September 1, 2011
When enough’s enough: business leaders going AWOL!
Absent Without Leave (AWOL) is a military term used when a soldier is absent from where he/she should be but without intent to desert.
I started this week with a list of ‘must do’s’ deadlined for the end of this month. Program development, video re-records, radio show interviews, updates from my team … all this amongst doing the one thing I love most in my business – executive coaching with my amazing leadership, business owner and professionals clients!
I looked at the list on Monday morning, looked at the spaces in my schedule this week and you know what I did? – I scrumpled the list up tightly and binned it. ’I’m only going to do what I love this week’ I said.
So, in the gaps on Monday I finished reading ‘The Bond’ by Lynne McTaggart. In the gaps on Tuesday I started reading my first Marshall Goldsmith book (hmmm – me likey!). Wednesday followed pattern and was rounded off with an hours drive south to have supper with an inspiring friend I hadn’t seen in nearly a year.
On my drive back north through the Fife fields & farmland I just had this massive sense of gratefulness. The sun was shining on the half-harvested barley fields, I was tapping back into a sense of creativity that’s been the catalyst for up-levelling my business on more than one occasion over the past decade, and my calmness quotient was overflowing because I CAN go AWOL once in a while and everything won’t come crashing down around me.
But what if you don’t work for yourself and you’re not the boss? What if you’re in a corporate role, directing a team, with projects to complete and accountable for meeting targets and the company depends on your results? Is AWOL an option?
It’s a tough one to answer. In my 10 years of coaching executives I haven’t met a single professional who hasn’t at some point considered jumping ship or initiating an ‘extreme career change’. Some, have been on the edge of quitting, are disillusioned, or just down-right exhausted from a no-respite, limited-appreciation corporate culture.
Question is … where does the responsibility lie for the intellectual, emotional and spiritual health of a workforce? Is it with a business to ensure all it’s leaders remain engaged and motivated? Or with the individual to manage their ongoing career goals within their overall life expectations? A bit of both, however, my experience would encourage the latter – it can only be YOU who decides what works best for you and only you can know fully the elements of your life that impact your decision to stay, go or re-design your position.
Here’s what I also know to be true:
- Getting clear about what you want – hours, pay, projects, team make up, opportunities to progress, increase or decrease in responsibilities, reporting lines, work-life balance – is the key to being able to communicate that over time to your business. If you don’t know, they can’t help you.
- Negotiating regular professional changes inside your company – preferably while you’re calm enough to be factual and highlight the benefits on all sides – keeps you and your company fresh and constantly looking for a collaborative and positive future.
- Extending flexibility as individually required within your team enhances their motivation to work and, by extension, your satisfaction because more is achieved in less time.
The lesson here: AWOL in corporate cultures is for extreme cases only. And WAY before you reach that stage … get thinking, get talking, get feeling; take responsibility, and take action … and get an independent professional involved. Executive coaches are here to support leaders each step until they’re entirely living their Personal & Professional Freedom!