In the sixteen years I’ve been a professional coach, I have had the privilege of coaching leaders at every level in organizations. It’s interesting to note that whether the leader is a new manager or an executive, whether they are just out of grad school or nearing retirement, I am often their first professional coach.
Consequently, I am often the first person to stand shoulder to shoulder with the leader in assessing what is working well, and what isn’t, in their leadership function.
An example of this is a brilliant person I recently worked with who had quickly ascended the corporate ladder in her organization and now supervised a large group of people. This leader was miserable, however, as were the people on her team. Essentially, she always had loved being the smart one—but had never learned how to share that role.
As a result, she had fallen into some bad leadership habits, which included squashing the smarts of the folks on her team by hoarding information, micromanaging, and getting the last word. Her efforts made her team feel insignificant and demoralized, and they were becoming passive and resentfully compliant. How smart is that?
In my client’s defense, though, prior to my working with her the only professional feedback she had ever received was praise regarding her individual efforts to figure things out. The concept that her entire team could shine brightly was unfathomable to her. My job as her coach was to ask her provocative questions to illuminate the discrepancy between where she was and where she really wanted to be.
The good news for her, and for her team, was her declaration to me that the discomfort of the current situation needed to end. Through coaching, she saw that her new leadership position required not just the cultivation of new behaviors focused on developing others, but also an end to her old behaviors. She was willing to stop behaving as the sole contributor, and she committed to start creating an environment to bring out the best in all of her team members.
How about you? Are you still employing behaviors that served you in the past but now need to end? What do you need to do—or stop doing—to get out of your own way?
About the Author
Mary Ellen Sailer, Ed.D., is a Coaching Solutions Partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies’ Coaching Services team. Since 2000, Blanchard’s 130 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services. And check out Coaching Tuesday every week at Blanchard LeaderChat for ideas, research, and inspirations from the world of executive coaching.