How To Become A Whole-Life Leader
"Whole-life" leaders set out to master habits that will enhance all aspects of their lives. Practicing these habits will improve well-being and increase productivity. For many, a leader's skill set has long been defined in the context of a job, career, or organizational setting. It is becoming clearer that, to lead well, the traditional lines between work and other areas of life should be blurred. The blurring of these lines provides an opportunity for leaders to develop a mindset of wholeness.
It's hard to argue with the ideas and habits of Jeff Bezos, the successful CEO of Amazon. Bezos shares his thoughts about "work-life balance," saying that he views the phrase as "debilitating" and it "implies there's a strict trade-off." Bezos' view on compartmentalizing work and life is that it creates more constraints and is less productive. Creating a life where we look at skill sets either for work or for life is also misleading. Why wouldn't we want to develop habits that lead to success in our whole life?
A leader can develop habits to lead from a place of "wholeness." Whole-life leaders develop a mindset of growth and continue to hone their capabilities of self-reflection and introspection. A whole-life leader needs to lead from their authentic inner core to become the leader they desire to be. It takes time for a leader to look at their inner capabilities, become aware of them, explore them, and apply new tools to shift results. A whole-life leader looks past the challenge of the day to develop habits that will be applicable no matter what their daily situation is. How does a leader develop a mindset leading to whole-life habits?
Whole-Life Leader Habits
Examine your leadership mindset by keeping a journal.
There are many benefits to keeping journals. Journaling can help clarify thoughts and feelings (yes, feelings are important to acknowledge in the work environment as well as at home), solve problems more effectively, and track patterns. Growth over time is a goal for leaders. When establishing a journaling practice, leaders must include a review of weekly entries to summarize important discoveries. This review is where the "gold nuggets" are found.
Embrace your unique character strengths.
Shifts can happen when leaders begin to understand their strengths profile. By knowing and using strengths, leaders can improve the quality of life for themselves and those around them. As a leader, whether you are helping a co-worker, child, or friend to develop their potential, knowing your strengths can help you relate to others through their unique strengths profile. Gallup research finds that younger workers, in particular, "want and expect their managers to work with them on personal and professional development opportunities."
Check your well-being levels.
A model for leaders to establish this routine is PERMA, designed by Dr. Martin E. P. Seligman. This framework has five core elements of psychological well-being and happiness. Complete a regular check-in to measure your frequency of P (positive emotion), E (engagement), R (relationships), M (meaning), and A (accomplishment). Observe the fluctuation of these elements over time. Measuring well-being is a way to understand what we choose and train our minds to choose differently.
Know your best self.
Leaders who recall and then write about a time when they were at their best can translate that experience into a future image. Visioning when they’re having the best impact on other people, leaders can capture what worked and aim to repeat or exceed past behavior to achieve results.
Whole-life leaders need to be intentional and make reflection a daily practice. Keep a journal, use your strengths, measure your well-being, and know your best self. All of these practices take time and commitment from a leader. When leaders become aware of their inner capabilities, explore those, and apply new tools, they can shift results. One of the great freedoms we have as leaders is the ability to choose our responses based on self-knowledge. Our choices determine our state of well-being and our ability to respond each day to the challenges we face.
Originally published at Forbes.com on January 16, 2019.