Tag Archives: Executive Coaching

Leadership Can Be Painful…And Very Rewarding

Leading people and influencing business can be a great challenge…

…but can also be one of the most rewarding aspects of your role and your life.

CoachStation: Leadership Rewards

Being a leader is difficult and occasionally, we sometimes wonder if it is worth the effort. The challenges that emerge all too often cause us to contemplate on the performance of others and sometimes that of ourselves. We start to question our ability to maintain a high level of influence and whether we can ‘get the job done’.

When situations such as these occur the best course of action and thought-process is usually to stop and genuinely reflect – not react to the current situation and high level of emotion.

I have found the two aspects below to be particularly relevant in both my time as a leader and in coaching and mentoring others. The points may trigger a reaction for you and add to your leadership thought processes.

  • Don’t immediately seek to blame – either yourself or others. When we blame, it is taking away from the necessary focus on the issue itself. Blaming can become personal, focusing on the individual, not the point at hand. In this type of discussion it is often referred to as how we blame others. In my experience, after the dust settles a little, a leader is just as likely to blame themselves and over-react to both the inputs that caused the situation and the apparent impact of the situation overall. Blame has little value, however gaining a full understanding of what and who contributed provides the opportunity to develop and coach accordingly. I have worked with some managers who avoid understanding the contributing factors altogether, claiming ‘there is no point in a witch-hunt’! Unfortunately this reflects more on their leadership style than a genuine desire to engage and seek improvement. Rectifying processes, understanding, skill gaps etc. is critical to ensuring issues and mistakes are not repeated – an important aspect of leading people and businesses.
  •  Share the details of the situation and current circumstance with someone who you trust. Challenge yourself to succinctly detail the key points without bias or emotion. You may find this harder than you think! It is best to select a mentor, coach or person who you know will be objective and provide conflicting viewpoints. They should be impartial and challenge the situation as much as they are willing to challenge the norms, beliefs and biases that exist in all of us. Although difficult in the initial phases of relationship-building, this type of discussion can be a key contributor in developing trust and respect between you both. Sharing is not to vent, but rather to seek solutions that may not be apparent to you. Being too close to a situation can add blinkers. I have been there many times and continue to challenge myself to think more clearly and broadly as required.

Being a leader is a challenge – this is not a doubt.

As leaders, how we react and seek solutions when things go wrong can help to define our own self-belief and how we are seen by others.

The key question is whether you are looking to maintain the status quo or seeking to move forward as a leader and as a minimum, meet the obligations of your role in leading others.

Obviously this is not a definitive list, although if the points are applied in a genuine way, it will add significant value to your position and contribution as a leader. Change in self takes small steps. At the very least, this is a good starting point.

What do you think?


Filed under Leadership, Motivation

Developing and Empowering Leaders – Richard Branson (Part 2)

Richard Branson in South Africa, 2004 - Leadership, Coaching and EmpowermentRichard Branson recently stated that coaching senior managers can be difficult for various reasons, not the least of which is the difficulty in finding an uninterrupted period of time to conduct and review.

In Part 1 I noted the first three guidelines Richard Branson highlighted in a recent article in the Business Review Weekly magazine titled, 7 Rules For Managers, focusing on effective leadership, coaching and empowering leaders.This post concludes the guidelines, consisting of the final four points.

Who’s In Charge? It’s Up To You?

A good manager provides clear roles for members of his team, which enables everyone to get on with the job of running the business. Once you’ve made these choices, do not micromanage. If you make a habit of diving in and changing a major project’s direction or otherwise intervening, your employees will learn to be dependent on you, and they will not reach their full potential.

CoachStation Thoughts:

Setting key objectives for yourself, your team and business is important to ensure a focus on the aims and strategy is maintained. Providing context and standards allows your team member to understand where they fit in and ensure they work within the ‘rules’ and expectations. However, flexing between providing enough context and suitable parameters without constricting performance and innovation is a balance that must be established. Responsibility, accountability and empowerment are only ‘buzz-words’ when they are not applied or unfamiliar – there is power in their application. I wrote more about expectations in an earlier post: Expectation Setting – Who Cares?

