How can leaders look after their teams and themselves?

Paul Farmer, 13 November 2017

Early on in my time as chief executive at Mind, I asked one of my directors how my arrival had gone down. “You’ll be fine,” she said. “You smile at people and you know their names.”

Leaders can’t achieve their charity’s objective unless their staff and volunteers are right behind them. That means being very clear communicators, great people people, and motivating people to thrive to the best of their ability. It also means being able to ask someone “Are you OK?” and have the time, space and skills to cope when the answer is “no”.

It’s just as important that leaders take care of themselves. We are no use to our people if we are physically or mentally exhausted, not in control of what we’re doing, or have run ourselves into the ground because we think we’re the only person who can do everything!

So, my tips:

  • Take time for yourself – take your full allocation of leave and don’t work at weekends unless essential.
  • Don’t email your staff out of hours and don’t expect them to.
  • Find a peer group of leaders (eg through ACEVO) so you can share your challenges.
  • If you model the right behaviours, your people will notice and they’ll be fine.

Oh, and smile from time to time!

Paul Farmer CBE is chief executive of Mind and chair of ACEVO. He is also a trustee at the Lloyds Bank Foundation and chair of the NHS England Mental Health Taskforce. Paul is an honorary fellow of St Peter’s College Oxford and The Royal College of Psychiatrists.