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This site is an archive of our Well Written Blog posts until April 2020. For the most up-to-date content visit NWIJournal.com.

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Keys to Thriving: Why Burnout Cannot Only Be Treated

Posted By Chuck Gillespie, Monday, July 8, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Burnout has been classified as an occupational phenomenon by the World Health Organization (WHO). Just to be clear, occupation is defined as a job or profession. For some, that profession might be unpaid like caregiver or stay-at-home parent.

How is burnout resolved?Burnout occurs when physical strength, emotional strength, and/or motivation has reached a level of complete exhaustion, usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration. The issue of burnout goes beyond a treatment and diagnosis discussion. Certainly, understanding burnout is important and providing help is essential, but what strategies can be deployed to create a thriving environment at work or at home to reduce chances of burnout? What are employers, family members, friends, or you doing to determine how burnout occurs? Is it environmental or is it the culture of their workplace? Is it homelife? Maybe it is self-inflicted. Research shows a high percentage of people are disengaged at work and at home. Gallup’s Global Emotions Report indicates a high number of angry and unhappy people. These are statistics that should trigger action; but what are those actions?

Plenty of people will be happy to sell you a one-size-fits-all reactive program that promises high investment returns and allows the employer to check the box that they are doing something. A simple-to-implement-and-administer program might help individuals with burnout, but it will not solve the inherent problem. You are helping those people who have already burned-out—not resolving the reason it is occurring. Action like this is like fixing an oil leak in your car by adding more oil. It is easy to do, and you can say you are reacting to the problem. It is better than ignoring the problem altogether, but the problem still exists.

Enter your wellness strategy. How is burnout resolved? Ignoring it not the answer but is usually the course of action for many. It begins with looking at your environment and what can be done to make changes in the short-term and long-term. Are there opportunities to delegate workloads or allocate new methods that are more efficient? Are there ways to simplify the work? What training and education is available? These are all questions each individual, each employer, and each community must really analyze before taking action. But how do we go from burnout to thriving?

2019 National Wellness ConferenceConsider attending the 44th Annual National Wellness Conference (NWC), October 1-3, 2019, in Kissimmee, Fla., where more than 90 presenters will share keys to thriving in all Six Dimensions of Wellness. For even more ways to prevent burnout, come early and attend one of the National Wellness Institute’s Certificate courses focused on Resilience, Elements of Thriving, Worksite Wellness, or Financial Wellness. Through your participation in NWC 2019, you will discover simple ways to make changes to daily routines, and gain valuable tools and connections, so that burnout does not become an occupational hazard for you and the populations you serve.

Learn more about NWC 2019 and find additional wellness resources and trainings at NationalWellness.org.


Chuck Gillespie is Executive Director of the National Wellness Institute.


Tags:  burnout  Coaching  Keys to Thriving  National Wellness Conference  resilience  thriving 

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5 Things I Learned During an Unanticipated Job Search

Posted By Suzanne Hunt, Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

"Congratulations, you got the job!"

Everyone wants to hear those words, right? Well, in this case, I heard those words, except they were meant for my husband. In what I can only describe as a whirlwind, we were notified that my amazing husband obtained a promotion, and was being moved to a new location, in two weeks or less. I was proud, excited, and terrified all at once. Though this was a surprise to us both, my husband was going to remain with the same company, who would be there to support him throughout the process. I, on the other hand, had to turn in my resignation knowing the job search wouldn’t be an easy feat. Working in public health in the south is already difficult. Working in public health in higher education in the south is an even tougher job market. In the process of quickly moving, wrapping things up at my old job, and moving forward with an unanticipated job search, my plate was full! However, I managed to learn a few things along the way that have served as my roadmap during this process:

  1. Your resume is a living, breathing document; maintain it as such
    You wouldn’t go months, or possibly years without feeding your pet right? Well, the same goes for your resume. Don’t go months or years without updating it! Even if you can’t spare the time to work on it consistently as you achieve at your current job, make a continuous effort to maintain a document with your ongoing accomplishments. This ensures you will have something to go by when you are able to update your resume. Secondly, it’s 2019- make sure your resume doesn’t look like a word document from 1995. Regardless of what type of job or field you work in, your resume is the first way to market yourself, so you don’t want to get off on the wrong foot by having an outdated resume (regarding both content and visual appeal). There are free design websites where you can ensure your resume represents your personality, and performance in the field. One of my favorite sites is Canva, it’s free and easy to use!
  2. Establish and maintain relationships at your jobs
    Yes, I said jobs. Regardless of whether it was an internship, a graduate assistantship, or your first ‘real’ job out of school, it’s imperative to establish relationships with people during each experience. Arguably more important is maintaining these relationships because you never know when they can provide an amazing reference, letter of recommendation, or insight into a future job you’re looking into. After all, I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “it’s not what you know, but who you know”. Keep these people in your corner, because they can help advocate for your skillset, and current or past successes. Further, you never know when you might need them! In my case, my connections have been a continual help during the relocation process.
  3. Do your research
    I know this sounds so cliché, but what I mean is to do your research on the people in your industry. One of my favorite supervisors taught me this, and I am forever thankful. Even if you love your current job, you should still be making strides to learn about the leaders in your industry and how they got to where they are. I took the time to look at bios, talk to direct contacts, and even made the additional effort to talk to them myself. I have also been lucky to establish trusting relationships with a few of my supervisors-to where I felt comfortable truly asking about their personal experiences, and opinions. This insight has served to my benefit by helping me understand the intersectionalities between different aspects of the industry and the all-important hierarchy of working in higher education. Having this understanding has helped lead to several consulting opportunities, which I am thoroughly enjoying, while I continue my search for a full-time job.
  4. Utilize your expertise and passions—outside of work
    I know what you’re probably thinking here- what about work/life balance? I am still (and will always) advocate for balance, and doing things you enjoy outside of work! However, I volunteer my time outside of work with the National Wellness Institute (NWI) Emerging Wellness Professionals (EWP) Task Force because I have been a part of this organization since I was in undergrad. I am really passionate about what they do to support professionals in the wellness field like myself, and it has not only provided me with more contacts in the industry across the U.S., but it has also helped me learn more about the field that I wouldn’t have been able to learn in my previous jobs. Moreover, I have learned new skills, expanded my leadership capabilities, and now have connections with this organization that continues to support me, no matter where I go.
  5. Utilize weak ties to network!
    There is an aspect of luck that can play an important role in being successful, particularly when it comes to networking. In fact, according to Eric Barker, the author of Barking Up the Wrong Tree, he concludes that some of this has to do with taking small steps to network, meet new people, and properly invest your time in establishing and maintaining those relationships. This requires stepping out of the ‘box’ of solely networking on LinkedIn, or via that email that gets lost in someone’s ever-growing inbox. According to Barker, there’s a theory of weak ties, meaning the people who aren’t your closest friends, but one degree out, are the people who make the best connections. A lot of new possibilities or opportunities come from these weak ties because these are the people that are hearing about things (job openings, new ideas, conferences, leadership opportunities), that you may not be hearing about, and therefore present the possibility of something new and beneficial for your career. Weak ties have hands down been the most successful aspect thus far in my ongoing job search!

