Chris Cummings is on a global mission to create workplaces where employees thrive. He is Group CEO of Wellbeing at Work, organisers of the global series of Wellbeing at Work Summits, global workplace community called The Wellbeing at Work Hub and C-Suite community driving change across the world called Wellbeing at Work Bespoke. He is also Co-Founder of The InsideOut Awards in the UK and is an advisor to organisations with purpose around the world.
Recently, in an exclusive interview with CXO Outlook Magazine, Chris shared his professional trajectory, roles and responsibilities as Group CEO at Wellbeing at Work, insights on how and when leaders influence employees’ well-being, what behaviors and attitudes characterize the leader of the future, his future plans, words of wisdom, and much more. The following excerpts are taken from the interview.
Chris, can you tell us a bit about your professional career and areas of interest?
For the last 10 years, I have led the global team at Wellbeing at Work, and we organize 10 leadership Summits across the world that empower organizations to make wellbeing in the workplace a strategic priority. We also have a global online community of leaders on our Hub, and we provide strategic direction and consultancy with our Wellbeing at Work Bespoke division.
I’m passionate about making a positive impact on the workplace and I’m very privileged to lead a highly skilled and motivated team of experts who are equally as committed to drive change.
Brief us about your roles and responsibilities as Group CEO at Wellbeing at Work.
My role at Wellbeing at Work is both a privilege and very busy! I lead a global team of experts as we continue to empower leaders to make a positive change to their organizations that drives high-performance from healthy and productive workforces.
You are also a Co-Founder at InsideOut Awards. Can you tell us about these awards and the criteria applied while shortlisting the awardees?
The InsideOut Awards showcases and celebrates the fantastic work that organizations have been doing across the world on mental health and wellbeing in the workplace. Now in its fifth year, we celebrate excellence every June in London.
In your opinion, how can a leader seek to have positive leadership? How can this be done in practice, on a day-to-day basis?
Leadership has changed so much in the last 30 years, and I’m so pleased it has. The skills that a modern-day leader must demonstrate include emotional intelligence across the business and with their teams, being authentic with their communications and direction for the business and setting a clear purpose for the business that their people can buy into. It’s also important to recognize your team member’s individual strengths so they can focus on these areas and feel energized at work. These skills will ensure you have a happy and high performing team.
How and when do leaders influence employees’ well-being?
Wellbeing at work has evolved over recent years and is far more strategic so leaders influence their team’s wellbeing all of the time. The communication they use, especially language and tone, the expectations set for teams and individuals in their roles, the compassion and understanding shown when things don’t go to plan and encouraging failure, setting the tone and vision for the company and the flexibility (or lack of) when it comes to how and where our teams work. Leaders have a huge responsibility when it comes to their team’s wellbeing and mental health so making this a priority will significantly influence the company’s performance. It’s not just yoga and fruit Friday’s – wellbeing in the workplace is the foundation of business success.
How have you navigated advocating for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion with employees who don’t understand its importance?
Thankfully, our entire team knows the importance of DE&I to our business as it is one of our core values and I have continually talked about the importance of it in my team communications. Without DE&I, your business is simply not hearing a variety of opinions, views and voices, and that makes for a very narrow approach that is destined to fail.
Is there a growing interest in international job opportunities, and are companies now offering it as part of their workplace benefits?
I personally think the world has got much smaller in the last 20-30 years and with the advent of technologies in recent years, it has made it much easier for us to be more connected internationally. Our team is spread across eight countries with many working remotely and it hasn’t affected our performance, but it is important to all come together regularly for connection time in-person.
What is the future of leadership for you? What behaviors and attitudes characterize the leader of the future?
I believe team leaders should be coaches and draw upon those skills to get the best out of their teams. I also think leaders need to have a greater awareness of DE&I, wellbeing and emotional intelligence as these are the skills that will create high-performing teams and improved productivity – something we all want! Wellbeing in the workplace has to be a C-Suite priority and the most successful leaders will ensure this is top of the agenda.
How do you unplug and step away from work?
My personal time is really important to me and is non-negotiable. Regular dog walks by the sea and in nature, spending time cooking for friends and family and a regular gym habit provide a good opportunity to switch off. I also make a point of completely switching off when I’m on holiday with a true digital detox.
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?
Well, I am about to celebrate 10 years since I started Wellbeing at Work and we have achieved so much in the last decade and I’m very proud of the team and their achievements so I hope we can continue to challenge the world of work and deliver high-quality information, services, and knowledge in the next 10 years and beyond.
Would you like to share a few tips on how to work towards creating a sense of belonging by building an inclusive culture with diverse perspectives to better the workplace and society?
An inclusive culture in both the workplace and society is everyone’s responsibility, not just one person. I’m passionate about allowing people to be their true selves at work, to work in an environment where they can speak up without any fear, to challenge where they see wrongdoing and to respect each other. We are all entitled to our own views and diversity of thought is encouraged, but we must learn to disagree respectfully and allow everyone a voice.