“The only difference between a rut and a grave is the dimensions” Ellen Glasglow
The latest CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development) research makes interesting reading. It highlights the fact that Executive Coaching is the fastest growing aspect of training and development. We’ve touched on this topic a couple of times – so I don’t want to re-plow old ground. But, in these straightened times, it raises the possibility of whether you could do a D.I.Y. coaching job? Instead of paying an Executive Coach, could you book into a hotel in Barcelona and spend time ‘working on yourself’? Most people believe that thinking is something which just happens; they never set aside time to just think. The Prize: Get ahead of the curve instead of just responding to the latest phone call from some headhunter.
Self-Questioning: Let’s assume that you had sorted out your diary and carved out time to spend this mythical weekend by yourself. What sort of questions might you pose? How would you interrogate your past? Make sense of the present? How might you anticipate your future? To make this a bit easier and speed up the process, I’ve listed the typical questions addressed in coaching executives. While the questions are custom designed to individuals, this will give you a good idea of the raw ingredients.
1. Current Job: Do you like your current role and think about this in a way, which is happy/upbeat? Are there elements in the current role that frustrate you/what are these? What things are you particularly proud of? What things would you do differently if it were possible to turn the clock back? Do you like the people you work with? What is it that you like most about the organization and the things that you don’t like or disagree with? What leaders do you admire/why? Where does their leadership style differ from your own? Have you seen other leaders lose their way in this organization? What happened? Do you think that people like working for you? How do you know?
2. Early Life Experiences: What were your family like when you were growing up? What were the key values or beliefs in your family? How did these impact you (then and now)? What experiences (early life) had the greatest impact on you? Is there anything you learned then that you try to pass on to your own immediate family now? How close are you to your family or origin? Is there any unfinished business for you in relation to your original family?
3. Being Happy: What sort of things motivates you? Extrinsic: Money, power, recognition, and social status, being associated with success? versus Intrinsic: Personal growth, doing a good job, helping others, making a difference? Which are the standout career moments that you are most proud of? If you think of a time in your life when you felt really happy and successful, what were you doing at that time? If you were asked to describe a ‘perfect year’ what might this look like? What life goals (financial, family, career) do you have at this point? What’s next for you? What do you still want to achieve? How well have these been articulated? In terms of legacy, what would you like to leave behind? What are you doing now to ensure that this will happen?
4. Development Needs: What are you key capabilities at this point? How do you learn best (doing, reading, formal training etc)? What are you key development needs? How do you know? Have there been instances when you were dissatisfied with your leadership ability or received constructive feedback from others? How did you respond? Are you consciously developing your abilities/how? What leadership experiences do you need now to take your ability to the next level? If you could change 1 or 2 things about yourself, what would they be? Who are your mentors? Do you have good access to professional advice?
5. Personal Life: What is the most important thing to you in your personal life? In terms of friendships how solid is your external network? Are you spending the correct amount of time on the things in your life that are most important to you? How do you stay grounded? Does the thought of getting older impact you in any way? Will your life and time commitments change, as you get older? What is the most difficult trade-off in all of the above?
Still want to do it? This brief note is designed to provide an insight into the world of Executive Coaching (the Tandem Consulting philosophy is to share the techniques used with clients). But, a small caution needs to be inserted. Last week I bought a jigsaw in Capel Street. Now, having that tool doesn’t make me a Carpenter. You also need the skill to use it correctly. While a sub-set of people will figure out the personal development bit on their own, there is often value in working with someone skilled in this space. Experience, Compassion and the Guts to confront a client who may not be facing the reality of his or her circumstances – are the three divine things in one coach. That’s the ECG you need to kick-start the rest of your career.
Just do it! To remain happy, most people feel a need to keep growing. Soren Kierkegaard (in Either/Or) expressed this beautifully: “If I were to wish for anything I should not wish for wealth and power, but for the passionate sense of what can be. Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating as possibility?” While you have choices about how to move forward, including the DIY option sketched above, the decision to remain ‘as is’ seldom makes sense.
PS Ethical Dilemma for Golfers (apologies to the non-golfers who may not get this one). You are playing in the club final and the match is halved at the end of 17 holes. You tee off and hit your ball 250 yards to the middle of the 18th fairway, leaving a simple six iron to the pin. Your opponent then hits his ball, lofting it deep into the woods to the right of the fairway. Being the gentleman that you are, you help your opponent look for the ball. Just before the permitted 5 minute search period ends, your opponent says: “Go ahead and hit your second shot. If I don’t find it in time, I’ll concede the match.” You hit your ball, landing it on the green, stopping about 10 feet from the pin. Yes! About the time your ball comes to rest, you hear your opponent exclaim from deep in the woods: “Found it!” The second sound you hear is a click as the club strikes the ball which comes sailing out of the woods, lands on the green and stops six inches from the hole. Now here’s the ethical dilemma: Do you pull the cheating bastard’s ball out of your pocket and confront him with it or do you keep your mouth shut?
Know someone who’d benefit from reading this blog? Forward it on or ask them to contact email@example.com and we will add them to the mailing list.