Defining Well-Being

As the well-being of our teams (comprised of a collection of unique individuals with differing needs) and the well-being of our organizations are in flux, it is a good time to reflect and pause to get clarity around what well-being is within our work contexts. Well-being and what it could or should mean compared to economic and productivity well-being is the subject of this interesting article posted in resilience.org. 

Starting already last year, New Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern is taking a distinct leadership approach and prioritizing what she sees as ‘human and ecological well-being’ above economic or consumption (or over-consumption) well-being. Well-being in her approach is more than economics or productivity, but care for people and the planet. Under her policy, ‘new spending had to focus on one of five main priorities: improving mental health, reducing child poverty, addressing inequalities of Indigenous peoples, thriving in a digital age, and transitioning to a low-emissions economy’. 

Arden’s approach is a strong example of a leader who has a very clear and compelling vision for her team (her country) which I think is amplified by the Covid-19 disruption. As all of us are considering or perhaps re-considering in a new way what well-being means to us, this disruption in our lives is a great opportunity for reflection and perhaps adapting to a whole new way of operating as individuals, teams, and organizations. This disruptive change creates a new opportunity to re-set or modify a clear vision and perhaps a re-prioritization of goals. 

Building Back Better

Leading through disruption (or unanticipated change) is referred to in the article as ‘building back better’. How do we live full and meaningful lives without all the extra stuff or distractions of things or tasks we had potentially filled our lives and our work with before? Disruptive change opens individuals, teams, and organizations to consider or re-consider what is most important. What do we want to be about? What is most important? Is well-being important and how do we define well-being?

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Strong and frequently present leadership during this ‘storming phase’ of teams and organizations requires facilitation of constructive conversations that allow space for the uncertainty while guiding the process forward. Often some of the best new ideas or ways forward come from this uncomfortable place of the norms being disrupted if we can lean into and trust the leader to guide through the discomfort. This requires a certain threshold of well-being (another way to look at positive relationships and trust) within the team.

Factoring Emotional Intelligence

One of the emotional intelligence competencies we see as valuable leading in uncomfortable unknowns is seen in Arden’s leadership is empathy as described in this article. Empathy shown in leadership under stressful times is clear in communication, direct and transparent, while holding authentic compassion; the feeling that the leaders are with you, not just above you. ‘Trust and loyalty are tested during difficult times’, and if we as leaders are able to create a sense of “I’m with you” safety to struggle through disruption, our teams and our organizations are more likely to feel that their personal and team well-being are cared for, and press into re-imagining how we want our teams and our organizations to operate. 

This is a unique opportunity not only personally, but within the teams we lead to ask ourselves and our teams, what does building back better mean…for you, for us, and for our organization? What have we been surprised by not missing? What is still important or has risen in importance? 

How important is it for a leader to care for the well-being of their team? In critical times and disruption, we’d say crucial. The strength and health of your team and your organization depends on it. Please connect with us and check out our virtual team building program ideas that we can facilitate you and your team to care for the well-being of your team. Virtual programs contributing to team and personal well-being available!