This week we’re sharing positive insights from the GLWS wellbeing profiles of 2000 leaders to find out the wellbeing drivers behind some of Australia’s most high-performing business leaders.
(Don’t worry, we aren’t breaking any data protection rules here – this is all aggregated and de-identified research data!)
We’ve previously covered the wellbeing areas most in need of attention—so in the spirit of positivity and celebrating success, we’re looking at the top ten factors leaders report as contributing most positively to their wellbeing.
Here are the top 10 questions, exactly as they’re asked in the GLWS – these get the highest mean scores from our sample of 2000 leaders.
# 1: “I feel there is a point to what I do at work”
[Mean score = 4.35 (out of 5); GLWS Domain – Meaning, Purpose & Direction]
A massive 86% of leaders say they always or usually feel there ‘is a point’ to what they do at work, suggesting a strong understanding of the purpose of their roles and a sense of contribution to something useful and important. Great! We know this really matters for leaders to feel at their best and thrive in the workplace.
There are 41 individuals, or 2% of our sample, who expressed that they never or rarely feel there is a point to what they do at work. We hope completing the GLWS will have brought about positive change for these leaders.
#2: “I feel depressed at work”
[Mean score = 4.24; GLWS Domain – Resilience & Equanimity]
Think of this in reverse – a whopping 81% of our sample of leaders said they rarely or never feel depressed at work.
However, 16% say they sometimes feel depressed and 2% say they feel this way usually or always. This is broadly consistent with the oft quoted statistic that 1 in 5 adults (in the general population) will experience a mental illness in any one year (Australian and US statistics). And, echoes the need for ongoing attention and action on mental health and recovery at work for these individuals.
(NB: GLWS accredited coaches have guidance on how to respond to and assist those who feel depressed at work).
#3: “I am careful about my caffeine intake”
[Mean score = 4.21; GLWS Domain – Vitality & Energy]
By ‘careful’ we guide people that this means ‘fewer than 4 caffeinated drinks per day and none after 6pm’. A fabulous 80% of our sample report they always or usually follow these guidelines, suggesting strong awareness of the negative impacts of too much caffeine. Just a bit of work to do for the 20% who are over-reliant on this stimulant to maintain energy levels at work.
FYI: caffeine’s main effect on the body is to trigger the release of adrenaline, which gives us a ‘kick’ by increasing our heart rate, concentration and mental alertness. The more caffeine we consume, the more we build up a tolerance to its effects, making you want to drink more—it’s a drug and it’s addictive).
Donald Trump reportedly drinks 12 Diet Cokes a day, and Australia’s own ‘celeb horrible’ Kyle Sandilands has reached 30 coffees a day. At this level of caffeine intake, their adrenal glands are probably shot! In addition to sleeping difficulties and dehydration from its diuretic properties, too much caffeine can also negatively affect our behaviour and is associated with agitation, aggressiveness and hyperactivity. Surely not…?! J
#4: “I feel respected at work and that other people take me seriously”
[Mean score = 4.13; GLWS Domain –Authentic Relationships]
We take great pleasure from seeing that the majority of leaders feel this way.
As Hugh Mackay tells us, the desire to be taken seriously is a significant factor that drives human behaviour… “We all want our voices to be heard as authentic, legitimate and worthy of attention”.
Our self-image is strongly influenced by how we are treated by those around us and the extent to which we enjoy the respect of others. So, spare a thought for the 48 leaders in our sample who rarely or never feel respected or taken seriously. This must be a really challenging work environment to exist in and one we would bet is not fostering high performance from these individuals.
If you know or suspect someone is not being shown respect at work, consider how you might be able to make a positive difference.
#5: “My personal/family life has a negative impact on my work life “
[Mean score = 4.13; GLWS Domain – Balance & Boundaries]
It seems there is generally minimal intrusion of personal lives into leaders’ work lives.
Many of us have families and personal issues that place demands and challenges on our time and emotions, but only a few of our 2000 leaders report these as having a detrimental impact on their work.
#6: “I trust my boss”
[Mean score = 4.12; GLWS Domain – Authentic Relationships]
We haven’t yet analysed this data by industry sector which could be quite revealing, especially in relation to this question. We will keep you posted on any findings that emerge when we do!
As it stands, 74% of our respondents in the sample said they always or usually trust their boss.
For the 17% (or 342) leaders who feel less confident about their leader’s motives and actions, this has the potential to be highly destabilising for their wellbeing, with known negative effects on engagement and job satisfaction.
#7: “I think I am in the wrong job for me”
[Mean score = 4.12; GLWS Domain – Meaning, Purpose & Direction]
A lucky 74% of leaders rarely or never feel this way – good on them!
