Our jobs are killing us and the people who are responsible are our leaders
Have you every had an ulcer feeling before going to work. I am sure most of you would have come across some great leaders and then some very bad leaders…..if you close your eyes and think about how you felt every day while you were with a great leader (Motivated, excited, looking forward etc.,) – I am sure you would agree with me that the great leader made you happy which automatically impacted your health and your family….here is a great article of the other side of the story – how miserable one can feel if they have a bad leader….expert opinion shared by Nauman Jaffar
How Poor leaders are killing us
By Heidi Alexandra Pollard Company Culture Architect
I recently heard Simon Sinek say this in a YouTube video and it really struck a chord. How did you feel when you read that? Harsh reality? Don’t believe me? Or perhaps you have had an experience yourself or heard someone say “my boss is busting my balls” or “my manager is killing me!”
These might be throw away comments around the water cooler but sadly they are a reflection of reality.
In my view and experience leadership is not a rank or position – it is a choice. It is a choice to be of service and support others. Since first reading Robert Greenleaf’s powerful book The Servant Leader when writing my thesis paper for my master’s degree in my late 20’s, to working for the General Manager of a large teaching hospital with 3,000 staff who clearly cared about his staff and how they cared for their patients, I began the journey of studying servant leaders.
Some of the most powerful lessons I learnt came from working in toxic environments where there was a clear container manager culture of restrictive, measured and fear based decisions that created a dog eat dog, dobber mentality amongst staff. Here I saw how even one container manager at the top could have a negative impact on people’s self-esteem, health, wellbeing and relationships both at work and at home.
Almost as bad as the container manager was the disinterested manager where I witnessed people shrivel and lose their spark as they became undervalued and invisible.
And the research proves working for these poor leaders is a problem for individual employees as well as for the organisation. Studies from Europe and the US are showing that when people say “my boss is killing me”, quite literally this could be the case – around 25% of people who have worked for a poor manager for a short period of time and 38% of the people who have worked for a poor manager for a longer period of time are more likely to have a stroke or heart disease later in life as a product of working with them.
Biologically working with a manager who makes us feel paranoid and anxious and unsafe creates too much cortisol in our body which compromises our immune system, will make us self-interested and stressed, and makes us less empathic and considerate of others.
In addition, being ignored by a manager results in a 4 in 10 chance you’ll be actively disengaged in your job on a daily basis. If your manager tells you what you’re doing wrong – there’s a 2 in 10 chance you’ll be actively disengaged at work.
On the other hand if you are fortunate to work for an expander leader who focuses primarily on your strengths – there’s only a slim 1 in 10 chance that you’ll be disengaged at work.
So what is it that expander leaders do differently to poor leaders or container manager? Expander or servant leaders:
- create more leaders – they are of service
- see possibility in every individual employee and seek to find the Uniqueness (I call it the UQ) in every single person
- are more likely to sacrifice self for the good of the many and the organisation
- take care to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served.
- focuses primarily on the growth and well-being of people and the communities to which they belong.
- give control, not take control.
Of the company’s I’ve studied over the past two decades, those with an expander leader driven culture experience:
- less staff turnover
- less OHS issues, disputes and claims
- increased productivity
- increased profit
- increased stakeholder engagement.
Creating a positive, productive and mentally healthy workplace culture is one of the important issues businesses face today. A recent Price Waterhouse Coopers report identified that ignoring it costs Australian businesses around $10.9 billion a year in lost productivity. And with stress, anxiety and poor mental health likely to affect one in five employees, by taking action the benefits can be profound.
The benefits are clear. Business leaders need to make a long-term commitment to a creating positive, mentally healthy workplace, not killing their people. By taking the initiative, you’ll not only make your company a better place to work where people feel respected as unique individuals, you can help make it more productive and profitable. And that’s just good business.