To do otherwise I feel, would be negligent considering the working world of 2022 – and might put my clients’ long term career success and happiness at risk.
Perhaps this shift of wellbeing up the coaching agenda, doesn’t feel such a surprising development considering how professional and managerial work has changed in the last ten years. Change is now the only constant due to new technologies, globalisation, political issues like Brexit and most recently Covid and the widespread adoption of working from home and hybrid working. Executives are continually dealing with high levels of volatility, uncertainty, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) aspects to their projects. As a result, senior executives may gradually slide into ways of working that are unhealthy, damaging to mental health and ultimately unsustainable.
Executive Wellbeing is More than Avoiding Burnout
However, poor wellbeing manifests in many ways long before burnout. I’m talking about clients who frequently sleep badly or who have poor sleep habits, feel anxiety about their workload, or overwhelm and stress about the pressure their under. Others share feelings of isolation due to home-working or conflict in key relationships with bosses and subordinates. Under the wellbeing banner, I would also include feelings of lack of meaning and purpose.
Isn’t executive wellbeing part of the ‘corporate wellbeing’ agenda? Something that employers are attending to? Well yes and no. Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)2 research shows that wellbeing is high on business agendas these days, but there is a significant ‘implementation gap’. It seems that while boards are wrestling with the corporate wellbeing issue and perhaps piloting programmes, staff wellbeing and executive wellbeing which is my particular focus, continue to deteriorate.
Executive Wellbeing is a No-Brainer
Coachees are realising the importance of managing their wellbeing and are prepared to invest to improve it. For many it’s a no-brainer. “If I stay fit and well then, I will have a long, lucrative and fulfilling career ahead of me. By contrast If I burnout, I may end up taking a lot of time out and my card might be marked”. (Yes, stigma around mental health still exists.)
For me executive wellbeing coaching helps with so much more than ‘preventing burnout’. Like any executive coaching it is an opportunity for you to gain greater self-awareness, increase your self-knowledge, gain insights and replace outdated beliefs with beliefs that are more helpful to your life now. Executive wellbeing coaching can help you actually break patterns of self-destructive behaviour. E.g. You know you need to leave your desk, get out and take some fresh air, but still, you feel chained to your desk. Often, it’s not enough to cognitively be aware of the benefits of taking a walk, you may also need to understand and deal with the attitudes, beliefs and behaviours that might be keeping you at your desk; behaviours that perhaps might be driven by low self-esteem, perfectionism or fear of failure to mention but a few reasons.
Some of this may be attributable to the fact that nowadays it can be hard for line managers to identify wellbeing issues. For instance, in matrix organisations a line manager may not have clear sight of their report’s total responsibilities as he or she may be collaborating on projects across the organisation and reporting to different leaders on some of them. A boss may only see a report on Zoom, and infrequently at that, making it harder to spot signs of poor wellbeing.
Senior Executives Need to Take Responsibility for Their Wellbeing
This is where your executive coach can help. Executive coaches can also help you to take remedial action when your wellbeing might have gone awry.
Executive Wellbeing Audits Can Help
Executive coaching for peak wellbeing ideally explores what wellbeing looks like for the individual. This might include an audit of current issues, health status and self-care practices. Such an audit can identify latent mental health issues and pave the way to plan for better wellbeing and to access relevant resources.
Following the audit an executive wellbeing coach might help you to:-
¹ HSE Data Dec 2021. Work-Related Stress , Anxiety or Depression Statistics in Great Britain.
2 CIPD June 2016. Growing the Health and Wellbeing Agenda
© 2022 Trudy Lloyd & Associates. All Rights Reserved.
I believe that everyone should enjoy meaningful, satisfying and rewarding work - work that fires you up! I am fascinated by human potential and the life journeys people make to find work and careers where they can channel and develop their skills and talents in meaningful and satisfying ways.