2020 has brought many things, including new perspectives on successful leadership. A new style of leading is opening up and we are all either participating, witnessing or feeling its effects (or its absence).

What is this new leadership style? It emphasises wellbeing and care, connection, value and values, equality, fairness and presencing. New-style leaders integrate wellbeing at a time of escalating rates of stress and mental health. This type of visionary leadership addresses and corrects the toll of discrimination in the workplace as part of a wellness strategy. It values wellness in teams for purposes of balancing perspectives, growing and innovating together. Collective wellbeing is the bedrock on which strong teams and organisations are built.

What does this mean in practical terms?

As much as wellness is a collective concept in that our wellbeing affects those around us, it is also personal.

At this time of year, when reflection and transition are evident, there are practical ways of linking wellness to leadership while taking care of ourselves.

Smarter wellbeing strategies work with what is under our very noses. At a time when we are more likely to give ourselves permission to rest, here are a few suggestions:

The breath, for instance, offers an opportunity to sigh, release and let go. As you’re reading this, you may find yourself naturally sighing. If so, notice the effects. The breath also symbolises inspirational leadership and the capacity to inspire others. Whether your work intensifies or allows for a break at this time of year, a deep sigh and the relief it brings is possible wherever you are.

Our feet mark our steps in the world. They symbolise ‘stepping out’, ‘stepping forward’ and leading through uncertain times. They are linked to vision for when we cannot see, walking steadily becomes difficult. At this time of year, we can ‘put our feet up’, pause and rest our entire being. You may wish to go a step further and moisturise the feet in recognition of their often-overlooked physical and symbolic role.

With our hands we can make gestures. They are also the means of giving and receiving. Symbolically, good leaders point the way forward and offer direction. At the same time they are receptive to change and ideas. At a time of offering food and giving and receiving gifts, and in the context of reduced hugging, the hands come to represent exchanges of the heart. When caring for the hands, they come to care for one another whether we are washing or moisturizing them.

These perennial techniques are simple and direct. As constant companions they can remind us of the importance of our own wellbeing and the vital role it plays in leadership.

If you’d like further questions to prompt your thoughts around wellbeing and leadership, you will find a specially-prepared worksheet here.