Healthy Leadership Starts With You

#intention #meditation #personalgrowth #professional #work Aug 29, 2022

By Monica Ragsdale


Michael Leytem, talent management consultant, leadership coach, and CEO of Catching Leadership, writes, “I firmly believe that your ability to regularly practice the Release is what will make the greatest difference in your leadership ability over your lifetime”1. The Release is the sixth and final step in his C.A.T.C.H & Release® framework, focusing on self-reflection, letting go, and showing gratitude. This step perfectly illustrates the intertwined relationship between leadership and well-being. Certified wellness coach, yoga teacher, meditation guide, author, and CEO of Alisha Leytem Wellness, Alisha Leytem, shares how to show up in six key dimensions of wellness in her book, The Six G.O.L.D. Keys To Well-Being. Practicing the healthy habits she mentions in regards to the six keys of sleep, nutrition, movement, nature, mindfulness, and intention, positively correlates with improved leadership ability. So, how can your business promote engagement in these healthy well-being practices? Keep reading to find out! 



It’s almost midnight and you’re staring at your computer screen saying, “only one more email, then I’ll go to sleep,” and all of a sudden you wake up the next morning barely rested and with a full workday ahead. Unfortunately, many of us are trapped in this vicious cycle of toxic productivity, and this is why it’s no surprise that approximately one-third of all American adults do not get enough sleep2. 

It was concluded by the Oregon Military Employee Sleep & Health (MESH) Study that, “supervisor support is critical to improving overall sleep health amongst employees”3. An organization’s leaders can promote getting adequate sleep by refraining from emailing business colleagues or employees outside of business hours, and encouraging employees to turn off email notifications outside of working hours. Also, it is important to lead by example; people in leadership should have a healthy work-life balance, making sure to show employees that work is not their life. Support flexibility when it comes to employees’ family commitments, showing that you care about them and not only for the work that they produce. Encourage employees to not work overtime or on the weekends, and to get an adequate amount of sleep daily, emphasizing that their health is of more value than their production output.

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Nutrition is one of the most impactful ways to elevate your quality of life, so it needs to be encouraged and supported in the workplace. Organizations can promote a nutritional lifestyle by replacing highly processed foods with real food in their cafeteria and vending machines. And these “Real foods are foods that are as close to their natural state as possible,”2 writes Alisha Leytem. Including healthy lunch ideas in your newsletters will also send a message to the employees about how much the organization values well-being. If you want to promote nutritional eating not only in the workplace, but also in their personal lives, we suggest hosting a live cooking class by a nutritionist when the company budget allows it. Consider hiring the services of Alisha Leytem Wellness to host nutritional classes at corporate retreats or wellness workshops! It’s also important to make your employees aware that the company is not promoting a certain body type, weight, or fad diet, but rather a holistically healthy approach to nutrition that becomes a lifestyle. A way to ensure that your message is received as intended is to refrain from encouraging strict food restrictions or a certain external image, and to instead teach how to eat using the 80/20 Rule. Eighty percent of the time intentionally eat nourishing foods while the other twenty percent is used for happily indulging that day2. Once seen demonstrated in leadership and given resources by the company, this freeing lifestyle of eating will draw your employees in instantly. 

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In a highly digital age with remote work becoming the norm, movement is critically important to incorporate into our daily lives. A lack of movement correlates with lower performance in the workplace, often resulting in absenteeism, or in presenteeism, meaning the staff is physically present, but underperforming. To help decrease employee’s feelings of overwhelmness and burnout, encourage exercise breaks and social interaction throughout their workday4. This can be done by encouraging employees to use a portion of their lunch break for taking a walk or engaging in another form of light movement. This is a form of habit stacking, which helps a new habit stick more easily by linking it to something that’s already in your routine, such as a lunch break. With more flexible workdays and hours, consider encouraging employees to workout during their workday and in between meetings. Exercise has been proven to increase creativity, focus, energy and stress levels. Encouraging movement throughout the workday with walking meetings either indoors or outside is a beneficial approach to creating a practical movement-friendly environment. Lastly, having a gym or recreational room in the workplace is the cherry on top. And if that’s not currently possible for your business to incorporate, then cultivate a workout group that includes both employees and leadership. Having scheduled movement time together, whether it’s before or after the workday, or in-person at a fitness studio or virtually for home workouts, is sure to create relational bonds and movement positivity. 

