well-being

4 Factors to a Longer and More Successful Leadership Life

"One of my clients had a profound impact on my life this week. What I heard him say is:

"Scott I realized that I have to take care of me. I am at my best when I am taking care of myself. I decided that I am going to do yoga when I get up in the morning, and I am going to exercise at noon. I am going to be conscious of my diet and make good choices about what goes into my body."

When I probed for the reason, he continued,

"There has been a lot of negativity in my life recently, and I am just not going to allow it to get me down any longer. I am going to choose the leader I want to be and not be some weak victim of circumstance."

Absolutely Profound.

Choosing positive self-care over a negative circumstantial life perspective. Thanks to the courage of this story, this month I am dedicating the blog to the idea of wellness. We will discuss ways that you as a leader can take a positive self-care position, rather than be a victim of any negative circumstance.

Businessman holding two papers with happy and angry face each on them

According to the National Wellness Institute, wellness is "an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence."

Four things to notice about wellness:

  • It is an active process. It is something you devote energy to making happen. It is intentional on your part as a leader.
  • It starts with self-awareness. Are you aware of the moment when health choices present themselves?
  • Wellness is a choice. You decide to be well in the moment, or say screw it and become a victim of your circumstance.
  • There is an end game. A successful existence. This is your life. You only get one. Why not make it the very best that it can be?

The National Wellness Institute describes six different dimensions for us to consider as we examine our own wellbeing:

  • Emotional
  • Occupational
  • Physical
  • Social
  • Intellectual
  • Spiritual

This week I want to focus on your Emotional Wellbeing as a leader.

The Story

One of my favorite authors is Martin Seligman. As a past president of the American Psychological Association, he has the credibility from a research standpoint that is really meaningful for me. In addition, Martin is a gifted storyteller who can weave a story together and then bring home a point that has real impact and causes me to pause and examine my own life.

One of my favorite stories that Martin tells is in his book Authentic Happiness. He details the stories of two of 180 nuns who are the subjects of an impactful and noteworthy study on longevity and happiness. If you want all the details, you really need to get the book, it is a great read. Here is the bottom line:

  • 90% of the most cheerful 25% of the nuns was alive at age 85 vs. only 34% of the least cheerful 25%.
  • 54% of the most cheerful quarter was alive at age 94, as opposed to only 11% of the least cheerful.

Studies of longevity are admittedly dicey and very complex from a pure science standpoint. Causality is extremely difficult to make a case for. However, one of the reasons this study is so impactful is that nuns lead very similar life. They eat similar food, they don’t smoke or drink alcohol, they have similar routines. Sure there are some other differences that could account for the results:

  • Different levels of intellect
  • Different depths of spirituality
  • Different outlooks on the future

However, none of these in the research made any difference. The thing that Seligman points out that made a difference in the longevity of the nuns was the amount of positive feelings expressed.

If longevity is at least one measure of a successful existence, then the positive outlook you have on life matters!

Happiness and Emotional Intelligence

In the Emotional Intelligence training that I do as a part of my consulting, one of the attributes we measure is that of Happiness or Wellbeing. In the model we use there are four factors that comprise Wellbeing:

  • Self-Regard: Believing in yourself and living according to your values.
  • Self-Actualization: A willingness to learn and grow in accordance with your values.
  • Interpersonal Relationships: Engaging in mutually satisfying relationships.
  • Optimism: The ability to respond, recover, and claim a happy state from disappointments and setbacks in life

There are two important considerations as you evaluate your own level of well-being.

The first is that you display as much of these four attributes as you can. Believe in yourself and live according to your values. Learn and grow in areas that really matter to you. Have friends and ensure that there is reciprocity. Realize that things are not always going to go your way. It isn’t if you are going to have a setback in life it is when. What counts is how you respond.

The second is that you have balance between these attributes. For example, you want to make sure that your self-regard is balanced with your interpersonal relationships. If you have a high level of self-regard and low levels of interpersonal relationships, you could come across as prideful and in it for yourself. If you have low levels of self-regard and high interpersonal relationships, then you could come across as needy and not fun to be around.

