5 Reasons Why Leaders Need To Spend More Time At Play, Not At Work

We’ve all seen that scene on TV where everyone at the office is chatting and throwing paper planes until the boss comes in and kills the mood, right? Would you say that’s a healthy work environment? Or the kind of leader that directs a successful company?

A lot of people believe that the workplace is not the appropriate setting for fun and laughter, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. While there is always a time and place for everything, fun shouldn’t be banned from your organization if you want to improve the productivity, engagement, and health of your employees – as well as your own. Here are five reasons why more play makes better leaders:

Relieve stress and anxiety

Physical activity triggers the release of endorphins, the hormones responsible for making us feel good and happy. They also work as pain relievers, helping manage stress and reduce anxiety.

So, getting up on your feet – whether it’s a lunchtime game of football, a team step-count challenge, or a pre-work yoga session – is great for bonding, focus and stress-management.

Improve mental health

Endorphins also play an important role in the wellbeing of our minds. Mental health is a topic that is becoming more and more relevant in the work place as well as at home, and rightfully so. A healthy mind is vital to productivity and life balance.

Many leaders I work with struggle to allow themselves the time to switch off from work. Taking some time to relax and do the things you enjoy, whether it’s reading a book or playing a board game, can have a huge impact in your mental and physical health, which reflects in how you lead your company.

Better physical health

Physical activities are also good for our bodies. Sports and games that involve running and a raised heart rate help strengthen our hearts, blood vessels, blood flow, and overall cardiorespiratory health.

Including physical activity in your day-to-day can help prevent heart attacks and other cardiovascular conditions. Just 30 minutes of exercise a day can make a significant contribution to your health.

Promotes healthy relationships

While it sounds frivolous, fun activities help you bond with others and establish meaningful relationships, which are crucial in our personal and professional lives.

It’s not a coincidence that games are so often used for team-building activities. They help people get to know each other, learn how others work and think, deal with stress together, and practice problem-solving as a group. As a leader, it’s important that you have positive relationships with your employees.

Teamwork activities foster a sense of community and belonging, promote empathy, and create friendships. It’s been proven that employees who have friends at work are more productive and engaged.

Fosters creativity and innovation

Play makes your brain work better – and it’s not just the cerebral games like chess or Sudoku. Different games that involve strategy and problem-solving can help improve creativity and critical thinking. The relaxed atmosphere of playing a game provides a less stressful environment for coming up with solutions and ideas, and this mindset carries over into the broader work context.

So don’t be afraid of cutting loose at work or giving yourself some time off to engage the playful part of your brain. Whether it’s during work hours or your downtime, relaxing and doing something fun is beneficial for you and your team.

If you’re interested in learning more about how play connects with leadership and innovation, check out my LEGO® Serious Play® consultancy program