My Clients come from a real mix of businesses and range from Grads to CEO’s and every management level in between. I always promote open conversation with them – the mental health of my Clients is just as important to me as their physical health.
I say this all the time, but my intention is for someone to walk out of their session with me feeling better than when they walked in. I’ve observed it’s often the most senior of my Clients, the people that are on the top of their game and have professionally reached the pinnacle of their careers, that struggle the most.
Apart from with their immediate family they rarely have the opportunity to talk through personal concerns with other people. It can be lonely at the top. People always turn to you, but who do you turn to?*
Data compiled by Oracle and Workplace Intelligence revealed 53% of executives are struggling with mental health issues, compared to 45% in the wider workforce. The study also found it was the C-suite that were finding it most difficult to adapt to the virtual way of working (85%) caused by Covid-19 (Coronavirus).
Mental Health Awareness Week’s key focus this year is ‘Loneliness’. Purely from a professional perspective, it got me thinking about what this actually means to the senior people around me.
It’s a big topic to cover but I’ve summarised some useful tips below that I hope you find useful:
Surround yourself with positive people
This may seem like a slightly ‘left of field’ philosophy but when you are faced with negativity in your team and your peers constantly, this can make you feel very lonely. Consider the type of leader you are and if it might actually be you causing the negativity – is it stemming from the top of the organisation? Are you controlling and micromanaging – not allowing your team to flourish by inspiring and trusting them.** If you aren’t sure, ask them for their honesty!
Is it possible another member of staff is causing negativity amongst others? If you can get to the root cause of the negativity and create a workable strategy to combat this, you are very likely to find your loneliness improves as you are surrounded by positive, like minded people when you are at work.
Find a suitable peer group
Having a professional peer or support group around you that you can rely on, trust and respect the opinion of will certainly combat loneliness. It doesn’t have to be a group of people in the same industry as you or of a similar age, in fact the most inspiring groups to learn from are those that have a different perspective.
Using the wonders of today’s technology, your peer group doesn’t have to be in the same geographical proximity to you either. But as per the first suggestion, ensure this group is a positive influence on you and you feel fully supported and listened to.
Create a new challenge
This can be in the workplace or personally, but coming up with a new goal for yourself, your team or your industry can be highly rewarding. As part of a team you create comradery with others that isn’t just due to your position in the workplace. It could be anything from kicking off a company football team, to organising a fun away day where the whole team (including you) get to learn some new skills. It could also be something more long term where you can really build on your challenge and engage others. Creating a new challenge will give a wider purpose over and above ust the role you perform and involve others in a positive way.
Surrounding yourself with positivity, interesting people you can learn from and find support in, and creating a worthy challenge you could involve and excite others in as well, will help to combat loneliness at the top.
*Please also see another of my recent blogs entitled ‘The oxygen mask principle. Helping yourself first.’
** Reference to Stephen M.R. Covey, Trust and Inspire.