As an Executive Search and Leadership Consulting firm it is no secret that a main objective of TS Grale is to help businesses and their senior teams establish the most effective ways of identifying and assessing talent, helping optimise team structures and company performance.
What is less well known is our desire, and need, to listen intently to the challenges and concerns faced by individuals within these organisations.
Now let me be clear, I am not a counsellor nor a psychologist, but I do aim to be a listener, a sounding board and an advisor. It is within this capacity the term “Executive Isolation” is becoming a very clear narrative that needs to be addressed.
Why am I highlighting this now?
Well…over the last few years the issue of mental health and well-being has been highlighted as a growing concern across all communities and walks of life. Businesses are, in the main, doing what they can to provide support and guidance to assist those that need it. The business leaders I speak to are passionate about their employees and want to ensure a working environment where well-being and performance are linked together. Their goals, which must include commercial performance and long term business viability, are to ensure that individuals and their families can cope with the ongoing pressures that the last few years have created in their daily lives.
What has been concerning to me, however, is the growing feedback that I have received from executives who, whilst diligently supporting others within their businesses are clearly feeling that they are unable to share/voice their concerns, show signs of stress/anxiety or, fundamentally, ask for help. It stems, incorrectly in my opinion, from a perceived need to be impervious to the pressures experienced themselves.
It is in this capacity that the term Executive Isolation is, unfortunately, becoming a familiar phrase.
Executive Isolation and prevalence?
Whilst the term is not necessarily common practice, studies from the Harvard Business Review and Ford Health, amongst others, have highlighted that up to 50% of executives experience loneliness or isolation and up to 70% of 1st time CEOs. The symptoms of it are becoming ever clearer with executives unable to communicate internally or externally around their feelings thereby amplifying the problem itself.
What can be done to combat Executive Isolation?
Firstly, like any problem, individuals and organisations need to accept that it is an issue that needs addressing. Showing vulnerability (including the sharing of challenges/problems) is not a weakness in itself but I do appreciate that who you share this vulnerability with is of critical importance.
With the above clearly in mind certain steps can be put in place to start addressing the problem of isolation.
- Building a confidential support system
- Finding and utilising a mentor
- Cultivating relevant business connections and networks
- Attending workshops that encompass peers from other industries
Each one of these suggestions allows the sharing of feelings/problems that others may have experienced or are experiencing. The ability to understand that this is not an isolated issue and that by sharing, in confidence, we are often able to relieve the pressure or find a practical solution.
Whilst this article in itself may not have any immediate impact for those experiencing Isolation challenges, I do hope that it encourages sharing and communication around the subject.
In addition, please do feel free to reach out to myself or the team at TS Grale should you require any guidance on how to cultivate connections, build networks or understand more around how we are advising executives in support of their career challenges.