Shifting a Workaholic Culture


A client recently suggested to me that I might be a workaholic. At the time, I laughed—but then it made me start to wonder. Could I, a woman who professes balance and healthy boundaries, be a workaholic? I have always seen myself as determined and passionate about my work. To some, I may seem like I am overextending myself. But client work is my life’s work and I am lucky enough to have found a profession that also answers a “soul calling.” When I am with a client they are my priority.


Perhaps, to own a business is to constantly walk that knife edge between “workaholic” and “passionate entrepreneur.” I, myself, have owned my own business for almost half of my lifetime. Owning a business requires a strong work ethic and a mind for learning. I never live the same day twice. Things are always changing, and I rarely know exactly how they are going to turn out. This leads to a very fulfilling life, as it is when work becomes purpose. So, what if that purpose is mired in a toxic work culture? What if the workaholic side takes the reins and stomps out that feeling of satisfaction?


This got me thinking about the business environments that I encounter daily. The pandemic has forced us to reevaluate our priorities and many businesses are unsure how to support their staff in these changing times.


When leadership is handled in a more holistic and human way, it greatly benefits the business. This means that instead of running the business like a machine, we care for it like a complex organism. When its environment is out of whack or contains toxic pollutants, that organism will struggle to thrive and may steadily sicken.


So, let’s look at what my client may have meant by “workaholic.” They were identifying certain behaviors and mindsets that, when not paired with their positive cohorts, can become a killing culture. Working long hours when unaccompanied by job satisfaction and time off will cause burn out. Employees need a voice—an impactful role in the maintenance of that organism. A workaholic culture isn’t sustainable, and it isn’t healthy. When staff is pushed to work day-in and day-out without being part of a creative process, they lose their purpose and motivation. Sometimes they even turn on their employer. This is a subtle reason for higher turnover rates right now.


These are difficult times for businesses. Many were struggling even before the pandemic. Now, they are trapped in a very widespread and deep pattern, and they need assistance getting out.


When we are in fear, we often push people to their limits for our survival or, in this case, the survival of our company. Yet, instead of taking businesses to the next level, this pattern is driving them right off a cliff.


So, what can we do to promote efficiency without pushing the destructive aspects of workaholism? I think the first key move is that we, as leaders, honor our own values. Sometimes that takes identifying what those values even are. Everyone is different and therefore we value different things. I help clients get to know their individual values and the values of their teammates.


When we honor our values, we are seeking balance and are more likely to make choices not out of fear but rather out of wisdom. We live a life we love, and we make work choices that make sense. It sounds simple, but it’s a complex practice that takes a while to get the hang of. That is why we offer leadership coaching over a period of time. We often work with clients on a weekly basis from 3 months to a year depending on their needs. We want to help you develop high-level leadership skills and be able to use them daily, which takes support and repetition.


We love to help leaders become balanced, healthy, and happy. Happy leaders help others grow! Please reach out to us for a free consultation about our leadership development and coaching today!