Another Responsibility – Weekend Reflections for Leaders: January 19, 2019

Whether we are leading a large multi-national corporation, a local business, or an entrepreneurial start-up, of increasing importance in today’s marketplace is the responsibility that a business has in not just the “old school” parochial view of maximizing shareholder value but also in having a positive impact (or at least not doing harm) to the communities around them and the well-being of their employees and business partners.

Companies are placing a growing importance on accepting a larger civic responsibility to help improve the conditions of communities where they operate and the supply chain of partners that enable key operations of the business. This greater acknowledgement of the potential positive (or negative) impact that businesses can have on communities and disadvantaged groups is an important component to the long-term health and growth of a business.

Just as companies must play a broader civic role, senior executives have another responsibility that goes beyond the traditional job skill and leadership development programs.

Research highlights an alarming rate of over 50% of entrepreneurs reporting a mental health concern…which probably means the other half are not willing to admit it. The emotional toll on entrepreneurs, senior executives, and top talent leading on the forward edge of some of the most competitive, pressure-filled global markets in the history of business will continue to take its toll on their physical and mental health and their families.

The pressures of travel and life on the road to meet the increasing demands of customers, suppliers, and new growth opportunities continue at a rapid pace. It is not just rock-n-roll legends and movie stars that suffer traumatic outcomes from a life on the road. Often it is the entrepreneurs, senior executives, and top talent burning the proverbial “candle at both ends” who suffer traumatic outcomes in their personal lives that do not make the same headlines as movie stars. In addition, there are certainly very few academic researchers building the case for alarm bells to be sounding.

However, for all of us who have put forth considerable effort in building a business, we know all too well the significant challenge that comes with maintaining healthy relationships with those we care about most on the home front and maintaining our own mental and physical health. We may not have compiled the evidence with the formality of a PhD level academic, but the heartache that comes with conflict on the home front is often the most painful of all of life’s challenges. The missed family events, the wandering mind drifting back to the business while sitting at the dinner table (if we even sit at the dinner table anymore), and the potential for quiet time at home that is so easily taken away by an always-on smart phone tapping out a steady stream of business issues to address, eventually has families staring over the abyss of conflict and breakdown along with challenges to the mental and physical health of all involved.

Just as companies are stepping up their efforts to be more involved in civic activities and more cognizant of the positive impact they can have with a number of disadvantaged groups, there is another responsibility on the shoulders of senior executives to provide support and development for a more holistic approach to wellness which encompasses support for the physical and mental well-being of individuals and those they care about most, their families.

Here are a few ways that senior executives in some leading companies are providing meaningful and relevant support to their teams:

  • Encourage annual physicals and mental health assessments. A mental health assessment should be an integral part of the annual health assessment. Given the still present stigma around mental health, encouraging these assessments as part of a routine annual physical will help ensure they get completed without the embarrassment or shame that unfortunately still inhibits many of us from taking proactive steps with our mental health. (please reach out to an expert in this area if you want support for your teams. Dennis Gillan www.dennisgillan.com )
  • Recognize team members when making healthy choices around being present at significant outside of work events like family commitments, community events, charitable endeavors, etc. that help build a healthy, full, and purposeful life. Senior executives can play a major role in impacting these behaviors by not only encouraging them in their teams but most importantly, setting a great example themselves to make it easier for others to follow.
  • Offer educational events on important family topics like dealing with the impact of emerging technology on children, the pressures of college acceptance, making healthy transitions for school age children, caring for elderly parents, etc. These types of programs can help offer insight in areas where current society norms are to just let everyone figure it out for themselves. Given the amount of effort and focus employees are giving to their company assignments, many will be “winging it” in other areas of their lives that might create problems down the road.

People can endure a tremendous amount and keep bouncing back when there is alignment in the workplace, at home, and in their own personal journey for a purposeful life. Senior executives can play a significant role in creating an environment for healthy alignment.

When senior executives can show their teams that they are cared about and resourced beyond just delivering on business objectives, they stand a good chance of earning the loyalty and commitment needed to keep top talent and build a long-term healthy business.

What if I were to ask you, “What is the most difficult leadership challenge you are facing today?” What would you say?

Here are a few resources to help:

  1. Download FREE resources at www.harvesttimepartners.com
  2. Contact me. Email: david@harvesttimepartners.com (M) 269-370-9275

David Esposito

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