Difficult decisions, Executive Coaching

Mortality & Executive coaching

Long introduction

As a profession, I am currently a full-time independent executive coach and this is the third stage of my professional navigation. In the pursuit of excellence and professional ethics, I am a fan of specialized full-time professions. Various conflicts of interest, superficiality, and errors are the dangers of practicing more occupations or opportunistic activities for competing institutions at the same time.  

  1. In my first professional stage, I was a medical doctor navigating through four large hospitals
  2. In the second stage, I was a coaching manager and business developer with innovative medical corporations. More than two decades, we navigated through two mergers and the beginning of the privatization of medicine
  3. Here I am now, navigating my third professional stage as a full-time Executive Coach, through a pandemic, in a growing so-called gig economy. The professions and their business models are changing with the society at large, de-professionalization and re-professionalization are the norm in medicine, law, and other professions. The problem is that the growing complexity makes room for more diverse conflicts of interest and low professional standards and quality.

Here is what ChatGPT4 responded to the dilemma of performing simultaneously more part-time professional arrangements: ”While the gig economy offers flexibility and new opportunities for many workers, it also poses challenges to maintaining professional standards. The shift towards gig work can lead to the de-professionalization of various fields and more superficial professional practices, which ultimately affects the quality of services provided. According to a study from the Institute for Global Change, the variability in worker experience and the pressure to maintain high ratings on gig platforms can undermine professional standards and lead to more superficial practices​ (Global Institute)​. Additionally, research published in the Social Work and Social Sciences Review highlights that the gig economy’s influence in sectors like health, social care, and education has led to concerns about declining professionalization and quality of service​ (Whiting Birch)​. This trend is further evidenced by the Care Quality Commission’s reports on the need for improved regulation and training to counteract these negative impacts​ (Brave New Europe)​​ (OpenEdition Journals)”​.

Full-time Executive coaching and death

I am writing this to honor my mother who unexpectedly died two months ago. I would also like to honor the doctors that have the clarity to choose between specialities and competing institutions, not promising everything to anyone for income, but pursuing excellence of care for each patient.

The matter is not only intense but also complicated:

  • There was a diagnostic delay of more than ten years for my mother’s complex peripheral arteriopathy 
  • Ironically, she loved her profession of intensive care nursing and long after retirement, she died un-programmed in ten days in an intensive care unit
  • We made a difficult and questionable medical decision, for an aggressive medical intervention that ended badly. The decisional process is really severe when facing the pressure of intense pain, the fear of disability, and being confronted with tough access-to-care barriers.
  • The contemporary medicine business model is complicated: one public university hospital has the specialists but no budget for needed devices. One specialist gave us a sort of conference about our medical case and no solution. He asked us nothing. Another public university hospital had a too long for us waiting time. I mean not a transparent or emergency-related waiting list. Finally, we did not manage to get a place for a complex leg-saving surgery to avoid amputation in a public hospital, but in a private for-profit one. For the much more expensive postoperative complications instead, she was luckily transferred in a public hospital. The story is long and there are lots of questions to ask.
  • As a patient, my mother had hope, respect, and trust in the promise of medicine. She endured with dignity and hope her last ten days on intensive care on earth, despite the severe complications and the multiple aggressive medical interventions. For me, her dignified behavior during hospitalization, her unconditional trust in medicine, and her hope to walk again pain-free are probably the hardest to bear in mind. Read More..

The science, the theories, and the marketing are simple, the professionalism is not

What are the connections between Executive coaching and the death of my mother?

  • PROFESSIONALISM is one connection. To be certified as a professional in medicine, executive coaching, law, or many other professions, is a first simple step. But professionalism is not about a title anymore. Professionalism is hard. It is about the day-to-day practice at an uncompromising quality standard. To really practice a profession by meeting your promises to each client with real results, that is tough. The ”Uberization” of professional practice, with a lack of institutional ethical discipline and a growing pressure to produce expensive marketing noise and false promises for income, deteriorates professionalism.

Executive coaching practiced with full-time professionalism has more to do with our mortality and other irreparable losses than with conferences and other happy social gatherings to waste time with others. It is no joke and no gig to help a client succeed in the context of the disability or death of a child, a sibling, or struggling with the end of life of a parent. Job losses, romantic break-ups, or divorce, could also generate intense suffering in people’s unique life, impacting teams and organizations.

  • HUMBLENESS and RESPONSIBILITY are the other connections. Human interventions (in medicine, executive coaching, psychotherapy….) could produce unwanted harm, no matter how scientific-based or expensive they are. Facing wicked unpredictable problems such as diseases, death, or conflict, we need to be intellectually humble. We need also to build equal partnerships with the clients or patients. Finally, the professionals need to be responsible for a common purpose in changing, challenging, and often unpredictable contexts. Superior entitled narcissists, practicing multiple professions or specialisations simultaneously, have a low capacity to manage complex processes and problems and to understand common purposes. They generally fight for themselves, for income or fame. Superior entitled narcissists are opportunists taking no responsibility for a systemic result, serve only their poor dissimulated individual interests, and allocate blame. ”I am exceptional, but the system is bad”. They ignore the fact that we all are the system. And the system is as efficient as its weakest piece, or ”A chain is no stronger than its weakest link”.

In closing

My mother’s legacy is dignity, consideration, and tolerance when facing pain, adversity, and death, all conditions that the medical system will not alleviate soon.

For professionals

Mind your implicit and explicit promises, as well as your arrogance. When facing real complex problems, being humble would be more productive and will save your precious energy. I wish you to raise yourself in real life at the level of your marketing promises.

For everybody

Regarding medicine’s business model, take into account that solving real medical problems is very expensive, even for healthcare professionals who could be patients too. That’s why humankind invented health insurance to have equitable access to modern medicine.

In the foreseeable future, confronted with illness, very few of us will afford to pay out-of-pocket for-profit medical services. Vote for real health insurance coverage and for putting the patient first. Currently, it seems that the budgets and the lack of transparency of the waiting lists are center stage, not the patient. There will be more and more fragmented scientific data and theories, certified professionals, marketing noise, and professional celebrities. Only a few professionals will act constantly with professionalism, taking a systemic responsibility for the quality of the whole process. They will not be necessarily the most famous or entitled.

Outside social media, systemic professionalism is hard in any profession but possible to learn. Executive coaching interventions could help by provoking honesty, logical thinking and critical relevant data selection in noisy environments.



About Iulia Deac

Iulia Deac's Coaching-Leadership partnerships bring her clients clarity and a different perspective at crucial moments in their professional life. An experienced medical doctor in the global business of medicine and technology, Iulia is the professional you want to have by your side when things are tough. With great consideration, humor, and honesty, she will challenge you to think critically and strategically. Thus, it is possible to regain your realistic optimism moving towards your next career stage or next professional performance. Iulia is happily celebrating her 21st year of marriage, has a daughter, is jogging and loves alpine skiing.

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