What’s your wellbeing shadow?


What’s your wellbeing shadow?

Have you ever worked for a boss that says your wellbeing at work is important but then:

  • Sends emails at midnight?
  • Works while they’re on holiday?
  • Misses their child’s nativity for an important client meeting?
  • Sits at their desk eating their lunch?

Their words might say that wellbeing is a priority, but their actions don’t back this up.

For an organisation to truly care and prioritise wellbeing, it starts with leadership behaviours.

A culture of wellbeing is only created when it is lived. Not just espoused.  

A recent Deloitte report on wellbeing identified the impact leaders have on employee wellbeing:

“Anyone who has responsibility for others—including those in early supervisory roles all the way up to C-suite positions—may be the stewards of wellbeing. Their behaviors and interactions with their teams can set the tone for the team and the workplace culture.”

Because despite over 80% of executives saying that wellbeing was their top priority, over 90% of workers state that their work life is getting worse! 

It’s like Locard Exchange Principle – every contact leaves a trace. 

Every interaction has an impact.  

You’re probably familiar with the leadership shadow – the (often unconscious) impact and influence you have on those around you.

The Leadership Shadow was originally developed by Goldman Sach and it’s based on the premise if leaders want to make a difference, they must understand the shadow they cast.

It’s based on four principles:

  1. What I say
  1. How I act
  1. What I prioritise 
  1. What I measure.

Do you know what your wellbeing shadow is as a leader?

Even if you don’t identify with being a leader in title, I tend to think you’re a leader if you have responsibility for others.

As leaders, we aren’t just sharing the message of wellbeing. We *are* the message. 

  • What we say.
    • What do we emphasise?
    • What tone do we use?
    • What message are we conveying?
  • What we do.
    • What do our behaviours show others that is important?
    • What decisions do we make?
    • What are we role modelling?
  • What we prioritise.
    • What do we spend our time doing?
    • What are our routines?
    • Who do we prioritise in our lives?
  • What we measure and reward.
    • What behaviours are we reinforcing?
    • What behaviours are we holding people accountable to?
    • What do we share feedback on?

We may say that we care about the wellbeing of our people.

But what do our behaviours and priorities really tell them?

  • Do we schedule back-to-back meetings and allow little time for thinking?
  • Do our emotions get the better of us at work because we’re not effectively managing our stress?
  • Do we allow toxic and disrespectful behaviours to go unchecked in the workplace?

Wellbeing is going to be a core competency of leadership in the future. It will be demanded in workplaces as the changing dynamics force this much-needed approach.

But how do we do this?

How do we become aware of our wellbeing shadow?

How do we develop wellbeing as a core leadership capability?

How do we make strategic choices for our team and organisation that support collective wellbeing?

That’s where the power of the Global Leadership Wellbeing Survey (GLWS) comes into play. In my work as a practitioner of GLWS® there’s a 4 stage approach:

It starts by taking the Global Leadership Wellbeing Survey (GLWS).

The GLWS has 126 specific questions that provide a complete view of the complex wellbeing factors affecting leaders’ energy, resilience and performance.

GLWS helps get to the heart of what’s shaping a leader’s wellbeing, both at work and home, and helps identify and prioritise key steps to improve around six domains.

This is important because we can’t manage what we’re not measuring.

By each of us receiving a deep dive into our own wellbeing, only then can we truly understand the factors that drive and sustain it.

When we address our own wellbeing needs, it creates a ripple effect that directly benefits and enhances the wellbeing of an entire team…… and when all leaders do this, it shifts a whole culture.

When we build our wellbeing capability, we influence the attention, motivation and commitment to optimising energy, productivity and performance.

Only then can we address our wellbeing shadow – acknowledging and recognising our impact on others’ wellbeing.

Here’s to us casting the shadow we want!

P.S. Want to learn more about the Global Leadership Wellbeing Survey and how it can help you and your organisation? Get in touch for a chat, and I can send you a sample of the GLWS®.


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