As a leader at your company, your employees look to you for guidance not just in work, but balancing wellness and health too.
There’s a new breed of CEO emerging. Dynamic, energetic, well presented: both mentally and physically fit. This CEO is mentally agile, authentic, and engaged. No matter what their age you can tell they unapologetically take good care of themselves: they are the top-class athletes of the business world, understanding that to be truly effective, reduce stress, and make great decisions they need to run their body like a business and integrate personal vitality into a winning week.
This leadership style brings business and personal vitality to life with consistency and purpose. It improves the financial bottom line by creating a sustainable, healthy, engaged mindset of personal accountability—one that is reflective of a company culture where the CEO leads by example. High performers know the importance of ensuring their health and wellbeing is essential for creativity, productivity, and leadership.
So why are so many CEOs that I work with struggling to find that perfect balance, that trifecta of leading from within, leading by example, and ultimately leading others on the importance of business and personal vitality combined? The challenge is the unwritten old-school rule of working yourself to the bone, often unsuccessfully balancing work and home life and the stresses that come with corporate responsibilities, jam-packed agendas, and high demands on your time. Long hours, large financial decisions, and commitments to industry social events and activities make constant withdrawals on the bank of personal vitality and wellbeing. Approximately one-third of adult life is spent at work, and I am sure that will increase in the future, as seems to be the case from the CEOs I talk to.
If you’re at the top of your company or organisation, chances are you’re at the top of your game and realistically your personal health and wellbeing in some way reflects the role you have as a leader. The Australian Workplace Wellness survey stated the challenge for employers is to take a strategic and measurable approach to human capital.
The key to effective investment in workplace well-being however is to first ensure corporate that the culture is demonstrated and actioned right from the top—at board level. This does not have to be expensive or dramatic, but rather a case of individual connection to the importance of integrating business and personal vitality as one. My biggest advice is to make wellness ‘business as usual’ and integrate it by example within your teams, direct reports, and the culture you create.
Here are five tips to bring your business and personal vitality to life as a CEO and leader.
1. A Fresh Perspective
Out with the old and in with the new. Time for a fresh mindset of what health and fitness really mean and how you create your personal best. Look at the exercise you love, healthy food you enjoy, and bring more of that into your week.
No strict diets, fad gym regimes, or long workout sessions. We are talking smart, well-integrated, healthy living that will have you jump out of bed in the morning ready for the day ahead—consistently. Don’t expect to train like you did when you were starting out in business or before ‘buy-out’ and board-level responsibilities. Tailor your wellbeing to smart effective workouts, a fresh look at dining out, and managing your ‘time out’ for creativity and relaxation.
2. Plan Your Winning Week
Design your agenda. Plan health and fitness right upfront. Make it transparent so that you or the senior team see where you are on that given time and you are making this an important part of your performance.
I coach the 5 Elements Of A Winning Week:
• Fitness and Wellbeing
• Admin and Productivity
• Friends (choose who you spend your time with wisely since you have so little of it)
• ME Time (and the sixth pillar is Giving Back).
To achieve a true combination of business and personal vitality your week needs to be made up of all of these pillars. However to kick-start the most important, it’s time to think like an athlete. The fast pace most senior executives, entrepreneurs, and CEOs operate at takes a game plan, enormous energy, and the ability to think on your feet.
Be flexible but be consistent with your week planning, regardless of what city, time zone, or board meeting you’re in. If you’re anything like me then you’re on the road traveling A LOT or balancing five roles in one. No week is ever the same. Days get mixed around, so I tailor my sessions based on early starts to catch flights, and late finishes with events and coaching calls. Pack your workout gear and use running or walking as a way to explore each city. Substitute gym sessions with express hotel room workouts like the WakeUpWorkout.
Schedule in golf, tennis, longer walks, surf, stand up paddle, jog, or swim when time allows—use it as a way to catch up with friends or colleagues. Most of all, schedule your week in advance.
3. Lead From Within
Practice what you preach before you ask it of others.
Drop the need for one hour workout sessions and aim for consistency and practicality. Be transparent with planning your agenda, and don’t apologise for making your health and wellbeing a priority. Remove the grand gestures of twice yearly charity runs and add value by consistent smaller goals for you and even your leadership team.
Integrate a wellbeing culture that fits your organisation. Stock the fridge and office lunches with fresh, healthy choices, always have mineral water in your office. For example, serve with ice and lemon for water at your meetings. The small tips all add up to greater results.
“Creating a culture-first mentality is a critical step for employers when it comes to building a highly engaged workforce,” said Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin HealthMiles.
4. Lead By Example
Performance based KPIs that encompass a culture of health, wellbeing, and accountability are highly effective. Run your body like a business. Your Vitality BankTM Balance Sheet: balance your withdrawals with positive deposits into your health, wellbeing, strategic time, and business. Top up your vitality bank and that of your organisation by increasing the amount of nutritious smart food choices available, integrate fresh air regularly into your day, and hire a trainer if you need to that comes to your office three times a week at lunch time to ensure you’re working your cardio, flexibility, and strength in combination with your mental time you spend at work.
“Unilever Australia developed a holistic wellbeing program to improve employee health through exercise, nutrition, and mental resilience. The Ignite U program initially targeted the board members who needed to be fully fit and able to lead the company through its turnaround agenda—and by nature of the turnaround, were engaged in long hours, potentially highstress situations and had previously given little regard to health and nutrition.
The program achieved 100 per cent uptake at both levels. It is now being progressively extended throughout the wider organisation on a voluntary basis, targeting the most vulnerable and ‘hard to reach’ groups.”
Life has no remote: get up and make the changes yourself. You’re smart, intelligent, and probably fantastic at what you do for others in business. So stop looking outside for the solutions and get back to basics. Do regular exercise— something that gets you moving daily. Understand your body—where are your strengths and where are your weaknesses? Start working on your weaknesses—bring balance back physically and mentally. YOU are now your new project.
Get inspired and supported by programs and people, but ultimately it’s your responsibility to have the body and the life you love. You will perform better and provide a leading example to those around you.
Nikki Fogden-Moore is a QLD-based corporate wellness expert who runs regular international retreats for burnt-out Australian CEOs to help them revitalise their health and wellbeing. Nikki has a background in international brand strategy & activation as well as a history in sports and nutrition which gives her a unique insight to the challenges we face to achieve worklife balance. She lives by the mantra that “you can create the life you want.”
For more information visit www.thevitalitycoach.com.au or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.