Simone Biles Opened a Leadership Nightmare

In some parts of the world like Japan asking employees to work above and beyond is the norm. It’s expected.

When Simone Biles pulled out of the Olympics with concerns about her headspace, it was the right thing to do.

Now put yourself in the shoes of her coach. Her team. They want to win. They know opportunities to win are limited. Every competition matters. Do they support her, or push her to get back into the game(s)?

With a rising appreciation that mental health is a key element for productivity and that it needs to be maintained like any other aspect of our lives, leaders are now in a tough position.

On the one hand, we are normalizing the act of saying, “I’m not in the right headspace. I need a break.” That’s good.

On the other hand, leaders are tasked with getting the most from their employees. Like a coach, they must assess when to push people past their comfort level. Bodybuilding excels when muscles are worked to exhaustion. Limits need to be tested. 

We need a dialogue about how to balance the role of leaders in inspiring higher levels of performance with respect with the reality of mental capacity and exhaustion for employees.

I’m planning to host a conversation on the topic with a small group of leaders. If you’re interested in being considered for inclusion send me a note!

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