Last week, as part of a Leaders in GM resilience workshop, I was asked to cover the question:
“Why is being a resilient leader important, in the current GM context and how does this connect to the Leaders in GM expectations?”
These expectations were co designed through talking to a range of people across the city-region, including leaders, past participants and community groups.. They are intended for everyone who plays a leadership role (not rank, sector or organisational specific). They are always evolving to reflect our changing context. Leaders in Greater Manchester are embracing and embedding conversations around resilience, self-compassion and compassion for others within the programme.
The resilience workshop that I spoke at was an example of how the programme is doing this, and was clearly an important investment of time for those in the room.
One woman I spoke to over coffee before the session started remarked
“I never have time to go on training courses. I’m so busy in my day to day work. But I have prioritised this. It’s really important“
The Leaders in GM Expectations are as follows:
1. We come together to connect, learn and collaborate.
2. We lead from place, always building from our collective strengths and resources.
3.We challenge and explore new ways of working across systems and organisations to create. greater impact.
4. We understand our personal and collective responsibilities in transforming GM.
These expectations are critical to our shared success, but there are a few words of warning for us on this journey.
We have a shared vision, in “Our People, Our Place” and we need to be robust and resilient to achieve it.
Connecting, learning and collaborating takes a lot of energy. We need to look after ourselves and each other, and make sure we take time to recharge, rest and restore.
Always challenging and exploring new ways of working in complex systems, is energy intensive.
We can take too much personal responsibility, so we need to distribute the leadership and work as a team. Collective responsibility and effort are more powerful.
We need to share the load. Build from our collective strengths, and take a break sometimes, to regain our strength.
As much as these expectations are important to our leadership, we can only live them out in practice if we develop resilience and support each other.
Risk of burn out is high.
Colleagues that I work with on a daily basis in Greater Manchester are some of the most committed, passionate and driven that I have ever met. These qualities are often celebrated and set out in the expectations that we have developed together, but where is the yin to the yang?
There’s a need to shift the narrative a little. To aim for a healthy stretch, not strain, (to use the wise words of Rene Barrett).
Yes, Greater Manchester leaders need to strive. To celebrate the passion, drive and commitment of it’s people. But also to nurture, support and celebrate healthy balance.
There are many ways that we could do this.
Just a few, to hopefully start a new conversation, could be the need to:
* Nurture safe environments for honest conversations about the stretch and strain of this work.
* Have self compassion. Our leaders are constantly modelling compassion with citizens, patients, clients and communities but are we demonstrating the same regard for ourselves and our colleagues?
* Talk about and support good mental health. We will all need help at one time or another. It needs to be ok to talk, without fear of stigma or worse, a poorly judged response.
* Encourage and enable each other to live healthy lives; building activity into the working day, supporting healthy eating, and people who decide to quit smoking or cut down on drinking. And being champions for a decent night’s sleep!
* Support healthy work life balance so that people can prioritise family, friends and community.
* Call each other out on long working hours, working late into the evenings, at weekends and on holiday. Let’s stop ‘celebrating’ these, in our working culture.
* Challenge policies, cultures and behaviours that damage our wellbeing at work. Start a new, strengths based conversation as part of our Good Employer Charter.
* Support our most senior leaders and managers to live out the principles they speak of and sign up to, so that they can show how a healthy balance can be achieved, even at the top.
We are not fulfilling our responsibilities as leaders if we do not role model the change we want to see, with our colleagues, teams and families.
I’d like to see a final expectation to the Leaders in GM list at the top, which would something along the lines of:
We care for each other and help each other to take care of ourselves. We listen, and take time to build relationships. We aim to understand each others’ pressures, perspectives and circumstances. We support each other and build each other up.
Shorter, snappier ways to convey the message, are very welcome!