By Warren Green, principal of Baltimore-based Protégé Executive Coaching & Consulting
Are you interested in taking your leadership skills from good to great? The benefits of executive coaching for executives who are seeking both personal and organizational growth are numerous. Here are five key reasons to seek out this important service if you want to become the most effective leader possible.
One of the goals of coaching is to increase self-awareness by taking a step outside ourselves to understand as objectively as possible who we are, how people perceive us, what our traits and characteristics are, and what our management style is. Coaching involves nudging people into a state of self-awareness, not imparting a body of knowledge or information. That makes it a more subtle, oblique and intuitive process than would be possible with a more didactic approach.
Dr. P.M. Forni wrote a short book called Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct that should be on every leader’s ‘must-read’ list. Civility, which involves treating others with respect and courtesy, is different than etiquette, which has more to do with where your knife and fork go than with how you treat others. Too often in businesses, relationships break down when there’s less civility. A coach can help you increase your ‘civility quotient’ and achieve warmer, stronger relationships with peers, reports and your boss.
Great leaders have and display empathy – the ability to understand what the other person is feeling. Empathy is clearly distinct from sympathy, which is a feeling of pity or sorrow for someone’s misfortune. A coach can help you objectively examine real-life situations and determine where empathy did or could have played a role for the benefit of all.
A leader that is self-absorbed is destined to be unsuccessful over time. A coach will encourage you to dig deep and will coach you to modify your behavior if a lack of empathy seems to be getting in your way.
Better Management of Conflicts
Managing conflicts is a common task for executives, yet most of us are ill prepared to face and deal with them constructively. If you don’t possess a natural ability to resolve conflicts, and find yourself backing away from them or over-reacting, a coach can be extremely useful. Especially if you are personally emotionally involved, he or she can help you take a step back, to obtain greater perspective.
If you feel personally wounded each time you encounter conflict, you are likely to become brittle and inefficient. Your coach can help you to detach from your ego when resolving issues so that you can maintain your energy and balance. He or she can guide you to analyze the situation as if you were a doctor evaluating a patient, guiding you through the steps of analysis, action planning and follow-through to achieve conflict resolution. If you step back from your emotions and remind yourself that you’re a professional approaching the situation as a problem to be solved, you are more likely to succeed.
Improved Listening Skills
Most leaders have multiple constituents, and understanding the perspective of each group is critical. To do that, check your listening skills. Most of us are guilty of half listening while we plan our next response or think about something else. Making eye contact helps you to connect with the other person and keep your focus on what they’re saying. Reflecting back what they just said can help you make sure you heard their point, and it’s also a surprisingly powerful tool to help them to feel understood. Good leaders are good listeners.
The most effective leaders also are curious, and open to learning more about themselves and how others perceive them. Executive coaches can support you as you open yourself up to genuinely caring about others, putting yourself in their shoes and learning to lead effectively.
As the former CEO of LifeBridge Health and Sinai Hospital of Baltimore, Warren Green has been coaching others for decades. He also personally has experienced the benefits of being coached. Contact him at wgreen@protegeECC.com.