An Essential Link: Wellbeing and Leader Effectiveness
What does wellbeing mean to you? Are you thriving? How would you know? Can you see a thread that runs through your life?
Renee Moorefield is a dear friend, a spectacular creator and a wise woman. She and business- and life- partner, David, have developed a groundbreaking assessment for wellbeing. Be Well Lead Well Pulse® is based on over thirty years of experience in the areas of wellness, change management and leadership transformation, all in the corporate world. In this conversation, we follow the thread that began in exercise physiology, winds through Renee’s own experience as a leader and has evolved into a very integrated way to assess wellbeing.
Season 1 | Episode 06 | September 17, 2019
At the center of the Universe dwells the Great Spirit. And that center is really everywhere. It is within each of us.
– Black Elk, Lakota Medicine Man and Holy Man
Without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness, nothing will change for the better in the sphere of our being as human.
– Vaclav Havel, former President, Czech Republic
Following A Thread
Early in the interview, Renee tells us about a thread that has run through her life – ” a deep belief in our capacity to be well and to thrive”. Her thread runs like this:
- The journey begins with pursuing a degree in Exercise Physiology.
- She has a stint in a heart center working with heart patients, in which she uncovers a deeper desire to be upstream rather than downstream of an illness, so she turns her focus on wellness.
- Working in EDS’ corporate wellness center she notices an uptick in employees experiencing stress and traces it to certain activities in the business. Concurrently, smoking cessation programs are found to be more successful when paired with a mindfulness practice.
- After being promoted to a leadership position she discovers her belief that a core role of leadership is to support the success and wellbeing of the team.
- The business areas with employees feeling the most stress are those working with mergers and acquisitions. Renee is asked to develop an approach for Change Management to help reduce stress and its effects.
- It was a short yet crucial jump from a focus on employees facing change to the value of developing leaders across the company to take a deeper dive into how they learn, lead, create and perceive the world. This began with the work of Peter Senge, author of The Fifth Discipline (overviewed here).
- The leadership transformation programs were paradigm busters and gave leaders new frameworks to build a different kind of relationship with themselves (one definition of wellbeing) and then naturally with customers, employees, community partners and other countries in which they operated.
- Renee ultimately founded Wisdom Works with her husband, David. Their unique offer is the conscious evolution of leadership with the specific frame of supporting leaders in operating from a foundation of wellbeing.
- In 2018 Renee and David packaged their collective experience in wellbeing with the Be Well Lead Well Pulse®
We all have threads, how would you trace yours? In my view, a thread is closely tied to our life’s purpose.
Wellness or Wellbeing?
Wellness – as it is typically used in the U.S., refers to lifestyle behaviors such as nutrition, sleep, exercise, and even breath. But early on, as Renee shares in the interview, forward thinkers such as Halbert Dunn, M.D., Ph.D. were describing wellness in ways that included the ‘spirit of man’. I found an absolutely fascinating article written by Dr. Dunn; in it he says this about Knowing Thyself:
“Psychology tells us through laboratory demonstrations that our perceptions of the outer world are indissolubly linked with the concepts and emotions fixed in our minds and body tissues. Without a knowledge of one’s inner self, understanding of the outer world cannot have breadth and depth. A mind tortured with prejudice, hate, and fear projects itself in distorted human relationships.”
In reading about Dunn and the impact he had on the holistic wellness movement I’m reminded of all the shoulders we stand on.
It’s easy to draw a line from High-Level Wellness, as he describes, to the effectiveness and impact of a person who is leading others.
My favorite definition of wellbeing, a la Renee, is “our internal resourcefulness to meet the demands of our external world”. She adds another aspect to include how we are in relationship with others – that we exist in relationship. These are both in line with how Dr. Dunn considered wellness in the 1950’s!
Here’s what the Be Well Lead Well Pulse® measures. You can see how the aspects of wellbeing we discussed, plus more, are reflected:
- Thriving – your evaluation of your own wellbeing now, plus the optimism you hold for your future.
- Fuel – how you energize yourself physically, mentally and emotionally; this includes diet, movement, rest + breath.
- Flow – aka being in ‘the zone’; engagement, presence, mindfulness and the feeling of bringing value to your work.
- Wonder – continuously evolving your worldviews and perspectives with appreciation and awe; learning and growing.
- Wisdom – tapping into and integrating your purpose, vision, and innate genius and bringing equanimity and lightness to life.
- Thriving Amplified – creating the conditions where others thrive; energizing and maximizing their impact and growth.
You can tell by reading the descriptors of the dimensions of the Be Well Lead Well Pulse® that this is a thorough and generous assessment
Wellbeing and the Role of a Leader: Thriving Amplified
I can’t help but make ties to Servant Leadership in this category of wellbeing. Can you imagine the world if we all supported each other in such a fundamental, life-enhancing way?
Like the ability to empathize requires us to be aware of our own emotions, supporting others’ wellbeing requires that we are connected to our own. We begin with ourself.
I wrote a few blog posts several years ago that sprouted from my experience cycling. One post links engagement, a cycling team’s paceline and the concept of distributed leadership as outlined in this article by Nick Petrie of CCL (Center for Creative Leadership). In short, employee engagement requires the effort of leaders and members of the team.
Renee speaks passionately and often about creative vs. reactive leadership:
“The Be Well Lead Well Pulse dimensions promote a generative, open, present and connected stance to leadership, rather than leading from reactivity and fear.”
The creative orientation is a characteristic of leaders who achieve sustainable results. You can learn more about this in earlier show notes from my interview with Jacqui and Renee, owners of Anytime Fitness Bishop Arts.
The Value of the Be Well Lead Well Pulse® Assessment
I’m a believer in a good assessment and this certainly is one. Seeing my collective answers to their well-crafted questions reflected back to me gave me a perspective I could not have arrived at on my own. The combination of elements are unique to anything I have ever encountered and I was able to make connections that I would not have otherwise made.
Based on the report, I was able to see that although I was feeling a bit shaky and unsure in my current situation, I did have an optimistic view of my future. Life can be challenging and some days I feel swallowed by uncertainty and even fear. But when asked, I honestly feel optimistic that I am evolving and that something good is cooking within me. I lean on this feedback when my energy and mood are low.
I’ll close with a quote by Warren Buffett that sums up the link between wellbeing and leadership:
The process of becoming a leader is much the same as the process of becoming an integrated human being
Thanks for reading, and remember…Elevate Your Part of the World!