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Six Qualities and Assets of a Healthy, Happy, Leader

4 minute read

Anna Eliatamby, Director of Healthy Leadership, CIC and co-author with Grazia Lomonte of Healing-Self Care for Leaders and their Teams, reveals the six qualities for a more effective leader.

Leadership, as a concept, has moved from being seen as a technical skill to one that encompasses the human side, e.g. compassionate leadership.

What is a healthy and happy leader?

A healthy and happy leader looks after themselves in terms of mental and physical health and encourages the same in others. They have a positive outlook, are confident and believe in themselves. This leader explores all aspects of themselves, the healthy and unhelpful. They listen and grow, knowing they are fallible, as are most humans.

This leader will work realistically for the greater good and decency and inspire others to do the same. They use their power with and for others. This person promotes collective accountability- praising the positive and addressing the unhelpful.

A healthy and happy leader is realistically in tune with their emotions. They know that most of the time, we can aim for contentment in, at least, some parts of our life and work. And, that happiness across the board is a rarity.

Key assets and qualities

Assets and qualities are the higher-level principles for healthy, happy, leadership. We need related behaviours and habits to make them come alive.

Personal assets
  1. Core values and beliefs

The most important are your own core values and beliefs from which you function and lead. These are your higher purpose, beyond that of the organisation. Working from these leads to self confidence and trust, even when you must compromise.

Other important values include seeking harmony and reconciliation; always putting others before yourself; sacrificing self for the greater good; integrity, kindness, and concern for others.

When we place others’ needs ahead of ours, we attain a sense of serenity. This is not always possible, but it is a worthy hope to have.

  1. Self-regard and self-care

Leadership can be difficult and stressful, and much harder if you don’t look after yourself. When you do, you function much more effectively as a leader.

Have a good self-care plan for healthy living (eating, fluid consumption, sleep, recreation) and maintain your physical and mental health. Take time to pause, reflect and switch off. We often ignore the role and influence of our past and present, especially the unresolved. Leaders should look at these issues -this is a continuous journey of healing for healthiness. Enable your emotions and don’t stifle them. Make sure your self-care ensures contentment and, perhaps, happiness.

  1. People around us

People in our lives feed our energy, emotions and well-being. Make sure they are supportive and good for you. Draw a support map for yourself on a circle. Locate those closest to you in the centre and acquaintances in the outer perimeters. Pause and reflect on what you have drawn. Who is an asset and who is not?

Work qualities

Work qualities are also assets and, often, the operationalization of personal aspects. We must work out the behaviours and habits to adopt and embed as leaders and for staff.

  1. Living by your core values

Values are useless if we don’t use them. Create criteria for each one and then apply them. Pause every now and again to make sure you are staying true to your values. Ask the most junior person to give you feedback and self-correct as needed.

  1. Knowing how to lead

This includes, communicating and interacting in a person-centred way and being inclusive of difference. Leaders also need to become adept with complexity, confusion, and mess, especially in a crisis. Developing the ability to think strategically and understand operations - creating what is needed, not what you know or are comfortable with is also essential. It is imperative that leaders must also stay within the boundaries of their expertise as this allows others to shine.

It is easy to assume that leaders don’t need to learn anything else. But that is risky. Learn and refresh.

  1. Creating a healthy and happy work environment

This is best enacted with staff. You may have a sense of what is required, but the staff should bring alive their interpretation of what they need. Key facets are co-deciding what work is needed to achieve the purpose, collectively choosing where the work should be done, and what work practices will help. Agree how leaders can best help via guidance and supervision.

Talk about how to encourage praise and recognition and openly address unhelpful aspects and work through errors with dignity. Let everyone know and understand what resources are available. Cooperatively decide how to ensure good individual and team self-care and well-being. Ensure that diversity and intersectionality are central. What do people need for joy and contentment at work?

Becoming a leader can be a conscious act, or sometimes it just happens. Regardless, choose assets and qualities that reflect the true you, not a stereotype of what a leader is supposed to have. We are all unique and diverse in this intersectional world. Being different, healthy, and happy is all possible. It starts with the brilliance of you.

Anna Eliatamby is Director of Healthy Leadership, CIC and co-author with Grazia Lomonte of Healing-Self Care for Leaders and their Teams, out now and available on Amazon

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