Editor’s note: As COVID-19 brings mental health into sharp focus for us all, we present a series of thought-provoking expert opinions on the state of mental wellbeing at work. Read more here.
Dalia is Founder of Flow Leadership Consultancy, an international keynote speaker, executive coach and organisational consultant, with a vast 20-year corporate experience working with companies on a variety of topics from marketing, business and people development/culture, and happiness in the workplace. Her clients include internal work for P&G and Electrolux as well as Cathay Pacific, LinkedIn and Netflix.
Please tell us a little about your background and about Flow Leadership Consultancy.
After spending 20 years in the corporate world at Procter and Gamble and, most recently, as CMO Asia, I decided to focus my second career on helping individuals and companies find purpose and joy at work. That’s when I founded Flow Leadership Consultancy.
What was the catalyst for your own involvement in wellbeing/mental health in the workplace?
My first 17 years at P&G I was in a total state of flow. I had managers who believed in me and I loved what I was doing so much that I often lost myself in action. I remember I would tell my husband at 7pm that I am finishing soon and then suddenly it was midnight. I was in the zone and I delivered the moon.
Early in my career I was in a meeting with my General Manager because one of my launches hit a wall. I was so angry and frustrated that suddenly I started to tear up. My boss, looked at me, offered me a tissue box and then said something I will forever remember. He said, ‘Dalia don’t you ever be embarrassed for crying in the office again – it’s a sign of your passion and passion is your super power! And if you ever work for someone that doesn’t appreciate it, walk away – they don’t deserve you!’ I was so inspired – and for the next 17 years my career just went from strength-to-strength.
But it wasn’t until I reached the lowest point of my career that I realised what he meant.
I left P&G and became CMO of another large company. I loved the culture and the people, but two months into my role, I got a new boss – he and I were like fire and water. I was all about people and creativity. He was all about numbers and ROI – most days it felt like ROI or you die!
One day I was summoned into his office. He was berating me like crazy – now I love tough love – but there was no love in this feedback.
I was holding it in but then he started berating my team and that’s when I became a lioness because I know how hard they worked. A tear appeared in my eye.
My boss smiled at me and offered me a box of tissues and, for a moment, I had this warm fuzzy feeling remembering my first boss.
But then I noticed something almost evil in his smile – as he turned around the tissue box, I couldn’t believe my eyes – there was a sticker he had prepared in advance, which read – Dalia’s tissue box.
I was shattered. I stayed for three years – but slowly he managed to get to me and I lost my spark. I was depressed and burnt out. When I left, I decided to turn my pain into purpose, and work with companies to avoid burn out.