Case Study – Executive Coaching

Mairi is the Head of Leadership Development at the Karolinska University Hospital and has recently completed the Executive Coaching Program. It’s a six-month intensive coaching program for leaders based around the EQ-i 2.0 Emotional Intelligence Framework. The coaching sessions took place on Zoom, and we met approximately every third week.

I sat down with Mairi to ask her a couple of questions about her experience working with me as a coach.

Emma: Hi Mairi, what made you apply for the Executive Coaching Program?

Mairi: I had been recently appointed as the Head of Leadership Development at the Karolinska University Hospital. Given the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on staff and managers and the unique culture of our organization, a coaching program that builds on Emotional Intelligence resonated well with my perceived needs for personal and professional development.

Emma: What has the coaching given you?

Mairi: The coaching has primarily given me two things – increased self-awareness and space for self-reflection. While these two things are the essence of what I work with to create for others, the gift of time and support from Emma to have that space for myself, has been invaluable.

Emma:  What did you learn during the coaching program?

Mairi:  The EQ assessment was very comprehensive and shed light on capabilities that I need to get better at in order to become a more effective leader and leadership developer. I also learned how the different components are interdependent and realized how some of my strengths actually become a hinder for my performance when overused. Last but not least, it was an important reminder that regardless of one’s level of experience or stage of development, it is hugely beneficial to have periods in one’s life that are supported by a coach.

Emma: What elements of the program had the greatest impact on you?

Mairi: The greatest impact came from the combination of the EQ assessment and the coaching. The EQ assessment was eye opening and combined with coaching, its effects will be long lasting. Improved self-awareness means that I pay close attention in every situation where my capabilities are challenged. Attention is really what changes a mere experience into deliberate practice and can thus contribute to continual learning. The assessment alone would be simply information in form of a report. The coaching without the assessment would risk lacking intentionality and direction. So it’s the combination that makes it a winning concept.

Emma: Who do you think would benefit from Executive Coaching?

Mairi: Anyone with a growth mindset, i.e. anyone with a will, curiosity, openness and vulnerability to become better versions of themselves.

Emma: How would you describe me as a coach?

Mairi: Emma has a great ability to listen, to really listen. To pay close attention to what her client needs the moment they start their session. She masters the art of asking great questions and doesn’t hesitate to challenge the deeply held beliefs her client might hold about their situation, performance and learning. I’m deeply grateful for her generosity to support me in my growth and help me lead from my purpose.

Thank you Mairi for taking the time to reflect on this. As a coach I always learn something new with each client. It was an honor to work with Mairi and to follow her progress. I learned a great deal from her deep understanding of leadership and her willingness to challenge her perceptions.

If you or your organization are interested in Executive Coaching, please get in touch and I’m happy to tell you more.

The Comparer – final (over)achievement archetype

We’ve come the end in our series Achievement patterns and strategies with the Comparer.

The Comparer lives by the words: ‘The grass is always greener… ’.

Comparison is nothing new. In 1954 Festinger came up with the social comparison theory. At the core of his theory is the idea that people come to know about themselves—their own abilities, successes, and personality—by comparing themselves with others. It’s central to our need for acceptance and belonging.

But the Comparer archetype takes this behaviour to the extremes. Comparers have a clear view of what life should be like and constantly compare themselves to others. They make sure their Instagram feeds are perfectly color coded and are at risk of being addicted to social media.

As a Comparer you also want to be perfect IRL and try to say clever things, be helpful and serve the right food at dinner parties. If people around you are unwell you risk missing the signs and often don’t observe your own signals of stress either.

Drivers and Fears:
      • Low self-esteem
      • Fear of being abandoned
      • Fear of rejection
How to overcome:
      1. Do a Social media detox – really! Here are a few tips:
          1. a)    Give your digital devices a bedtime.b)    Start a new morning habit.c)    Delete your social media apps.

            d)    Replace social media time with a new hobby or activity.

            e)    Break the habit of reaching for your phone.

            f)      Use technology for reasons other than scrolling social media.

            g)    Pay attention to the media you consume.

            h)    Spend more time observing the world around you.

            i)      Track your progress.

            j)      Set yourself reminders to not check social media.

      1. 2. Learn to spot the bottom of the iceberg. When you find yourself comparing, turn the tables around and ask yourself what the other person might admire in you. We can never really understand someone else’s reality, struggles and insecurities just as they might not have all your strengths in sight.3. Practice Meditation

 

Ok, so those were the 6 (over)achievement archetypes.

I use this model a lot in my coaching practice and it’s central to the Achievement Detox program. Often clients tell me that they can relate to several archetypes but when looking into the driver and fears it often becomes clear which overachievement strategy they use the most.

