Did you know that a company’s leadership significantly impacts the health and happiness of its employees? If you’ve had one or more experiences working for a horrible boss, then you probably have a good understanding that poor leadership can make one physically, emotionally and mentally sick. I was in that situation many years ago, and it truly impacted the health and well-being of the entire workforce.
Before I get into the details, here’s a little career background: I worked in the insurance industry for 17 years. I landed my first insurance job during my senior year at UCLA in 1994. I worked as an administrator for a Los Angeles-based company which specialized in life insurance and annuities. I fell “in love” with the insurance industry, and abandoned my plans to become a CPA. I found the insurance field much more exciting, and it opened many doors for me. For the next decade and a half, I would work for life insurance companies, health insurance carriers, and brokerage general agencies in various roles: operations, sales, marketing, and business development. I absolutely loved it as I learned a lot about the industry and was never bored doing the same thing. I liked the fact that I was well-rounded.
Over 10 years ago, I was introduced to the head honcho of a general agency in California. He was impressed with my work experience and my enthusiasm. He told me about the current state of his agency. I was impressed to hear his vision for the company. He needed help in growing his agency especially since there was a lot of office negativity and resistance to change. I thought to myself: “what a great opportunity!” So I took the job offer! I had high hopes, and was very excited to take on the challenge. I was in my early 30’s, and had a “fire in my belly”.
Unfortunately, that “fire in my belly” quickly faded just 2 weeks into the job. I found it absolutely horrifying that my boss was unapproachable. He often kept his door closed, and had an irritated look on his face when I asked him work-related questions. I was confused. How can this new boss be the same person I met just one month ago? He was much more enthusiastic back then. He even claimed he had an “open door” policy. REALLY? I didn’t feel like we were playing on the same team. I was baffled and frustrated. Because he was so unapproachable on a personal level, I ended up communicating with him via email 90% of the time.
Of course, when he needed something, he would come out of his office. I would be surprised when he would step into my office and attempt to have a conversation with me. He never looked me in the eye. Sometimes he would ask me how things were going. Yet, he didn’t pay attention to my answer. He would often look away, and not stay engaged. I started resenting him. How can I respect a boss who was not fully engaged and was not interested in what I had to say? On top of that, he was disrespectful, condescending, and didn’t want to be bothered.
He enjoyed writing long emails when communicating to the staff about important company matters. While he incorporated humor in his written correspondence, it still did not make up for his uninspiring leadership. Employees would tell me that he was insincere and lazy. Yes, these were some pretty harsh words…but how can you blame them? The entire workforce was underwhelmed with his poor leadership style.
Poor Leadership Creates Unhappy and Unhealthy Employees
A poor leader creates employee stress which results in poor employee performance. Stressed out employees tend to sleep less and exercise less. They also make poor choices when it comes to diet and nutrition. They indulge in bad eating behaviors which causes weight gain. In fact, studies have shown that employees who have a difficult relationship with their boss were 30% more likely to suffer from increased blood pressure and coronary heart disease.
The Impact of Positive Leadership
Were you fortunate enough to have a mentor who became your “personal cheerleader”? Did he or she push you to excel? Perhaps it was a parent, a teacher, a coach, a former boss, or a colleague? Do you recall those words of wisdom they shared with you? How did it make you feel? You felt happy, energized and motivated, right? That is a leader who made a POSITIVE impact on your life.
I remember seeking advice from one of my mentors about pursuing a leadership role for a nationally known industry organization. I shared with him that I didn’t think I was capable of doing the job based on 3 facts: I was a woman, I was a minority, and I was young (under 40 years old at that time). He immediately told me not to “sell myself short”. He said that based on my work ethic, my accomplishments, my positive personality, and my “can do” mentality, I was perfectly capable of taking on this leadership role. My mentor obviously saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. I took his advice…and I must say that taking that leadership role gave me so much confidence and helped me grow into the person I am today.
I haven’t talked to him in many years since he retired, and moved out of California. But let me tell you…he was a leader who inspired me. I have happy thoughts just thinking of him. I will always be grateful for his guidance because he truly made a POSITIVE impact in my life.
Great Leadership Produces Happy and Healthy Employees
Unfortunately, anyone who holds a position of authority can be called a leader. However, it takes someone with great leadership skills who can positively impact the health and well-being of an individual and that of an entire workforce.
If you are in a leadership role, or aspire to become a leader one day, how would you like to be perceived: being a mediocre leader or being a GREAT leader?
If you are looking for leadership training or personal development, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 213-304-5603. We’d love to hear from you.
About the author:
Edna Dimataga-Fernandez founded The Wellness Institute in 2013. The company provides Corporate Wellness Seminars, Individual Whole Health Assessments, Holistic Wellness Programs, and Leadership & Organizational Consulting. Prior to founding the company, she worked & consulted in the insurance industry for over 17 years. She also founded Wellness-Spring, a holistic health & wellness store. For more information, please visit out website: www.the-wellness-institute.com or email us at email@example.com