One of the most common refrains we hear from new leadership coaching clients is
“Wow, it’s really great to be able to step back and talk about me in the context of my work and organisation. No one else ever listens to me like that, including my boss or partner.”
When we probe a bit more deeply, clients typically go on to share that one of the impacts of the coaching on them is feeling seen and heard, so much so that it allows a part of them to exhale and relax into their bodies more fully.
Imagine, simply feeling seen and heard allows your muscles to relax and your tension to dissipate. You don’t need to be a trained coach to gift that experience to someone!
There is also the process of mentally labelling and organising one’s thoughts and feelings in order to articulate them. By doing so, leaders often discover their thought patterns. And sometimes I help them create insights by reflecting back what I have heard. This, in many ways, is about revealing the system to itself. Awareness of how they “tick” often starts with “I’m noticing that…”
And awareness is key because it is what enables action. The beautiful phrase “Deepen the learning, forward the action” is a maxim Coactive® coaches live by. This, at its heart, is the crucial difference between coaching and counselling. The learning and action is always in service of a purpose, a vision, or a desired future state.
Crucially, by gifting coaching to leaders, an organisation imparts a strong message that it cares; that although much may be asked of the leader, they also are supported and appreciated. This creates not just gratitude, but more importantly, psychological safety. It says to leaders: “Yes, you are allowed to make mistakes, because we value learning and improvement over perfection.” That message allows leaders to take risks, which is a prerequisite for pulling Excalibur from the rock of business as usual, i.e. innovation.
Coaching invariably builds the resilience of leaders and empowers them to take responsibility for their ever more complex world.
And that is what organisations in the 21st century need.