Before diving deeper into this subject matter, it is important to put the notion of a practitioner into context. Though the writer of this column has a background in psychotherapy and executive coaching, this is only a starting point that can be used as a lens to benefit various players across the business ecosystem. From CEOs, and senior management to entrepreneurs alike, this new age of corporate culture is in the express lane metamorphizing by the hour. Companies are continually dependent on finding more effective solutions that enhance growth while recognizing that there are better ways to meet the needs of their most important asset, their people.
In this time when organizations are trying to best navigate economic uncertainties and deal with the “new normal” of work life in a Covid reality, one of the most important requirements for any business leader is the ability to have the means at their disposal to mitigate risk and create a successful work culture. The knowledge base that business leaders must have goes far beyond their predecessors. In an era where a new vocabulary of mental health is becoming more prevalent in business life, it is time to reassess the tools that leadership needs to engage this challenge. Words such as burnout, stress, anxiety to microaggression among others are becoming commonplace across today’s work culture. Mental health can no longer be dismissed, it cannot be relegated to touchy-feely notions, but is an essential component of the modern business dynamic.
As business leaders are striving to figure out this new hybrid reality, they are at a stage of trial and error and need an awareness of interpersonal dynamics and a working knowledge of basic mental health skills. This will not only have a residual impact on them as leaders but on the growth of the organization as well. While each company’s needs are different, leadership should practice the refrain “progress not perfection” as a fundamental building block for this new business voyage. It is the journey that must be explored more deeply, with a recognition that patience, empathy, and listening are just as valuable as profit, efficiency, and shareholder value. With the current trend leaning toward more hybrid work, there are new challenges around well-being that companies have yet to face. This is a process where iteration, thoughtfulness, and finding the right balance will continue to play a greater role across the enterprise.
While no one can predict the future, the power of defining a robust mental health strategy within the business ecosystem serves another purpose. It helps to cultivate a workplace that embraces inclusion while asserting the idea that different requirements should not only be tolerated but critical in achieving a competitive advantage. It is here where the role of mental health and business practice needs to find greater synchronicity. So, what tools can business leaders use to commence and galvanize their organization in revising the current playbook and reorganizing the toolkit to see not what is, but what can be?
We may want to once again revisit this idea of the practitioner. In this new work culture, leadership is continuing to evolve, and it is critical to heed the words of the eminent educator and management consultant Peter Drucker who said,“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” This verse could not be truer today than at the time it was written. However, for leaders to be fully engaged in doing the right things they must be able to command the appropriate skills and knowledge to do so. They must become practitioners of human dynamics in concert with their acumen in business tactics, numbers, and strategy. Being able to grasp the meaning and value of what listening, and empathy can resolve for an overall business’s success is critical for years to come. Recognizing what is needed is the first step and finding the resources necessary to be effective is an essential ingredient of what a future leader should aspire to.
Creativity, imagination, and emotional intelligence are vital elements to recognizing the connective tissue between leadership, well-being, and the future of work. Cultivating that muscle will be important not only to enhance leadership skills but creating a throughline to a more robust relationship with the organization’s employees. This is a fluid concept playing out in real-time and no one person or group has the right answer. The important thing to remember is to continue learning and growing and find what works for your business.