Being a leader can be lonely work. Directing an organisation is challenging and decisions cannot be made on the basis of trying to please everyone. In the worst case scenario, workplace friendships can lead others to doubt your righteousness and to fear a system of favouritism.
Leadership positions are also uncertain. An employment contract can be terminated suddenly, for example when mergers take place or if the organisation is looking to make a change to a different type of leadership.
Is the dismissed leader left alone?
You can discuss your own situation with friends, but does this compare to the understanding and support you could get from another leader who has been through the same experience?
We have been thinking about these types of problems in the international leaders’ networking events over the past few months. According to the leaders, meeting others in the same position and supporting each other in the job hunt has become the most important aspect of these meetings. The job market and means of looking for work can vary from one country to another, but the experience of being dismissed and the uncertainty of the job hunt are common experiences around the world. Finland is a small country, and you might not have someone in your own network who can share your feelings at the time you need such support.
Leaders are not robots. They also have feelings, and worry about their future, their career and income. Leaders also need peers with whom to unpack and explore these feelings.
Of course the leader must, upon dismissal, also make sure that they get the support of an experienced career coach to support them on the way to their next leadership position. But the international peer group gives something that not even a professional career coach can provide. That is, the experience of belonging and the knowledge that other leaders have the same thoughts and feelings in this situation. Participating in the group builds trust, enthusiasm and maybe even leads to an international career.
This is why we have decided to offer monthly workshops for leaders in our Executive Outplacement Training through our international network Career Star Group. The feedback has been outstanding and there is clearly a need for these meetings.
Päivi Montgomery, Member of the Operational Directors’ Board, Career Star Group