You’re Leading Others…How Are You Leading Yourself?

Tips from Master Coaches During Times of Turbulence

Leading ourselves has never been more critical.

Most of us are quick to talk about leading and motivating our teams and others during times of change and turbulence. And as leaders, this is our first thought.

We hear this routinely. Keeping team members engaged, relating to their various personal situations, and sustaining culture are all imperatives for the leader. But there’s more to this than meets the ear. We’re also hearing something deeper these days. While leaders have a responsibility to lead others, they have even greater accountability to lead themselves.

Three themes have emerged in our most recent work.

We hear the need for time to think and be deliberate about decisions in our professional roles and our lives in general.

We hear from leaders the need to creatively problem-solve with professionals who have no agenda or stake in the outcome.

We hear fatigue and a need to connect among people who are trying to go it alone.

One of our clients jumped on a coaching call at the end of her long day. She had led or participated in a full stretch of meetings, now endlessly on Zoom video. She honestly admitted she wasn’t sure she was up for or prepared for a talk with her coach. But she waded into the conversation with an open mind.

Reflecting on that conversation she says, “the time with my coach actually helped me think through some of the actions and decisions I was making, or about to make, and how I was making them in the full rush of my schedule. I used that coaching time to step back, reflect on impacts, and really think about what I was doing that could impact my team and colleagues.  I think I got to some better decisions just by slowing down, having the conversation with someone in a totally confidential relationship. And I realized this was as much about me taking care of myself as a leader as it was caring for the people I’m trying to lead right now.”

One executive said, “I leverage my coach to problem-solve key issues. She has no agenda and she has been an executive in my shoes before. I can talk through the “what ifs” in a safe place and get to a resolution. Then when I’m back with my team, I can be more focused, give better direction, or encourage their creativity in a way I couldn’t before.”

On one call, the leader came with her agenda in hand, based on the action plan she and her coach had developed. When the conversation started, she decided to toss it aside and discuss another topic that was ultimately getting in her way.  She was exhausted from all the commitments; kids, a never-ending workday, and all the obligations of her role at work.

She offers, “I got focused that day with my coach. I realized I’m going so fast with so many obligations that I’m just going through the motions. She helped me figure out how to step back and reexamine my support structure. I needed a better strategy. I needed to think through the scenarios and do something different.”

If you’re leading others, take a moment to digest these tips to help better lead yourself.

Tip 1: Strategize around how you are leading yourself. Highly effective people are self-aware and never stop working on this.  Consider how you’re showing up as a leader. How has your brand changed or how should it change? Is it even the brand you want to have in the first place? Do I have the supporters I need in my camp? How can I make the rounds and reconnect with advocates for my career?

Tip 2: Don’t get caught in the spin cycle. Be strategic. Stop. Think. Step back. Reflect. This doesn’t take days or weeks. It takes minutes and a coach can be invaluable in helping keep this process focused. Invest some time in scenario thinking for the key decisions you must make.

Tip 3: Do not go alone. Re-examine your career scaffolding and support system.  No one ever did anything of consequence alone. So don’t exhaust yourself by trying this at work or home. Or both.

This is what coaches do. They hold a confidential space for leaders to be strategic. To reflect. To plan. To troubleshoot with scenario thinking. To create a different way to advance their agenda.

Others leverage coaches for:

  • Stuck on a specific work issue or situation…now what?
  • Considering a career move
  • How to enhance your executive presence
  • How to move an idea forward
  • How to develop a more intentional professional brand
  • “Limiting beliefs” may be holding you back
  • There are some hard conversations you need to have and not sure how to tackle them
  • Making a strategic ask

Get a coach. Get a mentor. Lead others. Lead yourself.

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