Coaching leaders is challenging because the biggest problem with success is success. What helped you get to your current level of success is precisely what will hold you back from your next level of success. Or, as Tracy Goss puts it in her book The Last Word On Power—what got you here won’t get you there.
The challenge for leaders is that their game is much bigger than anyone around them. They play at a level at which most people cannot even imagine. They hide from everyone how much they are holding back from what is possible out of fear. Fear of getting it wrong, fear of losing their reputation or maybe, the fear of losing power.
We don’t like the idea of our leaders being like the rest of us. We imagine that they have no doubt and know all the answers. However, leaders have that same little voice in their heads telling them all the good reasons why they are not good enough and should give up. But they often have nobody with whom they can share their fears. For many, this leaves them feeling isolated and fearful as they feel expressing these feelings is a sign of weakness. This can lead to high levels of stress, anxiety and, ultimately, burnout. These symptoms can lead to a detrimental impact on their career, family and health.
It’s apparent that leaders need specialist support, and they don’t always get it. Leaders feel uncomfortable sharing their inner feelings and don’t know where to look for the right level of support. It doesn’t help that leaders are terrible at asking for help until it’s too late. For these leaders, high-level coaching has the most to contribute.
Leaders don’t need to talk tactics and strategy; they are already experts. When you’re coaching the best on the planet, they don’t need your admiration. They don’t need your guidance or advice. They don’t need your ‘help’. (Most would hate that).
However, I’ve yet to meet a leader who didn’t want something more, something more profound. I’ve yet to meet a leader who didn’t want to make a more significant impact, leave a more lasting legacy or make a bigger contribution.
When coaching a leader, I don’t buy into their success story. I aim to shake up their thinking. Challenge the way they see their world. Say the things that no one else would dare to say. The leaders I coach know I have no other agenda than helping them achieve their dreams and well-being. It makes the coaching relationship both special and unique.
As my coach is fond of saying, “it wasn’t called coaching for most of human history. It was called leadership”. It’s what I love to do, to coach people, to help make their dreams real. I love to mess with their thinking! If you would like to experience more of this or learn about my community of high performers, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org