Stress, relationships and business results
In my coaching world – and more broadly – stress, resilience and wellbeing are often pronounced in the same breath – and increasingly often.
The stress that leaders and their reports talk about is often related to the nature of their working relationships, the scope they experience at work for being recognised and valued for who they are, and the space for them to bring their authentic selves to work.
One client, a partner in a law firm, discovered during his coaching the direct link between his authenticity, his team’s effectiveness, and his group’s business results. He came to coaching wanting to change some behaviours that were habitual but which others experienced as dismissive, arrogant and impatient – to the extent that rates of staff retention were moving in distinctly the wrong direction and the reputational damage was becoming a source of corporate concern.
Feedback indicated that some reports were spending significant amounts of time preparing psychologically for the stressful, negative and wounding experience they had come to expect of him when they were puzzled as to how to tackle a particular issue or worse, when there was bad news to share. During that preparation time they were unproductive and distracted, they commented.
Fascinatingly, this lawyer knew that his behaviour didn’t correspond to his values – which included respect for others, and developing others to be their best selves. It left him feeling bad about himself and about his impact. It was behaviour he’d learnt years before as an associate working for a partner, but it wasn’t true to who he was and how he really saw himself. Once he allowed himself to be who he was, a much more patient, interested self emerged who enabled others to learn, who learnt from his experience of being coached to coach others, and who saw his team begin to flourish in a way that meant they took on more, leaving him the freedom to do other things that drove the business forward in new ways.
Evidence of the retreat of the kind of stress he had been seeding in others grew significantly. The quality of his relationships changed, and there was evidence too of greater trust in his team.