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How Leaders can start Well-Being by example - showing actions not intentions

Managers need to lead by the example when it comes to wellbeing in the workplace. And, we are not just talking about signing off on budgets for fit-bits, gym membership and yoga mats in the office. Wellbeing is more than just physical and wellness – it includes connection with their team members, ability to manage emotions and make objective decisions, being part of a value system that people align with, feeling as part of the team, and working with a purpose and with joy. A forward looking leader is the one who embraces these different aspects of wellbeing, and leads by example for their teams.

What does it mean to “lead by example”, anyway? It means guiding others with your actions and behaviors instead of just words. Many companies “speak” about how much they care about the wellbeing of their employees and even send out messages around those principles, but only few actually embody it and practice it in the workplace. Here are a few ways you can start putting some action behind the verbiage.

Overwork is a top-down issue that needs to be tackled … you guessed… from the top.

As a manager, when you send out emails at midnight or early mornings – it sets an expectation that your employees should be answering those emails at that time as well, whether you realize it or not – it does have an impact on your employees and how they perceive they should work when it comes to be available outside of working hours. You are setting a standard that everyone should work in this way even if your intention is not that – the action speaks more than the intention. Your team needs to feel safe to take actions that are acceptable in the company culture - and you are part of it.


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Surely, there are times that we need to work a bit extra here and there, but it should not be the norm. The norm should be to cut yourself off from your work at the same time you would expect others to stop working as well (whatever those set hours are at your company).

Check in with yourself – are you sending emails at odd hours? Are you unintentionally promoting the culture of workover? Do you have take your vacation days or let them stack up?

Leading by the example - Leaders showing they care about wellbeing

Managing your mental wellbeing

As a leader (and just a human being in general) – you need to first take care of yourself before you are able to take care of others. We all know the idea of putting our oxygen masks on first on an airplane before helping others. In the case of a business setting, it is very difficult to make decisions on the go when you are not at your mental best. Furthermore, decisions you make impact your team as much as they do on you as well. Take mental breaks throughout the day, make time for a short 5 – 10 mins walk or simply sitting in silence or maybe doing an activity of choice that helps you recharge your mind from work for that short period of time.

How can you find just a few minutes each day to practice taking these mental breaks throughout your day?

Crafting healthy habits and routines

Look at what habits and routines are helping you and which ones are sabotaging your wellbeing and performance at work. Perhaps it is around your sleep habits, maybe it is eating or exercise habits, maybe it is checking your phone first thing in the morning and being ‘attacked’ by all the emails and problems of the day – What is your nemesis? We often focus on making huge changes when it comes our habits and routines, when in fact it is more about small changes we need to make in our daily routines that can lead to big results. Start with just 5 – 10 mins a day.

You would be surprised how much you can change with just a small step forward every day. This will make you a better leader & that will speak volumes to your team members.


Elena Agaragimova

Managing Partner @ Bessern


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