Co-Director of the New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing and Resilience, Dr Lucy Hone is a leading international authority on the topic of resilience.
As part of our 2022 Conference focus on ‘big thinking for better business’, Dr Hone presented on the topic of leadership and the vital role it plays in creating resilience within individuals and teams in our workplaces.
Her session, titled ‘The Leader in the Mirror – taking care of yourself to lead well’, was an opportunity to access the latest scientific findings within the field of mental wellbeing at work, as well as useful practical ideas for building greater resilience within your teams.
We spoke with Dr Hone to learn more about her work, and what she’ll be covering in her session.
Fostering resilience and mental wellbeing in the workplace
I’ve always been interested in finding out what people can do to get the most out of their lives. There’s so much incredible scientific research being done around mental wellbeing and resilience and I love translating the latest science so that businesses can bring it to life. After all, what use is research if the findings remain buried in the realm of academia?
One of the key things that employers need to understand is that providing for the wellbeing of their people goes beyond that traditional ‘three Fs’ (if you’re wondering – that’s flu jabs, fruit bowls and fitness).
To increase productivity, creativity and participation, organisations must invest in mental wellbeing. This means having both a practical Wellbeing Policy that promotes sustainable high performance, alongside a Mental Health Policy that provides effective support to those who are experiencing mental ill health.
Burnout is also a huge problem for businesses everywhere – more so now than ever, thanks to Covid.
The uncertainty that the pandemic has created is a major contributing factor, however there are other drivers that employers should be aware of too. These include overwhelming workloads, disconnect between the values of employees and their managers, lack of autonomy and poor support systems within businesses.
Interestingly, those who love their job are often the most at risk of burnout. This is because people who are very passionate and engaged with their work derive much of their identity and purpose from their professional role. This can create an intense sense of personal pressure that results in burnout.
The vital role of leadership in facilitating resilience and wellbeing
One of the most critical things a leader can do to facilitate mental wellbeing and build resilience is to create an environment of psychological safety within their organisation. Study after study has shown that high performance occurs when teams have high quality connections, enabled by a sense of psychological safety.
Creating that kind of workplace may involve bold action, such as removing toxic managers. It also requires an open mindset – for example, understanding that some employees may prefer lateral career progression rather than the traditional upward trajectory.
Putting the science behind resilience into action
“My presentation, ‘The Leader in the Mirror – taking care of yourself to lead well’ has been developed to provide leaders with new concepts and tools that can be applied straight away to improve mental wellbeing and increase resilience within themselves and their teams.
I explain psychological safety in lay terms, covering off the key contributors to burnout and offering solutions for bringing about change. I also share a guide to small but noticeable actions that leaders can take to support their teams every day,” explains Dr Hone.