Am I Ready for Professional Executive Leadership Coaching?
Now that you are considering leadership coaching to develop and grow as a leader, you’ll have quite a few questions about how you might benefit, how much time it will take, what happens and who would you work alongside? Let me answer by sharing a story about Alex.
Alex is an up and coming leader with a lot of technical expertise, skills and knowledge. Alex is something of an introvert and a technical wizard – aka a nerd. Now Alex is directly supervising a small team and works closely with many others across teams and departments but Alex is finding it to be a bit of a struggle.
If we can be honest for a moment, managing and leading others is often a pain. And the politics of treading ever so lightly across department boundaries make Alex shiver. And don’t get Alex started on the senior managers who just don’t seem to get it. All they ever worry about is shaving costs and fattening up the bottom line while still demanding high quality and on-time delivery.
As for getting home at a decent hour and, God forbid, enjoying a relaxing evening with the family or friends. Well, it would be nice if the urgent messages would just stop for once.
All through life, Alex has always felt that other people, schoolmates, friends and later colleagues, seemed to have it easier. Dad was never quite satisfied. It was hard to live up to his standards. Aunts and Uncles always knew a cousin who was better, brighter, richer, faster.
Alex, like you and me, would like to earn more, be recognized and respected. To enjoy life and have fun. To simply succeed.
Is it really so difficult?
Alex wants to provide for others. Family is very important and the good of society is too, but Alex feels stuck on a hamster wheel, running from paycheck to paycheck with some leftover, but it’s never enough. And let’s face it; the job sucks most of the time. Alex’s boss rarely has a good word. Sometimes, when Alex has achieved something out of the ordinary, the boss notices, but most of the time Alex feels like the effort is unnoticed.
Alex was in a rut.
Where’s my MOJO?
For the past couple of months, Alex has been feeling drained, both emotionally and physically.
Without that ‘get up and go’, Alex accepted to sit down and stay.
A friend mentioned a wonderful seminar that they had attended. A famous motivational guru was in town and the flyers promised life transformation and heart alignment and immediate recharge and success. So Alex forked out the high price of a ticket and went with great expectations. Oh, what a terrific day it was. An atmosphere charged with promise and laughter. Alex returned home with a renewed desire to re-ignite passions and eager to progress with living life to the max.
In the day’s ahead motivation surges
Alex continues to feel upbeat for several days after the seminar.
There’s even a framed photo of Alex and the speaker with a motivational quote and signed sitting on the desk.
Work seems effortless and progress feels assured until the boss sends the last customer presentation deck back with a note describing it as “unusable”. Not quite the type of attention Alex had desired from the boss.
Encouragement and the feeling of promise can quickly dissipate when we face problems
Within a moment, all the encouragement and promises of the motivational seminar evaporated like a morning mist
The boss referred Alex to HR to get trained in putting presentations together properly. And soon Alex was enjoying a couple of days away from the office in a fun and lively workshop.
In spite of a couple of long interruptions of teleconference calls that “just had to be done”, the workshop was very good. Alex learned and had a chance to practise the skills and get feedback from the facilitator.
Back in the office
Alex stared disbelievingly at the increasing mountain of urgent tasks and slowly worked through them, never quite coming to the end but at least trying to use the newly developed skills.
All was well until a curt email described Alex’s latest presentation deck for the boss as “utterly unsuitable” and questioning the point of training someone if they weren’t going to use the training properly.
Alex knew that it would be a waste of time explaining that there had been no opportunity to use the skills What Alex needed now was some clear guidance on what to do next. Alex was stuck again.
That encouraging feeling of regaining motivation and purpose from the seminar was gone. Alex had developed skills but with no proper feedback at work and regular guidance, even the new skills weren’t being used effectively.
What to do now? Would Leadership Coaching Really Help?
Alex wanted help, but talking to a family member or the boss felt too difficult and risky.
Friends, well they just seem to be caught up in their own successful, busy lives.
Alex spoke candidly to HR who suggested that leadership coaching might be a good solution. They’d have to check on the budget but in the meantime, Alex could have a confidential chat with a coach who had worked with some of Alex’s colleagues.
Alex checked out the links HR had given and decided to risk everything and speak to a stranger. A coach who seemed to have helped a few people in similar situations get unstuck.
Some of the coaches Alex contacted just tried to sell a solution; a few took the time to listen and genuinely appeared to care. However, what Alex needed was a plan to get from here to… well, somewhere a whole lot better, and someone who would be a guide on the side. After checking out a couple of potentials, Alex chose a leadership coach.
It was unnerving at first. It felt like this coach could read minds and understood the real fears Alex faced and never judged
Somehow, this coach dug down and found little gems of forgotten talents hidden in Alex’s past. Together they explored the neuroscience of leadership and suddenly all that wishy-washy behavioural stuff turned into maths, chemistry and electricity – things that could be understood and controlled.
It felt good to be appreciated.
It felt wonderful to know that there is greatness within. It felt wonderful to be unstuck and that the future could really be made better.
Leadership coaching wasn’t cheap, and it was hard work and took time to mine all those gems and uncover Alex’s true talents, passion and purpose. There were days of sheer joy and days of uncertainty.
Together, they developed a plan of action
And the coach continued to guide with useful resources, follow up and measure progress. It felt good to enjoy real progress. It felt great to be choosing to take charge of life. And Alex thrived.
This coach kept Alex accountable with a private online portal for promised actions and provided templates and online micro-learning tutorials.
Together they measured the key efforts and deliverables and Alex began using the templates at work. Slowly and steadily, Alex’s talent was leveraged in new areas and work became more effortless and vastly more fun. Alex became empowered and deliberately focused more on leading up. Helping to lift the boss’s load and supporting colleagues in areas where Alex could best lend support.
Even whilst less than the best-qualified candidate, Alex was offered a promotion. It was a near-ideal position.
Alex loves the new job, has a balanced family and social life and is even volunteering in a favoured charity project. Of course, Alex could have gotten there alone. However, not everyone is great at encouraging themselves.
Even after a boost from attending one of those Guru style seminars. And it sure helps to develop new skills but you really need to be motivated to use them effectively back at the workplace and guided in their use.
A plan without follow-up, support and accountability remains a plan.
Dr John Kenworthy
It is terrific to work with someone who cares, someone who knows how you can get unstuck and how to find and leverage your real talents and passion, a guide like a coach or mentor. Whether inside your company or someone external. It’s even better when you are empowered with easy access to reminders of learning and templates and constantly encouraged to leverage existing talents in new ways so that work becomes effortless and fun.
Alex, like you, benefits from being encouraged, developed, guided and empowered to get unstuck and to realise their true potential. We all need an EDGE, and we need someone to help us sharpen it.