The Oscar-winning movie, “The King’s Speech” includes a striking conversation between King George VI and his speech therapist, who comments “That’s what friends are for”. The King responds: “I wouldn’t know”. This is an extreme example of feeling lonely at the top but nonetheless demonstrates that although someone at the top can enjoy respect and adoration from other people, they can still feel unsupported and lonely.
We can perhaps understand how Royalty, dignitaries and even celebrities can feel lonely. We can understand how they can be concerned about what they can say to whom: ultimately being fearful of who they can trust with details of their lives. However, this issue of trust is just the same in business.
There are many benefits to a Director discussing issues with someone they can trust – a confidante, such as a personal executive coach. First of all, it helps them put the issues in perspective; it allows them to share key challenges, to talk through them, and understand what the real problems are; it also provides a sounding-board, enabling them to really think through options, and more critically identify the right solution, and the impact their decision will have on the business, their team, and themselves. Having these discussions with a real confidante provides a safe environment, where the Director can say exactly what they think, without any repercussions and the reassurance that their trust will not be broken.
Confiding in a co-worker can present some real difficulties for a Director including:
- Running the risk of a decision being leaked to other members of staff in an un-managed way
- Losing the co-worker’s respect by discussing something inappropriate or unprofessional with them
- Appearing weak and lacking in leadership where the Director shows vulnerability or shares their feelings or concerns
As a consequence, the Director keeps their own confidence. This can result in them feeling under-confident of whether they have really considered the different options when making their decisions; missing out on the most effective outcome, and they can feel isolated and ultimately lonely by being unable to be truthful with someone about their challenges, issues and fears.
Executive Coaching fills this void. It provides a safe and confidential environment for Directors to consider their issues and how best to resolve them. And more than this, an Executive Coach who has extensive experience of working with Directors can therefore really support them through their difficulties.