In any company, it appears that most people in leadership roles or positions of power, such as the CEO or Director, seem to already have it all figured out. This is why employees look up to them and rely on them for their decision , expertise, and guidance. But here’s the thing: great leaders weren’t all born this way (unless you’re Mahatma Gandhi, maybe). Good leadership is a mix of training, education, experience, and a little bit of learning on the fly.
The most important difference between a competent leader and a great leader is good judgment. It’s quite easy to make decisions when there’s an obvious path to the outcome you want, whether it’s based on guidance from others or clear-cut data and relevant information. But how do you make the best decision when you don’t have all the information and there’s no clear answer? By educating yourself, constantly striving for improvement no matter where you’re at in your career, leading your team through empathy and by driving innovation.
Think you already have the answers? Well, think again. According to a recent study in the Harvard Business Review , 3,761 executives assessed their own coaching skills and their assessments were compared with those of people who worked with them. The results didn’t match up at all. Twenty-four percent of the executives significantly overestimated their abilities, rating themselves as above average while their colleagues ranked them in the bottom third of the group. The data doesn’t lie.
Gone are the days when companies ran on authoritarian and rigid leadership styles. A long time ago, before the industrial revolution and the tech boom, management was about knowing what needs to be done and making sure your subordinates knew it too. But that’s not the case anymore. Disruption and constant change are the norm these days, and you can’t always rely on past successes to guide you in the future. Learning plays a part throughout your career.
Great leadership is about helping your team find the answers themselves, encouraging them to solve problems their own way by pointing them in the right direct ion. Simply put, your job is to be a coach and sometimes , a cheerleader. First off, in order to be a good leader, there are some basic characteristics companies look for:
– Excellent communication skills;
– A vision for the big picture;
– Ability to handle stress;
– Ability to motivate and inspire others;
– Essentially , lead by example.
For decades, employees have relied on mentors, business coaches, and leadership coaches to guide them in their careers so they can achieve their goals — there’s a lot of value in this. Learning from someone more experienced than you lets you benefit from their wisdom: avoid the mistakes they made and learn from the things they did right. By getting to know you and your goals, a leadership coach can identify what you need to work on, the skills you need to develop, and help you navigate tough situations.
“Everyone needs a coach. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a basketball player, a tennis player, a gymnast or a bridge player.” – Bill Gates
Whether you’re someone already in a leadership role or aspiring for a leadership role, you could benefit from having a leadership coach or business coach by your side. Moreover, the return-on-investment (ROI) from having a business coach is indisputable. According to studies, leadership coaching produced a 788% ROI, and the average ROI was almost six times the cost of coaching. Still not convinced? Here’s more on why you should have a business coach by your side:
1. There’s no clear-cut path to leadership. Everyone’s career path and trajectory is different, so the experience you’ve gained, along with your personal characteristics, can make or break you as a leader. This is where a leadership coach can help you, by identifying your leadership style and building up on it.
2. Skillset: you have some, you lack some. As we mentioned earlier, each person’s strengths and weaknesses differ, so there are always gaps between the requirement of the role and your skillset. A leadership coach or a business coach can help you develop in the areas you need to improve in to help make the best decisions and be a role model your team looks up to. A business coach can help you become a great (or exceptional) leader.
3. Each person has a unique leadership style that works for them. Depending on the nature of your work, your goals, the team you have, and their motivation, you may have to adapt your leadership style to suit the situation and get the best outcome. There’s directive coaching (or mentoring) where you listen to your team and basically tell them what to do and how to do it, or there’s laissez-faire, where the best coaching style is to leave your team alone so they can focus on their work. For a newer or growing team, non-directive coaching might be a better option, which is based on listening, questioning, and withholding judgment. Your role as a manager or a leader here is to draw wisdom, insight, and creativity out of the people you’re coaching, so they can resolve problems and cope with challenging situations on their own. Lastly, there’s situational coaching, which is a balance between directive and non-directive coaching. Striking this balance is harder than it sounds, and it depends a lot on what your strengths are.
4. It’s lonely at the top. A fresh perspective can help. When you’re a leader, you need to make the call—hopefully the right call. Your team looks to you for direction so if you’re stuck in a problem, it’s good to have a trusted advisor (or in this case, a leadership coach or business coach) by your side who can guide you without being involved in the organization. Leadership coaches are experts in various fields and have probably trained many business executives and leaders in different areas so their diverse experience can help you get a fresh perspective or new insight that you may have missed. Leadership coaching also gives you a safe environment to discuss the challenges you’re facing, explore problems and obstacles, and brainstorm solutions.
5. It starts at the top. A work environment that empowers your employees and gives them freedom to explore projects and develop their skills will result in innovation and successful outcomes. This starts at the top though, and it’s not easy to be an inspiration. Through the support of a business coach, you can learn to develop a good organizational culture that aligns with your vision. Lead With Passion’s Executive Coaching delivers one–on–one development and training for senior leaders and executives dealing with leadership initiatives, business strategy and execution, culture, effective communication, managing or leading up, powerbase planning, career elevation or transitions, influencing others and preparing senior leaders for new roles and/ or expanded responsibilities. This results in increased opportunities and higher return–on–investment as a result of accelerated business growth and development. To get started on your leadership journey, reach out to Lead With Passion.
“If you ask any successful business person, they will always have a great mentor at some point along the road”