As you think about the successful life you want to live as a leader, are you choosing to maximize and balance these 4 attributes of emotional health?

Homework:

Rate yourself on a scale from one (low) to 10 (high) on each of the 4 attributes of well-being. Are you maximizing each attribute? Are all four of the attributes in balance with each other? As you reflect on these, what changes would you need to make to live a long and successful life?

4 Critical Traits of Emotionally Intelligent Leaders

I had an outstanding day on Friday! I spoke at a women’s professional conference on Emotional Intelligence and how the science relates to a leader's overall well-being. You can see a picture of me with some of the leaders of this fantastic event below. 489FD9BF-E176-4CF0-8D1E-6FBB8C3C3EBC

Well-being is a fascinating topic. When I was researching the topic as it relates to leadership, I discovered that the term is really a measure for happiness.

How happy are you with certain aspects of your life?  Things like:

  • Your health - spiritual, psychological, and physical
  • Your economic situation
  • Your social relationships

Every year the Gallup organization does a domestic and global survey for well-being. They ask a series of questions relating to people's social, financial, community, and physical well-being. From a global perspective, the citizens of Panama lead the world in overall well-being. Domestically, folks who live in Alaska and Hawaii are living the most intentional and purposeful lives. If you want to see how your state ranks, click here to access the report.

Well-being is a feeling of overall contentment and satisfaction in the life of the leader.  In the emotional intelligence model* we utilize in our training, the idea of well-being is a surrogate for happiness.

The Four Traits

The leadership attributes we use to measure well-being are self-regard, self-actualization, optimism, and interpersonal relationships.

Our research has shown that a leader who excels at these four traits is well on their way to living a purposeful and intentional life. People who score high in these dimensions almost always maintain a happy disposition in all aspects of life. They usually enjoy the company of others, feel like the life they are leading is intentional, and are in control of their emotions most of the time.

Those who score lower in these traits may find it difficult to be enthusiastic about life no matter their personality style or circumstance. Their overall happiness may actually begin to diminish natural strengths and tendencies toward success that they have shown in the past. This dampened energy can make it difficult for others to see past their dissatisfaction with life.

So How Are You Doing?

Have you stepped back lately and thought about your own personal well-being as a leader? This is important because your followers have the ability, sometimes even unconsciously, to know how you are doing, even if you are trying your best to put on a front. Your well-being may be having an unintentional performance impact on your entire team!

Below I have included a definition for each of the four attributes, and a question you can ask yourself to get you started thinking about your own personal leadership and how your well-being might be enhancing or inhibiting your leadership performance.

  • Self-Regard is the confidence you have in yourself. Question: What is your ability to acknowledge your strengths and forgive yourself for your weaknesses?
  • Self-Actualization is your willingness to improve and pursue meaningful personal goals that give you enjoyment. Question: Do you have an active plan for attaining short-term and long-term goals?
  • Optimism is an indicator of your outlook on life. The level of hopefulness and resiliency you have in the face of setbacks. Question: When things do not go your way, how do you talk to yourself? Are you able to pivot from the initial negative thoughts or does the negativity overwhelm you?
  • Interpersonal Relationships are a measure of the mutually satisfying relationships that are characterized by trust and compassion. Question: Do you rely more on yourself to get things done or are you willing to ask others to help so they get to experience the joy of serving alongside you?

Well-being is a crucial aspect of a leader's life because of the impact it has on both the leader and the followers. Your overall physical, spiritual, and emotional health depend upon this critical dimension.

What are you doing as a leader to ensure your success in this area?

Homework

Find a person in your life who knows you well. Each of you write one paragraph on the above well-Being traits. They will write how they see you and you write how you see you. Then read out loud what you have written. Talk about what is positive that you need to continue and talk about any barriers that could be holding you back.

If you try this journaling exercise, why not drop me a note in the comments section below? I would love to hear about the experience you have had.

PS. If you have a group that would be interested in knowing more about Emotional Intelligence or how well-being relates to leadership, let me know. I would love to come and be a part of the discussion.

*Bar-On EQ-i published by Multi-Health Systems