Courageous Leadership Episode 1: Courage to Care [Video]
Critical leadership shifts are taking place. Principal consultant Calvin Yeo shares valuable insights from personal stories about a frequently overlooked yet vital area in leadership.
In the first episode of the Courageous Leadership live event, ROHEI Consultants Calvin Yeo and Wen-Wei Chiang shared about a frequently overlooked yet vital area in leadership: having the Courage to Care. In order for leaders to lead effectively, they must care for themselves, and that takes courage.
Having the courage to care for self was a struggle for Principal Consultant Calvin Yeo. In this episode, he shares lessons learned and valuable insights on how leaders can care for themselves and those around them in this season of dispersed teams and high stress.
Wen-Wei: The most overlooked area is the courage to care. Who doesn't know the airline safety briefing of putting on your own oxygen mask before helping someone else? But paradoxically, it is the most difficult to do, especially for the best leaders who really care for their work, their organization, and their team.
Paradoxically, having the Courage to Care is the most difficult to do, especially for the best leaders who really care for their work, their organization, and their team
Calvin: In my telecom days I was the deputy head of a marketing team. I was pushing myself and my team very hard to achieve the targets. They finally said, "Calvin this situation can't go on and if nothing changes, we'll have no choice but to quit the team."
I began to see my drowning relationships with my family and friends. My health was suffering. It was slowly but surely killing me softly; The candle burnt at both ends.
Wen-Wei: You talked about some of the signs that your team members talk of being tired. Would some of these have alerted you a need to do something about it sooner?
Calvin: The signs included my short temper and my tiredness. In fact, most days, I was tired. But I just had to keep going because I'm the leader. I'm the manager and I need to bring in the results. This was the thing that I was asked to do, so I kind of ignored all the signs and just pushed on. I realized that I couldn't keep going on like this. If I did, I would lose everything; Everything that was precious to me: My health, my relationships with my family and friends. Moreover, my contribution to the organization— the very thing that I worked hard for—would all be in vain because a person facing burnout can't bring much value at all.
A person facing burnout can't bring much value at all.
Now, my concern is about business sustainability, as many of us are, right? Will our organizations continue to thrive and survive in time to come, and will we have job security?
Many times, I feel overwhelmed by my workload, and I would say that one thing that has really helped me was reaching out, because normally, I would struggle to ask for help. You talked about humility. I needed to be humble, to reach out to people and say, "Hey I've got too much on my plate. I need help with something."
Wen-Wei: I wonder how many people are suffering in silence. Not because of any poor intentions, but really, out of the best intentions: Caring for the organization, wanting the organization and team to survive. One of the sad statistics we're picking up during the work-from-home period is an increase in incidents of mental wellness challenges.
Calvin: So, this is really a time for us to take courage, to care for self by having the courage to ask for help, and to give ourselves permission to ask for help because help can come in many forms.
The one other thing that I think that has really helped me is being able to draw boundaries—boundaries that safeguard the self so that I remain in good shape for peak performance.
Indeed, the leader is called to make sacrifices and carry the load. When I am called to carry that extra load on behalf of my team, I had to do something about caring for myself. If I didn’t, it wouldn’t be long before I ended up killing myself.
When I took time to rest and recreate, it enabled me to be more effective when I got back to work. This helps leaders to overcome the guilt that we feel when we think of self-care. We're not being selfish. In fact, we are actually looking after our team and our organizations when we look after ourselves.
Wen-Wei: By caring for self, it is a very tangible care for the team. Neglecting self-care shows up in irritability and perhaps poorer behaviors and less clear leadership. This is not good for the functioning of the team.
By caring for self, it is a very tangible care for the team.
I've had enough conversations with senior leaders and I asked them, what is their key responsibility? It is always about people because when you take care of people, the results will come. If you push for results, you may win the short term game, but the long-term becomes the challenge.
When you take care of people, the results will come.