The value of self compassionate leadership

A leader who is slowly underperforming to an ever greater level because they’re not taking care of themselves soon won’t be fit to lead.

So that you can be great at putting your own oxygen mask on first we’ve pulled together some simple tips that will help you to perform at your best – as we look at self-compassionate leadership through challenging times.

Reading time: 15 minutes

If you’re not practising good self-care, then you’re likely to be underperforming.

When we fly, we always get the advice that in the event of oxygen masks appearing, put your own mask on first before helping others.

As a leader, it’s sensible to adopt the same approach.

A leader who is slowly underperforming to an ever greater level because they’re not taking care of themselves soon won’t be fit to lead.

This approach is not selfish. It’s an act of kindness; A form of self-compassionate leadership so you can give your best to the people that you lead.

Start with your mind

1. Be ready to stay mentally strong

What you need

  • A good portion of self compassion.
  • A comfortable chair to relax fully in.
  • A commitment to keeping self-awareness high.
  • Being ready to ask for support and feedback to check in on how you’re doing.

Three Steps

  1. Scan your own mood and morale regularly. When you’re self-aware you’ll be in a better place to create the right mindset to lead others.
  2. Are you regularly making the space to breathe slowly and deeply? Breathing slowly and deeply is a helpful first step to mental self-control. Use the gaps, no matter how small, between your activities to pay attention to your breathing.
  3. Are you tactically and mentally ready to communicate effectively?  Concise, clear messaging matters in times of uncertainty. Try writing down the 2 or 3 key messages you want to get across so you’re ready to make the most of your opportunities to lead.

2. Look after your body, so you have the energy you need

Leadership has a high energy demand, so just like a good endurance athlete, prioritise looking after your body and energy levels.

Get Physical

When you’re healthy make physical activity, preferably outdoors in fresh air, a part of your daily routine. It’ll help to manage stress and keep you healthy. Fuel yourself well. Taking care of when and what you eat gives your brain and body the energy they need to perform consistently well.

Sleep Matters

Prioritise sleep. Do what you can to sleep for 7-8 hours each night. The evidence tells us brain performance and immune responses are improved when you do.

In Sickness and in Health

Respond thoughtfully to any illness – in yourself and others. If you get sick, take time off and role model the choices you’d want the people you care about to make.

3. Emotional Support

Build the support network you need as a leader so you stay emotionally strong.

Your Team

Leadership can be a lonely place. When times are challenging it can be helpful to draw on a network of trusted people that you can access for emotional support. Who is in your support team?

Be Proactive

Don’t forget to let people know what support you need from them when you sense you need it. People aren’t very good at mind reading so make it easy for them to support you by asking for what you need. Be the best possible support you can for others too. Helping other people is good for both them and you.

At a Glance

When it comes to self-compassionate leadership here are some of the key things to remember:

  • Be mentally strong
  • Share openly
  • Fuel well
  • Sleep is essential
  • Give and ask for support

Handy tips in an infographic