As an Executive Coach, it’s my job to know you in terms of your leadership strengths and your leadership skills. Both are imperative to your overall success as a leader.
To know you requires me to also understand how you think. Good Executive Coaches understand human behavior, and they understand that behaviors are preceded by thoughts. In other words, we behave in accordance with what we think. You have to ‘think it’ before you ‘act it.’
Let’s take a couple of examples:
Micro-managers struggle to let go, yet I rarely work with a leader who readily admits, “I’m a micro-manager! Help me!” Even with the validation of a Leadership 360 Assessment confirming micro-management, the truth still hurts. Some clients I’ve worked with want the almighty checklist of how to avoid micro-management, but their tendency toward micro-management is deeply rooted in how they think, and that’s something a mere checklist won’t solve.
A total analysis (leading to understanding) of why the leader simply can’t let go is required in these cases, as the issues (and insecurities) are much deeper. Many micro-managers think in terms of where their prior success rests—as ‘doers.’ It’s how they validated themselves for years. It’s what got them to where they are! As a result, they have a difficult time shifting from ‘doing’ to ‘leading.’ They think no one knows as much as them, and they think their people ‘need them.’ It’s hard for them to grasp that, yes, people need them, but in a very different way. Many micro-managers think their expertise supersedes all others on the team. If this goes unchecked over time, micro-managers become obsessive and even more controlling. Micro-managers also think they’re showing those around them their ability to control and coordinate all aspects of organizational life for which they are responsible. In convincing themselves of this, they are becoming their own worst enemy. They aren’t coaching people; they’re squelching people. Micro-managers also think in terms of perfection, so when a direct report makes a decision, a micro-manager might second-guess that decision rather than support it.
2. Limited ability to form trusted relationships with direct reports
I frequently hear, “I like people, but I’ve never been great at the social side of things,” so you migrate toward non-social situations, but it’s extremely difficult to be an effective leader without having social skills necessary to work comfortably with people.
You then may try to ‘bond’ with people, and it doesn’t go so well. You feel really uncomfortable, you can tell you didn’t ‘sell’ your attempt to reach out, and then you say to yourself, “See…I’m just not good at this!” You keep thinking you’re not good at this, and you perpetuate a vicious cycle. In the end, you won’t be good at forming relationships. This is called "confirmation bias"—you try something, it doesn’t work perfectly like you hoped it would, and this perpetuates your thinking that you’re just not good at this. As noted above, it’s a vicious cycle, and it’s my job as an Executive Coach to see this kind of thinking and bring it to the forefront.
To grow yourself as a leader requires what I call an “InnerShift,” which is a personal transformation of the mind. How you lead stems from how you really do think.
As an Executive Coach, I ask my clients to do some deep dives into their own thinking. Past experience can transfer into our current reality. Our brains learned something a long time ago, and we then apply that learning to people we work with today. A core requirement for a personal transformation is that we recalibrate our thinking to be in alignment with the results we say we want to get. If micro-managers want to create high-performance teams, they have to question the way they think before they can expect any real change to take place. This is why Executive Coaching isn’t for the faint of heart (which I wrote about in a prior blog). It is a deeply personal journey that requires personal resolve, openness, and a willingness to accept some harsh realities in order to learn and, more importantly, to unlearn.
Keep in mind that a shift in thinking patterns is only part of the story—the full story is much larger and deeper—but it’s a place to start. After all, your thoughts are a form of energy that, used appropriately, can catapult you to your desired outcome as a leader.
Executive Coaching is about understanding how you think, what you think and why, and how to recalibrate your thinking in a way that will interface more effectively with your current environment. Coaching isn’t therapy; it’s simply a thought-provoking journey that will be as fascinating as you allow it to be.
Want to go on a journey of discovery? If so, reach out—find an Executive Coach, and enjoy learning about the InnerShift you can make so that you lead with focus and intent.
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