How leadership coaching can create meaningful change
Strong leadership is partly innate but there is also much that can be learned. We all bring our strengths and weaknesses to a job and every work environment is different. Fiona approached me a few years ago after taking on an Acting CEO role in an organisation that was going through significant challenges including intense media scrutiny. The culture within the business had become fragmented and the relationships with different stakeholders were complex to manage. This was her first time in a CEO role, and she was feeling particularly stressed. She wanted some guidance that would help her survive, and ultimately thrive.
Over a period of six weeks, I met with Fiona in a quiet coffee shop in a local park. This peaceful environment gave Fiona the space from the turmoil of the office an opportunity to break down the issues and speak to someone who was objective and removed from the situation. After listening to Fiona, the main issues became apparent. Firstly, she had a very different leadership style to her predecessor who had been very directive in his approach. Fiona also needed to grow her confidence and ability to influence in different situations.
It is surprisingly common to see highly experienced and skilled leaders in this predicament. At some point in our career, we will come across a difficult cultural environment or ‘hit a wall.’ This is where the value of an external coach comes to the fore.
What can you learn from leadership coaching?
In my meetings with Fiona, I worked to grow her confidence in this new environment by challenging the way she was thinking. We encouraged her to identify her strengths which were her authenticity and values-based leadership style. My job is not to tell my clients how to do their job but to help them reflect, contemplate potential and explore possibilities. Fiona’s role required her to do a lot of public speaking which she felt was not a strength. In our sessions I worked with her to understand her anxieties and help her to become more practised and prepared. This involved ‘homework’ and follow up to keep her accountable which she found cemented her learnings.
Implementing leadership strategies
Fiona also said that she started to look forward to her sessions with us as she felt that she was learning, growing, and evolving as a leader. She was most proud of the big leaps she made with her public speaking and influencing skills. This all helped her and the organisation to get some better outcomes in significant meetings with high level stakeholders.
Fiona is now in a new role in a different company and continues to implement her learnings from her leadership coaching. When situations build and issues become complex she has learned to ‘take a breath’. By simply popping out of the office to grab a coffee and a quick walk in nature she finds she can return to deal with the situation in a more considered, solution focused manner. She calls this her ‘nature reset.’
With her team Fiona now uses the same coaching technique that I used in our sessions, where she will ask them questions and encourage team members to come up with solutions. This takes away the pressure of the leader having to have all the answers. This type of leadership enables and empowers her team members to deal with challenges.
If you are feeling stuck and overwhelmed as a leader, you are not alone. I help people every day to become more confident, less stressed, and more effective leaders. It is immensely rewarding. Please get in touch if you think I could make a difference.