Our Coaches are working with the Core Leaders who are anchoring their organizations during this time of huge disruption. Core Leaders are the “go-to” people who senior leaders, customers, employees, and peers rely on to solve problems and to hold steady in challenging times. In talking with our Coaches, it wasn’t surprising to learn that for many of these Leaders, their Coaches are a lifeline of support and are making a huge difference in these challenging times.
A few themes have emerged about the role Coaches are playing that is adding important value, regardless of industry, level, or geography.
Need for a safe place to process
A senior leader I was coaching once said to me, “When I sneeze, everyone acts as if my organization has a cold!”
Core Leaders are being looked to as a barometer of how things are going. Holding a positive attitude, staying calm in the midst of chaos, and keeping emotions in check is what is expected.
Core Leaders are using their coaching sessions as a safe place to let down their guard and say out loud the range of feelings that they are grappling with. It is a relief for them to have a venue where they can be completely honest; where they don’t have to be concerned about the impact of their emotions on others’ stability; and where they don’t have to be worried about how they are being perceived by peers or their boss.
Coaches are finding that being present for their Participants by listening deeply and empathically, and reflecting back what they hear, results in emotional regulation and an increased ability to be solution oriented. Coaching sessions almost always end with deep sighs of relief, a sense of clarity, and concrete action steps.
Many Core Leaders are facing new challenges that they haven’t yet confronted in their careers. This is complicated by working in a virtual environment, which again, for many is a career first.
Time in coaching sessions is being used to think through a range of scenarios to help deal with the unknown, gain perspective about how to read ambiguous situations, and have effective challenging conversations that cannot be held face to face. Core Leaders are relying on their Coaches to challenge their thinking and assumptions, ask powerful questions, and offer suggestions that broaden the possible ways to approach the complexity of the situations they are finding themselves in.
At the end of the 30- or 60-minute session, Coaches have often recently been told that their Participants feel better equipped to lead their teams during this time of disruption.
For many Core Leaders who have been working virtually for 3+ months, the boundaries of work and home life demands have been blurred, and setting boundaries can be very challenging. The concern many have expressed is that they don’t want to disappoint senior management, and there is a fear that they will be perceived as “not being a team player.”
Coaches are supporting their Participants with sorting through how and when they can say no, and still send the message that they can be counted on. With boundaries set, many coaching sessions also focus on how to help Core Leaders prioritize the basics of wellness by creating concrete plans for exercise, sleep, and healthy eating. Coaches play the role of accountability partners by being the voice of advocacy for self-care.
There is one final theme that is worth mentioning.
As business leaders continue to meet the challenges of unprecedented crisis many of their organizations are facing, they are busier than ever. We have seen cancelation rates drop because Participants see coaching sessions as critical due to the return on the investment of their time. Perhaps it is time for your organization to think about how to add coaching to the support system of your Core Leaders.