Everybody has challenges.
Everybody has good days and bad.
We are complex and the lives we lead have many moving parts.
Those parts constantly change and therefore our days are forever in flux.
For most of us it's manageable.
We get through another week and largely we are winning.
But that doesn't mean that we are OK.
What it means is that we are overcoming hardship, challenges and bumps in the road day in and day out.
And, although we are holding things together, it doesn't mean to say we are OK.
We are brilliantly designed however to look as if we are.
Psychologists would say, “we present well”.
But let's not be fooled.
The best leaders are constantly checking in on the clues as to whether what's ‘presenting’ is masking something way more significant.
Those clues include erratic behaviours, emotional swings, shifts in the quality of interactions.
But, equally importantly, an energetic sense that something is amiss.
You may feel an air of desperation.
An absence of possibility.
A sniff of resignation.
A growing frustration.
A lack of fluffy white clouds in an otherwise beautiful blue sky.
You can feel it when someone is not OK - it's palpable.
As a leader you need to tune up your spider-sense and then, very importantly, make it OK to NOT BE OK.
It's not your job to fix them.
They aren't broken.
But it is your job to acknowledge emotions, to witness them and support their processing.
It is your job to celebrate the individuality of your people and deeply connect with their unique context.
And it is your job to offer help but not to insist on them taking it.
Often, we just need to be seen.
And when I say seen, not as a job title and as a busy-worker-ant but as a person living life with its ups and its downs.
One of the most brilliant ways to connect with your people and to get to the essence of what really counts is to go and do a Talk It Out together.
You just walk and take it in turns to talk, unfiltered for a good 10 minutes.
You can talk about anything on your mind.
Nothing will be judged.
The purer the stream of consciousness; the more meaningful it will be.
And as a leader when it's your turn; properly share.
Show your vulnerability too.
In doing so, not only will the person next to you feel better for shedding light on the quiet corners of their mind, but they will also know that it's OK not to be OK.
Before long you'll find that your team will stop putting on the mask of professionalism when they show up to work - an exhausting farce of traditional business.
Your people will start to be themselves.
And they will know that being who they really are is what is truly valued.