“Only 7 years ago I was suffering from severe stress and anxiety – I now help leaders create stressless, positive, and safe cultures where everyone can thrive and succeed”

Best-selling author and Global Executive Coach, Sarah Farmer, Founder of EMR Consulting was recently named as one of the top 10 Coaches to follow for game-changing success in 2023, but up until only 7 years ago she was suffering from severe stress and anxiety. Here, she shares her story and advice for stress awareness month.

I am an expressive extrovert and pretty confident with it, but what you see on the outside wasn't always congruent with what was happening on the inside! I am now driven and passionate about making a huge difference, as I know how it feels to be stressed out and working in a toxic culture. I ended up developing severe anxiety through working in the cutthroat ‘dog eat dog’ IT industry, and daily felt engulfed by limiting beliefs.

The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance.

I was sweating, going red all over my face, neck, and chest – pretty much any time I was spoken to. It made meetings very hard, as I couldn’t concentrate because I was so busy worrying about going red then trying to conceal the fact I’d gone red. My brain was ‘full’ of self-doubt and fear, so I couldn’t perform at my best. Irrespective of that, I did smash all my targets, but the stress and energy used to do that was starting to take its toll. I couldn’t sleep, I was barely eating, and I decided enough was enough … it was time to get help.

This is when I had my first experience of counselling and after 6 months, I realised that I was worth more than any pay-check could ever offer. This was the first time I realised how it felt to feel empowered. After a few more months of deep work with my counsellor, I handed in my notice, with no job to go to but my self-esteem intact and my health rapidly improving.

I had worked for enough awful leaders throughout my career, and having experienced workplace bullying, I decided to take it upon myself to be the voice for those who are not listened to, as I know the scars that are left by being over-looked or belittled by others.

I have been able to incorporate my background of sales success in the Pharmaceutical Industry and the best professional development programmes I experienced there, with my learning’s from more negative experiences of toxic work environments within the IT and O&G industry and combined these with my leadership development training to bring a range of techniques that can help us all to thrive as confident and effective leaders, using my signature five-step EAGLE system: Evaluate; Analyse; Generate; Learn: Evolve.

I realised my passion lay in helping others thrive and to be as impactful as possible. However, to do this, I needed to work from the top down – starting with the senior leaders, helping them develop the skills and tools to help them be better at what they do so they can create environments that inspire high performance through high fulfilment and attract others.

So, the main focus in all my work is on advanced leadership skills development starting with taking control of Imposter Syndrome and self-awareness and developing the right level of confidence and emotional self-control that leads to greater success for all. This allows leaders to break free from the shackles of self-doubt, stand out, step up, lead with purpose, and inspire their followers to shine bright and achieve what they want and deserve.

If you get your mindset ‘right’ by really understanding yourself, knowing how to manage your emotional response to situations and understand how to positively impact others, then you will be able to give your team what they want and need to want to get the best results possible.

This lowers tension and fear of failure in those they employ which has a direct impact on our levels of stress and anxiety and of course our mental and physical health.

A great leader learns to lead themselves first and as a result, inspires others so they can feel fulfilled and empowered to deliver outstanding personal and organisational results.

A leader who is trusted and extends trust, is supportive, visionary, and able to provide useful feedback and coaching for continuous improvement and professional growth, will create a high-performance culture where goals are consistently exceeded – the type of environment that attracts and retains top talent.

I have worked with over 500 hundred leaders and their teams helping them achieve outstanding results, such as growing the company value from £5M to £30M and improving profitability by 40% – an additional £10 million in revenue, as well as helping leaders who have found themselves job hunting get back on the market, with client results including attracting four job offers in four weeks – from zero … in nine months!

I am now a best-selling author helping leaders globally to lead without ego. Despite being rubbish at English and being labelled a troublemaker at school my book, ‘Leader Unleashed’, stormed the Amazon charts, knocking American Businessman and academic Chris Voss off the top spot to become a No.1 in four categories of Business Life, Business Management and Leadership, Business Careers, and Careers.

I really do have the best job in the world and feel blessed to be able to help my clients break free from whatever is holding them back so they can really fly! The sky really is the limit once you have the confidence to go for gold.