An executive wellness coach is often misconstrued as a combination of a health and fitness coach who tells you to eat more broccoli and exercise regularly. However, health and fitness is only one small slice of a much larger pie. An executive wellness coach is similar to an executive coach who improves leadership performance and development with the added benefit of taking into account how all areas of one’s life impact overall well-being and success.
As an executive wellness coach, I empower leaders to fulfill their highest business, personal, and social potential through sustainable mindset and behavior change.
High-performing executives and world-class athletes elevate their game by hiring a coach. Their pursuit of excellence is propelled in partnership with a well-suited coach.
Research indicates there is an abundant need for such coaching. A Stanford survey reports that 66% of CEOs do not receive any advice from an outside consultant or coach—even though nearly 100% see the value of receiving coaching and would enjoy it. Similarly, the Harvard Business Review cites a ten-year study finding that 61% of executives feel unprepared for the strategic challenges they face after being appointed to a senior leadership role.
Executive leadership requires that you raise your game, and continue raising it. As great athletes do not hesitate to lean on coaches and trainers in order to stay on top, it is a mark of strength and wisdom for a leader to seek independent guidance and advice.
CEOs, executives, entrepreneurs, founders, and business leaders can gain tremendous value from an executive wellness coach. Here are ten ways executive wellness coaching helps you reach your highest potential.
1. Performance—raise the bar
The ultimate goal of an executive wellness coach is to help you perform at the top of your game in all areas of your life, not just in your career. Many leaders focus on their career while compromising other aspects of their well-being. This is not sustainable and will undermine your performance. We are multidimensional beings. We are at our best when we feed our whole selves—our career, relationships, self-care, and other interests. We can lose ourselves in daily pressures and sometimes need to address the big picture and the long view. An executive wellness coach will help you raise the bar so you can be your best self in all areas of your life.
2. Mindfulness—cultivate self-awareness and emotional intelligence to make better choices
Mindfulness is more than a buzzword. I have witnessed its transformational power in my own life and in the lives of my clients. Mindfulness is the foundation and bedrock of my coaching practice. High performing leaders such as the late Steve Jobs, Ray Dalio, Oprah Winfrey, Marc Benioff, Jeff Weiner, and Arianna Huffington attribute their success to meditation. It builds greater self-awareness, which leads us to make conscious and deliberate choices, rather than drifting through our days on autopilot. Mindfulness is also a precondition for emotional intelligence—the ability to identify and manage our own emotions so we can interact more empathetically with others. Compassionate leaders inspire and bring the best out of their people. They cultivate loyalty and build strong cultures. An executive wellness coach will improve your self-awareness and emotional intelligence to maintain harmony and avoid burnout.
3. Resilience—navigate the art of bouncing back
Stress kills. It also cripples performance and productivity. An executive wellness coach can work with you to manage and alleviate stress through a healthy mindset, lifestyle, and other preventive measures. Building resilience takes it a step further. Research shows that our relationship with stress shapes its effect on us. If we frame a challenge as an opportunity and not a threat, we can productively channel the energy of a stressful situation. Equipped with a growth mindset and the right tools and strategies, you will not only survive life’s inevitable curve balls—you will thrive in the face of them. Your capacity for handling challenges and hardships will grow over time. Resilience is like a well whose level steadily rises if we practice mindful leadership. As our baseline elevates, we bounce back from hardship stronger and more resilient than before. Initiatives like the Penn Resiliency Program have demonstrated that mindful leaders can cultivate resilience throughout their organization as well.
4. Clarity—be in the zone of strong decision-making, creativity, and flow
Our stresses, fears, and limiting beliefs can weigh heavily on us and cloud our judgment and decision-making. Our mind is in a fog when we are eating or sleeping poorly. Clarity is an essential leadership quality, one you can cultivate by attending mindfully to the kind of ongoing self-development an executive wellness coach will guide you through. Physical fitness and vitality translate readily into mental fitness and fosters focus and engagement. In an age of distraction and noise, focus is a prized commodity and a prerequisite for peak performance. When we engage deeply in a task or conversation, we enter the state of flow that generates breakthrough insight and innovation, as well as satisfaction and joy. Awareness and clarity beget strong decision-making, which in turn impacts business outcomes and quality of life. Working with the right coach, you can change the forecast from foggy weather to blue skies, live with focus and flow, and see with greater clarity.
