As per your observation, What are the most shocking facts about leaders and their mental health not being revealed? What are the psychology extremes noticed at c-level?
Vikram Patel, professor and research fellow, department of global health and social medicine, Harvard Medical School through a study concluded 80% of a 6000 employee group showed symptoms of anxiety and 55% of depression. His study also found the risk of suicidal behavior in Indian corporate employees quadruples from 2.1 out of 10 employees to 8.21 between a span of only 2008 to 2016. I had a chief level gentleman client, healthy, financially secure and everything one would consider a successful person to have. He suffered from prolonged and chronic headaches. His medical tests came out clear every time. Nothing wrong with the brain, the eyes, all clear. I used a humanistic approach and behavioral therapy through my sessions. Eventually, we figured the headaches were due to deep-seated angst towards his father. We planned an intervention where he asked his father for a time, sat across and a heart to heart conversation for the very first time. The gentleman was wary of his father who was a very angry man all his life. As a boy, this client did not have a father who was loving and supportive on the contrary he couldn’t say a sentence to him. As the years went by, the relationship was almost non-existent and the father continued to be a bitter man. Ultimately during the chat with his father my client opened up and expressed how he felt over the years and asked his father why he was so angry all the time. The 85-year-old father cried to reveal the cause (it was related to his own childhood) and shared that no one ever asked him why he was so angry. This was cathartic for both of them and their bond is a strong father-son bond. Needless to say, his headaches disappeared.
Loss of productivity, feeling vulnerable to a point of self-harm, panic attacks, addictions, chronic fatigue, sleep disorders, physical or emotional breakdowns, memory issues, paranoia due to situations at the workplace or at home are some of the extreme cases that are notable at every stage in business but more so with the added pressure at top C-levels.
What practices C-Suite must incorporate at policy and strategy level to keep workplaces healthy, vibrant and energy-driven?
A friendly atmosphere with health-focused programs for stress management, holistic mental wellness, employee upskill workshops, meditation and relaxation sessions, how-to maintain the work-life balance, emotional intelligence, etc. on a regular basis probably tops the list. Effective time prioritization for responding to emails, lunches, meetings, compulsory break-times, and walks, leaving can be marginally decided upon. Flexi-hours or work from home options has a lot of potential and as long as the work is getting done, sitting 'x' number of hours daily only disrupts any balance one can potentially have in life. Easy access to timely, qualified in-house/on-call counselor/psychologist/mental health practitioner showing a successful track record backed by past evidence, empathy, flexibility to speak in confidence & who acts as a facilitator in seeking solutions for the employee's problems is the need of the hour and very advisable.
What strategies you would like to recommend to cope up with failures in work and personal lives?
Fear of failure is often rooted in the dread of being judged and losing others’ respect and esteem. No one is immune to making mistakes. When leaders reach the top after the struggles they go through, their idea of reality gets skewed. Failure doesn’t mean one will never succeed. It’s therefore essential to redevelop realistic thinking around failure. No one can be right all the time, mistakes happen and must be looked at opportunities to learn, grow and do things differently at any and all levels without exception. Acceptance is, therefore, the key. In a failed situation, absorb all the constructive criticism, shake off the negative feedback if any and focus all energy on figuring other innovative solutions. Reflect on the cause of failure and release the need for the approval of others. Dwelling on mistakes, making them personal, distracting themselves with food, drugs, or alcohol only stunts growth. Repeat a positive phrase/affirmation / mantra to yourself to ward off unpleasant thoughts or to reinforce to yourself that you can bounce back from this when negativity takes over.
Calling a friend, practicing deep breathing, taking a hot bath, going for a walk, or playing with a pet are basic activates to keep calm and forget immediate problems/guilt.
Many a C level executives have publicly acknowledged of Burnout. Given workload, deadlines, powerlessness is a few of the reasons as per research. What a business leader must do at the mental level to combat burn out? Highlight some resilient measures to bring in change at thought level?
At the apex of one’s careers, C-suite leaders are usually faced with the phenomenon of the pinnacle paradox. They’ve seemingly got it all, work hard, but nowhere to progress further and stuck at a level that is highly physically and mentally demanding. On an immediate basis, walking out of stressful situations clears the head enough to avoid taking drastic measures making accepting situations happen from a broader and emotionally stable perspective. When leaders are brutally honest to themselves about the reasons behind their build-up to burnout, they can almost usually point out to all the red flags they brush off and go back to work on individual elements to fix and ensure no repeats. On a thought level, resilience can be further developed by understanding the self deeper and our triggers, journaling emotions, doing small yet significant activities that give one a sense of accomplishment, going for counseling or therapy to let it all out of the system from time to time. Besides, taking vacations, getting proper sleep daily, self-care – eating/exercise, social support, making time for a passion, redefining one’s vision for the future, an active lifestyle, a secure future financial plan, harmonious relationships and striking the proper work-life balance with enough time for self, family, and friends is and will never be a luxury but a necessity. These help combat burnout like nothing else.
As per Dennis Miller High-powered individuals often do not want to admit vulnerability, and depression is unfortunately viewed as a weakness. But it is high time that people should talk about it. How to bring in a change in the organization that they must become open about their mental health issues. How to change the mindset of people to take "so-called abnormality" as a normal course of life.
Leading by example is the most effective strategy for C-Suite leaders. A couple of other suggestions to help better equip the organization with an open attitude to mental health would be to break the stigma around the term mental illness at work and normalize conversations about seeking help. Treat everyone with the same respect. Consider reasonable accommodations and personal time-offs. Make disconnecting on weekends a reality. Invest in technology (read artificial intelligence, chatbots for repetitive work) or additional tools (automation apps like IFTTT, Accelo, Evernote, MyLifeOrganized, Scoro) to support staff & simplify the team member’s work lives with lessened workloads and getting an in-house / directly approachable counselor/ psychologist will greatly help.