The Evolution of Wellbeing: A Behavioural Challenge for Leaders

by Natalie Dee

What does it take to be a leader today, and how will the leader of the future evolve? When we think of a leader we imagine someone in control of their responsibilities and the output from their people.

This cannot be executed without appropriate communication and interaction.

Where great leaders differ from good leaders is in their ability to interact positively with people around them combined with their ability to empathise and understand the factors that affect wellbeing.

Great leaders of the future will action their responsibilities more effectively by taking their employees, peers and stakeholders with them, in other words: by connecting with them. They will prove that they are not only intellectually qualified to hold that role but they also possess the soft skills to use their talents and skills to motivate and include those around them to get the required results.

While it is important to set the tone by leading from example it is equally important to take time to understand the people behind the roles; to know them, to listen to them, to understand their needs and expectations within their role and how they foresee being managed.

We now operate in an always-on world with increasing demands, competition and transformation occurring in almost every workplace. This will only continue with time and the leadership of the future will have to work smartly to take their people with them and not isolate themselves from a relationship of collaboration and trust in the workplace.

Ask the employees: How does a good leader contribute to a culture of wellbeing?

Across various workplace teams similar factors will feature if probed: support, respect, integrity, focus, reasonable behaviour and requests.

‘Great Place to Work’, the wellbeing measurement firm, reiterates this in their Wellbeing and the importance of Workplace Culture report”.

The report acknowledges the growing awareness of the impact of wellbeing on individuals, business, the economy and society and how organisations with effective wellbeing programmes outperform the market.

The average UK organisation has wellbeing scores of just 53% compared to a score of around 84% at best-in-class organisations such as: ‘The UK’s Best Workplaces’ – whose cultures are more positive and supportive when it comes to culture, values and ethics, wellbeing and engagement.

The behavioural style of the leader is pivotal to encouraging a feeling of wellbeing within the workforce. Their approach and actions will speak louder than words. A leader who shows support and empathy will be able to connect with others on multiple levels. As the factors that make up the feeling of wellbeing evolve so must the leader’s behaviour.

Supportive leadership is seen as a key way of connecting with your employees and particularly effective when the company culture encourages and enables this type of environment. A supportive leader will involve those around them in their decision and make them feel a part of the process. Characteristically the supportive leader will habitually set clear and reasonable objectives and targets and be aware of their behaviour.

Should this not be the case the leader can inadvertently drain the meaning from the work of their employees, which can set off a negative spiral of disengagement and affecting their inner motivation.

The effective leadership toolkit will require a mix of factors. Leaders will be expected to inspire and consider what those around them need while leading by example and building engagement with their employees at all levels.

Their toolkit will include two other characteristic measures – their Emotional Quotient, EQ, and their Social Quotient, SQ. The correct balance of these intelligences, combined with their IQ will differentiate the leaders of the future and enable their evolution to transcend the challenges of the future.

Balancing our intellectual aptitude with an ability to relate to people on an emotional and social level will further cement the feel-good factors prevalent in a high wellbeing working environment. These environments will encourage productivity and generate an unconscious pride in being involved in that organisation and get that ‘feel-good factor’ that’s hard to articulate.

The issue is not whether the leader of the future should accept this evolutionary behavioural challenge but can they