Historically company leaders have had to be the strongest person on the team, leading the way no matter how difficult the economic situation is, showing no vulnerability.
This toxic approach dominated the corporate agenda, seeping down through the management layers to the rest of the workforce. But change is happening. In recent years senior leaders have realised that being more open and admitting that they’re not superhuman, can bring significant gains to their business.
Everyone of us has lived experience, a term that describes our direct first-hand experiences and the choices we make, and it plays a huge part in how we perform at work. Millennials and Gen Z have entered the workforce, much more comfortable being honest about the challenges they face.
They want bosses to understand what they have to deal with out of the office and don’t expect a black mark against their name if they need to take time off because of poor mental health or caring responsibilities.
They want a more inclusive workplace culture. One that values and understands differences. They want leaders they can trust, who show honesty, and who by example, allow them in turn to be who they are, to be their authentic selves.
Setting the right example
When senior executives do show vulnerability, they help de-stigmatise mental health and encourage change.
When the CEO of Lloyds Banking Group explained that he’d taken time off because of workplace stress it led to the introduction of mental health awareness initiatives for staff at all levels of the business.
HSBC’s boss spoke of the snowball effect it had when he talked about suffering from depression. It led to colleagues sharing their own stories and helping each other.
And Citigroup’s UK chief executive realised the importance of looking after the wellbeing of his employees after coming through a long period of anxiety and sadness himself.
It is particularly encouraging that these men were in senior positions, showing that they too were vulnerable, something male workers are often reluctant to do.
The power of honesty
Many of us will struggle with our mental health at some stage of our life. Hearing from someone who has ‘been through it’ can be one of the most powerful steps towards recovery.
When your senior leaders are the ones who lead the way, there is a ripple effect through the business.
That’s why our wellbeing streaming service Ashia is built on sharing people’s lived experiences. Bringing together human stories of resilience and connecting staff to support services and resources, Ashia empowers your staff to help themselves before they reach crisis point.
With the ability to create a private channel where you can record and share the lived experience of people at all levels within your company, from the CEO down, Ashia helps you create trust and break down stigma.
Discover if Ashia offers the right support for your people by signing up for a no-obligation 30-day free trial.
Building a workplace culture where employees enjoy coming to work and feel supported underpins the most successful businesses. And it starts from the top.
When people are authentic at work, they are more likely to be innovative and creative and make a positive contribution. Your leaders are the role models who can set the tone.