I was recently privileged to hear a live coaching call between a Master Coach and an Executive Vice President in a large corporation. The purpose of the call was to let experienced coaches observe different styles of clients and coaching for the sake of improving our effectiveness. I take these training calls monthly, and always come away with something valuable. Last week’s call was particularly memorable because it dealt with one of the most common concerns leaders have:
How do I lead my organization through change?
What was remarkable about this leader was his high degree of self-awareness. He had been working with this executive coach for a number of years. The result was his highly cultivated leadership vision and presence. The question he brought to the call was how to improve organizational communication between multiple departments and individuals as a result of an acquisition. The initial question she asked him was
“Who do you need to become to be an effective communicator at that level?”
(Notice it wasn’t “what do you need to do?”)
In the process of speaking about who he needed to become, he spoke about moving from being the expert to the achiever to ultimately a catalyst. He saw his role as being an influencer and energizer for others. That’s a tall order, but our client was up to the challenge.
“I need to create space for others and become a bridge between the different groups. I would like to create space and offer folks the opportunity to talk, share successes and challenges they’re having with the outcomes they want. They will talk about what’s important to them. That kind of interaction should allow energy to flow. I can open those blocks and ultimately that energy will create action.”
As the conversation continued, our leader became even more committed. He saw this was an exciting time for him to step into the role of catalyst. He responded “I need to get out of my own way of forcing things to get done. There’s enough desire for change throughout the organization. This will require a different way of being for me. I will need to be not as driven, inquisitive vs. directive, more open to others vs. opinionated, encourage ideation vs. critiques.”
The coach pressed him to speak about the implementation and his level of comfort with that. He said “I need to let it flow; I don’t have to own everything.” She asked, “How will you keep this heightened level of awareness?” He stated he would “take a few deep breaths and ask for deeper explanation. My challenge is in wanting to come to a conclusion too soon.”
To conclude he shared a visual that I believe has applicability for all leaders. “I am shifting from head to heart; at the center of that is wisdom.”