Leaders Need Self-Care Too

Julie Bitely

| 2 min read

black and white photo of a woman sitting on a couch with a laptop.
If your work life constantly puts others’ needs before your own, don’t be surprised if burnout is just around the corner. “Emotionally unsupported leaders faint, falter, fatigue and die on the field of service,” said Shannon Cohen, the featured speaker at this year’s Let’s Talk Health Week luncheon, sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. Her talk focused on the importance of emotional health in the greater context of overall health, particularly in the workplace.
Shannon Cohen, displaying items from her Tough Skin, Soft Heart business. Photo credit: Julie Bitely With a background in ministry and strategy, Cohen delivered a powerful message about making space for emotional health at work. The idea for her Tough Skin, Soft Heart business actually came to her in a hospital bed. While she was an outwardly successful young professional, she came to the realization that she hadn’t been taking the best care of herself. Just as she started making changes toward a more balanced life, Cohen said leaders in organizations need to give themselves permission to check into their own personal state of emotional health. They spend a lot of time asking others how they’re doing and need to assess the same in their own lives. “That’s not a selfish place, that’s self-care,” she said. It’s also good for business, Cohen explained, noting that organizations with healthy, happy leaders are better equipped to run successful operations. When emotional needs aren’t being met in the workplace, businesses often see the ill effects when it comes to talent retention and recruitment efforts. “People want to hear affirmation,” she said. “They want to hear they’re doing a great job.” As the leader of a company or team, it’s important to set the example. Cohen noted that employee burnout is on the rise, with many feeling stressed over real and perceived work demands. If workers don’t feel empowered to take care of themselves because of the frenetic pace the boss sets, it can make it difficult to use vacation time or even unplug over the weekend. “People are overworked,” she said. If you enjoyed this article, you might also like:
Main image photo credit: WOCinTech Chat
MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association