Though none of these concepts are necessarily new, it’s important to refresh your lens and scope, in the event that like me, you embark on the adventure of an unanticipated job search.


Sabrina WalasekSuzanne Hunt, MPH, CWP provides leadership in the development of holistic approaches to wellbeing for students, faculty, and staff at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.

Tags:  job search  resilience  thriving  wellness career 

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Unleashing your inner Scarlett: building resilience in turbulent times

Posted By Ruth Kelly, Thursday, March 14, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Scarlett O’Hara, the leading protagonist of Margaret Mitchells’s epic Gone with the Wind, was arguably one of the most iconic characters of American cinema. She was charming, manipulative, vain, spoiled and captivating. However, swept up in the backdrop of the American Civil War this Southern belle discovered attributes and qualities she never knew she possessed. She exhibited fortitude, ingenuity, determination, courage, tenacity, and above all resilience – the ability to bounce back and keep going in the face of adversity. Her steely spirit was epitomised in her “As God is my witness …” monologue where fist clenched she vows that life will not break her and that she will survive at any cost. The theme of resilience is central to the development of this feisty heroine and it is a concept that has gathered significant momentum in recent years as a means of learning and recovering from life’s challenges and setbacks – our mental and emotional elasticity.

 Resilient business woman holding laptop

What is Resilience?

The Harvard Business review defines resilience as “the ability to recover from setbacks, adapt well to change, and keep going in the face of adversity” - including trauma or significant stress. Resilience is not only the ability to weather a difficulty, but also to emerge from it stronger and better prepared to face new challenges in the future. In the corporate world, resilience has gained significant impetus because business leaders increasingly recognize that resilient employees are more likely to recover quicker from an adverse situation and that resilient teams build competitive advantage and growth opportunities. At its core, resilience means "bouncing back" from difficult experiences and finding the intrinsic drive, motivation, and wherewithal to achieve your goals in turbulent times. In other words, “resilience is the capacity to adapt successfully in the presence of risk and adversity” (Jensen and Fraser, 2005).

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2015) defines individual resilience as the ability to withstand, adapt to, and recover from adversity and stress. In essence, resilience implies maintaining or returning to one’s original state of mental health or well-being or achieving a more mature and developed state of well-being through the employment of effective strategies and techniques. Perhaps resilience is really the capacity to weather difficulties and embrace the changes that adversity demands – a deeper wisdom forged through complex and uncertain times. As K. Neycha Herford founder and CEO of The ReMixed Life™ states “resilience is an unwavering rebelliousness to bet on the best while navigating the worst”

 

What constitutes resilience?

The positive psychology movement founded by Professor Martin Seligman is the scientific study of the strengths that enable individuals and communities to thrive. The Penn Resilience Program offered by the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania includes a set of 21 empirically validated skills that build cognitive and emotional fitness and strength of character. Fundamentally, the Program identifies a number of elements that are integral to building resilience:

  1. Self-Awareness – the ability to pay attention to your thoughts, emotions, behaviours and physiological reactions.
  2. Self-Regulation – the ability to change one’s thoughts, emotions, behaviours and physiology in the service of a desired outcome.
  3. Mental Agility – the ability to look at situations from multiple perspectives and to think creatively and flexibly. 
  4. Strengths of Character – the ability to use one’s top strengths to engage authentically, overcome challenges and create a life aligned with one’s values.
  5. Connection – the ability to build and maintain strong, trusting relationships.
  6. Optimism – the ability to notice and expect the positive, to focus on what you can control and to take purposeful action. 

Derek Mowbray of the Wellbeing and Performance Group UK proposes a ‘Resilient and Adaptive Person Development Framework’ with 3 spheres of personal control:

  1. Over oneself – self-awareness, self-confidence, vision and determination.
    Someone who is self-aware is more likely to empathize with others and understand what motivates them.
  2. Over responses to events – problem solving skills, organization.
    This control is rooted in the ability to negotiate effectively with others and to persuade others to consider alternate viewpoints and approaches.
  3. Over responses to people – relationships and personal interactions.
    This control is rooted in organizing oneself in chaotic situations. Someone who has the ability to organize themselves in chaotic situations also has the ability to be flexible and adaptable.

Mowbray identifies the following characteristics of resilient people:

  1. Enthusiasm for life and work.
  2. Capacity to see the future and “go for it”.
  3. Capacity to cope with threatening events and distress.
  4. Attitude towards life and work that is positive, full of energy and determination.
  5. Capacity to see the options, and to adapt effectively to meet and overcome challenges.

George A. Bonanno (professor of clinical psychology at Teachers College, Columbia University, U.S.A) in an interview in The New Yorker believes that one of the central elements of resilience is perception. In other words, it depends on whether we view an event as traumatic or as an opportunity to learn and grow. This is subjective and relative i.e. what one person might experience as overwhelming for another might be an opportunity to extend their personal boundaries and develop as an individual. 

It is agreed throughout the literature on resilience that it is a multi-dimensional concept. However, current research identifies a number of factors that are consistent with resilient people (Brown, 2010):

  1. They are resourceful and have good problem solving skills.
  2. They are more likely to seek help.
  3. They believe that they can do something that will help them to manage their feelings and to cope.
  4. They have social support available to them.
  5. They are connected with others, such as family and friends. 
  6. They are flexible, adapt to new and different situations and learn from experience, including mistakes and triumphs.

 

Women and Resilience

“You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” - Maya Angelou

Are women more resilient than men? In Gone with The Wind, Margaret Mitchell created a leading female character whose sheer tenacity and strength triumphed over unimaginable adversity. She epitomized a resilient spirit which resonated with Rhett Butler’s words to her that “hardships make or break people”. Scarlett had more than just strength of character and survival instinct though. She was strategic and not afraid to employ creativity and tactics to achieve her goals. Even though GWTW is fiction, research suggests that when the going gets tough women are in fact more resilient than men. In an article published in Nature (January 2019) researchers at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense studied seven populations that endured famine, epidemics or enslavement. The researchers found that during crises, girls and women lived longer than their male counterparts. Research by Andy Scharlach, a UC Berkeley professor of aging and director of its Center for the Advanced Study of Aging Services has shown that women generally retain far more resilience as they age than men. One of the reasons, Scharlach suggests, is that women develop richer social networks than men that are not as work bound, and not as sports bound, or activity bound. 

Between 2009 and 2010 Accenture conducted a global online and telephone survey of 524 senior executives from medium to large companies in 20 countries. Women Leaders and Resilience: Perspectives from the C-Suite sought to identify the value executives give to resilience as a senior primary quality of leadership. These leaders view women as slightly more resilient than men ‒ 53% reported women are very to extremely resilient ‒ 51% reported men are very to extremely resilient. 

