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The Executive dilemma, it’s personal not professional…

I started working for myself as an Executive Coach in 2016 as I realised that to coach my clients in the most effective way possible I needed to get personal.

As a HR practitioner, there are certain boundaries that exist although never actually spoken about. Asking your client about their home life, their relationship with their spouse, mental health care for themselves, medical results and so on, is generally considered beyond those acceptable boundaries.

However, these are questions that absolutely must be asked and worked on holistically if an individual really wants to operate at their peak. Think of it as a modern-day counsellor meets coach.

Let's look at it this way...

Sarah, the CFO of ABC Cars, has a 12 month old daughter, she is battling a relationship breakdown with her husband and trying to manage the acquisition of XYZ Motors. In this scenario, do you think Sarah is going to be able to separate her home life and work at her highest performance? I don’t think so. Yet this is one of many common scenarios we see people facing at work.

And in a fast-paced, full throttle Executive role is it possible to put your hand up, tell someone you are struggling, seek support and have a shoulder to lean on while you juggle this work/life nightmare? Generally, in C-suite Executive roles, the answer is sadly no.

You see, although we espouse “modern flexible work” and “healthy workplaces” we still seem to behave in a way that would suggest work and personal are separate entities. But no matter how senior the role, the person in that role is a human being and suffers personal setbacks just like anybody else. Unfortunately however, for many in these positions, any personal challenges they are facing are perceived as weaknesses and something to be left at the door. To the contrary, the most challenging times in an individual’s life (either personally or professionally) is often when we see the most learning and growth. And this growth is what helps to create an experienced, balanced and mature leader.

So, what can we do to change this picture?

The trick is to encourage all leaders to have that person (a confidant, coach or mentor) that can be by their side while they face that journey. A person that fully incorporates the personal and the professional. The time has well and truly come to move from work/life balance to work/life integration….. a whole new skill to be harnessed.

Image credit: Daniela Rey @picsea

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