For the remaining 26%, there are probably days when they question whether they are the right fit for what is required, or if this is really how they want to spend their working lives.
No doubt these individuals will have been guided to some deep reflection about their role, career and alternative possibilities during their GLWS debriefs. We hope this prompted either a shift in perspective or a change in role!
#8: “I am treated by my colleagues in the way I want to be treated”
[Mean score = 4.11; GLWS Domain – Authentic Relationships]
‘Usually’ is the most common response to this item—suggesting, unsurprisingly, that there is variability in behaviour in the workplace. The good thing is that generally, people feel comfortable with their co-workers.
A mere 24 respondents said they rarely or never receive the treatment they want, and for these individuals it’s been important in their GLWS debriefs to help them hone skills in articulating their needs. We hope this helps foster a more mutually supportive dynamic in their workplace.
#9: “I feel my personal values align well with those of the organisation I work in”
[Mean score = 4.08; GLWS Domain – Meaning, Purpose & Direction]
We believe this is a really important contributor to a leader’s sense of meaning and purpose at work so it’s great to see this one in the top ten.
When we feel what matters to our organisation also matters a lot to us personally, we’re far more able and willing to dig deep and commit for the longer term.
For those individuals who don’t experience this sense of alignment, it’s likely to be a significant detractor from their wellbeing (but one that may escape notice in many wellbeing measures and interventions). The absence of values alignment can indicate a values clash, where we feel a sense of alienation from the principles that drive our organisation’s practices.
#10: “I feel genuinely satisfied with and interested in my work”
[Mean score = 4.05; GLWS Domain – Intellectual Engagement & Flow]
There is nothing like feeling your brain ‘switch on’ when you engage in your work!
81% of our leadership sample tells us they usually or always feel this way. This suggests a great person/job fit contributing to enhanced wellbeing and superior performance.
Spare a thought for the 1 in 5 leaders who feel some level of boredom or dissatisfaction with the intrinsic nature of their roles – their days must feel a tad on the long side!
1. Taking this sample as indicative of leaders generally, we could conclude that the vast majority:
Feel there is a point to their work, are genuinely interested and satisfied in what they do, feel they are in the right job for them and that their values align with those of their organisation.
In ‘GLWS-speak’, their work generally offers high levels of Meaning, Purpose & Direction and Intellectual Engagement & Flow. Seems that if the work content is challenging and engaging, other issues can be more easily tolerated?
Feel respected and taken seriously at work, treated appropriately by their colleagues and trust their boss.
Most of the 2000 leaders in our sample feel needed, wanted, included and respected. Given the airtime given to toxic relationships and culture, this is an encouragingly positive snapshot. (Ed – I wonder how those who work for them feel?)
Do not feel depressed in the workplace and are able to focus at work without distraction from their personal lives.
Again, another positive indicator that leaders are generally surviving the pressures of their senior roles without it seriously impacting their emotional health at work. Of course, we aim for thriving not just surviving, and are continuing the work to build mental health awareness and a commitment to wellbeing being more than the absence of ill-health.
These factors undoubtedly contribute to wellbeing, and this in turn drives performance. There is a lot to feel good about for this important population!
2. In this list of 10 questions, every one of our six GLWS domains of wellbeing is represented. (See the full GLWS Framework here if you are unfamiliar). This emphasises the need for organisations to work with a broad, holistic, multi-dimensional definition of wellbeing in the initiatives they undertake to support their people.
3. As with any use of mean scores, it’s important to remember that there is a range of responses and that not everyone in our sample is having a similar experience. Indeed, as noted, there are some who have significant challenges to their wellbeing at work in each of the above aspects.
We view this range of experience as reinforcement for always taking an individual and personal approach to leadership wellbeing interventions and support. Organisations and wellness practitioners need to acknowledge and respect that unique differences will exist and should be handled sensitively.
4. If you are a leader and haven’t yet had the opportunity to complete the GLWS, you can at least consider how you might respond to each of the 10 items above. What do your responses tell you about your current state of wellbeing? Does anything suggest the need for change—in either your mindset or your actions?
5. If you are a leader, consider how your direct reports might respond to each of the above items. How are you fostering their wellbeing in relation to each aspect? What does this suggest about how well you are enabling wellbeing and performance?
And, as ever, if this analysis has piqued your interest in the GLWS and the work being undertaken with this in organisations globally, please contact us to learn more about how it could benefit you and your business.
Mackay, Hugh (2010). What makes us tick? Hachette Australia, Sydney.