Where to Start?

As part of a leadership programme, I coached 3 senior leaders in 1:1 sessions and as a group. With input from their managers, a 360° feedback assessment and their career aspirations, they are tasked with defining a leadership challenge for themselves to implement over the course of the programme. At the first face-to-face group coaching session the expectation is that they present their leadership challenge to each other, essentially the goal or objective for the personal development.

One of the participants, a very smart and successful gentleman, didn’t get it. He arrived with nothing prepared despite having had a 1:1 coaching session and reviewing the materials. While the other two colleagues shared their ideas he struggled. He kept trying to find a work project that he could do that would achieve an outcome. Over the course of the day, with coaching, reflection and feedback from his colleagues the penny dropped. He got that this was about him, who he was being as a leader. It wasn’t about what he was doing at work in terms of content but rather how he was being as a leader.

With that realisation he had his leadership challenge by the time of our next group coaching call: he wanted to improve his gravitas, the impact or impression he made. He was a good agent of change at work, now he wanted to be a seen as someone capable of more responsibility and contribution.  We worked on what this meant for him, what did people who had gravitas do, how did they communicate, what did confidence and impact feel like in him when he did have it, what are different ways of influencing to adapt to different styles.

Mere weeks later he was implementing small changes regularly like walking across the office floor with his head up, looking people he passed in the eye, saying hello, and sometimes even stopping for a chat!! Additionally when he entered a very senior meeting he went over to the top manager and looked him in the eye, introduced himself and shook his hand, something he would never have done before the programme. As a result he feels more confident himself and bolder in what he wants to take on in service of the business’ goals.

It can happen in coaching that someone knows they want a change but doesn’t know what that is. So the first part of the coaching relationship is to get clarity of what you as the clients wants to achieve.

What would you want differently in your leadership if you reflected upon it?