Adaptive Leadership: 4 steps to connect performance and wellbeing

“Yes, lockdown poses its own mental health challenges. But can we please stop pretending our former world of working long hours, stressful commutes, hectic crowds, shopping centres, infinite choice, mass consumerism, air pollution and 24/7 everything was a mental health utopia?” — Matt Haig, British novelist

I love this quote because this is so true. Behind all crisis come opportunities. Leaders now have the most compelling reason to now include non-work-related dimensions of their lives in how they define success because home is now at work, and work is now at home.

This article is about what Leaders need to consider to adapt how they define and measure success for themselves to connect high performance and wellbeing in a sustainable working remote environment. Leaders need to go through that change themselves if they want to inspire it in others.

The quote above is taken from The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2020. It has a lot of interesting insights into the impact of this pandemic on Millennials. Link in comments.

The Success Paradox: When high performance comes at a cost

I speak to this because I have been there and done that. Being a high performer in Scale Up Tech Sales environments cost me my wellbeing and difficult times at home, despite strong and consistent results at work. To find a way to perform at a top level in a sustainable way, we need to reduce what it is costing us to get there. In my experience, this means including non-work-related dimensions to our success criteria like the quality of our health, our romantic or family relationships, our energy, our time and our happiness.

When science proves us that the mind, heart, body and energy are all connected, how can we ignore that work and home lives are interconnected and directly linked to performance?

Leaders need to BE the change they want to see

In this new world, some Leaders are struggling, some are thriving, and some’s lives aren’t being impacted so much, but at what cost to their wellbeing? For some, it doesn’t matter. There may be a belief that it is part of the job. For others, if this speaks to you, you may be relating to some level of side effect like:

  • Poor sleep quality
  • Anxiety
  • Imposter Syndrome
  • Too much drinking
  • People pleasing
  • Lower confidence
  • Unhealthy eating
  • Stess

If this speaks to you, read on because this doesn’t need to be the case. You can produce high performance another way which is powered by respecting and monitoring our wellbeing.

This is why I speak of the Success Paradox for high performing leaders who want to improve their wellbeing to either reduce suffering or unlock the next level up of performance. This can only be accessed from a place of alignment and flow which is directly correlated with a multi-dimensional approach to health.

4 steps to Adaptative Leadership

I define Adaptive leadership as the ability to appropriately adjust to our own needs, others’ needs and to our environment without costing our wellbeing. If we show up from a place of alignment and grounding, we can adapt to others without putting ourselves out of balance. 

For this we need to go through 4 steps as a minimum:

1. Understand what energises you

By increasing our self-awareness of how we are wired inside, we can make better decisions on what actions to take to motivate ourselves and refuel out batteries. This addresses procrastination issues, being hesitant with decision making, feeling low in energy to name a few of the infinite benefits of self-knowing.

By better understanding ourselves we can identify and take action to meet our own needs for wellbeing.

2. Adapt your communication

By deepening our understanding of how we communicate, we can better communicate with others who may not speak in the same language as us. Have you ever been in a conversation where you both speak English but you are not understanding each other?

That’s results when we speak from a different perceptive and we don’t adapt to the other’s perception.

3. Anticipate your stress response

When we do the inner work to identify our patterns and beliefs which come up under pressure, we can better understand our own personal stress response and anticipate it to choose a different way to respond when we feel under pressure.

Once we understand our stress patterns, it is easier to recognise them in others, and know how to speak to them to bring relief to others. This seems like an essential skill to develop to lead in today’s environment.

4. Understand your level of resilience

By understanding where we sit on the resilience scale, we can understand our limits and develop our own internal key performance indicators, to monitor when we are staying too long in the red zone which might get results but costs our wellbeing. It also helps us better collaborate with people who have different resilient levels.

Being a Leader, especially right now, for many is requiring being in and out of the orange and red danger zone. This is to be expected. What I am suggesting is to understand your boundaries between green feel good (++ zone), orange (-+zone) and the red danger (- -zone) so you can have indicators to manage when you need to ramp up or down the time you invest in push hard vs relaxing and taking care of your wellbeing.

This is important because we do not feel ‘stressed’ when we display the first signs of observable distress. So we think we are fine, until we are further gone and then it is harder to get out of it. 

Being an Adaptive Leader is accepting continuous personal development 

So in summary, Adaptive Leadership for me is the ability to adapt to your own needs, to perform at your best, without losing balance with your wellbeing. Once you know how to lead from a place of adaptability that is aligned with all the multi-dimension of your wellbeing, you can gain energy and creativity in all aspects of your life.

This self-awareness is what I love to unlock in Leaders by creating a safe space to step out of their comfort zone by reflecting and testing being more adaptive. When Leaders embody this change, others follow and this creates a path for an entire organisation to embody what connecting performance and wellbeing really mean. 

I hope this helps bring more clarity on how Leaders can connect performance and wellbeing together to access their infinite potential.

If you are interested in finding your own formula of performance and wellbeing alignment for you or your teams feel free to get in touch for a discovery call.

As a Conscious Leadership coach, Lauren takes an internal approach to leadership development. She works with founders and leaders to access new insights and self-awareness by improving how they relate to their sense of Self, Others and their Organisation to drive business results and wellbeing.

Lauren is also a keynote speaker on the Success Paradox. The concept of success coming at a cost of high performers. It can be a cost to physical, emotional or mental health. She shares how you can reduce these risks to find a balance for high performance and wellbeing.

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