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burnout coaching leadership Jun 05, 2022

It’s Friday night, I’m sat at a rooftop bar in London and the building opposite has Progress engraved in it, and I begin to question the word. The building had no name or number that I could see, I have no idea what it stood for, but it’s left me thinking about progress. At the time that the building was built, was progress a mission, did they feel that enough was being made fast enough, was it a stamp in time in memory of progress that had been made – I have no idea.

This same weekend has seen the Queen celebrate 70 years on the throne. Family commitments, work and travel meant that I’ve not watched or participated as much as I might have done in previous years in Jubilee celebrations, and for the first time, I’ve really questioned whether a promise that was made 70 years to ‘reign until the day I die’ really demonstrates progress.

Until this year I’d always thought of it as honourable, this time round I question whether someone who is unable to fulfil all commitments and still hold onto that promise, whilst obviously able to set boundaries for her health and delegate to others, is it right that anyone should keep going, just to keep a promise? 

How many women do that? How many women keep promises because we don’t want to let anyone else down and yet to keep the promise is to our own detriment? How many women keep pushing and holding onto promises because we’ve been the first or the only to keep a position? How many women carry on ill, burned out, exhausted, unable to perform for the sake of keeping promises to others?

1 in 3 women are leaving their roles because of Burnout.

57% of women are struggling to switch off from work for fear that it will harm their career progression.

171 FTSE 350 companies are still below the 33% by 2020 Leadership target.

The ‘Gender Say Gap’ continues, with a predominance of male voices in business.

Women faced a disproportionate impact on Covid-19 and the Burnout gender gap has doubled since 2019.

Only 28% of new appointments in FTSE 100 Executive Committee’s go to women compared to 72% of men.

And several All Male Executive Committees and 'One & Done' Boards remain

Is this progress?

And the Top 10 Excuses for not appointing women into Board level positions are:

1.    “I don’t think women fit comfortably into the board environment”

2.    “There aren’t that many women with the right credentials and depth of experience to sit on the board – the issues covered are extremely complex”

3.    “Most women don’t want the hassle or pressure of sitting on a board”

4.    “Shareholders just aren’t interested in the make-up of the board, so why should we be?”

5.    My other board colleagues wouldn’t want to appoint a woman on our board

6.    “All the ‘good’ women have already been snapped up”

7.    “We have one woman on the board so we are done – it is someone else’s turn”

8.    “There aren’t any vacancies at the moment – if there were I would think about appointing a woman”

9.    “We need to build the pipeline from the bottom – there just aren’t enough women in this sector”

10. “I can’t just appoint a woman because I want to”

The gender pay gap still remains and some organisations have given themselves another 10 years before the gap is closed, and these are just stats relating to gender. What about colour, age, disability and sexual orientation?

I have no idea how long Progress has been standing, and whilst there has been progress over the last 70 years, it is still not enough. And for those of us fighting for equality, and for under-represented groups to be seen and heard, it’s exhausting.

You think you see a glimmer of hope, and then another report, or someone reporting their personal experiences speaks up, and you see the reality staring you in the face once more.

Just last week I wrote a post about some of the issues facing some of my current clients:

“You’ve got your seat at the table... now what?

You’ve smashed the glass ceiling but now you’re navigating your way along the glass cliff, it’s a long drop, how do you stay on top? Your colleagues don’t need to worry about the fall, they have each other’s back.

Assuming you’re being paid fairly and that you’re not the ‘cheaper option that helps to tick a box’ how do you prove you’re the best person for the job without pushing twice as hard to be a success?

You’re doing your best to avoid silo working and figure out what’s best for the organisation, but you’ll be reminded that you need to be a ‘team player’.

Your ideas are great, but it’s not quite the right time, maybe later.

Your passion and enthusiasm will be mistaken for being ‘too emotional’ and you’ll be asked to reign it in a bit (a lot)!

