Over the past almost two years of coaching, I have identified three specific areas that have arisen from working with my clients. Three coaching areas consistently come to the fore. They are: Interpersonal Communications Skills, Time Management and Values. As I coach clients, it doesn’t matter what their roles, occupations or positions these three consistently come front and center.
“Leaders need to make sure they are being clear in both their intentions and expectations in their communications.”
Leaders want to be able to communicate their message. They want to know they are being heard and understood. Clients consistently tell me that this is an ongoing challenge for them. Even those who identify as good communicators recognize that they can do better. That is one of the hallmarks of great leaders, they know that can improve and want to be consistently learning. As a coach, I facilitate these leaders in understanding their personal communications style; their normal tactics for communicating with others. It is also important that the leader have some understanding of their staffs’ preferences regarding how they receive communication. My task with these leaders is to get them to recognize how their staff wish to be communicated with, and then have them move towards that. The other piece that has become obvious is that leaders need to make sure they are being clear in both their intentions and expectations in their communications. Coaching is a perfect tool to assist these leaders in becoming better communicators.
“Coaching provides the space for clients to dive deeper into their roles and find out what is most important to them, and to prioritize their time.”
Leaders today are pushed and pulled in all directions. They are being bombarded with requests for information and data. Their time is at a premium. One of the challenges for leaders is to be able to consistently manage their time. Time management for these leaders is situational: it’s different in different situations. As I coach leaders, and time management becomes recognized as a challenge they are facing, I assist them to identify those things that may be handed off to others. This often leads to a hard look at the roles the leader has taken on, and also to a hard look at priorities. What is the best use of the leader’s time? Again, this is very situational and can take some time to sort out. Coaching provides the space for clients to dive deeper into their roles and find out what is most important to them, and to prioritize their time. One consistently forgotten element in a leader’s calendar is time for self-care. Creating space to exercise, read, socialize and just think. For whatever length of time or in whatever situation, leaders need this time to rejuvenate. If they do not take care of themselves first, how can they take care of those they lead?
“A leader’s vison comes from their beliefs, their core values.”
Finally, one of the biggest surprises for me as I started my coaching practice was how few people have done any work on their personal values. Very few of my clients over the previous years, with few exceptions, have spent any time determining their core values, or the impact that values have on how they lead. A big part of leadership is inspiring others with a shared vision, being clear of your vision for your organization and then being able to impart that vision to others. A leader’s vison comes from their beliefs, their core values. I have observed that once leaders have discovered what these are, they become much more passionate about what they are doing and have an increased impact on leading their teams. As a coach I facilitate a process for clients to identify their core values. Having completed that process, I then ask them to define these values, and then determine where they can demonstrate them in their daily lives. There is one caveat to this process though, namely that clients may find that their personal core values do not align with those of the organization of which they are part. Obviously this is less likely to be a problem with business owners or CEOs, who typically and logically define the organization’s core values personally. Often if there is conflict or misunderstanding between my client and the organization, it is because their values do not align well with each other.
John Whitehead, coaches’ individuals and organizations in becoming more effective by helping them improve their interpersonal communications, emotional intelligence and resiliency.
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