Health and well-being: Confident leaders

What it was

Half-day session on health and well-being for senior leaders, delivered by Bailey & French at the BEIS conference centre, London on 21 November 2018.

What I learned

Mental health accounts for 25% of MOD civilian sickness absence
Reflecting on three positive things from your work day at the end of the day for two weeks has been shown to have a positive effect on wellbeing months later
A simple model for wellbeing is PERMA (prof Martin Seligman,

  • Positive emotions
  • Engagement
  • Relationships
  • Meaning
  • Accomplishment

Each of these is measurable and teachable.
Lots of work done has been done to address mental illness, but less effort on mental wellbeing, which can be thought of as getting people from the middle of the scale to the top, rather than from the bottom to the middle.

As a group we reflected on times when we had felt well-being along the lines of the PERMA headings, what had enabled this, and how we could help create this for our own teams.

I reflected on how a programme re-prioritisation exercise with one of my teams had left both them and me feeling empowered, better able to perform, more motivated, and less stressed about the amount work.

What I will aim to do differently as a result

I’ll aim to do something from each part of the PERMA model.

  • Positive emotions: Reflect on three positive things from your work day
  • Engagement: Set aside time for a flow activity and with the team
  • Relationships: Set up more coffee meetings with senior colleagues
  • Meaning: Set context, show the outcome even if intangible, phrase achievement as outcomes. Create meaning for the team.
  • Accomplishment: Have a good system for non financial reward and recognition with the team, find out ways to set this up.

SLS/FLS MOD engagement event

What it was:

Talks and conversations with senior leaders and alumni of development schemes, mainly from within defence, at the Ministry of Defence on 5 March 2018

What I learned:

  • Action Inquiry: Every moment is an opportunity for development, experiment, reflection
  • Exploit your competitive advantage
  • Seek out role models
  • Who you work with is more important than what you work on
  • Need to be sharp and concise on commissioning the right work from the right person
  • You can’t afford to have an off moment, especially when in large groups
  • Have respect for the people in your team; that means preparing properly when speaking to groups
  • As an introvert you need to be an actor, and build in recovery time on your own
  • “Positive deviance” – the ability to challenge and do things in New ways. Leaders need to be able to observe and enable this behaviour
  • In the second year of the schemes there is more onus on self organising networks. There is not an anchor – it becomes a fight to stay in contact with people.
  • Need to challenge the other people in your cohort, if they don’t contribute they are taking a place away from others who wanted to be on the scheme
  • FLS makes you better able to succeed at SCS interviews as it helps you frame your style, think about the emotional impact, talk about your corporate contribution
  • End of scheme reviews are in December January

What I will aim to do differently as a result:

  • Try to pursue partnerships with specific individuals who are likely on a similar development journey as me
  • Look up the “two pies” approach (?) that was mentioned
  • Make a concerted exploration on doing a secondment to industry
  • Practice being more precise in commissioning work from others
  • Take more time to prepare for speaking to the team
  • Gather contact details for others on development schemes and try to maintain the network