I know what you are thinking.
You are thinking that leaders who lunch are better because they are out there networking. But that’s not why.
For leaders, lunch matters.
Contrary to popular belief, a sit-down lunch away from your desk is NOT a luxury. Rather, it is an essential to your performance at work. When leaders don’t take a break in the middle of the day, or perhaps not even all day, we push ourselves into survival-mode instead of performance mode. We are not pausing to refuel when we need it most to provide the energy our mind and bodies need to do our best work. And if you don’t even eat breakfast, then you’re running on empty all day.
Sure, you can push yourself to function without fuel for a while, but then you’re not performing optimally. I see this all the time with leaders. They are so focused on the goal that the can forget the importance of the process to get there. They make it through the day over and over again, but they also collapse at night with a meal that is too big or not very healthy, because they are hungry and exhausted. Then they compound the problem with poor or too little sleep, only to get up and do the same thing the next day.
Lunch switches off survival-mode to make us perform better.
Working on survival-mode causes leadersto work on basic instinct, reacting before reflecting, leaving us to put out fires rather than thinking through a solution that might be different (and better) than we have always done.
In survival-mode, leaders focus on what is safe, because we don’t have capacity to think out of the box and coach our teams to become better at what they do. We might not even have the capacity to behave the way we would like to behave, because we are feeling the urgency – and the impatience and anger — that comes with running on empty.
We all end up in that situation from time to time, spending more time repairing the damage than a much needed break would have taken.
When leaders don’t take time for ourselves, we tend to not take time for others, and it affects the company culture. Too often, employees tell me they don’t eat lunch, because their leader does not eat lunch. As a result, they think they are not allowed to go to lunch, or it is not appropriate for them to take a break.
When the leader is working on survival-mode, the whole team is on survival-mode. And the company hurts.
People who eat together, solve problems together.
Good leaders understand how important sharing meals is for company culture. They also know that a successful leader doesn’t hover over the team. Rather, they are part of the team, and nothing brings people more together than sharing a meal. It fosters a sense of community that cannot be created in a work environment full of business meetings, with just snacks and ping-pong tables offered as an attempt to bring people together around a common vision.
Sharing a meal reminds us of family, helping us communicate in a more open and friendly way. Over a meal, we share ideas more freely, ask for help with problems more openly feel like we are not alone, fighting against the machine. It helps us feel part of, instead of separate from.
Our human resource is still our best resource and we need to nourish it. The company teams that eat together do not just talk business, they talk life. It is not a productivity meeting over food. It is a people meeting to create community and shared goals.
Sharing lunch serves up trust and safety.
The number one reason people are more satisfied at work is that they feel safe. They trust their leader, they feel seen and heard, they feel they matter, and they feel like they belong. When we are working on survival-mode there is no trust, there is no safety. Everything is danger.
When we share meals, we can bring our humanity to work, access our soft-skills, solve problems, and thrive together. So go ahead, put lunch on the schedule! You won’t only nourish your body, you’ll nourish your company.
To learn more about how you can change the way you work or transform your company culture, so that everyone works healthy and goes home happy with energy to spare, email me to learn about the available coaching programs for one-on-one executive health coaching and for leadership-team coaching.