And that’s where we focus in with behavioural experiments.

Because as with all behavioural change, we need to work through the 3As:

      1. First we need to be AWARE of our behaviours and cognitions
      2. Then we need to ACCEPT the situation
      3. But nothing will change unless we ACT – we need to try and evaluate new strategies and slowly build new behaviours.

I hope you have enjoyed the series. If you would like more information or would like to work with me as a coach, please Get in touch

The Constant Achiever – (over)achievement archetype 4

This is probably the achiever archetype I identify the most with. People who are Constant Achievers (and I at times) live by the motto:

You can rest when you’re dead’.

The constant achiever is a multi-tasker who always juggles several big projects. If you identify as a constant achiever work is always on your mind and you are likely checking emails around the clock.

In your spare time, you renovate your apartment, take a language course or prepare for a marathon (yep, yep and yep)

Everything you do has a purpose and a goal. Your to-do list is your comfort blanket and you likely to most things in life very quickly. As a consequence the constant achiever is rarely in the moment and at high risk of burnout.

Drivers and Fears:
      • Achievement as a safe zone.
      • Addiction to the ‘high’ of achievement.
      • It is uncomfortable to take it easy, laziness is frowned upon.
      • Fear of stopping development.
How to overcome:
    • Get clear on the negative consequences of constantly achieving. List what it does to your health, relationships, and results.
    • Practice self compassion. Start with: Avoid saying and thinking judgmental things about yourself, spend time doing things you enjoy, Letting go of external validation.
    • Behavioral Experiments: This part was central to the ‘achievement detox’ I did a few years ago to limit the damage my achievement addiction. I embarked on a 1 year experiment during which I took on a very junior role at work and banned all achievement focus from my life. It was an eyeopener but also a very painful experience. In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy we instead recommend smaller experiments such as:
      • Post on LinkedIn and stop yourself from checking the results for 24 hours 😉.
      • Have a dinner party without meticulously preparing the food.
      • Swim on the slowest lane and allow yourself to be overtaken by everyone

Yep, have tried all three and for a Constant Achiever, it’s hard work and something we need to keep practicing.

Next up: The Competitor

 

 

 

The Perfectionist – (Over)achiever archetype 1

Motto: ‘Anything in life worth doing is worth overdoing’.

This achievement strategy is about doing everything to perfection, keeping your promise and never ever handing anything in half-baked. Perfectionists often respond to emails immediately so no one has to wait and tend to compensate for the shortcomings of others.

These overachievers scan the reactions of others to pick up any signs of irritation or disappointment so they can figure out a way to correct it. They have a clear view of what life should be like and how we should behave as individuals.

Just like their overachiever cousins – the Comparison Junkies – the Perfectionists keep track of everyone on social media and compare themselves all the time. On a bad day they can spend 60 minutes writing and rewriting a two-sentence email. Chronic procrastination could be the result of perfectionism.

Drivers and Fears:
      • Fear of failure
      • Fear others upsetting others
      • If I make a mistake, it will lead to a catastrophe
      • I am the reason others feel bad
      • If I do everything right I am accepted/loved
How to overcome it?
      1. Practice realistic thinking. Because perfectionists are often very critical of themselves, one of the most effective ways to overcome perfectionism is to replace self-critical thoughts with more realistic and helpful statements. Some examples of positive realistic statements: Everyone makes mistakes! Nobody is perfect!, All I can do is my best!
      2. Changing perspective: Perfectionists tend to have a hard time seeing things from another person’s point of view. Start by asking yourself: How might someone else (e.g. a close friend) view this situation? What might I tell a close friend who was having similar thoughts?
      3. Exposure: Having a problem with perfectionism is a lot like having a “phobia” of making mistakes or being imperfect – you get paralyzed by the thought of making mistakes. Exposure is an effective method to overcome your perfectionism, here are some examples of simple exposure practice:
        • Show up for an appointment 15 minutes late.
        • Tell people when you are tired (or other feelings that you consider a weakness).
        • Wear a piece of clothing that has a visible stain on it.
        • Lose your train of thought during a presentation.
        • Try a new restaurant without first researching how good it is.

If your perfectionism or other overachiever strategies hold you back and you would like to develop heathier behaviors and strategies – book a free consultation with me and we’ll take it from there.

PS: My own exposure practice while writing this post was to only read through once before publishing 🙂

Next up on the series of overachiever archetypes: The Controller.

Overachievement Archetypes. © 2021 Emma Vallin. All rights reserved.

The Controller – (Over)achiever archetype 2

Motto: ‘If you want a thing done well, do it yourself’

Achievement by control is about keeping a close eye on everything and everyone around you. If you identify with the Controller archetype you probably know exactly what will happen on Tuesday in 3 weeks and love writing lists and plans.

