A few months back, at the beginning of summer, I ran into psychotherapist Gavin Sharpe in Port Hercules. He had just finished the Wellbeing Window, his 60-minute talk show on Riviera Radio the first Wednesday of every month.
I had just finished an event for the Prince Albert Foundation, moderating a fascinating Masterclass on Courageous Leadership with Paul Polman, co-author of Net Positive: How Courageous Companies Thrive When They Give More Than They Take. As the former CEO of Unilever from 2009 to 2019, Paul proved you can couple purpose with profit by creating a 290% return for shareholders while the company consistently ranked number one in the world for sustainability and as one of best places to work.
For Gavin, who sums up his focus in two words – love and leadership – this was right up his alley: “Transformational leadership in 2023 is not exclusively about maximising shareholder value.” He sees first hand how the future “no longer rests in the hands of a few heroic leaders but with larger groups and teams. This is potentially a once in a lifetime shift and it’s fuelling my bedroom and boardroom work.”
In collaboration with Club Vivanova, Gavin will present How To Be An Exceptional Leader During Extraordinary Times, a business lunch sponsored by Savills on November 14 at the Fairmont. (International Leadership Day is November 18).
“I want those attending to leave with a sense of how modern-day leadership has changed and understand the skills needed to meet those changes,” explains the founder of Riviera Wellbeing.
Initially a qualified lawyer in the UK, Gavin co-founded a global recruitment business specialising in legal employment in the City of London. Some 15 years later, he switched careers and became a therapist and business coach. “I help people show up,” he says.
He explains this means helping others become the best version of themselves, personally and professionally. “Imagine looking through a camera lens which is misty. What happens when you wipe it with a cloth? We see better. That’s what therapy and coaching do. It removes the blind spots and roadblocks we self-impose and which hinder our growth.”
Gavin believes there is a huge shift taking place which is changing what we want, need and expect from home and work. “At work, we are living through a massive experiment since Covid. None of us know what the workplace will look like a few years from now. When you think about the fact that we now have four different generations in the workplace from baby-boomers to generation Z, it is little wonder that companies are struggling with cultural cohesion.”
The Monaco resident adds, “I don’t think there is an MBA programme on this planet that has equipped today’s leaders for our volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous workplace. That’s where I come in. I help leaders develop the resources to meet these changes.”
And at home? “In our personal lives, we are more stressed, we are more anxious and we are more medicated than at any other time in history. The impact on humanity is huge. Now add a changing workplace, global problems, such as climate change, an ageing population, political uncertainty and the list could go on, and we can see how the problems we face are interrelated. So yes, bedroom and boardroom. Love and leadership.”
Once upon it time, there was a belief that coaching and therapy were separate and never the twain shall meet. But these days, Gavin says he’s worked with racing drivers and billionaire businessmen. “I coach the person, not the problem. Likewise, therapists have a coaching toolkit which they dip into. So the separation can be important but it’s situation specific.”
For someone who has spent half his career in the corporate world and the rest working relationally, Gavin’s focus on love and leadership seems well-orchestrated. “If only I had planned it! At the start of my career, I just followed the money. That worked until it didn’t and I got bored. The more I follow my passion, the more it seems to lead me in the right direction and yes, I have had coaching and therapy along the way to get me here.”
Speaking openly about his lack of confidence growing up, he admits to not liking the Monaco cocktail party circuits – specifically the question of what he does for a living. “I think I am a bit insecure about whether I fit here. I still have no idea how to describe my work. I imagine people want a one-word answer. Banker. Lawyer. Private Equity. ‘Love and leadership’ sounds a bit too Californian but it’s growing on me. Like everyone else, I am a work in progress.”
However you describe his work, the success of the Wellbeing Window, which started back in 2021 as part of The Full English Breakfast with presenter Sarah Lycett, is indisputable. The show is inundated with email questions to the point that Gavin sometimes leaves the studio concerned he didn’t do justice to what are very serious topics.
On Wednesday, October 4th, he will be talking about The Workplace and Leadership. “When I am on air, it feels as if I’m having a fireside chat with a small group of locals. I think that sense of community is desperately missing from many of our lives and that is partly why we are seeking something additional from the workplace and why we need more emotionally attuned leaders.
“We are looking to replace some of our existential loneliness and we’re no longer prepared to go to work just for money. We want meaning.”
Tune in to the Wellbeing Window on Riviera Radio at 9 am on Wednesday, September 20th (Vulnerability) and Wednesday, October 4th (The Workplace and Leadership).