Another study conducted in the UK Tough at the Top: new rules of resilience for women’s leadership success (2014) found that although both women and men define resilience in similar terms, they talk about the experience of resilience at work in different ways. Women, more often than men, talk about vulnerability when they describe what it means to be resilient. Also, more women than men equate resilience with the need to suppress their emotions at work. This suggests that women look at their likely career path and assume they will have to increasingly ‘toughen up’ to get to the top. Simply acknowledging that this is happening and encouraging senior women and men to speak out about their own experiences of vulnerability in climbing the corporate ladder could go a long way to countering this view.

However, the assumption that toughness alone will propel a woman’s professional rise is erroneous. True resilience means being strategic as well as strong. It means showing ingenuity and imagination in overcoming challenges as well as demonstrating enough self-belief to look at setbacks not as failures but as opportunities to learn from the mistakes and grow. Perhaps, as many sociologists believe, women have had to fight harder for respect and equality so therefore had no alternative but to develop resilience. Also, it has been more acceptable for women to exhibit emotional vulnerability while men traditionally have had to portray a ‘stiff upper lip’. Perhaps straddling vulnerability and strength simultaneously builds empathy and compassion in women – essential building blocks of resilience. As the poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou writes in her essay ‘In All Ways a Woman’ women must be ‘tough’ as well as ‘tender’ and “the woman warrior who is armed with wit and courage will be among the first to celebrate victory”

 

Building Resilience 

The good news is that the capacity for resilience is not a static trait in either men or women but rather it is a skill that can be developed and mastered. The following are suggestions for putting resilience to work for you.

  1. Thoughts are Things - sometimes our deep held beliefs and thinking patterns can be counter-productive. Listen to your thoughts and identify the language you use with yourself when faced with a challenge. Is your self-talk supportive or critical? Is it limiting or empowering? By beginning to understand the power of your thoughts you begin to understand how they create not just your present experiences but also your future ones. 
  2. View Setbacks as Opportunities for Growth – this might sound a little Pollyanna-esque. However, by seeing the positive in our failures and setbacks, by looking at what we did incorrectly and what we might do differently in the future and by being willing to learn, grow and develop we avoid the futility of self-flagellation and instead empower ourselves to move towards the future with fresh knowledge, perspective and confidence. Patience and tolerance, especially of ourselves, is key.
  3. Social Scaffolding – surround yourself with people who support and care for you. By building strong social networks you are cocooning yourself in a web of sustenance and encouragement which will ultimately assist you in weathering life’s storms.  
  4. It’s OK not to be OK – sometimes when the going gets tough we need to be frank with ourselves about how we’re feeling, to honestly assess and appraise the situation and to work out the best strategy for moving forward. Owning and addressing our vulnerabilities is a sign of strength, not weakness. This applies to both men and women.
  5. Accountability and Responsibility – taking responsibility for ourselves and our actions is key to resilience. Blaming others for our failures or handing over our power by ‘allowing’ others to make us feel bad about ourselves in disempowering and emotionally draining. Good self-esteem and self-belief help build a certain imperviousness to the opinions, good and bad, of others.
  6. Change is inevitable - Charles Darwin said that the species most likely to survive is not the most intelligent or the strongest but ‘the one that is most adaptable to change’. By learning to be flexible and to embrace the complexities and uncertainties of life we are more inclined to ‘flow’ with the process of life. 
  7. Rest and Recharge – resilience does not equate with endurance. It might be a cliché but there is truth in the old adage ‘work, rest and play’. Get the balance right.  

 

Resilience in the Workplace

  1. Mindfulness – is gaining increasing impetus and recognition as a means of addressing a number of stress and cognitive related issues in the work place. Mindfulness has been found to boost judgement accuracy and insight related problem solving (Kiken, 2011) and enhances cognitive flexibility (Malinowski and Moore, 2009). MRI scans show that after an eight-week course of mindfulness practice, the brain’s “fight or flight” centre, the amygdala – which initiates the stress response, appears to shrink. 
  2. Response flexibility – Budgets are tight, projects get negative feedback and clients are challenging – all these things are enough to test anyone. It is important to cultivate enough self-awareness to be able to respond to rather than react to situations or people. The ability to pause, reflect, deliberate, consider possibilities and choose wisely is critical to building workplace resilience. 
  3. Innovate and set new goals – personal innovation means investing in and developing your own knowledge and talents. Continuing Personal Development courses are a productive way of expanding your knowledge base. Night classes are a creative way to develop your hobbies and personal interests and to build a social network. Always set new personal goals or milestones. 
  4. Work-Life Balance – it is critical to balance work demands with your personal life. Seeing family and friends, socialising, travelling, exercising etc. - doing the things that enrich you is essential to a happy and fulfilling life. 
  5. Good work networks – what supports are available in your workplace? Are you in a position to make positive changes in your team or organistion? Here are some ideas of what you can do:
    1. Encourage management to make a commitment to mental health and wellness initiatives to create a healthy psychological environment. 
    2. Simple ergonomics such as creating a healthy workspace i.e. lighting, suitable workstations and chairs etc. as well as taking breaks to stretch your body and fingers can all make a huge difference to wellbeing.
    3. Building good social networks at work i.e. team building days, nights out etc. Positive relationships at work boost employee engagement and productivity.
    4. Healthy eating options at work. Lunch time yoga classes or even donning the trainers and going for a walk are all positive actions to boost workplace resilience. 

 

Conclusion

In summary, resilience is a multi-modal dynamic concept which embraces physiological and psychological elements. Resilience means more than just ‘bouncing back’ – it means strategically adapting to and responding to change, adversity and uncertainty and emerging from the process with new perspective, strength and insight. One of the certainties of life is uncertainty and there will inevitably be obstacles and setbacks to challenge even the most resolute of us. However, by deliberately developing resilience we can equip ourselves with essential skills, approaches, and mindsets to navigate even the most turbulent times. The important thing is to keep going to remember that ‘after all, tomorrow is another day’. 

R – reflect on your values.
E – everybody has setbacks.
S – stay connected.
I – invest in yourself personally and professionally.
L – learn healthy and supportive habits and behaviours.
I – identify your strengths, talents and skills.
E – engage with tolerance and compassion. 
N – nurture mind, body and spirit.
C – cultivate a positive expectant mindset.
E – express gratitude. 


 

References 

Brown, B. (2010) The Gifts of Imperfection, Your Guide to a Wholehearted Life, Hazelden, Center City, Minnesota. 

Jensen, J.M. and Fraser, M.W. (2005) A Risk and Resilience Framework for Child, Youth, and Family Policy, in Social Policy for Children and Families: A Risk and Resilience Perspective, Sage Publications: Thousand Oaks, CA.

Kiken, L.G (2011) Mindfulness Increases Positive Judgments and Reduces Negativity Bias, Social Psychological and Personality Science, 2(4), 425-431.

Moore, A., & Malinowski, P. (2009). Meditation, Mindfulness and Cognitive Flexibility, Consciousness and Cognition, 18, 176-186.

