Business leaders make important decisions that impact the lives of their employees and stakeholders on a daily basis. As business comes in different types, so do the health habits of business leaders and the companies they lead. The secret recipes below will help you stay healthy as a leader and provide talking points to create a health-focused culture for your people to thrive!
Understand Gut-Brain Health
A key need of leadership is clarity in order to make sound decisions. While mental health is impacted by many things, recent research has shown the physical and chemical connection between our gut and our brain, spurring trends in gut-brain research among the most notable institutions.
As leaders, what we eat directly impacts our mental health and neurotransmitters as evidenced in the gut-brain connection. Bottom-line, a healthy gut can improve your mental outlook as a leader and ability to make sound decisions.
Start improving your company's approach towards corporate dining, eating on-the-go, and wellness insights backed by top research to support the health of your employees.
Elevate Vitality to Achieve Peak Performance
Busy people often pay a health price for convenience because their body is in a mild fight or flight mode, spurring reactive grabs for high fat, sugary foods to quickly elevate hormones, instead of a responsive grab to what the body needs, real sugars in the form of whole foods like fruits and more water to quench the 60% of us that is made up of water. Real food brings real vitality.
As a leader, energy is important to inspiring, motivating, and driving business teams to new heights.
Respond to your body's needs to elevate its vitality through the input of healthy foods and more water as a primary daily beverage. Before indulging in an impulsive food purchase, try breathing for 30 seconds and asking yourself "why do I want to eat this?" Are you really hungry or are you stress eating? Is there a healthier alternative if you hit pause?
Learning how to slow down will help you speed up as you shift from unhealthy nutritional choices to mindful choices that fuel your body throughout the day.
BONUS: if you are planning an onsite meeting with food, plan for health and reduce the donuts, cookies, and quick fixes that will have your people crashing from a sugar-high moments after the meeting. Opt for 100% fruit and veggie smoothies in 8oz cups as a treat, infused water, and source from vendors that use quality ingredients.
Understand the Relationship Between Healthcare Costs and Company Culture
While Americans are living longer, they are not living healthier lives. Given the for-profit nature of healthcare in America, there has been a focus on less health and more care through the years, although the trend is shifting as preventative care becomes the gold standard. Spending on healthcare in America continues to grow as a top area of GDP nearing 18% and twice that of most developed nations. While this is good for capitalism, it isn't good for a company's bottom-line.
One of the largest costs to employers are people and benefits. As healthcare premiums continue to rise, a health conscious mindset from top-down can create better outcomes.
Additionally, organizations need to focus on total health, including the reduction of toxic management styles that create health issues, including stress induced eating or malnutrition from not eating in cases of depression. Management has a direct impact on employee wellness.
Given the fact most adults spend the majority of their hours in the workplace, culture and wellness are key to creating a healthier nation of adults. Whether you are a small business employing 50 people or a large organization, make sure you are integrating a health component in company-wide training to address the impact of company culture, management, stress, and healthy communication to foster a true culture of wellness.
Leaders who create healthier managers to create healthier cultures will begin to change the landscape of healthcare, long-term. Small changes today lead to big changes in time.
Lead by Example
Encouraging others to eat healthy, we've seen companies like WeWork take a hard-line approach to banning meat purchased on expense accounts to Google employing behavioral health specialists to frost out sugary beverages in fridges on their corporate campus focusing people's attention to healthier options and Silicon Valley CEOs taking up intermittent fasting where they only eat a few hours each day.
Clearly, one can see that leaders have varying levels of control that they influence on others when it comes to nutritional habits.
Key to engaging talented employees, is to give them choice and the power of knowledge with unbiased research. While WeWork may be on the plant-based craze sweeping the nation, we've seen how the Mediterranean diet in Italy keeps people going for years as they eat smaller portions, rest during the day, and have a connected community sharing meals late at night.
A plant based diet in an overworked setting with a rising rate of isolation in America does not equal a promise for good health. Moderation and common sense does.
Leaders today can set the tone when dining before employees by saying no to dessert, talking about the importance of exercise at a time that works for the individual instead of the rah-rah of 5am workouts, and limiting alcohol at corporate functions to one drink before offering tasty mock-tails.
Transformational leadership is not about control, it is about guidance, coaching, and teaching others about the power of choice that is harnessed within the individual to make empowered decisions.
An easy win to improving the health of your workforce is to start planting seeds with health tips in internal emails with a call-out by senior leaders; this is surely a better way to win employee loyalty over not paying for your top sales team's favorite chicken dinner as they close their next deal!
Respect Your Time Together
In today's tech-centered era, humans are easily addicted to their devices. We've seen tech detox programs, research showing areas of the brain impacted, and stories of physiological withdrawal similar to drug withdrawals as people go without their phone for a day.
Sometimes, the solutions we create in business are the very own problems we create.
The smartphone eco-system is designed by the top behavioral scientists who know how to manipulate human behavior to keep them hooked onto apps, and at a deeper level, tied to online spending to keep our economic engine spinning with in-app purchases. If people seem addicted, they are because the system design was created to make money.
Understanding tech addiction and the seriousness of this will help leaders address limited attention spans and people who are not focused on human interactions in meetings.
Respecting our time together is critical to having effective communication and performance. As a leader, I have a no cell phone policy in key meetings. I set boundaries with people at the start of the meeting by asking for their full attention and requesting all blinking lights, sounds, and other distractions be turned off during our time together. I respect the group's time by being disciplined so that multiple people aren't scanning their devices and then coming around to ask the same question a few minutes later because they weren't present. Time is money and time is our most valuable gift. Use time wisely and teach your managers how to set healthy boundaries to limit multi-tasking when critical conversations are at stake.
A good leadership question is to ask yourself if you are using technology or if it is using you? Make sure your company uses technology to improve operations at the same time you respect the human element, that is the foundation of healthy leadership.
Remember, the key to a healthier company is to create conversations with your team on the importance of nutrition, health, and overall cultural wellness inside your organization.
Creating a healthy team begins with healthy leaders, so start improving your leadership capacity today by writing down one thing you want to focus on improving and do it this week. Ask your partner at work or at home to hold you accountable and keep track of how you did with this goal. If you can make millions for your organization by being actionable, it's time to be actionable to your health and the health of those you lead starting today!