top of page

Self-Care for Leadership: Wellbeing Coaching for High Potential Leaders

Leadership is both complex and demanding and the day to day workload and stressors can take a costly toll on your health and wellbeing, relationships and performance. Leaders in education, healthcare, environmental and social enterprise, emergency services, medicine, law and mental health to name a few, are constantly exposed to ever changing forces, often beyond their control. These vocations are also purposeful, rewarding and essential to us and those who choose these pathways as professions are mostly passionately driven by a sense of contribution to the greater good of humanity and the earth.

Without the careful balance of dedicated self care practices and daily rituals this population of leaders are vulnerable to conditions such as chronic stress, mental health challenges, exhaustion, insomnia, vicarious trauma, burnout or worse. If you can relate to this perhaps it's time to explore some ways to incorporate self care into your everyday life, especially if you are over worked and at times overwhelmed and exhausted. I will focus on three great tools today that can help you reflect and be proactive in filling up your energy cup on a regular basis or at least get you started on the road to recovery.

Start Small and Local

Sometimes when we realise our current action can't sustain we make grand gestures to change things up. But they often last a couple of weeks and then we lose momentum and quit. Small changes are better than none, especially when you're a busy leader a small change can be significant. Small change flies under the radar of the default mode network in the brain that looks for familiar and we can make a small and localised step in right direction. By this I mean you might chose a daily habit that is already existing and make it more mindful - for example your morning cup of tea outside in nature, hanging the clothes on the line while singing or eating breakfast with your loved one. Practicing conscious breathing, noticing the sounds, tastes, smells, touch and natural environment as you do. On a mindfulness retreat I recently heard of a teachers morning practice being from the moment they woke in the morning to when they pegged the clothes on the line at 10am. The teacher did not have the time to just sit and do nothing so they brought the same mindfulness principles to the domestic morning routine and after awhile it became a wellbeing habit.

Change Context

When people don't have diverse ways of spending their times they get bound to patterns, over-identification and predictable routines that become automatic. lifeless and mechanical. This can lead to a numbing existence that is not only unhealthy and unfulfilling but risky because they are not present to the ever changing environment in both human organisation, relationships and climate/context. Leaders need to be engaged and holding a position of power is a responsibility you are held accountable for. Looking at what can be let go of and opening yourself up to new possibility on a regular basis has a healthy freshness that breathes new life into the body mind. A reflective practice is a very good way leaders can ensure they are moving their energy and being flexible and dynamic. Think of it like gardening, if the soil is not fed nutrients from the sun and water it becomes dried up and lifeless and it can't sustain without diversity and change. Other ways you can change context is by moving between inner modalities of thinking, sensing, feeling, intuiting and imagining and exploring other data entry points in the way you're perceiving reality. Everyone has their strong way of perceiving but that doesn't mean it should be the only way. So if you spend time engaging your cognitive mind in information saturation then maybe it's time to focus on your body or emotions. This practice will open your mind and expand your ways of relating, doing and being in the world.

Listen Deeply and Being Heard

When we get stressed we start to become reactive and the nervous systems goes on alert and is very sensitive to stimuli. The problem is our perspective also narrows and we don't connect as easily. We can tend to withdraw more and isolate ourselves instead of reaching out which is essential in leadership. A stressed out leader will become more directive, protective and authoritarian rather than empowering, curious and nurturing their team's potential through their relational connection. Being a leader it is so important to listen to those you're trying to lead to ensure they can feel heard and figure out the best way to move forward. Diversity in a team can be challenging but by listening deeply to different ways of doing things you can avoid group think and embrace innovation. Sometimes the way your team might move forward looks quite different to the solution you had in mind and that is ok. Listening more deeply to your body and own inner experience is also important, to know when you need support or need to recognise you might not know the answers or simply need help too. Being a leader does not mean you're invincible, in-fact you have more responsibility than the average person and with it comes more stress. On the flip side to deep listening is being heard and as leaders we need to find someone who has our back so we can feel contained, listened to and validated. Leadership can be a lonely journey at times but having a coach or counsellor or close friend or partner that can help you unpack things without judgement is an important part of the leadership landscape.

My work with high potential leaders is a great source of inspiration and the journey's we take together is one of my passions. I take on a limited amount of leadership coaching clients and by doing so I can really give them my full attention and work on developing a more authentic and sustained approach to leadership. One that is able to admit when they need to take the time for self care and actually doing it. If you're keen to explore the Empower Coaching program check out the Leadership Coaching website.


bottom of page