Strengthening Personal Resilience – a programme to improve performance Derek Mowbray July 2012 Management Advisory Service www.mas.org.uk 

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2015). Individual Resilience, Public Health and Medical Emergency Support for a National Prepared, Retrieved from http://www.phe.gov/Preparedness/planning/abc/Pages/individual-resilience.aspx


KellyRuth Kelly is a researcher and nutrition and wellness adviser. She holds a Ph.D in science from the University of Limerick, Ireland, as well as advanced diplomas in Nutrition and Weight Management and Emotional Freedom Techniques. She is a qualified Stress Management Coach and is currently self-employed at Essence Wellness which offers a range of services to private clients as well as the corporate sector including Corporate Wellness Programmes which cover nutrition, stress management and resilience building. She is a regular blogger to wellness websites in Ireland and is also a fully qualified Bio-energy therapist and Reiki Master.

Tags:  emotional wellness  intellectual wellness  resilience  success  thriving 

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Make Yourself Marketable

Posted By Samantha Diedrich, Friday, March 8, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The way to make yourself more marketable is probably not what you think. Check out this short video from Emerging Wellness Professional Samantha Diedrich to find out, and sign up for our newsletter to receive EWP updates to your inbox!

Click here for information about getting becoming a Certified Wellness Practitioner.

Samantha Diedrich, MS, CWP, is a Certified Wellness Practitioner and Health Coach with Aspirus Business Health - Wellness. She is passionate about engaging business partners and clients to improve their lives through health and happiness. She is a member of the National Wellness Institute's Emerging Wellness Professional task force.

The goal of the task force is to motivate emerging wellness professionals to become active members of the organization and to support the EWP Awardee’s efforts to engage and empower the wellness leaders of tomorrow.

If you want to hear more on this topic Sam will be a breakout session presenter at the 2019 National Wellness Conference with the session titled, "Emerging Wellness Professionals: Growing your KSAs to be Marketable in a Competitive Profession" #EWP #2019NWC

Click here for more information about the Emerging Wellness Professionals task force and NWI's award for emerging wellness professionals.

Tags:  intellectual wellness  marketing  occupational wellness  professional development  success  thriving 

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Who to Watch in Workplace Wellness in Ireland in 2019

Posted By Brian Crooke, Friday, March 8, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Brian Crooke - Workplace Wellness Ireland


There’s been some really positive progress in the health promotion landscape in Irish workplaces in recent years. Companies are slowly beginning to move away from box ticking wellness initiatives and two healthy workplace accreditations have been launched (with a third on the way) that promote a longer-term approach to workplace health promotion. There’s still a considerable way to go if we want to catch up with our international counterparts, particularly in the US, but there’s no doubt we are on the right path. 

I see 2019 as an important year for health promotion in Irish workplaces. I’d love to see Ireland lead the way and develop a world class ecosystem for workplace health promotion and I don’t see why we can’t. I’m doing my bit with the Workplace Wellness Ireland community which is going from strength to strength with a very exciting schedule of events planned this year.

I can’t do it on my own though! I’ve put together a list of individuals that I’ve been fortunate enough to meet through the course of my work that I believe will have a significant role to play in shaping the future of workplace wellness in Ireland over the coming years. I’ve also managed to gather some of their thoughts and expectations on what we can expect to see in the industry in 2019.

Let me know your thoughts on the list and your own predictions for the year ahead in the comment section below.


 

Dr. Sarah-Jane Cullinane
Assistant Professor in Trinity Business School and Director of 'The Place to Be'

mindfulnessSarah-Jane works in the Trinity Business School and has 10 years’ experience in teaching and researching the areas of HR, Organisational Behaviour, and Well-being at Work. She has a PhD in Organisational Behaviour focusing on well-being and job design, and a diploma in teaching Mindfulness-Based Interventions. In bringing her passions together, she established her own business, The Place to Be, in 2018 to complement her academic work by helping organisations build a culture which fosters and promotes well-being. 

Sarah-Jane believes that “leaders drive well-being in the organisation and act as role models for healthy behaviour, which is why most of my current work involves developing and researching mindfulness-based leadership development programmes which give leaders the opportunity to build resilience by developing self-insight and strategies for self-care. In 2019 I look forward to further embedding well-being in the undergraduate and postgraduate business studies curricula in Trinity and in leadership development programmes in organisations as I strongly believe that well-being is about establishing new habits and behaviours which require regular practice and supportive networks.”


 

Caroline McGuigan
CEO and founder of Suicide or Survive

Caroline is a psychotherapist, mental health advocate, group facilitator, activist and founder of the charity Suicide or Survive. SOS works with individuals and businesses to educate, inform and inspire people to cultivate good mental health and reduce stigma. Caroline’s vision is to approach mental health differently, a vision that puts the power and responsibility back in the hands of the individual.

I was fortunate enough to meet and see Caroline speak on a number of occasions in 2018 (she was also a guest speaker at the inaugural Workplace Wellness Ireland meet up). I am always left feeling inspired and motivated having heard Caroline’s passion and commitment to promoting the importance of supporting mental health in the workplace.

“The team in SOS are really excited going into 2019 having delivered workplace programmes to thousands of people in organisations throughout the country. We believe that people with passion can change the world for the better. Our intention is to be part of a country of life-long learning, curiosity searching and not certainty, a more compassionate country and a society where we lift each other up.” 


 

Enda Campbell
Workplace Health Promotion Office at the Irish Heart Foundation

Irish Heart FoundationEnda co-ordinates the workplace health promotion programmes at the Irish Heart Foundation. His qualifications include a BSc in Sport and Exercise Science from the University of Limerick and an MA in health promotion from NUI Galway. 

Enda sees a move towards more evidence-based interventions and initiatives this year. “There has been fantastic growth and increased awareness of the value of workplace wellness initiatives but as the case has been in the USA in recent years, I would predict that there will be a move towards reducing risk factors of ill-health, rather than some interventions that have low engagement and impact. We will get better at recognising impactful interventions and begin to measure the impact of what we do.“


 

Fania Stoney
Healthy Place to Work

Fania is an executive with the recently launched Healthy Place to Work, brought to us by the people behind Great Place to Work. Fania works closely with organisations to guide them through the Healthy Place process and helps them understand their current investment, so they can move away from a tick-box style offering (woohoo!) towards implementing a wide-ranging and evidence-based health strategy. I’ve seen Fania present at a number of events and she always brings great energy and insight on how to create meaningful work, craft a resilient workforce and energise employees. 

For 2019 Fania expects that “with the labour market hitting saturation point, the health and wellbeing offering that organisations have will differentiate their employer brand, both in terms of talent retention and attraction. Understanding that offering, its relative strengths, opportunity areas and embedding a health strategy will be what sets organisations apart in the coming year.”


 

Stephen Costello
CEO of Spectrum Wellness

Stephen began working with the Spectrum group as a marketing executive and quickly secured promotions through to Commercial Director before becoming Managing Director of Spectrum Wellness by the age of 27. The company has grown at a phenomenal rate, including the announcement of 100 new positions last July which is great news for the workplace wellness industry in Ireland.

