Stepping out of the Tornado


I’m sharing this story because I know this CEO is not alone: Recently I had a coaching session with a new client, the CEO of an incredibly successful, fast growing organisation in the disability sector. As I saw it, her immediate issue was an extreme sense of overwhelm and fatigue. The business had become her life and, as a result, the health of both was at risk. Until she could create some personal space there was no way forward. So I shared with her that it felt like she was speaking to me from inside a tornado. A swirling environment of hurtling priorities, with no chance to come up for air and see the landscape. I told her she needed to step outside the tornado and she gasped: ‘You’re so right!!!’ At this point I suggested that she shouldn't wait any longer to re-structure her business. The longer you leave it, the harder it is to step outside that tornado. Because here's the thing: Tornados Disrupt Structure. As we’ve seen right across disability, aged care and health, if you don’t take the lead and intentionally disrupt your organisation – it will be done for you. We then spent the rest of the coaching session discussing practical ways to make that happen - in the immediate future. With an election on top of a Royal Commission, new compliance requirements, floods, staff in isolation and stressed clients, participants and patients: the current operating environment is diabolical. I know many CEOs who didn't get any break at Xmas. Across Australia too many amazing people have already exited these sectors or retired early. So, if you’re the CEO of a non-profit organisation and your Board is sitting on a corpus of funds ‘for a rainy day’ – then today is that day. (If they say, ‘Sorry, but your costs are already too high’, then they need a reality check.) Because these are the times those funds were saved for. You cannot continue to make informed decisions from a place of exhaustion. Survival mode is not a business plan. Surviving only thanks to the extreme dedication and goodwill of exhausted women is incompatible with a viable, future focused business plan, or a values driven culture. Back to my client: She was a completely different person in our coaching session last week, saying she felt “wonderful” and that she was more optimistic than ever about her business. Your clients, participants and residents deserve a quality, human service; they deserve to be listened to with empathy and understanding. So do your employees. This doesn't happen from inside a tornado. #disability #mentalhealth #health #agedcare #governance #nonprofit #workplaceculture