Entrepreneurs are the rainmakers and economic engines of their companies, especially in the beginning. Staff, partners, and investors feel more secure in their futures when following vital leaders who are clearly in charge of their own health.
Like it or not, your company culture grows up around you. Your health attitude and leadership impact your executive team, employees, and bottom line before you even print your first business card.
A recent survey through Healthy Companies International (HCI) found 17% of employees were somewhat worried and 4% were very worried about their bosses’ health.
HCI’s Stephen Parker says owners and senior executives often “pay no attention to health issues because they think it’s all for the greater good. [They] overlook the possibilities of building a more firm foundation for their performance.”
How do you avoid being the leader people worry about?
1: Get a physical. Discover where you stand, how you got here, and how you’ll grow in the future with the same diligence and curiosity you apply to your business plan.
2: Vet your doctor like an executive staff member, then cultivate that relationship. Want useful answers from your executive staff? Look for people who compliment your strengths but are willing to challenge you for the sake of the outcome. Similarly, a doctor is most helpful if s/he can tell you the truth and still support your mission. If they’re available on your schedule, even better.
3: Let your actions speak louder than words. Hold meetings while standing up or walking, which also shortens them. Get junk food out of your break room. Put reminders in your elevators to use the stairs unless one is truly incapacitated.
4: Practice kaizen. Apply the Japanese business principle of continuous improvement to yourself. Consider always being in training for something and invite your staff to join you.
5. Do some multiplication. Consider the long-term impact of your own health leadership on health insurance costs, office productivity, sick time, and your employees’ sense of well-being. The stability of your health can even affect things like staff turnover since humans are genetically and unconsciously programmed to look for signs of robust health in their mates and leaders. Instituting “wellness” programs for your company will be ineffective if your staff does not see you leading the way.
You may not always be the picture of perfect health. How you care for yourself and your company when you’re ill can calm fear or ignite it. Consider Steve Jobs. Your health status may not make headlines or affect stock prices, though it speaks volumes about your brand if that happens. But don’t kid yourself. You’re the Steve Jobs of your own microcosm, and that group is paying attention.