CEOs might not always realize—or care—how their mood impacts their workforce, but for Verizon boss Hans Vestberg, taking a little time each morning to get to grips with how he’s feeling has become a vital component of leadership success.
Speaking at Fast Company’s Innovation Festival in New York last week, the Sweden-born telco CEO stressed the importance of self-reflection for business leaders.
“If you want to lead other people, you need to start with yourself,” he said during an on-stage discussion with Mansueto Ventures CEO Stephanie Mehta.
To achieve that, Vestberg implemented an unusual tactic into his morning routine: rating his state of mind on the previous day from 1 to 10, to help himself find the “right mood and energy” for the day ahead.
According to Vestberg, the sweet spot is a score between three and seven.
A one or two means he was not in the right headspace to collaborate a day earlier, and therefore should try to “stay in his office” and work alone during the coming day, he explained.
Meanwhile, anything above eight means he has “so much energy that people get tired of me” and he is so overexcited that he could actually drain his coworkers instead of engaging them.
The ritual, which Vestberg said “brings out the strength in my leadership,” is something he’s been doing “every day” since 2009, when he was appointed chief executive of Swedish telecoms firm Ericsson. He’s been recording his mood ranking in a spreadsheet for all that time.
Vestberg, who was appointed Verizon’s CEO in 2018 and chairman in 2019, also tracks how he spends his time at work every day to ensure he’s focused on the most essential issues Verizon has to deal with.
He regularly shares the data with Verizon’s top executives to encourage them to reflect on how well they’re spending their own time during the working day, he revealed.
Vestberg’s ‘boss contract’
As well as looking inward on a daily basis, Vestberg told Mehta at last week’s conference that he created a “boss contract” when he took the reins at Verizon.
He used the so-called contract, a white paper he shared with the company’s board of directors, to outline his vision for the firm under his leadership.
In his first managerial job at Ericsson, he shared a memo with his supervisor that spelled out five goals, representing a “contract” with his boss wherein he outlined the value he would bring to the role.
This proactive approach provides him with valuable insights into the company’s operations, fosters meaningful relationships, and encourages open dialogue with his subordinates.
CEOs working on their mental well-being
Vestberg isn’t the only big-name CEO who utilizes techniques designed to enhance his mental well-being in order to better himself as a leader.
Earlier this year, Novartis chief Vas Narasimhan told CNBC affiliate network CNBC-TV18 that he took time for mindfulness to bolster his decision-making capabilities.
“Learning about meditation and exercises, like yoga and pranayama, looking inside yourself to find an inner peace allows you then to be courageous, because in a lot of ways, [you have a sense of] psychological security you build inside your own mind,” he said.
Meanwhile, former LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner once revealed that he scheduled between 90 minutes and two hours of “nothing” every day.
“It’s a system I developed over the last several years in response to a schedule that was becoming so jammed with back-to-back meetings that I had little time left to process what was going on around me or just think,” he wrote in a LinkedIn post. “The buffer [period] is the best investment you can make in yourself and the single most important productivity tool I use.”