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The importance of mental wellbeing to improve your leadership performance

Psychotherapist Noel McDermott spoke to TCH about leaders and the mental health of their teams:

“If you want to be a progressive business leader, now is the time to invest in the emotional and mental health of your team, they are after all your most valuable resource. Most organisations now understand fundamentally the link between healthy workforce and increased productivity and most of us understand that health and wellness includes mental wellness. 

This is just as true for the leaders as it is the followers in an organisation. Leadership and follower-ship styles are intimately linked, one begets the other. 

Leading by Example

Leadership is much more about leading by example. The modern organisational leader gives permission through their actions and behaviour to the type of culture they wish to see in their organisation.

Mentally Healthy Relating Styles

Research shows that organisations are more productive based around mentally healthy relating styles such as open dialogue; emotional literacy and behaviour; diversity, tolerance and team culture; emotional warmth and bonding; reduction of fear. 

Mental well-being is more than the absence of illness. In the same way that physical fitness is more than just the absence of having for example a bad back! More and more we talk now about mental fitness being a similar goal that is achievable in the same way that physical fitness is. Mental well-being has similar benefits in making you feel great as well as improving your performance globally. 

5 evidence-based steps to help leaders improve their mental well-being and mental fitness 

  1. CONNECT with the people around you: Family, friends, colleagues and neighbours. Spend time developing these relationships. 
  2. GET UP GET ACTIVE - It’s not just about the gym. Take a walk, go cycling or play a game of football. Find an activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life.
  3. LEARN LEARN LEARN – Learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and a new confidence. So why not sign up for that cooking course, start learning to play a musical instrument, or figure out how to fix your bike? 
  4. ALTRUISM – Even the smallest act can count, whether it's a smile, a thank you or a kind word. Larger acts, such as volunteering at your local community centre, can improve your mental wellbeing and help you build new social networks.
  5. MINDFULNESS - Be more aware of the present moment, including your thoughts and feelings, your body and the world around you. Some people call this awareness "mindfulness". It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.

Without a doubt the best way to foster a healthy productive environment is to be that yourself.

Good leaders must make sure that employees know how to access support should they need it; a resilient organization enables their employees to thrive amidst challenging and uncertain times.

Being a workplace that looks out for the mental health of its employees does more than create a healthy work environment but has proven benefits to productivity and your role as a leader/employer is at the centre of this.

Noel McDermott is a Psychotherapist and International Speaker with over 25 years’ experience in health, social care and education. An impactful workshop leader, he delivers bespoke training on a range of social care, clinical and human rights ethics and issues across multiple sectors. He is the founder and CEO of three organisations, Psychotherapy and Consultancy Ltd, Sober Help Ltd and Mental Health Works Ltd.


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This Can Happen has truly helped to move the needle on mental health and wellbeing in the workplace, providing access to exceptional speakers, innovative ideas and practical solutions for how businesses can work together with staff, customers and broader stakeholders to ensure that everyone can thrive at work and be fully supported with any mental health challenges they may face.

Sarah Boddey, Senior VP, Northern Trust