The Well-being of Leaders at Risk: How to Take Care of Yourself and Become a Better Role Model

In challenging times, we rely on our leaders as a lighthouse in the storm. What if they too run out of strength and their light goes out? This is what happens in many companies and it's time to make the well-being of leaders a priority. Are we ready for it and what pitfalls stand in our way? Let's shed some light on this.
Lenka Šilhánová
Feb 17, 2023
5 mins

Why is the well-being of leaders at risk?

The importance of well-being is finally dawning on executives and 89%[1] of c-level leaders have it as a priority. However, they themselves are not immune and the impact of the events of the last three years has taken its toll on them as well. 70%[1] of leaders are even considering changing jobs if they can find one that allows them a healthier lifestyle and more flexibility. They realize that in order to perform well in their role, well-being needs to start with themselves.

"We believe that when leaders take care of themselves, they are much more able to take care of their employees to be empathetic, creative, and inspiring. But when they're depleted, running on empty and burnt out, it's much harder to lead from what is best in them. Role modeling is key because we are changing an entire culture that used to believe that burnout is simply the price you pay for success," Arianna Huffington revealed in an interview with Forbes[2].

Changing priorities and making an effort to change are a great start and a significant step toward a healthier lifestyle. However, leaders recognize that navigating this new path will not be easy, and the main obstacle is the current way of working. The main villains are a high volume of work and a stressful agenda next to long hours. It is common for leaders not to take the vacation time needed to recover because of "work that won't wait". Will we be able to build a bridge across the gap between the need to address well-being and the reality of the workplace? Where there is a will, there is a way.

Technology could be part of the solution.

"We believe that the time is coming when work will adapt to our lifestyle instead of adapting our lifestyle to work. This is a fundamental mindset shift that will require companies to take a different approach toward workers. Not only with the advent of applied AI, but it will also be more about changing the paradigm from 'work hard' to 'work smart'," predicts Tomáš Jiroušek, Investment Manager at MITON Group.

How can leaders get started with well-being?

"We often refer to the phrase 'work hard, play hard', but this is the time when 'rest well' deserves to be added. Find a sustainable model between stress and rest, because you also want to be a functional part of your team for as long as possible," recommends Behavera's Dušan Murčo, who summarizes practical tips on leading people remotely in his Remote Leadership Manifesto.

Working and leading people requires a lot of energy. Dušan recommends that leaders create routines that will help recharge your batteries during the workday. Whether it's a phone call with loved ones, breathing exercises, a healthy snack, or whatever else works for you. Experiment and get to know yourself through it. Allow yourself to not drive yourself to the ground and forget about yourself. "Don't postpone it. Start and do it regularly, put it on your calendar, and focus on it," he added.

In addition to routines and small habits, you can start working on changing your overall approach to work. If your calendar is quickly filled with work obligations, you don't have the space to schedule quality time with family, sports, or time for deep work. You need to take the opposite approach and set boundaries.

Prioritize time off for family and hobbies first on the calendar, block out time for sports activities, and finally time for uninterrupted deep work. Next, carve out time to dedicate only to your team and open the remaining capacity to other work responsibilities.

It is the opposite approach to what many can even imagine. However, leaders who have changed their approach to work and their order of priorities are not as at risk of burnout and have better levels of well-being.

How to take care of your team's well-being?

Now you know how to take care of yourself, let's look at how to support your team. We recommend sticking to three principles:

  1. Have a genuine interest – regular team meetings, 1:1 meetings, and informal chats on Slack or Teams. In addition to face-to-face meetings, use well-being tools. "Use intuition, but also use data," Dušan recommends. This is because you can uncover the reality that people are too afraid to talk about face-to-face early on.

Research by Deloitte[1] revealed that only 56% of employees believe that leaders actually care about their well-being, while 91% of leaders think they care enough. This is why we need to do regular well-being surveys and base our decisions on data, not assumptions.

  1. Be present – be there for your people and be visible. Make it easy for your team to find you anytime, write to you, or call you further, Dušan recommends.
  2. Create a safe space – build trust through vulnerability. Show that it's okay to make mistakes or feel bad. Be understanding, but also work to improve over the long term, advises Dušan.

Companies with high levels of trust have 76% higher levels of engagement, 74% lower levels of stress, 56% higher levels of cooperation, 50% higher levels of productivity, and 27% lower levels of turnover[3].

How are you doing with your well-being at your team? Try our free Well-being Index for the first 10 employees. You can send us questions and comments at


[1], The C-suite's role in well-being, authors Steve Hatfield, Jen Fisher, and Paul H. Silverglate

[2], Arianna Huffington: Putting Empathy Into Action Yet Again, author Dan Pontefract

[3], The Neuroscience of Trust, author Paul J. Zak

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