As the end of the year approaches, we begin to make plans for 2021 and look back on the past period – which has been unprecedented in so many ways. If nothing else, 2020 has taught us all that good health is the backbone of everything we aspire to be and do as a society. As online meetings replaced face-to-face contact and the home office took over from our regular commutes, new questions have emerged about effective leadership and personal vitality. Questions that transcend the pandemic and call into question the playbook of the “old normal.”

Wanted: a healthy equilibrium

At NGL, we have heard many professionals express a heartfelt need – even more than before – for a well-balanced life in which work, play and family come together in a healthy equilibrium. And with good reason: science has shown that keeping both your mind and body active is essential for our wellbeing, right down to the workings of the immune system. We’ve also wondered why it took the authorities, who were keen to stress the importance of handwashing, social distancing and working from home, so long to incorporate mental and emotional health into their projections and policies.

The importance of vitality applies to an organization’s workforce, but equally to its leadership. Most managers and C-suite executives can readily pull plans out of a drawer for their company’s strategy, business, R&D, locations, etc. But how many of them will have given serious thought to their own “life plan”, and that of their teams, in terms of the personal energy and vigor they’ll need in order to grow old in a healthy, balanced way?

10 energizers for vitality

Living and working according to such a holistic approach lets leaders be the CEO of their own Mind & Health, and it also helps them safeguard their employees’ wellbeing. It’s much more than finding a work-life balance – as if one of these two aspects simply needs to accommodate the other in a peaceful coexistence. Rather, it’s about integrating physical and mental health as a personal practice, and also in organizational programs aimed at fostering vitality and a healthy lifestyle, turning them into a valuable human capital incentive.

To assemble such a life plan or vitality program, all you need are the ingredients known as the “10 energizers”:

  1. Sleep: maintaining good sleep hygiene.
  2. Food: healthy nutrition and eating habits.
  3. Exercise: working out regularly (at least 3 hours or 5x 30 minutes per week).
  4. Humor: looking at life with joy and perspective.
  5. Passion: feeling passionate about something and making time for it.
  6. Relaxation: taking the time to switch off and unwind.
  7. Social contacts: paying attention to the people the matter.
  8. Home life: being there for your family and friends at the right moments.
  9. Work life: advancing your personal development and work ethic.
  10. Purpose: finding what you stand for, where you’re going, and what you mean to others.

A leader’s journey

In our work at NGL, we believe leadership life plans like this can be formulated short as a single sheet of paper. All it takes is a thoughtful answer, for each energizer, to the questions: where do I stand, what do I want to improve, and how am I going to do that? The effect can be very empowering, bringing balance to the four aspects that make up our wellbeing: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. We heartily recommend making such a life-plan update part of an organization’s standard performance reviews – after all, if a leader’s work-life balance is broken or under pressure, energy is leaking away.

The 10 energizers don’t have any hierarchical order, nor is there a “system” for how to approach them. The key is to acknowledge that they are all part of the overall flow of a leader’s journey. In the end, what they can clarify is a sense of meaning and purpose – both individually and collectively for teams or the organization as a whole. We believe finding, activating and pursuing meaning is a crucially important aspect of effective leadership: it adds an extra dimension of value and offers the critical fuel & energy that keeps you going.

Get CO-FIT for 2021

Having a healthy lifestyle has always been important, but the Covid-19 pandemic has put into stark relief just how essential it is for the very fabric of our society. We urge leaders to initiate a “CO-FIT” program in 2021- for themselves and for their companies. With the 10 energizers, it’s easy to start on a path towards a fitter life, with more balance and relaxation, and with a healthy sense of perspective and social cohesion.

In the “old normal,” we might have called this efficiency or effectiveness. But at NGL, we like to look at things through other eyes. So in case you need another set of eyes as you look ahead to the coming year, we suggest a renewed focus on vitality and inspired leadership. That just might be the most effective route into the new normal. Our new year wish:  just do it and en become more Co-Fit4yourjob!

By Gijs de Vries, Executive Coach NGL International
15 December 2020