Stephen is currently leading the Spectrum Wellness team on a new project that he claims will revolutionise workplace wellbeing in the UK and Ireland, making it easier for human resource employees to champion health and wellness at work. 

“2019 is not just going to be an exciting year for the company, but for workplace wellbeing in general. As a $43bn industry worldwide, there are many opportunities for innovation in workplace wellness, especially in the digital realm. A combination of digital and in-person, genuinely expert-led wellbeing experiences for employees in the future will make health and wellness more accessible and engaging than ever before for companies of all sizes. This will help to make workplace wellbeing much more common place.” 


 

Donal Scanlon
Mental Health First Aid Ireland Manager

Mental Health First AidDonal has been working and studying as a professional in the area of mental health and well-being for nearly 20 years. He’s an occasional contributor to digital, television and print media, often speaking publicly on mental health in Ireland at conferences, schools, colleges and the corporate world and has guest lectured at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and University College Dublin. Most recently he was a guest speaker at the Oireachtas Forum on Mental Health hosted by the Ceann Comhairle. As the manager of Mental Health First Aid Ireland, Donal oversees the rollout and delivery of MHFA training in Ireland.

“My overwhelming feeling for 2019 is ‘hope’, I’m truly excited to build on the work done so far; and harness the energy and appetite for workplace focused wellness heading into 2019 and to partner with organisations to drive real change by creating supportive, healthier and engaging workplaces that in turn can bring improved productivity and contentment to employees”


 

Sohini De
Founder & CEO of Wind of Change Total Wellbeing Solutions Ltd

Sohini worked in the corporate world as an equity investor for many years and is also a practicing nutritional therapist and health coach. Wind of Change services businesses, schools and charities in India and Ireland and was founded on Sohini’s ‘farm to fork’ insights of the food and agriculture sector plus several years of study and market research into what helps employees and companies so that individuals reach their best physical and mental potential while corporates can save resources and be more productive.

“In terms of our expectations for workplace wellness in Ireland in 2019, we would share some of our key takeaways from our Irish and international market research. We expect to see a more data driven approach by corporates for targeted programme delivery and drive towards continuous improvement rather than one off programmes. This will not only ensure higher employee engagement but also improve transparency and clarity for all stakeholders.”


 

Jim Kirwan
Author, speaker, consultant and Director Forever Young Club

Jim is a best-selling author, speaker and wellbeing coach and consultant. After 25 years in HR roles in financial services, he moved to America in 2003 and became a spokesperson on the importance of physical activity and employee wellbeing. He returned to Dublin in 2017 and he has hosted and chaired a number of wellbeing conferences. He was the very first speaker at the inaugural Workplace Wellness Ireland meet up in 2018.

Jim recently joined forces with Pat Falvey, the adventurer and explorer and they will shortly launch the Forever Young Club, an over 50 community which is designed to help members develop an active, healthy, sustainable lifestyle. 

Jim says that “all managers and HR executives create the environment for employee wellbeing to thrive. This message is increasingly getting through here in Ireland, so 2019 promises to be the year where managers really walk the wellbeing talk and take a longer term, strategic perspective.”


 

Mark O Reilly
CEO FitVision Training Ltd and FitVision Technology Ltd

Mark is one of Ireland’s most sought after health and wellbeing coaches and speakers. He’s a qualified executive coach, personal trainer, strength and conditioning coach and physical therapist. He comes from a health and fitness background himself having played soccer at a professional level (he’s a fellow Bohs man!) and qualifying for the world championships in the Ironman triathlon.

FitVision provides wellness programmes tailored for unique corporate environments, cultures and goals and recently developed a purpose built app that allows Mark and his team to create an experience for the individual employee, who can set specific targets to improve mental and physical wellbeing and feel supported on that journey. 

“I feel in 2019 this technology will be the key thing for FitVision that allows us to continue to scale the business and offer quality service to each company we have the opportunity to work with.”


 

David Casey
Wellness and Health Promotion Manager at DeCare Dental

A culture of wellbeing fosters the needs of one another.David has almost ten years clinical experience in healthcare having worked for the last six years designing and implementing wellness and education programmes for over 500 organisations across Ireland and the UK. He is currently completing his Masters in Health Promotion with specialist interest in mental health and workplace health promotion at the school of Medicine, Nursing and Health Science at NUI Galway. 

For 2019, David says “Talent is everything and embedding a top down culture of wellbeing into an organisation can enhance its capabilities in recruiting and retaining the best talent. Making wellbeing an important part of your company’s working environment can make employees feel valued and satisfied. These are the individuals who make the best addition to any team. They play an instrumental role in keeping the workplace culture alive and thriving through regular interactions with co-workers and management.”


 

Richard Murphy
CEO and founder of Zevo Health

Richard founded Zevo with the purpose of getting employees from A to B in their overall wellbeing. He recognised that employee needs differ and no two people are the same, therefore Zevo customise each company’s wellness programme to fit their needs. The aim is to improve the bottom line for businesses but most importantly to support employees in improving their overall health and wellbeing within the company.

Richard’s expectation for 2019 is that mental health and diversity training in the workplace will be a major factor in company wellness programmes. For 2019, Richard and the Zevo team plan to continue helping companies in having a healthy and happy workforce. 


Brian CrookeBrian Crooke is a wellness consultant, speaker and trainer specialising in the auditing, development and delivery of workplace wellness programmes (such as Corporation Transformation) for Irish companies through his Office Worker Health business. He is also the founder of the Workplace Wellness Ireland community. In his spare time he is bringing free resistance training to every county and community in Ireland through his parkHIIT project.


Tags:  Brian Crooke  international wellness  ireland  thriving  workplace wellness 

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Locus of Control as a Bridge Between Mindfulness and Basic Health Education

Posted By Rich Morris, Thursday, January 17, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

My academic background is in exercise physiology, and I have taught Health continuously at the college level since 1979 at four different institutions. My primary title during those years, however, was NCAA swimming coach. Coaching swimming is an extremely technical endeavor. Biomechanical analysis of technique, combined with a thorough understanding of anatomy, kinesiology, and physiology help a coach prepare athletes for amazing feats. But no matter how well trained an athlete is, the mind can help or hurt their performance. One of the all-time great coaches, Dr. James Councilman, said:

“Give similar top swimmers to three different coaches. One, an expert in the physiology of training, another in the biomechanics of stroke, and the last one an expert in sport psychology, the third coach’s athlete will win every time.”

And so, coaches such as myself schooled in the physical, studied even harder how to motivate and sustain an athlete’s spirit. What kept me in the sport for so long was the ever-changing science of performance. Years ago, we all learned that yoga and mindfulness can help an athlete. Some coaches ignored the studies, some embraced them, but most of us tried to work it into our schedule like so much weight lifting.

