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The phrase “It’s lonely at the top” rings true for many a leader. Few will tell them the truth, or give advice on the tough stuff, but a good executive coach always should. I’ve heard a number of tough questions as a coach of many powerful leaders and the ten most often asked are listed below. Are these the questions you’re asking of those who guide you in leadership? If not, that might be the real question.
1. What’s Holding Me Back?
High powered leaders still want to become better leaders and that includes breaking through barriers and blind spots they are not clearly able to see.
2. What Skills Am I Missing?
Trying what they know and what has worked in the past and watching it fail to produce the same results is frustrating. Successful leaders are always interested in learning more and developing the skills they need to lead in new situations.
3. Can You Help Me Apply That Logic?
Executive leaders have been around the block, but still are able to ask for help and an objective third party sounding board is highly prized. They value a coach who listens, guides, and most importantly helps them objectively apply.
4. Why Does it Matter How I Feel?
When Strategic Thinking and Planning is part of what a leader does for a living, they can forget that feelings evoke those thoughts and have value. Reexamining the feelings behind decisions, with which they may have lost touch, proves prudent, particularly in times of significant change, culture shifts, and high stress.
5. Where Do My Instincts Come Into Play?
Leaders at every level utilize some form of their instincts, but if the company culture is such that unexplainable hunches are not valued, guidance on how to keep listening to those “voices” and explain the resulting actions, is often needed.
6. Do I Have to Change Who I Am?
Leaders of other managers may spend time altering their behavior to meet the needs of others or become consumed by what the workplace tells them they “need” to be. When this question is raised, the answer is always NO, but the leadership coaching is around how to merely modify, consciously, certain natural attributes effectively.
7. Am I The One in My Own Way?
Great leaders take great personal responsibility for their own actions and results. A leader asking this question is onto something and may just need guidance on what that something is and how to clear it out of the way.
8. How Do I Stop Doing That?
Our habits are powerful, even for those in powerful leadership positions. Many times, to make a change, it is merely about stopping a behavior that no longer serves that leader well.
9. How Can I Get My Mojo Back?
A leader asking this question is facing that knot in the pit of their stomach that says “I’m tired of faking it”. They may be bored, ready for a career change or coming face to face with the fact that what they are doing is no longer fulfilling.
10. How Can I Still Be “Me” and Still Do My Job
Lay people refer to this as a “mid life” crisis when they see the leader ride off into the sunset with a new Harley and an earring, never to be heard from again. As an executive coach, I view this as a plea to help “me be me” and that, in the context of one’s current role, is exactly what we do. Authenticity is a great way to renew you and get your energy back.
What questions are you asking your coach to become better at leading and feel better about your leadership skills, style, and results? The most effective leaders ask for help and know they don’t have to have all the answers on their own. They just need to know where to find them.
I’m Monica Wofford and that’s your Monday Moment. Have a great week, an even better Monday, and of course, stay contagious!