Tech Leadership In So Many Words … #16 Health

Andrew Weaver
August 4, 2023

‘As long as you’ve got your health, you’ve got everything’

A mantra that’s easy to say,
but when you’re in deep as a senior leader,
not always easy to follow.

We become so hyper focused on managing the demands incumbent with leadership,
alongside our own expectations and ambitions,
that sometimes we fail to focus on the fundamentals of looking after ourselves.

Before you know it ….

Bad habits become ingrained and your wellbeing, physical and mental, starts to suffer with an impact on your ability to be fully effective at work and present at home. 

And it’s those around you who will often spot the signs first.

But you probably know all this, right?
You’re aware of feeling overworked and overstressed. 
Caught in the hamster wheel that’s become your normality.

So what to do about it?

How to manage others you see falling into the same cycle because we don’t need studies to tell us that people who feel mentally and physically healthy, are going to be more productive at work and supportive of each other.

Those leaders who prioritise and accommodate team wellbeing are not only showing the basic humanity needed in those roles but are likely creating a competitive advantage at the same time.

The Power of Marginal Gains

The power of marginal gains was popularised in a sporting context by Dave Brailsford, former performance director of British Cycling.

Brailsford believed that if you make a 1% improvement in a range of tiny areas then the long term benefits can be extraordinary.

He looked at improving often overlooked aspects to build a cumulative edge against competitors;

  • He had the training room floor painted pristine white so they could spot any dust that might impair performance
  • Seats were redesigned for extra comfort and stability
  • Massage gels were tested for better muscle recovery 
  • They found better pillows for improved sleep
    And the list goes on

So the question to ask yourself and your team,
particularly if you see no obvious way to ease up the pressure of your day job ….

What small steps and marginal gains can you implement today,
That will create a significant cumulative impact around improved health tomorrow?

  • Walk the stairs rather than catch the lift
  • Use a fitness tracker (targeting a certain number of steps per day)
  • Listen to a meditation app at the end of each day (get some perspective)
  • Schedule more regular calls with the friends who make you laugh
  • Commit to building better sleep patterns into your lifestyle
    And the list goes on

Remember also, that you are not alone if feeling overwhelmed at work.

Many of us are or have been.

So make sure that you’re maintaining a sense of perspective around you.
I keep good friends close and regularly tune in and tune out with my favourite comedians.

Help yourself by cultivating a team culture where vulnerabilities can be discussed
and where laughter and humour pervade.

Nothing is that serious, or at least nothing should be that serious.

Tons of advice out there how to improve in these areas – a few of the ones we like …

1. The philosophy of sans ecran …”without a screen”. Go tech-free for 24 hours during the weekend.
2. Create one day per week that is free of meetings for people to catch up, reflect and learn
3. Enable flexible working that works for the individual, as well as the organisation
4. Get to properly know each other and bring a different social topic to regular meetings
5. If working within a remote team, encourage separation of private vs working time, not being available outside that persons standard hours i.e. add an email signature that explicitly states your timezone/working schedule

And the list goes on but the bottom line is this …

Keep an eye on your health and start making those marginal gains today.

‘The first wealth is health’ — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Want to find out more about CTO Academy and our Technology Leadership Courses, including lectures that look at time management and mental health at work?

Visit the CTO Academy Website and in particular our executive leadership course, The Digital MBA for Technology Leaders that is winning rave reviews from global technology leaders

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