Swim team practicing yoga and mindfulness before practice.Here is a picture of my team practicing yoga and mindfulness techniques before practice. The yoga instructor was thrilled by the response, all the athletes seemed to love it. But let’s dig into that a bit. Some of the athletes loved the fact that yoga was taking away pool time. Others appreciated the opportunity to center themselves and relieve the day’s stress. Out of the nearly 40 athletes, maybe 3 or 4 actually improved as an athlete by really using the skills they were learning.

And so my journey continued. From a physiologist’s standpoint, I understood clearly how increasing circulation cleared the stress hormones and benefited any training. From a fledgling psychological standpoint, I could see and feel the benefits of self-monitoring emotions and accepting them, moving into seeking alternative perspectives without judgment, allowing for changing attitudes. But I couldn’t teach it by sticking to the curriculum or practice schedule, there seemed to be a big piece missing.

For over twenty years I have given a clinical survey on Locus of Control as a pre-test to all of my classes. Julian Rotter’s research into how we perceive the control in our lives, be it external such as fate, divine intervention or luck, vs internal through mindful choices, understanding and accepting the consequences before deciding, intrigued me, so I studied it further. The fascinating thing about this was no matter where you fall in the continuum, you truly accept that as reality. If you are worried about a test or project next week, there can be a huge paradigm change caused by a very subtle shift in perception. A more external person gives the test power and control over their life. The date of the test, the professor’s demeanor, the amount of material covered, all are cause for concern. The more internal person sees the test as a thing and is more concerned with their own attitude towards that thing. Studying the material, of course, is paramount, but the truly internal person has been studying all along, talking to the professor after class when clarification was needed, doing the readings and participating in class. For them, the control comes from personal preparation. Not just the material covered, but also eating correctly, taking study breaks to clear their mind, getting rest and exercise to keep circulation going, a holistic approach to success.

From a physiological perspective, stress is the release of hormones causing predictable changes in the body as a result of reacting to a stressor. For the more external person, the test is stress. It causes the release of the hormones, therefore the reaction is predictable. To the more internal person, mindful of alternative perspectives, the test is a stressor. Assess the difficulty, plan your response, control the level of hormones released. Take time and effort to clear the hormones as you prepare. As Viktor Frankl wrote,

“Between stimulus and response, there lies a space. In that space is a choice. In that choice lies our growth and our freedom.”

Does the test represent stress or a stressor to you? That, to me, is where mindfulness training has to start. Behavioral psychology has always reinforced the behavior after the action. And the fact is it works, people can be manipulated by reinforcing desired behavior. In my classes, I try to get students to experience that moment of clarity brought on by a mindful decision. Take that extra beat before reacting, breath, seek alternatives without judgment. Then make a decision understanding the reinforcement will come as a result of your choice; not luck, chance or powerful others. You chose the consequence. Subtle, but so powerful.


Richard MorrisRichard Morris has a degree in Exercise Physiology from UCF and a Masters from UTC in health and Physical Education. Richard has served as a floor exercise leader and adult fitness director at private clubs. In 1990 he served as Orange County, Florida's first wellness coordinator and developed "Wellworks" wellness programming for over 7,000 employees. He currently serves as Director of Health Education at Rollins College, where he has taught and coached for nearly 30 years. He and his wife Lisa have two children and three grandchildren.

Tags:  emotional wellness  mindfulness  physical wellness  success  thriving 

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NWI Member Spotlight - January 2019

Posted By NWI, Friday, January 4, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Nicole AkparewaNicole Akparewa, RN, MPH, MSN

Creative Director of “Transform Nursing”

John Hopkins University, Bloomberg School of Public Health

John Hopkins University, School of Nursing

My mission is to train nurses globally with the tools they need to confidently address health policy, patient advocacy, and patient engagement in both clinical and non-clinical settings. Transformative nursing means that every nurse in every country has the knowledge, the training, and the ability to be effective leaders who will combat health disparities through empowerment, awareness, and education. I am a nurse entrepreneur and coach who teaches online courses for nurses to delve deeply into health and social challenges, and empower the global community of nurses to take the lead on health system change.

The way I have created social impact, which is the effect I want to have on the well-being of the communities I serve, is through blogging and podcasting to build awareness of social justice. I use Facebook Live to speak to the issues that nurses are facing. I also have a course that is focused on social justice and influential leadership called the “Nurse's Influential Leadership Lab” that is all about creating nurse leaders in inclusive practices.  

I lead with passion, bold enthusiasm, and most importantly by example. When it comes to approaching uncomfortable topics in nursing, I don’t ask my students do something that I don’t have the courage to do. I share my stories about nursing, even the times where I felt slighted or shamed, or just fell flat on my face. My relationship with nursing has endured many iterations from infatuation, to bittersweet, to verging on resignation because I didn’t feel comfortable speaking out about issues that made me or my patients unsafe. I finally realized that I have a distinct purpose in nursing — to create a safe space for nurses to have a deeper awareness of how their individual practice can improve the lives of their patients beyond the hospital room, and transcend into their lives and communities.

What makes me who I am is my dedication to my purpose and the atmosphere of support that I provide the students in my courses. I am often termed the “eternal cheerleader” because I champion for nurses to take the lead on health policy and education while being involved in civic engagement. I help nurses make subtle shifts that can bring profound changes, and reflections that yield those “aha” moments as they awaken to new insights. It’s really quite special to watch. My authentic desire is to co-create, collaborate, and build strength in the nursing community through a transformative process that will help you find yet undiscovered joys and new challenges in your profession.

I am originally from Seattle, WA. I graduated from the University of Washington School of Nursing with a BSN and then the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing with a dual Masters in Nursing and Public Health. I knew nursing was my passion when I met a Native American nursing student who worked with pregnant teenagers in her tribe. Until then I never knew that nurses worked in the community.

When I’m not working I like to spend time with my little boy Gabriel, read books, and watch the Golden Girls.

To learn more about Nicole and her work contact her at:

Phone: 443.388.6345
E-mail: transformnursing@gmail.com
Website: TransformNursing.com

Tags:  clinical practice  emotional wellness  intellectual wellness  multicultural competency  Nicole Akparewa  Nikki Akparewa  nursing  occupational wellness  racial equity  success  thriving  Transform Nursing 

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A Thriving Organizational Culture Drives Employee Engagement

Posted By Dr Dicky Els and Jene’ Palmer, Tuesday, May 1, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Dr Dicky Els and Jene’ Palmer (South Africa) 


Culture shapes the wellness of individuals, businesses, communities and nations.  Although it is not static and can change, it generally manifests itself in the behaviour of a group of people at any given point in time.  Culture is a collective identity that is based on a set of unspoken rules that underpin personal values and interpersonal relationships.  It distinguishes the members of one group from those of another, and typically informs society’s behaviour.  Culture is best described as a set of values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviours that are shared by individuals and sub-groups.  It is a strong hidden force that positively or negatively affects individuals, businesses, communities and, indeed, South Africa as a nation.  Just as a person who is healthy may not necessarily be flourishing as an individual, similarly an organisation (or a nation) could be functioning adequately, but not necessarily thriving as a business (or a country).

