Leadership is not for the faint hearted… it is only for those few who are prepared for the long, lonely haul of being on show, upfront and downright clear on where their team or business is going. The disappointing reality is that people assume leadership roles without ever understanding these requisites and sadly, can spend their entire careers in ignorance when it comes to the enormous privilege and responsibility of leading people.
I once worked for a leader who was a master champion at “talking the talk” - they were able to spin, duck and weave their way through most situations. They never truly led from the front or role modelled the good leadership attributes of partnering, supporting, mentoring, listening and creating. Their philosophy was indeed “follow me, I’m right behind you” - in other words, you do the work and I will critique you from the gallery or somewhere else, where you won’t see me or feel my presence and I will only come out of the shadows when I feel the need to exert my authority or status. I learnt to manage this leadership style without any help, but swore if the opportunity came for me to enable situations for leaders to learn and grow, I would welcome it.
Some leaders do not fully comprehend the vital importance of leading from the front or “walking the talk”. They instead elect to lead from the sidelines or from behind where they can’t be seen with a “do as I say, not as I do” ethos. The concerning consequence is that their people cannot grow, be creative or learn; due simply to the fact that their leader operates in a perpetual state of uncertainty - uncertainty about their vision, strategy, goals and most importantly, how to succeed. One would expect pretty dire results in an environment where leadership is lacking and yes, you would be correct. Collateral damage comes in many forms such as high attrition, low morale, poor productivity, lack of idea’s generated, stagnancy and feelings of failure - all of which severely affect the bottom line of the business.
Leaders need the chance to be reflective about their impact on their teams and the environment in which they operate. They need to contemplate how they can become a better leader, communicator, role model and creator.
Executive Coaching is one of the surest ways leaders can have that support - a professional resource and a dedicated space to question their modus operandi and design new and improved ways to lead their teams. Executive coaching can provide an opportunity to develop self-awareness and help facilitate growth. “Follow me, I’m right behind you” unfortunately does exist in today’s corporate arena but with good strategies and developed intervention, I believe it can be cured!
As a senior executive, when was the last time you received quality coaching from your manager? By quality coaching, I mean your manager setting aside time for you to reflect on how you are progressing against your goals and objectives. I don't mean appraising you!... whereby you mutually agree on how your manager views your performance - I mean coaching.
The answer that I mostly hear from senior executives when I pose this question to them is "I don't know"... hmmm, why is that when all senior executive Position Descriptions have written on them "Coach your team to higher performance" or words to that effect?
The main reasons that you don't find yourself coaching or being coached, based on my observations, are:
1. Time is always of the essence but mostly unavailable to you or your manager
2. Meetings of any description will always win out over making time for coaching
3. Sitting with your manager or your reports sitting with you in a coaching capacity can
sometimes be uncomfortable
4. There is always a more important priority in the day.
Do any of these sound familiar to you? Having been a senior executive in the corporate world, I certainly can relate to these observations. We have all the good intentions in the world but well, stuff comes up and either the senior exec's development suffers or the development of their reports suffer.
Anyone who has had a great coaching session will tell you it can be life changing. Why?... because it is all about you on every level! You have a dedicated person who does not judge you but partners with you to facilitate your growth... fancy that! You don't have to give them anything back other than your commitment to yourself!
Do yourself a favour and get an executive coach... see the difference it will make in your leadership and work life balance - you will be amazed!
Till next time