5. Perspective—access different lenses
We are all prone to blind spots. An executive wellness coach can help identify yours by acting as a devil’s advocate—or as one of my clients describes me, a silent advisory board. Once we have become aware of our own biases and blind spots, we can more freely embrace the point of view of others. Emotional intelligence heightens when we learn to understand the world through different eyes and different mindsets. A leader adept at changing lenses will create an inclusive environment where every voice is valued. Its cognitive diversity—increasingly recognized as a key driver of innovation and agility—will strengthen such an organizational culture. Finally, when working with an executive wellness coach, you will receive unbiased and confidential guidance from the perspective of a coach whose expertise is working with countless executives with similar experiences. This can be a rare glimpse (while honoring the privacy of clients) of comparable challenges and struggles other executives face. It can be lonely at the top, but insight into the challenges, fears, and successes other leaders have experienced can alleviate that sense of isolation and provide greater perspective.
6. Communication—connect effectively
In the Stanford survey, CEOs listed conflict and interpersonal communication as among the biggest challenges they faced. Leaders with high emotional intelligence who are capable of seeing multiple perspectives will be ahead in this area. An executive wellness coach can help you further refine your communication skills. Quality of communication is a vital barometer of an organization’s health. Poor communication can disrupt and sometimes destroy a business as well as professional and personal relationships to the point of no return. Effective leaders need to be skilled internal and external communicators. The connections you cultivate and nurture are the connective tissue that holds your organization and life together.
7. Relationships—build rapport and deepen relationships
Leaders who bring clarity and strong communication skills to the table will have what it takes to foster strong relationships through their organization and through their life. Rapport is a connection that forms when both parties trust, understand, and value one another. Evolved leaders are skilled at identifying people’s strengths and building on those strengths. That kind of rapport greases the wheels of collaboration and creates the psychological safety that enables risk-taking. Some leaders are naturally charismatic but need guidance deepening relationships, while others need support to develop interpersonal skills further. An executive wellness coach will help you build rapport and establish strong interpersonal relationships which are fundamental to experience deeper fulfillment and success.
8. Confidence—embody executive excellence and presence
Conscientious and mindful self-development will naturally generate self-confidence, but it is also a goal in its own right. Although my clients are highly skilled, educated, and intelligent over-achievers, some initially have imposter syndrome. They have internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud” or struggle with feelings of inadequacy, despite evident success. Being an effective leader in all areas of your life—at work, at home, in your community, and in your life—requires being bold, courageous, and standing in conviction. An executive wellness coach can help you find and maintain that solid ground of self to stand on.
9. Accountability—achieve your goals
In the same way leaders hold their teams accountable for results, executive wellness coaches hold their clients accountable for their desired goals and vision. We all have goals and dreams—in our career, business, home, relationships, and lifestyle—but frequently those goals get lost in the shuffle. Sometimes we procrastinate or avoid, and sometimes other priorities intrude and take precedence. An executive wellness coach will help you stay on track—moving you away from what you do not want and toward what you do want. The efficacy of an accountability partner is well-established. We are 65% more likely to meet a goal if we commit to another person. That success rate rises to 95% when regular check-ins follow that commitment. An executive wellness coach trained in the art of motivation and habit formation is an ideal accountability partner.
10. Energy—increase energy-levels
Eighty-two percent of business leaders are not working at their optimal energy level, compromising their productivity, performance, and ultimately the growth of their company. The great challenge facing today’s leaders is not managing time, but managing energy. A great indicator that your investment in executive wellness coaching is paying off is when you wake up feeling energized and eager to face the day, and can sustain that level of energy and engagement in all of your activities. You will have the time and drive to attend to all areas of your life without feeling you are sacrificing other important parts of your life such as your family and self-care.
We talk about taking a holistic approach—to our lives, careers, and well-being—and yet we live in a society that often encourages us to compartmentalize. We talk about putting on our game face as if our professional lives is a performance. What if we consider our lives as an integrated whole? The health of the planet depends on a complex ecosystem where an imbalance in one area can throw off the entire system. We are our own ecosystem. I help my clients cultivate strength and vitality in all areas of their lives.
When my clients learn to become engaged and energized in every aspect of their lives, I can see they are on the path to becoming the best version of themselves. Client self-actualization is the ultimate goal of an executive wellness coach. Committing to that journey is one of the most valuable investments today’s business leader can make.
Beyond the specific tools and strategies I can impart to them, what my clients find most valuable is having an independent and unbiased set of eyes and ears—someone to be as a sounding board and trusted advisor.
Every great athlete talks about the coach who managed to support and challenge them at the same time—someone who believed in them, but who also pushed them to be better. Business leaders need that same combination of push and pull. If you are ready to step up your game, hiring a suitable executive wellness coach can be life-changing.
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Published on Forbes on Jan. 10, 2019.