With heightened racial tension still very prevalent in South Africa, South Africans are realising that the virtuous intent, moral goodness, social betterment and ethical leadership that was envisioned for the “New South Africa”, appears beyond our current grasp.  Since 1994 the “Rainbow Nation” has been tested by various socio-political and relentless economic challenges, and the recent Bell Pottinger scandal has only made these matters much worse.  To this end, social issues such as inequality, infighting, bribery, corruption, cruelty, crime and poverty often come to mind for most individuals when asked to describe the existing national culture. Sadly, negative and often traumatic experiences are slowly eroding our hope, optimism, resilience, pride and patriotism.  More than ever, individuals need to bounce back from adversities while at the same time rethink their expenditures, emotional responses, interpersonal relationships and lifestyle choices.  Once again, as individuals and as a nation, we are being forced to learn, adapt, endure and change. 

“Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can't exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness.  You can't be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity.”

- Archbishop Desmond Tutu, 2008

Moreover, the degree to which the current socio-political and economic climate fosters the needs, desires, values and conduct of an autonomous group of individuals over those of the nation, is also affecting South African businesses.  Organisations are expected to implement ‘radical economic transformation’ strategies while at the same time managing social, environmental, legal and even political risks.  The by-gone era when organisations would only focus on maximising profit, at the expense of ignoring the needs of its people and the environment, are long forgotten.  Fortunately, business philosophies are changing and organisations are increasingly adopting a more sustainable stakeholder-inclusive approach to creating value.  This approach is supported by international governance best practice guidelines such as those contained in the King IV™ Report* and those issued by the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC).  These guidelines advocate a holistic and integrated approach to business and recognise the connectivity and interdependencies between the economy, society and the environment.  In line with this ethos, organisations are expected to balance “the legitimate and reasonable needs, interests and expectations” of all material stakeholders in the best interests of the organisation over the long term.   

 

Organisational culture change 

If organisations want to transform their business operations to be in line with the above-mentioned business ethos, they need to start by changing their leadership and organisational culture.  According to a recent Harvard Business Review, the failure rate for mergers and acquisitions (M&A) is between 70% and 90%.  One of the most common reasons for these failures is the inability to transform and merge organisational cultures.  M&A’s frequently result in high levels of uncertainty and stress amongst employees which in turn germinate a resistance to change and a decrease in productivity.  This negative behaviour is unintentionally reinforced by leaders wanting to “take charge” and control and manage the organisational culture.  Whilst the introduction of rules, policies, and processes may be effective in communicating boundaries and providing guidelines on acceptable behaviour, they often inadvertently restrict employee engagement.  Such a rules based approach to organisational culture assumes that successful change management can only be achieved by anticipating and resolving problems and criticisms.  There is often little to no involvement of the employees in establishing the desired organisational culture and instead, a strong emphasis is placed on analysing, designing and controlling employee behaviour with varying degrees of success.  In these circumstances, it makes more sense for leaders to let go of the illusion of control, and rather focus on the positive aspects of organisational change which promote enhancement and growth by developing a shared set of beliefs, values, norms and strengths.  

A values-based approach to organisational change encourages employees to align their personal values with those of the organisation.  Indeed, a values-based approach, addresses and challenges the belief systems within the organisation and at same time recognises that employees need to be equipped with positive coping skills to be able to adapt to changing circumstances.  Whilst a unified message sent from the ‘top’ and a transparent project plan gives direction to employees, it is capacity development and change enablement that must take centre stage during the merger or change process. Positive transformational leaders develop purpose and meaning, translate strategic objectives into daily operations and develop interpersonal relationships that add value to the human and social capital of the organisation.  They understand that there is no substitute for high-quality connections.  Through supportive collaboration and alliance building, positive leaders work directly with employees to develop new belief systems, behavioural norms and the desired organisational culture.  They enable change through conversations, dialogue and coaching interactions that inspire employees.  As more employees engage in the process, so the impetus towards positive change becomes stronger. 

 

Thriving organisational culture 

High-performing organisations invest considerable resources in fostering their core organisational values, purpose and desired culture.  In fact, high-performing organisations consider a thriving organisational culture as a strong competitive advantage.  These organisations intentionally develop individual and group strengths through collaboration, collective efforts, effective communication and cohesive interpersonal relationships at multiple levels, and in different contexts.   

A thriving organisational culture manifests in the individual expressions, language, teamwork, relationships and positive experiences of employees which in turn translates into improved innovation and productivity.  In addition, thriving organisational cultures are characterised by predictable behaviour requirements, the ability to develop and respond to change effectively as well as an environment where employees can meaningfully engage on an individual and a collective level.  In these environments, relationships are built on trust and positive feedback is provided in the spirit of personal and professional growth and development.  Essentially, employees in these positive circumstances generally tend to value their quality of life, and contribute positively to those around them. 

Similarly, high performing organisations with thriving organisational cultures are further distinguished by the existence of truly cohesive executive leadership teams.  The vision and mission of the organisation is clearly articulated and the organisational values are translated into practical behavioural norms (personal conduct).  High organisational commitment and job satisfaction, low incidence of sickness and employee absenteeism, positive industrial relations and fewer strikes, are the main attributes of thriving organisations.  These organisations adopt a strength-based approach, and assign tangible value to high quality relationships and a collective identity that engages employees and develops its human and social capital.  

Employees working in a thriving organisational culture are generally less insular, and they are more able to give and receive support from others.  These employees tend to work in ways that excite, absorb and engage them.  Generally, they tend to be more self-directed and autonomous, while at the same time they also feel more committed to the organisation.  These employees spontaneously create social networks and form positive interpersonal relationships that enable the collective organisation to set goals, work with vigour, and solve problems with resilience.  Not surprisingly, these interconnected employees enjoy authentic relationships and communicate openly and across multiple reporting structures.  On a daily basis, employees experience personal autonomy, self-efficacy, meaningful work, self-actualisation and social acceptance that entices them to contribute with excellence. 

Considering the racial strife and political undertones many South Africans are experiencing at this point in time -- particularly in the workplace -- more organisations and their leadership should pay greater attention to nurturing their organisational culture.  In doing so, the organisation may become an important catalyst for a far greater change that is not limited to the workplace itself; the positive effects may well also affect the organisation’s social responsibility, extended supply chains and South Africa as a whole.  This being said, the ripple effect of embracing culture and its diversity requires ethical and authentic leaders to drive this change, and this is possibly one of South Africa’s greatest challenges in present times.  

* King IV™ Report on Corporate Governance for South Africa 2016 (The Institute of Directors in Southern Africa) (“King IV™”). 


