Prokschconsult

Dr. Löwy Gasse 85/2
A-2392 Sulz im Wienerwald
Tel: +43 664 313 95 37
Fax: +43 2238 20350
prokschconsult@prokschconsult.at

Healthy leadership

Studies and publications by experts have shown that executives have a key role to play when it comes to enhancing and maintaining the health of employees in companies and organizations. “Due to their daily actions, executives have a direct and indirect influence on the wellbeing, health and motivation of their staff. At the same time, their actions also have an impact on their own wellbeing, health and performance.” (www.bkk.de/gesundheit)

An unhealthy work climate, or even “poisoned” relations in the workplace have an effect on the mental and physical health of all those involved. This creates mental stress, which results in physical complaints. What should one do?

Sustainable improvement in leadership skills

Responsible and healthy leadership means building up and cultivating sound relationships. The result is a work climate based on mutual attention, mutual trust and mutual respect. It is the responsibility of an executive to create and maintain such a work climate, and to react flexibly in the event of disruptions. A “healthy” leadership style therefore also entails respecting people’s personal space and boundaries – which means the boundaries and resilience of both executives and employees. The way in which executives handle their own pressure to perform and the exercise of communicative pressure on employees represent conflicting priorities which executives have to deal with every day.

According to a recent Gallup survey, a strained relationship with a direct superior is the most frequent reason for giving notice. It is also proven that the causes of burnout lie in emotional exhaustion and not primarily in a person’s actual workload. In other words: the causes of burnout are to be found mainly at the relationship level, which is reflected in both work climate and in behaviour towards one another. Furthermore, practical experience and publications in specialist literature also demonstrate a close link between leadership traits and the total number of days off work. It is therefore the responsibility and duty of executives to create a work climate in which it is possible to motivate and work effectively: a work climate which maintains and enhances the health of employees.

Learning an effective leadership style

Due to their position and influence, executives impart not only the values and attitudes of an organization, but also their personal principles. They are role models for a healthy lifestyle as well as for behaviour towards one another and mutual respect. Executives are constantly watched by their employees, who observe not only traits that are wanted and desirable, but also how much negative behaviour is tolerated (strong-arm techniques versus respectful behaviour). The weak leadership of superiors is frequently one of the main causes of mobbing. Another cause is underemployment of staff, which is also an indication of weak leadership or overwork on the part of executives.

Apart from their operational and formal work, many executives lack the time for effective and sustainable leadership work. And unfortunately companies enable executives and “emotional intelligence” to develop much too seldom. Incidentally, this is a term coined by the American psychologist Daniel Goleman. During the course about 300 investigations, he established that companies that attach importance to the emotional intelligence of executives and staff have significantly better operating results. Goleman found that emotional and social intelligence are superior abilities that determine how well people are able to utilize their other abilities – such as intellect and professional competence.

The development and honing of emotional intelligence and social competencies needs both time and sustainability. However, once these have been developed, they act as a catalyst on the performance and health of staff. This subsequently has a positive effect on the work carried out by employees – and as a result on the overall performance of the company.

VLTL Mag. Irene Staringer Mag. Helmut Hüller ATEC Greimel Management Entwicklung Robinsonclub Ampflwang Terrasana Life AG Spanische Hofreitschule Die Bundessportakademie Wien BZL Lenzing Universität Wien Pädagogische Hochschule NÖ Markus Gutmann Krainerhütte