4 Habits all leaders should cultivate

As we move out another year of challenges, this is the time to be thinking about making smart choices to ensure our happiness and wellbeing.

If you look at the science, there are things we can do regularly that are not only good for our own health and wellbeing but are especially good for the health of our teams and workplaces.

1. Practice self kindness

Many people are good at being kind to others but will neglect to be kind to themselves. Science now tells us that being kind to yourself is good for your mental health.

Psychologists in England conducted a study by examining brain scans of over a thousand people who practiced kindness. They found that when you’re being kind towards yourself, certain regions of your brain light just like receiving kindness from others or giving kindness to someone else.

So speak to yourself in a friendly and kind way, as a friend would when supporting you during difficult times. Every morning, do a reflective exercise. Ask yourself: If I choose to be kind to today, how would I treat myself?  List the things you could do, start a day on that note, and watch others be attracted to your positivity.

2. Be grateful

Science says you can literally train your brain to be happy and optimistic if you journal three things daily for which you are grateful, and you do it for 21 days in a row. According to the research, when you raise your level of positivity, your brain performs significantly better than when negative, neutral, or stressed. In studies, it’s been found that:

  • Productivity rose by 31 percent
  • Sales increased by 37 percent, and
  • The likelihood of a promotion rose by 40 percent.

3. Forgive others

Anger, bitterness  or even vengeance are common behaviours that come with being stabbed in the back or thrown under the bus. However, if these feelings  persist, it can have consequences for the one holding the grudge.

So what do you do?  Embrace forgiveness.

Forgiveness is rarely discussed or formally embedded into a company culture. But it should be. 

In one study involving more than 200 employees, forgiveness was “linked to increased productivity, decreased absenteeism and fewer mental and physical health problems, such as sadness and headaches.”

Forgiveness also extends outwardly to impact others not involved in the conflict. When colleagues observe others practicing forgiveness, research says it often “fosters positive emotions that can improve decision making, cognitive functioning, and the quality of relationships.”

4. Be patient

In times of crisis, it can feel like every situation is an emergency, and the choice to speed things up can actually lead to more chaos and confusion.

Exercising more patience, processing your emotions, and getting greater input from different people in the business will actually produce better outcomes in the long term.

A study in 2012 found that people exhibiting patience made more progress toward their goals and were more satisfied when they achieved them  compared with less patient people. 

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