Busy. Very busy. That’s how most business leaders would describe themselves. Perhaps there’s just enough spare time to down a coffee, scan a Metro and start another 12-hour day. So busy, in fact, they don’t have time to explore the connection between well-being, self-belief and success. But this is something Denis Gorce-Bourge is hoping to change.

An Executive Coach based in London, Denis Gorce-Bourge is co-author of the book Dare to Rise: Reshaping Humanity by Reshaping Yourself. As a published author on leadership related topics, he has worked with major corporations and organisations including HSBC, the UN, Eurostar and Mazars. His latest book was co-written with Life Coach, Maria Teresa de Donato through a four-year online collaboration. Here, Denis Gorce-Bourge sheds light on the human side of leadership and why slowing down can actually get you further.

What was your inspiration for writing the book?

My co-author and I met through LinkedIn. We connected and commented on each other’s post. One day she asked if I was interested in writing a book. She’s in Texas; I’m in London. From different parts of the world, we started asking questions about the important things in our lives. Things like: ‘what we are made for?’ and ‘what can happen in life when you take responsibility for your actions?’ We both wanted to help as many people as possible, to prove that practical changes can make a real difference. We are all hamsters on a wheel running faster and faster. We cannot expect change unless we get off the wheel.

What can we do to make change?

We all need time off from our family, from work – to take just a few minutes during the day to reflect. If you slow down enough, you discover an entirely new world. One big problem is that we spend most of our lives in our heads, not in our lives. We are on autopilot. This book is about bringing back some consciousness to your life, reflecting on and then changing the way you do things. It’s about restoring awareness to regain control of your life.

How can busy people find ways to slow down?

Most of the time, ‘busy’ people agree they should change. But then they will say they’re just too busy. If you cannot find 10 minutes in your day, there’s a real problem. One of the greatest challenges for leaders, especially in terms of focus and performance at work, is that it is one long continuum. People go from one thing to another without any breaks or transitions. They are in the next meeting, still thinking about the last one. This book tells you how to give yourself time to re-centre, to realign and become available.

What is holding leaders back?

When it comes to social media and smartphones, the word addiction is appropriate – it’s as though people can’t stop anymore. If there’s a short break in conversation, it’s now second nature to grab our phone to see if there is a new email, a new tweet.  This book encourages leaders to take a second to breathe, to live life moment by moment.  

How does this book help business leaders on a practical level?

Whatever your position, you’re a human being first. Individuals in the corporate world need to remember this and be kinder to each other. Rather than hide behind a position of power, be gentle and understand the notion that collective intelligence is powerful in itself. Too often, people work in silos and don’t collaborate. The ability to collaborate, to feel like your input has meaning, drives motivation and inspires creative thought, both of which are needed to make change.

What do you consider to be the definition of success?

I believe it’s changing tremendously, starting with the Y generation. Today, being successful doesn’t mean becoming a CEO. It can mean doing something you really enjoy, being happy in your life, expressing your uniqueness and having a real purpose. All of that is part of what is now called success. I believe that we are in the middle of a shift.  More and more people are questioning what they are doing. More and more people are hungry to do more, to find meaning. Old definitions of success – money, power - look more and more like an empty shell. Many people I work with are trying to escape it.

How should organisations adapt?

Almost all organisations I collaborate with are in the middle of a transformation – and they want the transformation to happen at an executive level. The problem is that they tend to want to transform everything but themselves. As long as they don’t question themselves, nothing will change. For example, many leaders are tasked with the challenge of increasing the performance of their people. But if people are unhappy coming to work in the morning, performance will not change. Many leaders look for different ways to impose change based on complicated new models – but all they need to do is discover how they can help their people feel happy and proud of what they do.

What is a simple, practical tip that can help leaders affect change?

Spend one to three hours in your week to go to other floors in your building. Put this time in your diary. Create relationships with your people, meet them, talk to them, they are here for you.  It is so easy, so simple, but leaders do not do it. It is a basic requirement for people to be happy to come to work in the morning; communicating, shaking hands, chatting, getting to know each other. You can always make time for that.