In many leadership development programs and one-on-one coaching sessions, participants are asked to think about an inspiring leader who they admire or want to emulate. Often the question is phrased as “When you think of a successful leader, who do you think of…?”
Having been in many sessions where this question has been asked, I have recognised patterns in the answers. They include:
My parents/family member/significant teacher
My first boss/first person to give me a break/first mentor/first person to pity me/first person to sponsor me
Richard Branson/Steve Jobs/the Google guys/Elon Musk
Mandela/Gandhi/Mother Theresa and in recent times, Pope Francis
Individual sports stars who have ran very fast, jumped very high or passed the ball better than anyone else
Politicians… actually never come up for some reason
Bono… once… ok that was me who suggested him…
A few weeks ago I heard an answer that absolutely floored me. One that I had never heard before.
The answer forced me to rethink the question and answer completely.
Dean, a leader with many years of international years experience, confessed even he was tired of managing another phase of change in his organisation.
This is not surprising – the more senior the leader, the increasing number of transitions they have to manage.
William Bridges (1991) published “Managing Transitions” where he focussed on the transition as opposed to the change itself. A transition is the internal manifestation of that change that happens within the individual – the psychological impact of the change itself. Whilst this might seem subtle, it is significant as he clarified the emotional impacts the individual experiences during each stage of a transition.
Bridges makes a key point that people experience change even if they don’t agree to or desire it. He highlights three zones of transition people go through when they experience change. He said they are:
For those of us in Australia, 1 September marks the beginning of Spring. This season brings the promise of longer, warmer days and the re-emergence of things dormant and new life. It is with all these things that many people start to make plans and “refresh” practices.
This thinking was in my mind as I was sitting with a client in a Melbourne coffee shop. In a wide-ranging conversation over a few hours we discussed many things including the life lessons that have come his way. His career started in corporate, then transitioned to an entrepreneurial career where he owned the business and now has transitioned back into corporate.
“So what’s keeping you awake at night?” I asked a client in a coaching session last week. Being very honest he said, “I feel stuck”.
Many clients have a similar realisation through their coaching. Even just bringing this into their awareness provides some level of relief as they can now at least understand what is underneath their frustration, conflict, procrastination, insomnia, illness, unsettledness, crankiness, indecisiveness or however else it is turning up.
Coaching schools and Universities who teach programs which lead to coaching qualifications and degrees offer a range of rationales for taking on the field of study. Popular reasons include so as to become a professional coach; a better leader; develop skill sets to compliment other managerial competencies; join the so called “fastest growing industry in the world” or even to become self employed.
Last week I travelled back to Ireland and one of the best things was the chance to meet my brand new niece and God Daughter, Muireann. With my own children well past the baby stage being with Muireann has helped me remember the wonderful things we can learn from babies. Here are the things she has reminded me of and how these lessons help me to be a better Coach. They may well resonate with being a better leader equally well.
Work Life Balance is a common topic that emerges in coaching work. At its heart, Work Life Balance encompasses the view that there should be an equitable distribution of a person’s time and attention between ‘work’ and ‘life’.
The fundamental flaw in this proposition is that it casts a negative perception that work is separate to your “life”.