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Nature is always there to support us, by simply just being and reminding us of our connectedness to the world, increasing our inner awareness, and grounding us2. Yet, even with nature available all around us, many of us are nature-deficient. Whether this deficiency is due to an overly-packed schedule that doesn’t allot time for slowly taking in nature and all of its benefits, or sometimes our desire to remain in our comfort zone just gets the best of us. Whatever the reason may be, regularly immersing yourself in nature will help you show up more authentically and present at work so, why not encourage your employees to give it a go? Facilitate weekend nature events or trips for your business! This could be a nature hike, a bike ride in town, kayaking at the lake, swimming for a day at the beach, or simply finding a serene creek in the woods and soaking it all in. Bonding with co-workers and leadership while in nature takes the relationship to an even deeper level than strictly workplace bonding offers. Something about the outward beauty of nature forces us to look inwards. The quietness of it, and observing it with all five of our senses enables such a deep inner awareness in ourselves to take place. Nature has no walls or pretenses, so connecting with people in this space encourages open-mindedness. And when people connect on this deep and vulnerable level, it will be sure to manifest itself in the workplace, creating stronger team bonds, healthy communication, and an understanding of one another.  To maintain that depth in the office, bring nature indoors whenever possible! Surround your employees with houseplants and nature artwork, open windows for optimal natural light and air flow, and regularly diffuse essential oils2. Also, encourage employees to find patches of grass on the worksite to sit on while eating lunch, journaling during breaks, or taking a work call2.

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A successful company that lacks mindful leaders is a fleeting company. No matter how productive or successful a business is, if leadership does not have the emotional intelligence to be proactively aware of theirs and others’ emotions, and to know how to manage stress, then the company is not sustainable. Like all of these keys to well-being, it starts at leadership and trickles down. Practicing mindfulness is not only self-beneficial, but is also helpful to your employees by improving interpersonal skills, which are of more value in the workplace than some may think. The results of a recent study concluded that, “a leader's inability to manage stress ripples through the entire organization in a negative way”5. When having a stressed leader, only 7% of the survey respondents believed that leader effectively led, and only 11% were highly engaged at work with a leader like this5. Mindfulness teaches us how to manage stress in a healthy way by first becoming aware of our emotions and acknowledging them without judgment, and then processing how to move forward in the most productive, but true-to-self way. Encourage mindfulness in the workplace by having every employee and leader start and end the work week with a journaling exercise. This could be one question that requires deep self-reflection, or it could be a guided self-check-in, like Michael Leytem’s G.R.I.N. method or Alisha Leytem’s G.O.L.D. method from her recently published book. Also, throughout the work week, schedule five-minute meditation breaks periodically, or consider bringing in a professional to lead regular group guided meditations. Provide scheduled one-on-one meetings with employees asking how they can be best supported during this time. Incorporating these practices will make your employees feel cared for, valued, and will increase their productivity and ambition.

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“Intentions are about aligning yourself with the life that you say you want,”2 writes Alisha Leytem. How do you create a work environment that encourages leaders and employees to live and work with intention? Candid conversations and aligned goal-setting! It may seem like an overly-simple solution, but it takes time building rapport, identifying desires and goals, sticking to them, and letting someone else in on that process for accountability. Have goal-setting meetings with employees, helping them to create personal and professional goals after a couple meetings of listening to what they desire to get out of working for the company. This goes along with having consistent one-on-one meetings to encourage mindfulness in the workplace. Encourage honesty from them in order to assist them in creating the most beneficial and personalized goals and action plans, and be intentional to place any judgements aside. From a business standpoint, this process helps identify employees who want to work at the company for years to come and ones who may have other plans in the near future and are just passing through. Both categories of employees should be treated equally, and they can both be just as productive and valuable to the company, if they have an intentional plan for what they want to gain and what they want to give during their time working there. Have a check-in at the end of each month or quarter to gauge how they’re feeling about their goals and progress, and if they need to talk through any tweaks or direction changes that they need support in. 

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Bottom Line

The bottom line, as the business world likes to say, is that leadership affects everything– the company culture, employees’ morale and motivation, job satisfaction, and turnover rate. So, it’s the company’s responsibility to train their leaders to be intentional, proactive, and creative in finding ways to encourage engagement in these six keys of well-being. And not only to encourage it, but to embody it. A company that values and promotes healthy growth in all six of these keys is a company with a solid foundation that can only go higher. So, my question to you is, when will you start incorporating these well-being practices into your business? If you need help getting started, register to attend the free upcoming webinar with Michael and Alisha Leytem, “How to become a ‘Leading Well-Being’ Organization” by clicking here: This webinar will take place on Wednesday, September 21st at 12pm CST. 

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Reference List

  1. Leytem, Michael. Catching Leadership: The Art of Letting Go and Hooking into Leadership Through C.A.T.C.H. & Release®. Michael Leytem, LLC Publishing, March 2020. 
  2. Leytem, Alisha. The Six G.O.L.D. Keys to Well-Being. 2022.
  3. Sianoja, M., Crain, T. L., Hammer, L. B., Bodner, T., Brockwood, K. J., LoPresti, M., & Shea, S. A. (2019). The relationship between leadership support and employee sleep. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology
  4. Staglin, Garen. “When Home Becomes the Workplace: Mental Health and Remote Work.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 10 Dec. 2021,
  5. Lazarczyk, Lisa. “Life Meets Work Survey Finds Stressed out Leaders Harm Employees' Job Performance.” Life Meets Work Survey Finds Stressed Out Leaders Harm Employees' Job Performance, 26 June 2018,

Alisha's book, The Six G.O.L.D. Keys to Well-Being: A Guide to Unlocking A Healthy and Happy Life is out now!

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