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How coaching can help aspiring leaders to overcome their limiting beliefs

Coaching is often perceived as being undertaken only at a senior level and to be almost a prize for those that have already reached certain heights within their organisation. This means that for many the support, in particular of an external coach, comes to them later in their career.

It is only a small number of organisations that recognise the benefit of either external or internal coaching for their aspiring managers – their future leaders – and how this brings not just a benefit to that individual but it helps greatly in terms of employee retention and in developing a coaching culture right across the organisation.

For any individual being self-aware at a younger age can be very powerful and a great asset. Being aware of what you are good at and what you still need to learn. Understanding your own strengths and how to leverage them, along with your weaknesses and how to overcome them can only be a positive as part of your own development. This is powerful not just for your own future but for that of your organisation as well.

People often gain promotion for their technical ability but do not get the development support required to help them to become a great manager and future leader.

Seeking feedback and support from others, asking good questions and listening is important but who can help you with your limiting beliefs and how to overcome them?

Limiting beliefs are thoughts and opinions that one believes to be the absolute truth such as self-belief, confidence, fear of failure or indeed success and not being good enough to achieve what you want. Limiting beliefs if not worked on can really hold back both an individual and a team’s success.

I know that I could have benefited from a coach myself as a new manager. In reflecting back, I did not always know how to best play to my strengths and also how to work on what I felt were my weaknesses. I had issues and topics that I did not want to discuss with my line manager however open and approachable they were. I ended up doing this via experience over time whereas with more support it could have been a quicker journey.

In asking some of the people I have been coaching it is interesting in the mix of feedback and how similar it is. The focus is very often on areas of self-belief and how their limiting beliefs have held them back or are still holding them back.

One senior leader told me that they wished that they had had more support on their self-belief and confidence, and someone to discuss things with to see themselves more clearly. To have had the personal strength and confidence to have stepped out of their comfort zone more and been able to encourage others to do so as well. They would have welcomed the chance to talk through how they felt about different situations, options for addressing them and how not to listen to their inner critic.

Another senior leader expressed that they would have welcomed earlier in their career more support around building their confidence – to have helped them to speak up more to achieve better outcomes and to overcome their fears. To have put their beliefs front and foremost when considering the right employee fit.

I am interested in the fact that it so often is people’s limiting beliefs that are holding them back at all stages in their career. Highlighting how important the role of either an internal or external coach can be in supporting people to both identify their limiting beliefs and to work through and overcome them.

A middle manager I am currently working with told me that from a personal perspective, he would like to have been coached earlier in order to improve his ability to take criticism, how to manage conflict and how to acknowledge the fact that beliefs are the way that we think about situations and that they are often not reality. These are all areas that he has had to develop himself. He said that perhaps more significant progress would have been made sooner, had he received coaching on these important skills earlier in his career.

Line managers are increasingly taking a coaching approach with their staff and seeing the many benefits of this. When asking my clients about this they all agreed that a coaching approach from their line manager is beneficial and they feel far more involved and able to input their ideas. However, they overwhelmingly felt that it was very difficult, and in many cases did not feel right, to talk about areas that were holding them back with their line manager and that this works better with an external person.

How are you looking to enable your beliefs rather than being held back by your inner critic to develop as a confident leader?