You prefer to take care of most things yourself and delegation and collaboration could be a challenge for you. The Controller can have a hard time dealing with unexpected events.

Due to their challenge with collaboration and delegation, Controllers risk losing valuable input and inspiration from people around them. In extreme cases they could end up alienating colleagues and friends.

Drivers and Fears:
      • Fear of losing control
      • Fear of uncertainty
      • Will to succeed
How to overcome:
      1. Educate yourself about anxiety and control. Rather than falling back on control as a defense against uncertainty, learn all you can about the fear that is driving you to micromanage. Read books or see a therapist.

2. Ask yourself how effective controlling really is. For example, is asking your teenage son whether he’s brushed his teeth every morning an effective way to make him take responsibility for his dental care? If not, stop and rethink your approach.

3. Ban control-oriented language from your vocabulary. For example, unsolicited advice or criticizing someone’s perspective. Altering your language takes courage, and you must commend yourself for learning how to let go of control.

What advise would you give a Controller? If you identify as one, how do you overcome your need to control?

Next up: The worrying problem solver

Overachievement Archetypes. © 2021 Emma Vallin. All rights reserved.

The Worrying Problem Solver – (Over)achiever archetype 3

‘Spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions’

This achievement strategy is about never leaving anything unresolved. If you identify as worrying problem solver you often experience anxiety and negative stress when facing a challenging problem.

On top of the anxiety the issue with this approach is that it’s very ineffective. When the brain’s threat system is switched on you are unlikely to find constructive solutions.

The result is a behavior that is motivated by getting rid of discomfort. In the short term, it feels better to dwell on the problem than to leave it.

Drivers and Fears:
      • The dopamine kick of solving things.
      • Inability to deal with the discomfort of disappointment.
      • A tendency to catastrophize.
      • Fear of failure.
How to overcome:

1.Recognize the difference between worrying and productive problem solving. Here are some signs that you might be worrying:

      • You dismiss all your solutions as ineffective.
      • You are tense, distressed, and upset.
      • You spend a lot of time focusing on how things could go terribly wrong.

2. To get out of worrying-mode. Try taking some slow breaths from your diaphragm and relax. If that doesn’t help, take a break (go for a run, Clean the toilet). Come back to the problem when you’ve had a chance to settle down.

3. Put negative thoughts into a drawer. If you still find yourself slipping into negative thinking. Let the thoughts come, then mentally put them into a drawer, lock it and tell yourself you can open the draw again in an hour. In the meanwhile focus on positive ways to solve the problem.

Have you experienced periods of worrying and anxiety? What tips would you give to someone who is a worrying problem solver?

Next up: The Constant Achiever

6 (Over)Achievement Archetypes

Overachievers can accomplish great things but always need to do more. As they constantly raise the bar, the cost for reaching their goals eventually outweigh the rewards. Although overachievers tend to do well early on in their careers, at some point they start questioning the value of their constant hustle. In addition, research shows that achievement-orientation significantly increases the risk of burnout*.

Learning how to achieve sustainably is not only critical to our performance and well-being but affects the people we work with as well.

Overachievement Archetypes. © 2021 Emma Vallin. All rights reserved.

In a series of posts, I will discuss six achievement archetypes or patterns, identified through years of coaching high achievers and from my own ‘achievement detox’.

Which archetype (if any) do you most identify with?
      • THE COMPARISON JUNKIE. Lives by the motto: ‘Grass is always greener…’
      • THE CONTROLLER. ‘If you want a thing done well, do it yourself’
      • THE PERFECTIONST.  ‘Anything in life worth doing is worth overdoing’
      • THE COMPETITOR. ‘Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing’
      • THE CONTANT ACHIEVER. ‘I will rest when I’m dead’
      • THE WORRYING PROBLEMSOLVER. ‘Spend 55 min worrying about the problem and 5 min thinking about solutions’

I will share the drivers and fears behind each archetypes and would love to discuss what strategies you use to balancing them out.

I would love to have your input and hear your reflections on this topic!

Importantly, it’s NOT about giving up on being a high achiever, it’s about developing a dimmer to your superpower so that you can achieve sustainably, on your terms.

I use this framework a lot in my Achievement Detox Coaching Program and  when coaching business leaders. I find it very useful for identifying underlying fears and drivers and changing negative behaviors.

Happy reading!

*Canadian Journal of Nursing 2019, Vulnerability and Stressors for Burnout

Spring is in the air – time to invest in yourself?

Japanese Cherry Blossom season is soon upon us. ‘Sakura’ reminds us that life is precious and short and must not be wasted. The beautiful blossom which last only for a couple of days is a reminder to focus on what is important.

