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Mentor Leadership Part 2

Written by: Lorraine Twombly
Published: October 2012

Recently, I joined a group of terrific executive leaders and we are attending a series of workshops that promote forums for great leadership while discussing the latest leadership theories, ideas, and challenges. There's a combination of leadership personality styles and great discussions over case studies and new forums are created and designed every week.

The first workshop was a couple weeks ago and I'd like to share the results of the leadership forum I presented to them so that I could learn more about executive leadership coaching and mentoring from their perspective. I had just read an article about why CEO's need a coach, which "engaged" me to focus on this topic for my forum presentation to the executive leaders in the room. (The CEO Coaching link is on our website if you are interested to read it.)

What follows are the questions that were presented...the group of leaders were Bret, David, Dawn, Deb, John, Lauren, Mike, and Neal and they participated at a very high level of "engagement". I'd like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one for their feedback on these questions!

Question #1: Why do top levels of leadership resist coaching?

  • Leaders think that they should know it all (and some believe they do)
  • Leaders feel it will show a lack of control to their staff
  • Time can be a big factor
  • Leaders are afraid it will reflect vulnerability
  • Ego
  • Fear of facing weakness
  • Fear of judgment
  • Cost

Question #2: What are the hidden personal benefits?

  • Helps to "reset" stress level and lends perspective
  • Opens up honest communication
  • Benefits at home
  • Humbling can be an FGO
  • Gain respect from others
  • Feeling whole!!
  • Happier at work and home
  • "Free-ing" - don't feel like you have to be perfect
  • Eliminates wondering what is happening behind the scenes -h; "Yes" people!

Question #3: What are the benefits to the organization?

  • Leaders create better organizational culture
  • Gives all employees permission to learn and grow
  • More employees will admit that they'd like to be coached
  • Re-energizes staff and solidifies the team approach to leadership
  • It sends a message that your leader is human - it's okay to be vulnerable
  • Good for the future of the organization
  • Show's willingness to grow and develop - even at top levels of leadership
  • Increased productivity and engagement with the work
  • Discover real strengths of senior team and therefore the workforce

Question #4: If you were to consult on the subject of coaching, advise on how best to coach top leaders (there were many checkmarks as "dittos" to represent liking the advices on all five):

  • Provide forum for talking about challenges often
  • Encourage honest self-reflection
  • Ask the difficult questions
  • Build respect based on actual "been there, done that&qout;
  • Create a group of peer mentors who can present feedback of 360 systems

There were lots of very thoughtful and informative discussions that came out of this forum and it was a pleasure being part of it! Deb will be presenting the next forum topic and I think I can say with much certainty that everyone is looking forward to it!

So, back to "Engaging" others. We can do that by simply asking the right questions that will help the employee or potential leader to figure out the path to better behaviors and learning new skills. We learn quite a lot by asking the right questions. Simply by asking, the employee feels engaged to participate in the process. People feel like they can take charge of their own destiny if you give them a chance to engage in their own solution.

Asking the right ones can be harder than it seems, though. Get to know a person by initiating some small talk and by listening for ideas from those conversations. Once we learn a few things that may help, a really good open-ended question that may spark ideas helps engage the employee to higher levels of effectiveness and productivity. First, the employees needs to trust the person who is the coach, otherwise there may not be much engagement going on.

We welcome feedback and comments, so please do not hesitate...thanks for reading!

Next article will be on Negotiating win/wins by coaching employees to look at systems for success when growing and developing into positions of value and fitness.

Lorraine Twombly

Lorraine Twombly