Goodbye job applications, hello dream career
Seize control of your career and design the future you deserve with LW career

Leaders must help themselves before they can help their employees

Sometimes, leaders tend to neglect their own wellbeing to uplift that of their employees. This process can prove to have a negative impact on the workplace.

user iconKace O'Neill 12 March 2024 Big Law
expand image

HR Leader, which is published by the same company that owns Lawyers Weekly, recently spoke to the founder and chief executive of Leading Well, Vanessa Fudge, about dealing with psychosocial risks in the workplace and the importance of leaders standing at the forefront to combat these hazards.

Leaders have the burden of upholding the relationships around them while also worrying about the wellbeing of their employees. Juggling personalities and responsibilities can be a tall task, and to excel at this, leaders must prioritise securing their own wellbeing first.

“What often doesn’t get discussed, which is perhaps even more important, is do leaders feel compromised in their own wellbeing? Do they feel like they’re now responsible for everybody else instead of themselves?” Fudge said.


“Are they really making sure that their foundations are solid? [Are they making sure] they’re not feeling overworked, they’re not in conflict, they’re not subjected to change processes that are impossible to digest and incorporate? So, there is the need to come at this from both directions.”

In today’s working climate, vulnerability and honesty from a leader can be more reassuring than keeping it to themselves. It makes them seem more human from their employees’ point of view and opens up a bridge of understanding. It’s important that leaders have their own wellbeing foundations in check, yet are honest about it if it’s not, thus setting a good example for their employees.

“If you [as a leader] are compromised in your own wellbeing, that’s probably the loudest message that people are going to receive. They will notice and they will absorb that in the environment. So, making sure that leaders have their own solid foundations will be incredibly instrumental in being a success,” Fudge said.

“[It’s about] role modelling that, actually, there’s good balance, there’s good boundaries, there’s healthy amount of energy going into work, a healthy amount of energy going into life. Expectations are realistic, and this is a place that leaders can model.”

It’s tough sledding for leaders at the moment with the number of workplace changes occurring as well as legislative adaptations. Many leaders want to portray to their employees that they’re thriving when, in reality, they’re not.

“A sense of thriving is important, but I must say, working with leaders currently, many of them would roll their eyes with that word thriving, because a lot of them are not feeling like they’re thriving. There’s a lot of change coming into organisations, there’s new technology, and leaders are struggling to keep up as well with all of this,” Fudge said.

Once leaders understand the connection between having clarity on their own wellbeing and that of their employees, they can then shift their focus to implementing and carrying out strategies to mitigate the effects of issues like psychosocial risks. They can instead focus on having a proactive and measured approach rather than a reactive, emotional approach.

“I think it’s important to be able to measure and to be across the workforce and make sure that leaders are informed where these risks are emerging in real time. And then it’s really important to link this into the core strategic narrative,” Fudge said.

“So, you could just reactively go on a big drive, couldn’t you? We’ve got to tick all these boxes, we’ve got to meet all these, make sure all these risks are mitigated, which is a very reactive approach. We’d be advocating for a much more proactive and measured approach.”

A proactive and measured approach from leaders is what is needed to deal with the new changes that are rolling through the workplace. Leaders can do what they do best and lead from the front, especially when their personal wellbeing is being managed proficiently.

“If leaders can be on the front foot with the changes that are rolling through organisations and the newly updated legislation on psychosocial risks, they really are harnessing an opportunity to grow their organisations and send a powerful message that we are forging a good place to work,” Fudge concluded.