Do you want to find ways to reduce negative stress? Are you interesting in sustainable achievement? Or perhaps you are exploring career options?

After a year of homework and family bubbles, many are seeing light in the end of the tunnel and starting to think about new challenges and goals.

Offer: 3 coachingsessions for SEK1800

I’m currently offering a package of 3 sessions for SEK 1,800 (Value SEK 2,700) to new clients. Sessions are 50 minutes and done over Zoom. (Friskvårdsbidrag valid in Sweden).

Coaching can help you:

      • Clarify purpose and goals
      • Challenge negative behaviors and patterns
      • Prevent burnout
      • Get a clear plan with support and motivation for change

Interested? Get in touch on: kontakt@emmavallin.se +46 709195374

Feedback from previous clients:

”I am progressing through a change in career, exploring new opportunities in maybe even new sectors. Coaching with Emma have provided me with interesting tools and exercises to explore the right direction. I would strongly recommend anyone in a similar situation – taking on uncertainty – to explore this type of positive and unconditional coaching.” Willeke, UK

“During our conversations Emma was always committed, well prepared and ready to challenge me. I experience Emma as an incredibly warm, humble, curious and driven person who is genuinely interested in helping other people. I could really recommend Emma as a coach! Kristin, Stockholm

*Offer valid until March 31st 2021. Purchased sessions to be used within 1 year. New customers only. Digital coaching calls via Zoom. Payment by Swish or invoice. Appointments booked on kontakt@emmavallin.se or +46 709195374. 24h cancellation policy. 

Nominate a leader for the Executive Coaching Program


Are you leading your organization through change?

Do you want to become a more resilient, self-aware, and effective leader?

Or do you work with a super talent who would flourish with dedicated personal development support?

I’m offering up one spot on my Executive Coaching Program for free

The program includes an EQ-i 2.0® assessment and report + individual coaching. Apply in the link below. (Value € 1,950)

As an ICF-certified coach and certified EQ-i 2.0 practitioner I help leaders around the world develop a sharp vision, lead with authenticity, and create sustainable teams. With my 15+ years of corporate-and NGO leadership experience I support AND challenge leaders to raise their game.

Why is EQ critical to the success of today’s leaders?

Emotional intelligence skills are critical for problem solving, leading yourself and others as well as for building resilience.

The World Economic Forum has ranked Emotional Intelligence as one of the top 10 skills needed for the fourth industrial revolution.

And a recent Harvard Business Review article, “The EI Advantage,” states: “Corporate cultures that lack EI are becoming a major liability as business environments change.”

This year has certainly shown us the importance of adapting the change. Reflecting on my own 2020 there have definitely been a few big ones – starting my own business, leaving the corporate world, launching my Achievement Detox Program and going all digital with webinars and workshops.

Take this opportunity to nominate yourself of someone who wants to raise their game in 2021.

Best of luck!

Application

Program start Jan 2021. Winner announced by 15th Jan 2021. All coaching via Microsoft Teams. Appointments booked on kontakt@emmavallin.se, 24 hour cancellation policy.

Is your ambition putting you at risk for burn-out?

The stress-vulnerability model is often used to understand the causes of mental health issues and burn-out.

As you can guess, two dimensions are involved: “Vulnerability” refers to our basic sensitivities and is determined by our genetics as well as life experiences. “Stressors” refers to the situations or challenges faced in our lives.

Many employers are focusing more time and money on preventing negative stress instead of treating already burnt out co-workers. Great for the individual and the bottom line!

However stress prevention is often focused on the situational stressors, such as workload with very little attention given to understanding individual vulnerabilities.

A study from 2019 published in the Canadian Journal of Nursing Research found that ambition or “being passionate about doing well” is a strong vulnerability factor for burn-out. Key themes for situational stressors were “teamwork,” “manager,” and “work and personal circumstances.”

In summary the study shows that a discrepancy between individual vulnerability (ambition) and situational stressors can lead to burn-out. Therefore, burnout prevention needs to target the individual’s vulnerabilities as well.

Through my own Achievement Detox and coaching of high performers, I have learnt a couple of things when it comes to ambition and burn-out:

    1. Like any overused strengths your ambition or achievement superpower can damage your health, relationships and even your results.
    2. Learning to control your need to achieve does not mean turning your ambition off, you’re simply using it in a smarter way
    3. By taking your achiever hat off once in a while and letting other unique personality traits such as your creativity or kindness shine, you become a more interesting and productive person.

Do you or your team want to work smarter to prevent burn-out? Book a webinar, workshop, or coaching session with me.

Source: Vulnerability and Stressors for Burnout, September 2019. The Canadian journal of nursing research