How do leaders build and model a Oneself way of working?

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Can you remember the last time you felt on top of the world? You had just been asked to a close friend’s wedding, you had just won that tennis match, had a brilliant morning run, a fantastic yoga session, a friend called you to see how you are, or a stranger gave you a great smile or unexpected compliment.

Did you take the time to feel that moment? Did the positivity give you a brilliant idea to take the business forward? Did feeling full of energy help you finally get clarity and make a difficult decision?

When we feel great, and on top of our game we are in a place to tackle problems and do our best work. We are in a much stronger position to deliver our best work or be our best self to others, whomever that might be, wife/husband, partner, children, pets, or colleagues. It’s been scientifically proven.  When we are low, or not feeling enthusiastic, we are not going to create our masterpieces.  

Our objective should be to be our best selves as often as we can by bridging our work and personal lives. By being our Oneself, we can channel more positive energy into what we are doing in every area of life, personal or professional.

In this ‘Oneself’ world where we can work anywhere, at any time, our achievements and feeling good times can happen at any time, keeping our positive energy reserves topped up.

Why then do companies still continue to make such rigid distinctions between personal and professional life?  Why can’t we celebrate achievements at work and outside of work equally? As leaders, how can we support our teams to be their best Oneself?

  1. Celebrate personal wins at work. During team meetings/stand ups encourage your team to share a moment that made them feel good, or that they are proud of. By giving them time to share and celebrate, you are recognising and appreciating how their accomplishment or personal good news made them feel. Try and do this at the board level too...it’s a great way for people to get to know each other.

  2. Motivate people to reach their personal goals. Open up recognition awards that are traditionally for work milestones and combine them with personal milestones, like completing a marathon, or learning a new skill or language. When building and developing annual goals take the opportunity to put work and personal goals together.  Don’t worry if you have missed the beginning of the year deadline, goals can be refreshed at any time.

  3. Give people a chance to refresh. Build a supportive environment.  Structure meetings and work so there are breaks.  Ninety minutes is the optimum time for focusing before needing a break. Training has been structured like this for many years, extend this model to everything in the organisation. Read this article for more insight into how to improve performance.

  4. Build people’s strengths. During review periods with your teams rather than focusing on developing weaknesses focus on building strengths. Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath is a great tool to use to identify strengths during development and planning conversations, if you need one to get started.

  5. Embrace flexibility. Flexible working used to mean working 9 to 5 office hours from either home or consolidating hours into a shorter working week. Today flexible working means working whenever you want, night or day, wherever you want (office, cafe, home, bed) and delivering the work on time thanks to technology. Set clear goals and outcomes with deadlines, and allow your team to work when and where they are their best selves. If they are not a morning person, then don’t expect them to deliver their best first thing!

  6. If needed, help someone move on. If someone is constantly not performing have an honest conversation with them. Can they be their best self in the company, in your team? Do their values, vision, and working practices align with the company? If not, set them free to find the place where they can be their best self. Encourage them to get clear with what they really want and reflect this in their LinkedIn profile and CV and encourage them to go after what they want. Share with anyone in your network who you think can help them.

  7. Model self-care and good limits. Know when you feel good and when you need to take care of yourself. E.g. if you have back-to-back meetings all day, by meeting eight, you are not going to be your best self. Know your limits. It’s even a good idea to empower your PA, if you have one, to implement a ‘no more than X meetings per day’ rule. This sets a good example as well, so your employees can focus on doing substantive work, rather than just being in and out of meetings!

  8. Bring your personal life to work. As a leader and role model being your Oneself, it’s important to demonstrate that you understand that personal lives don’t get put on pause when you’re in the office! Respond to work and personal emails during the day. Go large and have one phone, why do you need a work and a personal phone when you are your Oneself?

  9. Admit when you’re wrong. No one is perfect, and even with the best preparation and intentions sometimes we all make mistakes. When that happens, be sure to acknowledge it, and apologise if appropriate. Discuss what you, and the company, might have learned. This helps create a culture of honesty where people aren’t afraid to admit they’ve made a mistake, and can be their Oneself, even when they aren’t feeling on top of their game.

  10. Remember the importance of good health. No one can be at their peak when they are feeling unwell and not spending time on their personal welling being. Your mental health is just as important as physical health. If you know mediation or going for a walk is good for you, make this a ritual and build this into your day to support yourself and others.

I am not saying you need to feel amazing all the time.  We need the low times and OK times to appreciate the brilliant times and recharge.  What I am saying is that there is much less differentiation than there used to be between our personal and professional lives, so instead of trying to compartmentalise them, finding ways to help them work together in harmony is much more supportive of our best selves, delivering our best work, and being our best self to others.

Being our best Oneself supports a culture where people can thrive and be brilliant.

Put your energy into doing your best work and being you...you will feel better!