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Current Issue In Print Leadership The Essentials

You Can’t Pour From an Empty Cup


As emotionally intelligent leaders, we’re often focused on the well-being of our team — in supporting them to achieve personal and organizational objectives.

It seems almost counterintuitive when we say in order to be a great leader, we need to focus on ourselves. But in fact, focusing on ourselves through managing our own well-being is the best thing we can do to support our team.

A great analogy to this point is the airline safety briefing, where we are reminded in the event of an emergency we should put on our own oxygen mask first. As leaders, we need to look after our own well-being before we can support others. 

This is particularly important during periods of high stress — like during a global pandemic — when we are exposed to sometimes excessive pressures and demands as leaders. 

Often, when we are subjected to these stressors and working under pressure, we don’t prioritize our own well-being. 

Failure to invest in our own well-being almost certainly will result in poor performance at best, and burnout and exhaustion at worst. According to research by the Mayo Clinic, ignored or unaddressed burnout can lead to significant negative consequences, such as fatigue, insomnia, irritability, high blood pressure and even vulnerability to illnesses.

We cannot serve others when we have nothing left to give, and as the saying goes, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.”

By having a well-developed sense of self-awareness, we can identify the early signs and symptoms of when stress is beginning to take hold. Our bodies will intuitively show us when we need to take better care of ourselves. 

As leaders in the health and wellness industry, we can lead by example by ensuring a balanced approach to work and life. Being seen as a positive role model for our teams means prioritizing our own personal wellness through a combination of mindfulness, exercise and nutrition.

Kristen Green

Kristen Green is the executive general manager of Aquafit in Australia and was named Australian Club Manager of the Year in April 2020. For more information email kgreen@aquafit.com.au.

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