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It does not have to be lonely at the top

In starting my own coaching practice for now it is just me.  

I have experienced running small businesses as part of my career and have twice developed and run events businesses. I have also been part of senior leadership teams in large organisations and I have managed a number of teams.

One area that is similar for me in all of these experiences is that it can be lonely. You are having to make a lot of decisions and you are looked to for decisions on a regular basis. You can feel like you should know all of the answers and are expected to because that is why you have the job – but is that really the case?

Yes a leader needs vision and clarity along with a positive leadership style but you also need to be a great facilitator and communicator, while engaging and motivating your team, and just like a good coach asking the right questions that will achieve success.

Many senior leaders and managers feel that they have to know the right answers and if they don’t then they have to pretend to know, whereas how can any leader know everything that is going on and have the answers in all areas. This can then lead to more stress and anxiety and often the ‘imposter syndrome’ feeling of at some stage being found out.

I believe that for any leader having support and being able to build a support system is important. Being able to discuss issues both within and outside of your organisation. Who is in your support system? Who can you turn to discuss your ideas and talk through the tough decisions that you need to make?

It is important to build a support system that is there for you for both strategic and emotional reasons and this could mean a mix of people. It is clear that one area that more and more senior leaders are turning to is having their own coach.

I was interested to read a Forbes article recently where they stated the following top 6 ways a coach can make you more successful as a leader of any size organisation.

  1. See yourself more clearly
  2. See others more clearly
  3. Learn new ways to respond
  4. Leverage your existing strengths
  5. Build more productive relationships
  6. Achieve what you want

Being able to bounce ideas off someone else and to have an external sounding board is vital. There are certain conversations that are difficult to have with your Board and with your direct line reports, and so I’ve found that coaching my clients to find clarity in these areas has been very beneficial to them.

In looking back at my career, it’s clear that I would have really benefited from a coach. I have fallen into the trap myself of whilst wanting to make collaborative decisions there are areas in which I have not wanted to be seen as not having the answers and I have had the pressure of needing to know the right direction to take

I decided to rectify this in recent years, and so over the last 3 years I have had my own coach which has been extremely worthwhile to me.

It is interesting how a coach can help you to expand your thinking and your options. To offer challenge where required and to help you to develop further your decision making skills. If you want to build a learning organisation it starts with you and your senior team.

Another recent Forbes article on the 7 leadership traits for the post Covid-19 workplace really resonates with me. I have seen this displayed well and not so well in the different leaders that I have worked for in the past.

  1. Candor  honesty without ambiguity
  2. Consistent Reliable Fact-Based Communications
  3. Empathy
  4. Managing Hybrid Teams
  5. Flexibility and Adaptability
  6. Humility
  7. Active Listening

Humility links well to this post and from this Forbes article they state – “Leaders unfortunately are often expected to know it all and make perfect decisions, and the obvious truth is that they’re just as human and fallible as anyone else. In these unchartered waters one of the biggest mistakes leaders can make is pretending they know more than they do or making decisions relying only on their instinct or previous experience.”

How can a coach support you as a leader, and empower you to be that leader that is needed now?