Champion Your Employees’ Ideas

When your team makes a judgment call, you need to follow through with conviction. If you cast doubt and let their project languish, your team will not have the impetus or confidence to take the next steps. If you insist on making every big decision yourself, you will create a terrible log jam. Do not fall into the trap of asking for further reports in order to justify moving forward. It is always better to act; it is debilitating to dither.

CoachStation Thoughts:

Employ the right people, support and develop them and give them the freedom to make their own mistakes and revel in successes.

Learn From Your Mistakes and Move On

It is impossible to get every decision right. When things go wrong, review with your team what happened and learn from it together. But don’t linger – dust yourself off and tackle the next challenge.

It is important not to keep tinkering with a project in hopes of delaying its end. At Virgin, we have not always got this right – for instance, we hung onto our Megastores longer than we should have.

CoachStation Thoughts:

We all make decisions every day – none of us get it right all the time. Holding people accountable is key to development and building trust. Looking for or portraying perfectionism, for example, has little benefit, however the ability to provide and receive feedback reflects well on you as a leader and the rapport you have with your team. Learn from mistakes because they are not insurmountable – ignore them and they will continue.

Celebrate Successes Every Day

When someone on your team has a big success, celebrate it and tell others. This is something that should be part of your everyday work – you should try to catch your team doing something right.

CoachStation Thoughts:

Developing a team and employee brand can be enhanced through supporting and advocating, when earned. Catching your team doing something right is not always a natural or easily applied trait for many leaders. It is a very powerful relationship-builder when applied well.

As stated, Richard Branson claimed that these guidelines hold true in almost any situation. Do you agree?

I would love to hear your thoughts and comments, whilst possibly providing your own guidelines you believe are key in leadership.


Filed under Culture, Employee Engagement, Leadership, People Development, Strategy

Leadership Credibility: The Right To Lead?

A few questions that I have been recently pondering.

  • How do you know that you have leadership credentials?
  • What gives us the right to lead others?

I had a coffee last week with CoachStation is Leadership DevelopmentSteve, someone who I was meeting with for the first time. Overall the meeting went well and we discussed many thoughts, concepts, real-life scenarios and philosophies regarding work culture and leadership. We covered background information and work history, along with discussion about values and motivations. Overall, it was a fantastic discussion and I felt a natural level of affiliation with Steve as we held many similar views.

During our chat though, he asked a great question. Considering my passion for leadership development it is a great point – possibly the most relevant question to be asked and it is something that I have thought about since.

What qualifications or credentials do I have that allow me to focus on leadership development?

I explained that I have formal qualifications and regularly coach, mentor and train others in effective leadership, having done so for many years. I have a passion for leadership and have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to contribute to the development of many leaders throughout my career. This passion led to the creation of CoachStation in 2010 targeting leadership development as a brand and niche’ market. All things I am very proud of and have worked hard towards but…

…the question still lingered – what credentials or qualifications do I really have to develop leaders?

I recognise that there is no right or wrong answer, however I have had many thoughtful moments over the weekend seeking to clarify this for myself:

