Why Leaders Need Coaches

The 21st century is an unforgiving ecology. In a shape-shifting marketplace, one person’s mistake is another’s opportunity. It’s an uncompromising playground, where the nature of the game keeps changing with no warning, thereby defining the leadership qualities that are needed in order to survive and thrive.

This comes in five parts:

Part One:      The intoxication
Part Two:      What happens when an individual re-positions
Part Three:    Leadership’s biggest challenge
Part Four:      Developing new capabilities and skill-sets
Part Five:      The role of a coach

Part One:  The intoxication

Human beings are power merchants. We are made to process energies. Unlike the singular power coming out of an electric socket, human engagement is fueled by a mind-bogglingly broad energy spectrum: High to low; fine to coarse; potent concentrates to dispersed. The quality of energies we attract depends on our personal development. The higher end of the power and energy spectrum requires uncommon insight, disciplines and mind engagement technologies.

Life thus presents each one of us with the opportunity to become joined to a multi-dimensional organic power grid. You have your one-on-one connections with aspects of this magnificent spectrum. Blending with it are energies sourced from the various social networks that you are part of – family, friends, ‘friends’… You likely seek for energy congruency – “Birds of a feather flock together”. You would be hard pressed to find a genius in the company of fools… Or, a person of high personal standards in the company of the reckless.

The divergence challenge
When human development enters an arrested state, it cannot keep up with the rate of change of increasing universal power inflow into the world. This divergence creates escalating cycles of unchecked volatility, witnessed through the evolution of reckless extremism: The insane are running the asylum. Being power drunk and intoxicated due to the lack of purposive personal development, there are those at the helm of nations and radical movements living in a state of disconnection from their human core. To the point of having lost the ability to think and act like a feeling being. Their actions reflect the shocking degree to which other people’s feelings mean little to nothing to them.

It’s a two edged sword
For a developing person, it’s the greatest source of enhancement and empowerment. It’s also a potential source of extreme intoxication to those that become possessed by a singular belief such as: “I have been instructed by my God to destroy just about anything that is different to me. Or, actually, anything that pleases me. And it’s all in its name”. So people destroy the work of God in the name of God; no longer capable of perceiving the diabolically distorted logic of their thoughts and actions.

Part Two: What happens when an individual re-positions

As an emerging leader advances in take-up and responsibility, their positioning within the inter-connected human power grids alters; connecting the person to exponentially greater power levels, together with the intrinsic permission to use those powers to influence the lives of many. Thus placing new requirements upon one’s self-management and personal development, putting under the magnifying glass one’s strengths and vulnerabilities.

Some handle this process better than others. However, you would be hard-pressed to name an individual that would not be struggling with it. In entering the domains of leadership, a person enters a world of unpredictability, ambiguity and uncertainty; requiring specialised personal development and skill-sets.

Everything is magnified
Consider developmental challenges such as impulsiveness, reactivity, fear of addressing a large audience, self-centeredness, lack of compassion… Now think of a developed strength, such as integrity, transparency, intelligence, wit, patience, endurance, resilience, warmth, self-awareness, superior perception… All are tested time and again. The dynamic, rapidly evolving nature of the times is such that nothing can prepare an emerging leader to the job at hand.

Redesigning one’s mental immunities
Let’s throw immunity into the fray. In saying yes to a leadership take-up, the nature of mental immunity alters. In leading people, you may need to ‘de-immune’ yourself from what you were immune to before having become a leader. Example: Receiving feedback. Being immune to constructive feedback when not in a leadership position becomes a serious liability in assuming a leadership role. In negotiating the leadership gradient, one must develop the kind of mental immunity that would ensure one’s survival. Being able to receive hard feedback without being crushed by it; developing new levels of resilience, the ability to handle setbacks…

The art of staying intact
As many do, one may be able to lead a small business into a dramatic growth trajectory but at some point, an unseen threshold is crossed, where the innovator must develop – rapidly – new skill-sets to be able to handle the domain of magnitude. This is the story of companies such as Amazon, Microsoft and Apple.

Part Three: Leadership’s greatest challenge

In being constantly exposed to ambiguity, complexity, intoxicated minds, incessant demand to deliver consistent profit margins, pressure and stress, how does a leader maintain a clear mind and the ability to hold an undistorted view of what is happening and especially, what is possible?

The greatest challenge of a leader is to be able to maintain an impartial mental disposition, no matter what. Distorted perception leads to bad decisions and bad decisions lead to loss of franchise.

All ways lead to… the need for the kind of personal development that equals the need, so that the need will not drown the leader due to lack of ‘perception oxygen’.

Part four: Developing new capabilities and skill-sets

Topping the list is developing self-awareness. Your body and mind are your personal universal news-service. To what degree are you aware of the subtle nuances of what is happening in you – physiologically, mentally, psychologically, spiritually, emotionally..? Next to that, to the undercurrents, cross-currents and events that are shaping the thoughts and actions of those around you? How often do you catch yourself being unaware of that which you ought to be aware of?

Lack of awareness – such as the awareness of people’s feelings and needs – is the prime culprit of interpersonal friction. So they do what they are told until they don’t… Or, they stay until they bale off as soon as an opportunity presents itself…

How many people do you personally know that can do with awakening feedback regarding their behaviour? There lies the answer to why self-awareness is such a crucial, fundamental personal development territory.

Life is host to untold possibilities that cannot be Googled. There is no App – and never will be – to get you there. It’s a journey of discovery through personal exposure, immersion and experience. And none of us can do it without specialised help and insight.

Part five: The role of a coach

A skilled leadership coach is:

  • A confidential presence, serving as an impartial, reliable sounding board that helps the client to act from a position of strength, wisdom and good balance.
  • A skilled navigator in the process of assisting the client to discover the path of least resistence to deliver needed outcomes.
  • A rich source of ways and means in the context of organisational dynamics.
  • A strategic innovation process architect and facilitator.
  • Because of the coach’s personal, life-long pursuit, the developed ability to create the conditions and provide the essential insights that support and catalyse personal growth and the development of self-awareness and self-leadership.
  • Inside of the time framework of the coaching/consulting session, to be the client’s best friend, upholding their best interest, with no other agenda.

Leaders need coaches. It’s lonely up there at the top. Get a coach to find out the added value of someone who can help you be and give your best, beyond your current limitations.

David Gommé

World Copyright 2015© David Gommé

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