How you can lead by example
Part of being a successful leader is leading by example. This means modelling the behaviour you want to see in your team.
If you’re a manager in the legal industry, your employees will look to you to set the standards that others will follow. So, it’s important to cultivate healthy habits that will support you and your team.
Here are five healthy ways you can lead by example and inspire the people around you to do the same.
1. Prioritise your own wellbeing
To support your team to the best of your ability, it’s important to take care of your own health and wellbeing first. This includes:
- getting regular exercise
- eating a healthy diet
- limiting your alcohol intake
- getting plenty of good-quality sleep
When your team sees you practising good working habits – like taking regular breaks and managing your stress levels – it can inspire them to do the same. But, if you regularly work through lunch, stay late and take on too much, your team members might feel under pressure to do the same.
So, actively demonstrate that you are looking after yourself first. By cultivating healthy working habits, you can motivate your team to follow your example.
Tip: Schedule regular breaks in your diary and make them non-negotiable.
2. Switch off after work
Technology has enabled people all over the world to stay connected and work effectively. But it can also encourage an ‘always-on’ culture. It can blur the lines between work and home life too. For example, you might feel under pressure to:
- work longer hours
- keep checking your emails
- respond to emails straight away
Although it’s good for your team to know they can rely on you, it’s also important to set clear boundaries between work and home life. But, this can be hard if you’re working from home. Here’s a few things you can try to help you switch off.
- Try putting your work equipment away out of sight
- Turn your work phone off, to reduce the temptation of logging on
- Set a reminder in your diary to clock off on time – and stick to it
As well as physically switching off from work, it’s important to switch off mentally too. You might find it helpful to go for a walk after work, practise some mindfulness or read a good book. Immerse yourself in something you enjoy. This will help you to unwind.
Tip: If some of your employees work flexible hours, support them to do this where you can. But make sure that the rest of your team don’t feel like they need to work at the same time.
3. Talk about mental health
As a manager, you’re responsible for looking out for the mental health and wellbeing of your team. You can also play an important role in reducing the stigma surrounding mental health. However, it can be hard to know where to start.
Why not start by having an open and honest conversation with your team about mental health? You might find it helpful to think about how things are in your team at the moment, and what affects our mental health at work. This can help your team to:
- feel comfortable opening up
- feel understood and able to be themselves at work
It can also help you to be an authentic leader and:
- spot the signs of poor mental health
- provide early support when it’s needed
- reduce sickness absence
- increase productivity among your team
Show employees that their wellbeing matters to you. Encourage them to work sensible hours. Let them know they can talk to you in confidence about any personal or professional challenges if they need to.
Tip: If your team don’t feel comfortable talking to you, check they’re aware of mental health support services available to them.
4. Organise regular check-ins
Whether employees are working remotely or office based, it’s important to maintain strong relationships within your team. In one global study, employees who hadn’t been asked how they were feeling at work during the pandemic, were 38% more likely to have experienced poor mental health.
So, schedule regular catch-ups with each individual. Make the time to find out how they’re really doing – both personally and professionally, as this can change daily. Also make sure your team knows you’re checking in on their wellbeing, and not ‘checking up’ on them.
Try to understand and empathise with each employee’s situation. You can also monitor their workload, and make adjustments when needed to support them.
Tip: Good communication can help employees to feel valued, connected and reassured. Make sure to keep them updated on any changes to your organisation's working practices, policies and procedures.
5. Look after your physical health
Taking care of your physical health has many benefits. Regular exercise and activity can:
- improve sleep
- lower stress levels
- increase energy levels
Being physically active can also boost your mental health and wellbeing – all of which impact on you and your teams’ performance at work.
There are lots of ways you can encourage and support your team to keep active during work hours. This could be blocking out time for a team stretching session. You can also try and ensure there’s enough time to get up and move in between meetings.
Finally, make time to review your team’s workstation setup to help prevent aches and pains from developing over time. Ask your team to complete a workstation assessment. And check that they have the equipment they need to work effectively.
Tip: If you don’t need to meet virtually or face-to-face, why not catch up with your team members with ‘walk-and-talk calls’ instead?
Views expressed in our blogs are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Law Society.