In my coaching practice, I meet leaders, who, when faced with challenges in the workspace, tend to look outwards and make judgements and extend blame on external parties. These leaders see themselves as doing the ‘right’ action and this action is not being reciprocated by the third party. They tend to be quick in executing the blame and wallow in this space, feeling frustrated and unhappy.
In my role as a coach, I support leaders to not be so quick in doing the blaming. Rather I get them to ‘slow-down’ so that they can take a few minutes to reflect on themselves – who they are in those challenging situations. This reflection usually comes with the questions such as; what are some of your thoughts, what are your feelings about this scenario and what was your ‘hardwired’ behaviour pattern when such challenges occurred. Via this reflective practice, leaders are enabled to get a glimpse of how they responded on an ‘auto-pilot’ basis to scenarios. This reflective practice enables leaders to invite different possiblities of managing the same challenge. Several new options on how to behave or respond differently to scenarios are created.
Let me share one client-case where I supported a leader to do a reflective practice so as to gain insights to a challenge that seemed to be re-occuring.
The leader had vast experience in building teams that had diverse functional roles. During one of his team meetings, he realised that part of the team were very supportive to his leadership style and had endorsed his plans and strategies. He found that team very easy to work with. He was also very satisfied with the results that team produced. They were ‘shining’ and performing their best. His saw his role as a leader of this team, as excellent.
Conversely, the leader had another team that resisted his leadership style. When they received feedback from him, they resisted his feedback and became defensive. They refused to collaborate with him and exhibited reluctance to his ideas, suggestions and strategies. The leader was totally ‘shocked’ on receiving such negative reaction. The leader asked the coach for support to gain clarity as to why this team was behaving this way towards him.
As his coach, I used reflective practice with this leader. I gave him the space to reflect on who he was ‘being’ with his team. We explored his actions, his words, his feelings that he displayed to both these teams. I asked the leader to reflect if there were any differences. After thinking for a few minutes, the leader shared his insights and learnings. He acknowledged that since the first team was a marketing and sales team, he could motivate and encourage them to drive results. The results that they achieved were a significant indicator to senior management of how excellent a leader he was to his team. He felt he was ‘shining’ in their glory. Conversely, to the second team who were the support team, that conducted all the operational matters, the leader realised that his energy towards them was lower. He did not need to encourage them to do better. Their role was to do maintainence work. He did not see a need to motivate them or to spend time to praise them. Whatever feedback he gave them was directed to them to correct their mistakes. He frowned upon this as he made the assumption that they should know their daily work which was very standard.
From this reflective practice, the leader learnt that he treated the first team as his ‘golden’ child and the second team as his ‘step’ child. He detested this behaviour of his. He vowed to himself that he would henceforth treat all his team members equally, irrespective of their department or roles. Each one of them was significant to him as he wanted to brand himself as being a great leader to his diverse team. Some new action steps were designed, which included; to seek apology from the second team as well as to build a nurturing relationship with them, via praising and acknowledging them, among others. This proved to be a breakthrough action on his part to continue to build strong teams.
Are you keen to know more about becoming a coach-leader in your organization? Do connect.