This week is Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK and the theme is on relationships. Building healthy relationships and connections both personally and professionally can have a significant impact on performance and our health.
And good mental health has a positive impact on business
- 70 million work days are lost each year due to mental health problems in the UK, costing employers approximately £2.4 billion per year
So the theme this week is the importance of relationships for leadership
'A leader without a great team, or without an excellent relationship with his team, will struggle to achieve greatness, as a leader cannot do everything themselves.' - Gordon Tredgold
Good relationships help us live longer and have happier lives with fewer physical and mental health problems. It is a fascinating topic, and one that I have first hand experience of both personally and professionally.
Physical health is spoken about far more in the workplace, and is a far more acceptable topic than mental health – there is still a taboo surrounding the topic of mental health. So why aren’t we doing more to tackle the issue?
My personal journey
I love my work. I work with people and organisations to help them be more emotionally intelligent – basically I work with leaders to help them understand more about the relationship they have with themselves and the relationships they have with others. I create a space for leaders and teams to become more self-aware, more honest and develop strategies to be more resilient and therefore more successful.
I am only able to do this because of my own personal journey and therefore expertise and passion in this subject.
17 years ago I was working in the City, I had a very successful career and outwardly others would have seen a confident young woman. What was actually going on was very different. At the age of 31 I hit a very low point in my life and ended up receiving treatment for what could now be described as mental health issues. What seemed to be a very bleak point in my life actually became a great turning point.
I had become so focused on success and achieving that I suppressed or avoided my emotions. My relationships had become quite superficial too – more because I wasn’t able to be honest and connect with people authentically. I had lost the connection with myself so it was of course going to be difficult for me to connect with others well.
During the last 17 years I have been on my own personal journey and I am so grateful to be able to use these experiences to support other leaders in the work I do today. A massive part of this journey for me was about developing strategies to be more resilient – skills that can be learnt. I have huge amounts of self-awareness today, I talk about and process my emotions on a daily basis and my leadership behaviours reflect my ability to be able to do this. I have a strong network and have great relationships both personally and professionally.
The importance of authentic relationships for good leadership
One of the most important parts of my own journey has been about being able to build relationships that are honest, open and authentic. I choose to work in environments and with clients that have similar values to mine and so my relationships are positive and mutually supportive.
'I know today that investing in relationships is as important to me as the investment in my physical health.'
My professional journey
Much of the work that I am doing with organisations at the moment links back to mental health. As the research shows from the Mental Health Foundation, issues around mental health cost the UK £2.4 billion each year. Great leaders are recognising that if they focus on helping individuals and teams become more mentally strong and resilient, they are more likely to have greater productivity and performance.
Connecting with others is one dimension of resilience that really supports this amongst other areas such as: purpose, having a positive mindset, determination, goal-directedness and looking after yourself.
I know that emotionally intelligent leaders invest in the relationships that they have with themselves, as much as the relationships that they have with others.
5 Top tips for developing relationships for leadership
- Develop your relationship with yourself first. What I mean by this is understand who you are, what emotions you are experiencing and how to respond rather than just react to them.
- Make relationships your resolution. Who do you want to connect with, are the relationships positive; who can you reach out to?
- Be present when relating to others – put down your phone or close your laptop and really develop and enjoy the relationships that you have.
- Be honest and open. Share with others what is really going on for you – in my experience that allows others to be honest too.
- Connect with people you wouldn't normally connect with – broaden your network both personally and professionally. Learn how to get curious about other people and have a genuine interest in them.
To find out more about running a Connecting with Others Workshop, have a look at the website.
Amanda Wildman - Emotionally-i-Fit
Amanda Wildman - Director of Emotionally-i-Fit is an expert in Emotional Intelligence and leadership development.
Emotionally-i-Fit runs assessments, coaching programmes, workshops and leadership retreats that help leaders and organisations to measure and develop the 16 metrics of Emotional Intelligence.