We’ve long known that the higher executives climb up the corporate ladder, the lonelier it becomes.
This sense of ‘aloneness’ is not limited to those in large companies. It affects anyone who runs a business and many professionals in decision-making roles. It’s not just that the buck stops with them. Working long hours, intense competition and the constancy of personal and workplace pressure means that business owners and decision makers often feel quite alone. The stress is compounded when professionals …
- have little time for themselves, or the mental space to think clearly, outside of their professional lives
- lack the personal support they need, where they feel safe to open up and be honest, confident in the knowledge that someone has their back
- are reluctant to add to their partner’s stress, when they have career pressures and family responsibilities of their own
- find themselves facing mid-life, personal or relationship challenges that shake their confidence and self-belief
As workplace stress has increased, so have the pressures on family life. Business owners, senior professionals and corporate decision makers too often find themselves stuck on a never-ending treadmill, juggling work demands with family challenges and their own need for mental space to think and reflect. This impacts on personal happiness, on health and well-being and on business productivity and performance.
Lightening the load
Having someone to talk to freely, about the challenges that cause stress or keep you awake at night is invaluable, especially when your own or other people’s expectations are high, or you feel weighted down with responsibility. It provides you with:
- a safe place to open up and talk things through in confidence without feeling judged
- a different perspective – a more objective ‘take’ that can open your mind to new possibilities you may not have considered
- real support from a confidant who lightens the load and removes the feeling that you’re on your own
Whilst HR departments in the corporate world offer support to their employees, in my professional experience, few people in senior or demanding roles, are prepared to seek help from the very companies they depend on for their salaries and career roles, especially if their stress is a combination of work and personal challenges. Instead, they try to cope by pretending to everyone around them that they’re fine, when in reality they’re not.
In today’s world, where confidence and self-belief have a direct impact on performance, business owners are just as vulnerable. Like other professionals, they may have the support of a partner at home, but that frequently means off-loading stress over dinner. Apart from being unhelpful, it’s rarely productive and does nothing to enhance either the personal relationship or family life. Supportive friends and family also have a role to play, but the personal relationship means they can never be fully objective.
When someone has your back it’s different. They offer a safe space to talk about whatever is on your mind. They listen and you feel heard. They support you unconditionally and provide honest, objective feedback without judgement. They offer a reality check when that voice in your ear has undermined your confidence and made you doubt yourself. They show you a way forward and help you make any changes that support you and your goals. In short, they are a personal and confidential sounding board with your best interests at heart – and they always have your back.
So who’s got your back?