Blog Post


Leadership & Self Care: Individual and Organizational Self Care

Executives would agree that the five most important business objectives they hope to achieve include:

  1. driving profitability;
  2. building a high-performance and customer-focused culture;
  3. enhancing organizational talent;
  4. entering new markets, and
  5. innovating products/processes.

They would also agree, according to DDI’s recent publication, Global Leadership Trends for 2021, that the four leadership forces they will face in 2021 are:

  1. leading their business, which will require more complex decision-making and analysis
  2. leading oneself, meaning self-reflecting
  3. leading teams virtually, hence acquiring more varied people skills
  4. leading across a larger network.


Similar anxieties exist for employees who are feeling the need to upskill to meet job requirements since COVID-19.  According to another global data report, entitled, The State of Skills 2021: Endangered, authored by Degreed, an educational technology company, the top ten ranked skills to have for 2021 are

  1. Advanced IT and Programming
  2. Leadership and managing others
  3. Advanced data analysis and mathematics
  4. Project management
  5. Adaptability and continuous learning
  6. Technology design and engineering
  7. Critical thinking and decision making
  8. Advanced communication and negotiation
  9. Entrepreneurship and initiative-taking
  10. Teaching and training others.

So, what is the best antidote to confront these challenges?

The answer lies in self-care. Both leaders and employees MUST make self-care a priority.


Most of the time, when we hear the word self-care, we think of a person and not an organization. That’s because the generally accepted definition of self-care refers to the actions, activities, and rituals an individual takes to fulfill the desire for their spiritual, emotional, physical, and psychological well-being. Rarely does it call out practical self-care, such as finance, the home, or social service. Nor does it speak about organizational self-care.

I’ve penned two blog articles that take a different tack. Individual self-care means you are accountable and intentional in taking actions to protect your well-being, particularly during times of stress. Organizational self-care, a leader’s responsibility, refers to policies, procedures, and benefits that protect its culture.

To clarify the difference, here is an example. An organization institutes a wellness policy stating that each employee has two weeks of vacation per year, which they can exercise at their convenience, with the leader’s approval (organizational self-care). If an employee chooses to not use those vacation days and becomes sick, was it because the leader did not remind them to take their vacation days, or was it because the employee chose to continue working (individual self-care)?

Self-Care (Individual)

The internet is inundated with information about types of self-care and examples of actions/activities to practice, which I have adopted and will not recount here. Instead, I would like to offer an alternate view of how you can practice individual self-care by just having a Definition Of Success for the eight areas in your life (figure 1). And to demonstrate the power of your definitions to propel you to act, without having to remember a list of practices to perform (table 1.)

Figure one shows the relationship between your definitions of success and the domains of self-care (my categorizations). Notice that three of the domains have more than one DOS. For example, emotional self-care has two DOS areas (Family & Friends, and Love), which contribute to a healthy emotional and mental disposition. Practical self-care identifies the areas of the home, finance, and career/work, which help to maintain stability in one’s life.

Note: you can create a DOS for the four domains. The preference is to do it for the eight areas as a reminder of being a total person, in control of which area to focus on when, and how you choose. This makes it unnecessary to work towards a work-life balance.

To understand that approach, you MUST practice saying it when you feel less than motivated to act. For example, towards the end of the year, I review and create a new budget, which is on my list of things to do for financial success. This activity is not one of my favorite things to do. My tendency is to put it off.  Although I schedule it in my calendar, I still delay. Reminding myself that money is just as important as health so care for it, becomes the alarm to get it done NOW. And I do.

Hint: If your definition of success does not motivate action,  inspire, or lighten, you may want to consider changing it.  Also, remember that practicing one activity can suffice to take care of several definitions. For example, while jogging to take care of my health, I sometimes find myself on a spiritual high, in my spiritual DOS.

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