We want leaders to be inspirational. We expect them to move (work) mountains. We need them to be strong, even superhuman (given their objectives). Some could probably get you to achieve the impossible. Some may have actually inspired you to achieve very little - except maybe plan a change of career.
However we imagine great leaders - they all tend to pivot around the person in a cape that either commands or motivates - finding strength where we thought impossible. Ultimately, whether they wear a cape, a suit or a baseball cap we expect this visionary to positively impact business bottom lines. And, in our inter-connected world and climate of cities that never sleep, we don't expect this process to be easy - at most gruelling, at least, tiring. We expect our bottom line leaders to applaud us for staying late. To encourage us to "do what it takes" to reach objectives. Why? Because this is strong leadership. Isn't it?
However, new research from the O.C Tanner Institute shows that what actually makes a strong leader and how we vision them, are two very different things. The strongest leaders i.e those that have the biggest impact on business bottom lines have three particular strengths that they promote amongst each employee in their team, department and organisation.
- Physical wellness
- Emotional wellness and
- Social wellness
Notice the trend? Wellbeing. Not the first thing that comes into our mind when we define the strengths of a good leader. The thing is, whilst burning the midnight oil, may help with a few initial deadlines, its unsustainable in the long term. Employee burnout is a real problem. The leaders that focus on employee wellbeing see long sustainable growth on business bottom lines. They are the real leaders. These leaders actually impact business bottom lines. In fact, the figures speak for themselves. When leaders practice all three wellbeing strengths, they see huge returns, that supersede any other process of leadership:
- 157% increase in employee engagement.
- 30% increase in output and productivity
- 120% increase in innovation
- the intention to stay at least two years longer with the company
These statistics are impressive. The problem is, they are very rare in modern business leaders. This is because many leaders miss the opportunity to provide the holistic package. Some may be good at offering physical wellness but not so good at emotional. Or, some leaders may be good at fostering social wellbeing (building friendships and teams) but many are missing out on emotional wellbeing. This could be because wellbeing is a relativly new concept in the corporate world. It could be because wellbeing is undervalued, or quite simply misunderstood. Whatever the reason, the facts are glaringly obvious, if leaders want to impact business bottom lines they needs to promote all three hallmarks of wellbeing amongst employees.
Image curtesy of Sunny Studio.