Childcare will likely come up a lot in conversation, but not to anyone else around the table, and whilst your colleagues might get asked ‘how’s the family?’, you’ll be asked how ‘the kids are’, but expected not to talk about them too much.

You’ll have to lead like you have no family and parent like you don’t have a job. You’ll be criticised for working and if you travel for your job, well, ‘what does your husband think about that?’

You’ll do some great work, but be asked to tone it down a little because you’re making everyone else look bad, and whilst we value your opinion we really don’t want to hear it too often, and if you have an issue, we’d rather hear about in private.

But congratulations, you got your seat at the table!

We’ve shared your success all over our social channels to show that we take equality seriously and because we are proud of you and what this means for our organisation.

And after all, if you’re not the right ‘man’ for the job, there’s always a compromise agreement up our sleeve along with a pre-agreed reference for your next employer.

Menopause you say? Burnout - what’s that? Yes, you are fully supported in your role, as long as you don’t ask for anything out of the ‘norm’.

The above are real-life examples of what some of my clients are experiencing, right now!

1 in 3 women are considering leaving or stepping down from their roles because of burnout and 57% of women are struggling to switch off for fear it will harm their career progression. There is still a pay gap. Mental Health issues are climbing. Only 35% of leaders are women. And yet enough leaders still don’t see there is an issue with equality in the workplace.

You work hard to get your seat, and you deserve it, make sure it’s at the right table!”

So, as I sit reflecting today on progress, it’s happening, but nowhere near quickly enough. I know that in my 41 years on this earth I have had more opportunities than my Mum and my both Grandmothers did, and I know my nieces who are not yet 5 will have more opportunities than I had, or at least I hope they will have. 

But whilst we continue to see the choices of women taken away by men, and whilst men continue to think that ‘one and done’ is enough, the progress isn’t happening where it should.

I want my generation to be the last where we see posts and news about ‘the first woman’ so that for future generations it’s just the norm to see women in certain roles, at certain levels and in certain sectors or in achieving feats and achievements that we never thought possible. I want us all to see that there is not enough progress and for all of us to take the necessary steps to create an equal playing field for everyone, not a chosen few. I want Burnout to be a thing of the past because we recognise that we need to create a different world of work that encourages balance, and demonstrates that working less actually allows for increased performance.

I want us all to feel that progress and positive change are the norm, not a choice.

I’m repeatedly asked, ‘what about the men?’ when I share my thoughts about the work that I do and why I choose to work with women, and all that I’ve written above is just a snippet into why I do what I do.

The reality is that women still face challenges in the workplace that men don’t and coaching and communities of support are critical for developing women leaders. Women reap significant benefit from realising they are not alone and develop themselves and their connection to others through listening, coaching, encouraging, and challenging each other, so I’ll keep on doing what I do until progress is made.

In order for real progress to be made we must first acknowledge that there is still a LONG way to go. We need everyone to recognise that there is not a level playing field for everyone, and we need ally’s to help to create the change that is needed. We need to realise that we all play a part in creating an equal world. And we need to realise that it is no longer a man’s world, it is a world for everyone.


In 2013 Kelly had a successful leadership career, yet she was burned out, exhausted, and missing out on life with family.

Determined to enjoy the success that she had earned, she's learned to create a life of balance and boundaries that is also highly successful.

Today at, Kelly helps women leaders all over the world to prevent and recover from burnout without giving up their career or jeopardising their wellbeing by living and leading from their core.

What would be different if you were living and leading a core-led life?

Imagine being able to eliminate self-doubt

Imagine being able to balance your work and life priorities with ease

Imagine having boundaries in all areas of your life

Imagine being able to advocate on your own behalf

Imagine being able to build alliances with decision-makers

Imagine being able to stand in your own success and define success on your terms

Imagine being able to trust your choices

Imagine being able to speak up, stand up and show up as the real core-led you  

Imagine being able to ask for what you want and get it 

Imagine being able to overcome perfectionism

Imagine being confident in all that you do

Imagine being able to deal with negative thoughts and being able to eliminate burnout and guilt.


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