Dr. Dicky ElsDr Dicky Els is a Lead Independent Consultant in CGF Research Institute.  He specialises in Workplace Wellness and focuses predominantly on strategy development, programme design and evaluation of outcome-based health promotion programmes.  CGF is a Proudly South African company that specialises in conducting desktop research on Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) related topics. dicky@bewell.org.za

Jene' PalmerJene’ Palmer is the Chief Financial Officer at CGF Research Institute, and a Chartered Accountant (SA) who has garnered a wealth of experience over the last two decades in the corporate environment including leading a JSE-listed ICT company as its CEO and returning the company to profitability. She geared the company for an acquisition in order to achieve the goal of turning it into a Billion Rand organisation. Jenè’s passion is rooted in assisting companies to reach their full potential and overcome the challenges posed by an economic downturn, weak strategic direction, operational inefficiencies or financial distress. jpalmer@cgf.co.za

Tags:  Dr Dicky Els  International Wellness  Jene’ Palmer  occupational wellness  resilience  South Africa  success  thriving 

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Transformational Leadership

Posted By Alex Lobo, Thursday, January 4, 2018
Updated: Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Alex Lobo MBA
Founder and CEO of the Mexican Institute of Integral Prevention
Member NWI International Standing Committee 


One of the biggest issues in the management of human talent, the achievement of strategic objectives, and the execution of priorities and needs of the organization, is that people do what they have to do to succeed. 

The issue of leadership has been addressed in many ways; most research being around the need to train people, motivate them, and empower them. The main problem is that each human being has different needs, values, beliefs, talents, resources, abilities, and ways of looking at life. Also, the people who lead do so in different ways through different leadership styles and employ different techniques to have their teams achieve their results. From this perspective, change by itself is not enough to achieve goals and results, especially in medium- and long-term strategy issues in companies. It is not enough to provide methodologies, motivation, and tools. It is necessary to accomplish a change from the operational level, to transform at the level of identity; which generates alignment with respect to values and strategy.

Today, work teams need to self-manage, and for this we need a new way of looking at the leadership issue. Not only the change that the leader asks of his teams, but from the process of accompaniment towards an integral transformation of the person. Today more than ever, leaders have the opportunity to become mentors, coaches, cheerleaders, and sergeants of their teams. Always starting from their own example, from their own resources. But above all, the leadership that is required nowadays has to do with the identity of the leader and the identity of the work teams.

The basis of transformational leadership is self discovery. Who should I be to achieve the objectives? Who do I have to convert? What are the features of my personality that I would have to exalt? What to improve? How should my own resources grow? How am I a generator of that process of change in operability, of transformation in identity? 

Affects Of Transformational Leadership On Work Teams

Transformational leadership positively affects work teams from the level of behavior change —new tasks, assignments, skills to be developed — through to the transformation of beliefs and attitudes, regarding the task itself and team members' own abilities. It is also important to influence the habits and discipline of each member, to explore what are the values and moral and intellectual priorities of each one, as well as their intrinsic and extrinsic motivations, which gives a better understanding of what is relevant for each work team. 

The three concrete actions of the transformational leader are: understanding the fears and obstacles through which each work team passes; understanding the context and current situation of the individual and their resources and immediate needs, and facilitate the process of transformation, starting from what is apparently a simple task to what becomes a new identity.

Transformational leadership involves those steps leaders have to take to manage themselves. To be able to increase their influence on others, understand the motivations, limitations, and fears of their work team, and help them to expand an instrumentalist vision of accomplishing tasks and achieving results to a functional vision of capacity expansion and strengthening of human identity.

There are specific characteristics of the transformational leader and specific motivations and ambitions of all human beings. The contemporary leader understands these elements and uses them in favor of results, growth, and the generation of future value. Thus adding competitive advantage through four characteristics for the development of transformational leadership: 

  1. Social-emotional skills:  these are the concepts of self-care, self-knowledge of emotional intelligence, social intelligence, the motivations and unique situations of each individual, decision-making, and always thinking about this concept of "better decisions" and that of resilience, concept, and concrete development goals, how to grow in each of these areas with specific indications, individually and at a corporate level.
  2. Virtues: the transformational leader is someone who is regulated in the moral and spiritual from the cardinal virtues. The need to develop strength as a central element of consistency, ability to face obstacles and not bend to situations that are in the way. Temperance, which is the virtue that regulates one's appetites, passions, and vices that we generate consciously or unconsciously and that obviously distract us, de-motivate us, and generate physical, psychological, and profitability consequences. Prudence, which is having the clarity of doing the right thing for the right reasons at the right time with the right people, and being able to understand and have a broader vision of the different systems, actors, and forces that exist in the business environment — the number one feature of the trans-formational leader. Development of maturity as the core competence, understood as the ability to self-regulate, self-manage, and to achieve what is proposed.
  3. Persuasion: everything that social influence implies, and how to raise one’s levels of influence to have others do it. Evidently here the key piece has to do with the motivation both at the intrinsic and extrinsic personal level. 
  4. The competition vs. the experience: every transformational leader must have worked, documented their personal learning, their success stories and failures. The leader must understand the specific lessons to work with their teams in specific situations and understand that the main task is to inspire and instruct.

Every one of these characteristics is necessary to increase the chances of success in achieving objectives. In addition to these competencies there are five specific habits that transformational leaders have to master: 

  1. Self-management and self-government: eat well, sleep well, exercise, and lead a harmonious, healthy, and well existence.
  2. Continuous learning: the leader is the first apprentice. Lead from learning and not from knowledge; the knowledge leader gives a chair, the leader in learning accompanies the discovery or transformation process.
  3. Listening: it must be active, with an interest and with a fair amount of curiosity towards people and their points of view.
  4. Discipline: there is no obstacle that can resist perseverance and for this it is important to stay focused, not be distracted, and be a bit stubborn through tenacity.
  5. Celebration: the transformational leader knows how to recognize the effort and knows how to reward the results. Understand that the basis of happiness is progress and that it requires taking time to recognize, reward, and give back. 

Although these habits are not generated from one day to the next, if you start immediately, you achieve your domain through repetition. It is also useful to propose a plan of action and individual improvement for the achievement of goals. This is undoubtedly a recipe or proven formula for accomplishing the transformation of work teams and individuals. Conceptually it makes a lot of sense, however the emphasis must be on the execution and implementation of these concepts.



Alex LoboAlejandro (Alex) Lobo is founder and CEO of the Mexican Institute of Integral Prevention, writer, researcher, lecturer, educator, consultant, Wellness Coach, Life & BusinessPerformance Coach. The Mexican Institute of Comprehensive Prevention, is an association Alex founded after extensive experience working in the design, management and implementation of “Comprehensive Prevention” Models in educational institutions, public and private sector and governmental organizations. He has studied administration, international trade, and has obtained a Master degree in the Mexican Business School (IPADE). Furthermore, he has worked in consulting, teaching and research in various institutions in Mexico, the United States, and South America. “Comprehensive Prevention” ensures full personal development and freeing the inner potential. It humanizes relationships and leads to a state of consciousness, well-being and fulfillment.

Tags:  Alex Lobo  International Wellness  leadership  Mexico  occupational wellness  success  thriving  wellness coach 

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