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Watch the ICE/Costain event debating leadership and wellbeing culture in the current Covid-19 world of work

26 November 2020

Could a new style of leadership and wellbeing culture be needed to allow people and organisations to thrive in our new work environments?

Watch the ICE/Costain event debating leadership and wellbeing culture in the current Covid-19 world of work

Good leadership is the lifeblood of any organisation that seeks to be successful and sustainable. As leaders, we must promote a healthy and balanced approach to work and adapt our own leadership styles to one which supports teams in our evolving work environments. This was the key message from the 2020 ICE/Costain Annual Health & Safety Prestige Lecture.

About the event

As part of the continuing drive to champion the industry to eliminate harm, the 12th annual ICE/Costain Health & Safety Prestige Lecture focussed on leading, adapting and thriving in the ‘new normal’. Co-chaired by ICE President, Rachel Skinner, and Costain’s Managing Director for Transportation, Sue Kershaw, this year’s lecture saw two excellent speakers discuss leadership and embedding a sustainable wellbeing culture.

Watch the event again below.

Costain Lecture 24 Nov 2020 from ICE Group on Vimeo.

Dr John Briffa BSc MB BS (Lond) - practicing doctor and author of nine books, including A Great Day at the Office discussed what we need to do as individuals and organisations to ensure that we all thrive in our new world of work to create a sustainable wellbeing culture.

L. David Marquet, former nuclear submarine Commander, and author of the Amazon #1 best seller: Turn the Ship Around! discussed the importance of creating a workplace where everyone engages and contributes, where they are healthier and happier because they have more control over their work, and where everyone is a leader.

New leadership

’Who is doing the thinking, and who is doing the doing?’. Marquet challenged attendees to consider that it was time to question hierarchical organisational structures. These typical industrial structures had created an environment for much of the workforce ‘doing what they’re told – with the decider at the top, and the do-ers down below’.

Recalling his experience as Commander of the nuclear submarine Santa Fe, Marquet recounted how he realised during a simple drill, that having one point of command was not only limiting to the efficiency of operations of the submarine, but it was also extremely dangerous. The experience taught him that, ‘The job of a leader was not to teach, but to learn what their teams know, and use their experience to understand and support the right decision’.

Marquet called into question the language that we currently use to get the best out of our teams, and instead called for all leaders to adopt more inclusive language which challenged the hierarchical structure. ‘As leaders, we must seek to avoid self-affirming questions that restrict the ability for the team to question your plans.’

Creating a sustainable wellbeing culture

Briffa, discussed the cost of an ineffective workforce, citing the 2020 Deloitte report which described a combination of absenteeism (16%); turnover (20%); and presenteeism (64%) as having a total and detrimental cost to the UK economy of £43 billion a year, adding that, ‘this was all before Covid hit’.

To tackle these major hits to organisational productivity, Briffa presented some simple strategies that attendees could take away to improve wellbeing. These ideas emphasised straightforward approaches, such as the importance of hydration, general physical activity, sleep, stress and mind management.

Further advice was provided by Briffa to support individuals and leaders’ wellbeing in the post Covid 19 world of work. Briffa said, ‘We must be mindful of the fact that feelings of stress and negative emotions are of our own making. It can often help an individual to get some distance to reduce emotionality and, in doing so, question what advice we might actually give to others when faced by a similar situation’.

Briffa provided further advice to embed these ideas more successfully within an organisation. ‘Wellbeing ideas must start at the top of an organisation to set the tone for a wellbeing culture within an organisation. When leaders feel better, they do a better job of leadership. Good leadership is the lifeblood of any organisation that seeks to be successful and sustainable’.

  • Adam Kirkup, engineering communities manager at ICE