I previously wrote about how to choose an executive coach. This article is from the other side: Are you actually ready to work with a transformative executive coach?
Some executive coaching is not meant to be transformative. It is more transactional and didactic. Perhaps someone became an executive coach after a long career within corporations, and now they coach people on topics such as mergers and acquisitions. Important work, to be sure, but not really transformative.
What do I mean by transformative coaching? My partner and I describe capacity-building as assisting leaders in thinking and acting more effectively during times of VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity, ambiguity) and rapid change. Transformative executive coaching actually builds your leadership capacity. This is not just about learning some new skills and techniques. It requires you to shift who you are as a human being (and therefore become an even better one!). This includes examining your beliefs and assumptions, increasing self-awareness, becoming more mindful and reflective and building the ability to think at a higher level of complexity.
Are you ready for this level of coaching?
Here are some questions to consider:
- Do you know what is deeply meaningful to you? Real change is hard. It requires a regular practice of action and reflection. It is often uncomfortable. We need to have values or goals that are important enough to us to propel us even when the going gets tough. If you are not clear, a transformative executive coach will spend time helping you clarify what matters most to you.
- Are you ready to reflect? Our brains like to run on "cheap fuel." That means that we automatically revert to automatic pilot or habit mode, and that is how we operate most of our day. That doesn't mean we're not effective. It does mean that we're coasting on current capacity. Meaningful change requires us to mindfully "wake up" from habit mode throughout the day. This includes setting intentions in the morning and reflecting at the end of the day about how we did, along with many short cycles of action and reflection throughout the day. Please see this short but important article we wrote about how to increase your leadership capacity in minutes a day. What's required is to have this leadership journey become a practice, just like a practice of becoming more proficient at a sport or musical instrument. Are you ready for that commitment?
- Are you committed to an ongoing engagement? It does not take a lot of time each day. It does take a regular practice that will gradually build new neural pathways that will lead you to become an even better human being who is an even more effective leader.
- Are you open to really learning about yourself? This includes your strengths but also the habits and patterns that do not serve your higher aspirations. We all have blind spots and patterns that are more about protecting ourselves than about serving others. It takes courage to be willing to step back, reflect and learn more about ourselves. But this is the only way to bring out the best of us.
- Are you open to a mindfulness practice? My most popular Forbes publication is “The Real Reason Leaders Need Mindfulness.” Among other things, mindfulness increases our ability to focus and direct our minds (rather than our minds directing us!), to separate from our habitual thoughts and feelings and to make better choices so that we are more responsive and less reactive to whatever life is presenting to us.
- Are you open to being more vulnerable and creating conditions of safety? Higher-capacity leaders have moved beyond heroic leadership which my partner and I describe in this article. Heroic leaders believe they need to already have all the answers and that it is weak to ask for help. But higher-capacity leaders understand that complex problems require the integration of multiple differing perspectives. They are willing to ask for help and create conditions of safety where everyone can present their best ideas without fear of humiliation, shame or rejection.
- Will you practice perspective-taking and perspective-seeking? Besides reflection, two of the primary drivers of increased leadership capacity are perspective-taking and perspective-seeking. Perspective-taking is when I put myself in your shoes and imagine your experience. In “Guaranteed to Optimize Your Leadership Effectiveness in Minutes a Day,” my partner and I suggest that you take 30 seconds before every meeting and ask a few questions, including, "What do I want the experience of the others to be at the end of this meeting?" This is a remarkably powerful question for driving your overall effectiveness. Perspective-seeking is when I reach out and ask about your perspectives. As mentioned in point six above, the most effective leaders acknowledge that they do not have all the answers and reach out to others to assist in dealing with complex problems.
- Are you committed to the growth of others? Higher-capacity leaders see that their direct reports are in their care, rather than just objects to get the work done. They take this responsibility seriously. And this responsibility will then propel you to become an even more effective leader and create the conditions for enhanced engagement and productivity.
- Are you open to trusting another human being? Even in psychotherapy, most people withhold secrets. Perhaps we feel ashamed of some of the thoughts and feelings we have or some of the things we have done. The more you're willing to be open, the greater the effectiveness of the coaching process. Of course, your coach has to first prove worthy of that trust.
Even if you are ready for this level of executive coaching, not all executive coaches are able to deliver it. Please refer to my previous article for some questions to ask your potential coaches.
Original published by Forbes Coaches Council
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Joel M. ROTHAIZER, MCC
ICF Master Certified Coach
Dr. Joel M. Rothaizer, MCC, www.clear-impact.com, is an executive coach and organizational consultant with extensive training and over 30 years’ experience in understanding the functioning of both organizations and the people within them. His focus is on leadership development, executive coaching and team/organizational effectiveness.
A licensed Psychologist, he is an Official Member of the Forbes Coaches Council and the ICF has designated him a Master Certified Coach, their highest credential. His work incorporates the Enneagram, Mindfulness, Practical Neuroscience, Adult Development, Polarities, Complexity and other capacity-building approaches.
His clients have included Exxon-Mobil, General Electric, AT&T Bell Laboratories, Bank of NY Mellon, IBM, ADP, Broadridge, Ferrellgas, Grainger, PeopleSoft, StorageTek, Wide Open West, Ledcor, HSBC, PCL, Government of Alberta, Royal Bank, Dialog, Sanofi-Aventis, Edmonton Police Service, Skidmore Owings & Merrill, University of Calgary, Rehrig Pacific, New Belgium Brewing, Hagemeyer, HYL Architects, and Los Alamos National Labs.