. 

Consider this…

If your staff see you working all hours and find emails coming in from you at 2am, what does that say to those staff members? In my opinion, it says two things. Firstly, that it’s okay to work until 2am. Secondly, that the person sending the email does not follow their own advice and, as such, why should they?

But more importantly it potentially drives a staff member’s anxiety towards the fact that they SHOULD be working until 2am… and that maybe they SHOULD be around to answer that email at 2am… and are they being JUDGED because they are NOT around to answer that email at 2am. Even if this is the farthest thought from your mind as a boss/team leader, that is where a staff member with an anxious mind may well direct their thoughts.

The tyranny of ‘SHOULD’!

For the New Year I’m going to make a change – not a resolution, rather a series of personal goals that I’d like to achieve (yes there is a difference… at least in my opinion).

I’d like to make this statement here, so that anyone who reads this can remind me to carry it through (and I invite you to remind me regularly!).

My 'Leading by Example' aims are:

I’m going to take more downtime in the day.

I’m going to take at least 30 minutes for my lunch break.

I’m going to take my lunch-break away from my computer.

I’m going to close my computer and silence my phone during these breaks.

I’m going to lead by example by actually taking these breaks.

If we lead by example, we will achieve better personal mental and physical health, and our employees will be given permission to do the same.

Enjoy the break, stay safe and come back in the New Year leading by example!