As an executive coach, leadership is by far my topic of preference.
I am of the opinion that everyone needs to express his own leadership regardless of his role in an organization or a community. I also think that true leadership has a beginning but no end. How we lead ourselves matters.
What do service and leadership have in common? Lots. This article is about you, the coach, being in the service of your client, in this case, the leader.
To many people, leadership has to do with everyone else around them. How to inspire, how to motivate, to share a vision, etc. So the first paradigm leadership exposes us to is, that it is not about others but primarily about self. We only understand what it takes to lead, once we understand who we truly are as an individual and what are the main drivers in our life. That is required in order to successfully exercise our own leadership.
I have often observed that, when faced with challenges in the exercise of their own leadership, clients are seeking a style that suits them. Although it may be tempting to endorse an already made up, off the shelf, calibrated leadership style that may “fix” the problem for now, this borrowed style is unlikely to be sustainable. Instead, coming to terms with who we truly are, and making peace with who we are not, is indeed liberating and empowering and the only way to show authenticity in your role.
Pick any book on leadership and you are likely to find that it will agree with this statement: The first element of leadership is to know oneself. Leadership 101 if you will.
It sounds simple and straightforward but it is loaded with challenges because even though life is linear, the events and phases in it are not.
Being in the service of others for you as a coach means being instrumental in helping your clients travel their own journeys. Pretty awesome wouldn’t you say?
Our colleague Yvon Chouinard in this month’s chronical on coaching exposes some of the phases our clients can find themselves in. Depending on whether they are in the “doldrums”, ‘cocooning” or ‘go for it” phases, your approach will need to be different.
It is a well-known fact that many of our greatest battles are with ourselves. Noteworthy is the fact that we seldom identify the source of our battles appropriately. Often, we battle with others or with external entities when the real struggle is within us.
Holding the mirror to our client is a well-known practice among coaches. It is also risky and needs to be done in a timely manner with much care and compassion.
Compassion you will agree is a fundamental element of service. You have to care to be able to make a difference in your client’s life. I regularly like to remind my clients of this great saying “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”. And that’s the truth!
In coaching as in so many situations in life, rewards come when you are able to contemplate the world from the viewpoint of others. It takes time, patience and again, compassion.
In an environment where results matter and deliverables are ever pressing, it is our role as coaches to help the client step aside, take a moment to reflect and focus on what matters. This is how you are a partner. In helping him do what is needed for him and not necessarily what he is asking for. A fine line indeed.
Recognizing the courage it takes on their part to make all the necessary moves to be a better leader and by the same token, a better person, is indeed humbling and inspiring. As a partner, you are a witness to value being added to the world.Such are our rewards for being in the service of others.