Stress in Executives: Discussing the 'Undiscussable'
31 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2016
Date Written: October 19, 2016
Purpose – Tackling stress is a common challenge for executives but many leaders are reluctant to recognize it, or talk about it. Executive coaches are many times aware of how leaders feel as they work very closely with them. However, they are often not sufficiently equipped to recognise and deal with stress. Hence there is a need for practical guidance in diagnosing hidden signs of stress that can be addressed in coaching.
Approach – This article introduces an interpretative protocol to evaluate senior executive stress, combining a cognitive approach with a psychodynamic focus.
Findings – Based on a literature review on common workplace stress factors and symptoms, we identified five areas of senior executive stress. In a next step, following a psychodynamic, hermeneutic approach, we developed an interpretative protocol that allowed us to evaluate stress in these areas and achieve a delicate balance between flexibility, face validity, and academic rigour. It allows for stress indicators to be detected and interpreted by coach and coachee despite possible self-deception and impression management.
Originality/value – Given its design, this protocol provides professionals with a solid framework and a common language to evaluate stress in senior executives. It can be used to identify key areas of concern and to develop focus points for coaching relationships.
Keywords: Executive Stress, Psychodynamic Lens, Executive Coaching, Taboo
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