by Jan 1, 2022Coaching0 comments

Many leaders in the business environment get uncomfortable when problems arise.  They aspire for ‘quick fix’ solutions so that they can move forward as well as upward as fast as possible.  They prefer to focus their time on strategic issues of how to improve processes, reduce wastages as well as seek out new opportunities.  So how do leaders manage these problems?  Some leaders expect the problem to disappear and ignore it, some tend to avoid it, some delay their response, hoping that a solution will emerge, some focus on the incapability of the staff that created the problem.  Conversely, there are leaders who do spend their time researching and exploring the root cause of the problem to identify ways to avoid the problem from recurring.


In my coaching practice, many of the leaders struggle with managing problems that emerge.  These problems are inclusive of both the process-related ones as well as the people-related ones.  Either way, these leaders frown upon the fact that they need to carve out time from their tight schedules to find solutions to address the problem.


To be of service to these leaders, as their coach, I support them in using a tool called “Reflective Practice”.  In this simple tool the coach enables the leaders to reflect on the problem by focussing on what happened, who were involved and the leader’s role.  Via this reflective practice, the leader will gain insights and learnings on how his behaviour had an impact on the problem.  Via this, new alternative ways to resolve the problem emerges.  The leader can make better choices and can find speedy resolutions.



In this case, the leader was ‘complaining’ about his superior who provided him with feedback on the operational reports that he had prepared.  His superior did not ask him about any other additional tasks that this leader had designed to do for his team or for other cross-functional teams.  The leader made the assumption that the superior ‘should know’.  At the end of the month, the superior was asked to conduct a review of this leader and he graded him as ‘Average’.  This upset the leader, who felt ‘short-changed’ especially in the light of the extensive supportive activities which he had planned, designed and conducted.


During the coaching session, I, as the coach encouraged him to use the reflective practice tool take a ‘pause’ and  re-visit the situation.  The power of the ‘pause’ is to allow both the emotional brain and the logical brain to attain a balance with each other.  When they are in balance, the leader will gain a much higher quality of clarity, insights and learnings.


I encouraged the leader to focus on the question, “What is the outcome you are seeking?” The leader gained clarity on his outcome, viz., to have an ‘exceed expectation’ performance review.  The leader gained clarity about how he had overlooked his tasks of managing his superior’s perception, how he created gaps in their communication,  how he had missed opportunities to share and update his superior, how he had failed to include his superior in his activities’ planning or designing stage.

The leader also gained insights that he had climbed up the ‘Ladder of Inference’ when he made assumptions about his superior’s knowledge over the activities he implemented.  This behaviour of the leader was his ‘auto-pilot’ behaviour as he had practiced this throughout his career.

The leader gained learnings as he assessed his ‘auto-pilot’ behaviour and became aware of how it had not served him in his career. He made a conscious decision to stop adopting it.  He created new alternatives to practice as a replacement. For example, he promised to climb down the ‘Ladder of Inference’ and conduct a two-way dialogue with his superior,  consequently, building a strong trusting relationship with him.   The leader also learnt that his energy played a critical role in influencing his superior’s reaction towards him.  Hence he crafted some alternative behaviours such as centering and embracing positive vibes, before any meeting with his superior.


With this quality of clarity, insights and learnings, the leader was able to showcase his better version and earned the trust of his superior.