  • Possessing the formal education, experience, theory and practical elements of development over many years and subsequently development of others is critical to answering this question. It would be easy to state the obvious that learning and experience are the only contributors and leave it at that, however they are not the only relevant points.
  • It is how leaders act each day through displayed behaviours and actions that people assess and make judgments on. Role-modeling effective leadership traits is important. Applying leadership skills in practice and showing others provides an example for people to follow and/or aspire towards. Having the theoretical knowledge is not enough. People want to see that what is done matches what is said – credibility is king!
  • Being comfortable in knowing that a leader does not have all the answers. In recent years I have become accepting of this point, but it has not always been that way. My personal and professional maturity has grown so that I have greater awareness of my strengths and developments, work regularly on both and accept it is OK to be imperfect. Coincidentally, this is a core aspect I have found assists others along their leadership development journey, particularly early in our discussions.
  • I recognise the more I know, the more I don’t know and the more I want to know. A continuous learning philosophy is a part of who I am, not just what I do. Reading, practicing, succeeding, discussing, teaching, coaching, mentoring, facilitating and failing many times over are all part of my learning. Sometimes the messages have been hard to accept, but they are always worthwhile.
  • A genuine care for other people. A want to give to and help others – in fact, a core attribute or value that I have learned about myself is that I need to give to others. I always try to balance this need with other aspects of my life to ensure that it is a healthy, positive trait, however I know it is a core motivator for me. The most effective leaders are those who genuinely care for their team members and colleagues. It is not enough to learn to care – the most effective leaders I have seen care because it is part of who they are, not what they have learned to do.
  • Live the message: ‘Give a person a fish, feed them for a night. Teach a person to fish and feed them for a lifetime’. Teach people to fish. It should permeate through a leaders values and be reflected in what they say and do. Importantly, I recognise that I am still learning to fish. This doesn’t stop me from helping people learn how to bait a hook and cast the line along the way.
  • It may be a bit of a cliché however being respected and sought out for assistance is a core measurement of leadership success and credibility. I am exceptionally fortunate to be in a position to assist others as part of my role, as a result of my reputation and relationships in and out of my workplace. This is not about being liked – it is more about others feeling like they can approach a leader and will be better off for having a conversation or series of focused meetings with someone they trust and respect. This is one of the more satisfying responses to the question for me. Reputation, trust and the ability to help others is self-fulfilling – the more it happens, the more it happens. People talk and share – this can work for you or go against you, depending on who you are and how you are viewed.

The above points are not conclusive. I recognise there are possibly dozens more answers, reasons, attributes and drivers but I feel that these are my core contributors. The ultimate answer to the question, what are the qualifications to teach others about leadership is actually best answered by others. I will return to this point in a moment.

A few years ago I had with someone and being our first meeting, was a sounding out and observing one another scenario. He asked me a question that, although different to that asked by Steve, has great relevance to this theme. I was asked me if I thought I was a good leader?

At face value this is an obvious question in the work context I was in and certainly relevant, considering our relationship. It was more than that for me though and has been a question I have asked myself often since. We discussed several aspects and views of what good leadership is and again, shared many philosophies. Overall, a great discussion triggering the beginning of a great relationship that continues today.CoachStation Leadership

The ultimate response that can be applied to this question is best answered by others. It is not avoiding the question or an acknowledgment of irrelevance. The very essential elements of leadership – the measure of effectiveness, credibility and judgment that provides an answer to leadership effectiveness actually comes from those you lead!

The genuine joy, pleasure, validation, satisfaction and reward that I get from developing others cannot be described to someone else. It is something that needs to be felt. It is humbling. It fulfills. It is something that gets to the core point about development.

When you get to the stage when you realise that there is greater satisfaction and joy in the returns you get from helping and developing other people, it is hard not to want more. It has greater depth than taking – it is addictive!

It is also what colleagues, peers, team members and other people can and do see in their leaders every day to varying degrees. Effective leaders portray this in what they say, what they do, how they do it and how they make others feel. It is not a black art. It is no mystery, but it takes time and effort to grow to a point where you genuinely ensure it is how you operate consistently.

The credentials, the right and the opportunity to lead is judged and assessed every day. Effective leadership is measured by the difference you make through and with others. The answer to both questions though, is answered best by those around you.

Regularly assess your leadership effectiveness through measures beyond your own internal reflections and view. If you are unsure, ask. It is guaranteed that your people will have a view – whether you know what that is is up to you!


Filed under Leadership, People Development, Values