Often, individuals in leadership positions feel the mounting pressures around them and become overwhelmed. This is normal, but let’s talk about how your mental health may impact your responses to these pressures and your ability to react to them. For many years, there has been a stigma surrounding mental health issues and how one should deal with them. The most common thing being peddled out was that one should keep them at home and to themselves. But this is dogmatic and counterproductive to how mental health permeates into every facet of life.
For those in leadership positions, the most common thing that will take a toll on one’s mental health is stress. More stress may increase the anxiety one may feel, as well as a host of other negative thought producing effects, affecting interactions at home life and in the workplace. Sound and timely decision making is a pillar of good leadership, and in some individuals, increased stress and anxiety will cause a stall in the decision making process. Another potential consequence of allowing your mental health to erode as a leader involves your coworkers, because your mental health impacts their mental health, too.
One big keyword is Empathy. As a leader, an individual needs to be responsive and empathetic, and listen to the problems his or her subordinates are bringing up to them, as well as demonstrate the responsibility to properly mitigate or solve the problem as it pertains to the work environment. If you have allowed your mental health to erode, you may not handle this situation well if it comes on top of an already seemingly insurmountable mountain of work, or at the end of the day, when you just want to go home. Another topic of discussion is how leaders address mental health in the workplace amongst subordinates and coworkers. Nobody is immune to the trials of life or the toll it takes on one’s state of mind, and despite what the old adage says, “leave your problems at the door”, this is frankly impossible.
A solution, according to Billy Mawasha, a Young Global Leader(YGL) representing the World Economic Forum, involves self management and peer assistance. There is truth to this; as a leader, good time management skills will help reduce perceived stress and make the many tasks much more manageable. Also, taking the time to take care of one’s subordinates, and helping to provide the space that is psychologically safe, as the workplace permits, will greatly improve their at work mind state, how they perceive their leadership and how they feel about leaving home to go to their jobs.