Marshall Goldsmith, perhaps the world’s most famous executive coach, says that the top three needs for executive coaching success are: Courage, Humility, and Discipline. I have found this to be the case in my 15 years of executive coaching as well.
3 Ingredients for coaching success
Courage: you need to be ready to look at and examine the areas of your leadership that are uncomfortable. The more willing you are to dig in, examine why you do what you do, and share this with other stakeholders and, of course, your teams, the more success you will have in coaching. Vulnerability is the key here.
Humility: letting go of your successes for a short while and be willing to let go of your ego for a bit as well. It is similar to the “beginner’s mind” in Buddhism and also Martial Arts. Be open to learning and be open to shifting from command and control to giving leadership.
Discipline: changing leadership habits is very difficult, particularly when what you have been doing in the past as a leader has worked so well. It takes the willingness to unlearn old habits and the commitment to dig in and do your best in developing new practices that will take your leadership to the next level.
Time & Deep reflection
My experience is that leadership coaching is not the right intervention when the leader can’t commit the time and energy to do the deep reflection that successful behavior change requires. This is not about hours (although you’ll need to plan 2-3 hours of homework time per month if we work together). It’s about motivation. The deep desire to prove that you have more to give than perhaps others give you credit for or that you you’ve been willing to acknowledge deep inside. It’s important to be all in and not embark on a coaching engagement because you heard coaching is helpful or someone said it “might be a good idea for you.”
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“Through Bob’s coaching and guidance, I better understand the physical cues of leadership — how you project yourself and advocate your point of view. Bob is masterful at facilitating the introspection process necessary to become a more well-rounded leader.”
~ Vice President, Global Marketing, Facebook
“Bob created an environment that encouraged me to participate and push beyond my comfort levels. Articulate and intelligent, Bob exemplified the link between knowing your higher-level purpose and becoming an effective leader.”
~ Head of Enterprise Sales, Dow Jones