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The power of playfulness in executive well-being

The power of playfulness in executive well-being

The demands and pressure faced by executives know no bounds. There is a constant demand for time, attention and focus, with the added stress of knowing that all decisions will impact the company and its employees. Effective leaders are skilled at managing the stress and demands that come with the role, often using playfulness and fun as tools to manage stress.

Incorporating play into daily routines is key to holistic wellness. The endorphins released by playful, enjoyable activities are well-documented in promoting an overall sense of well-being. Playful adults report lower overall stress levels, an increased ability to manage high-stress situations, and greater overall life satisfaction.

Incorporating this skill of playfulness into the workplace has developed into a leadership style with significant benefits to the workplace.

The positive effects of play on leadership 

Productive playfulness’ is a leadership style that focuses on infusing fun and creativity into the nine-to-five, while still focusing on achieving results. 

A playful leader isn’t frivolous or flippant; instead, they create an environment where teams not only meet their targets but look forward to – and enjoy – the process of doing so. Playful leaders are considered to be more approachable, trustworthy and effective, and they know how to harness the power of strategic playfulness to energise and inspire employees. When leaders direct play towards achieving set goals, it encourages connectivity and creativity, unlocks hidden potential, and empowers staff to take on challenges.

How to integrate playfulness into busy schedules 

By actively and outwardly practising playfulness, leaders ‘walk the talk’ and signal to their staff that they should do the same. Incorporating play into their leadership style can be transformative for a business. As this culture of self-care and playfulness trickles down throughout the organisation, teams will become healthier, happier, and better equipped to deal with daily challenges.

Here are some ideas for integrating playfulness within teams:

  • Make the time. Yes, time is a sacred resource, particularly for busy executives, but take the time to make the time. Allocate specific slots in your schedule for specific tasks, and then include fun into the mix. Effective time management involves distinguishing between what is urgent and what is important and delegating anything that doesn’t fall into these categories. Whatever ‘fun’ looks like for you, consider it important and block out time for it in your diary. This could take the form of a weekly team lunch – it doesn’t have to be fancy. Each person can bring their own meal and enjoy it together.
  • Do something new that scares you. Stepping out of your comfort zone is both exhilarating and rewarding. By demonstrating vulnerability and an eagerness to take risks, you can help to inspire a culture of continuous learning and personal development. Have you started a new course or hobby? Take the time to share more about it – the challenges and win make it an authentic story.
  • Incorporate friendly games and challenges into the work day. Gamifying tasks and processes can go a long way in promoting healthy competition and camaraderie among teams. How about a health challenge? Encourage employees to take after work walks and find out which team has the highest step count each quarter.
  • Celebrate achievements – big and small – with the team. Acknowledging the hard work of staff is crucial for improving motivation and fostering a sense of worthiness. Are you regularly creating room for positive feedback? If not, why not add a ballot box to the break room or a virtual space where employees can show appreciation for each other.
  • Lead by example. Don’t stand on the sidelines. Make an effort to organise (and attend) social functions, and include humour in your correspondence, where appropriate. This could be as simple as adding a witty quote or using GIFs in your internal communication mailers. Demonstrate that it’s possible to have fun while taking work seriously, too.


Ready to holistically support your personal development? The Life Health Solutions Executive Wellness offering provides pre-emptive medical care and health services to Africa’s top executives, including access to our world-class executive wellness clinic in Johannesburg. To find out more, email, call (+27) 86 123 4123 to speak to one of our business development managers, or visit our website.

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