See Yourself More Clearly. See Others More Clearly.
Learn New Ways to Respond.
We all have a set of capabilities and responses that may serve us well as mid-level employees but that won’t help us as more senior leaders. Build skills to question your assumptions about yourself. Get curious about where you’re strong and where you need to grow. Become more accurate in your assessment of others. Success now depends not only on the quality of your own work but on your ability to inspire and direct others.
See Yourself More Clearly.
This sounds simple but is actually very important. Research has shown that most of us don’t see ourselves very clearly and that it matters: accurate self-awareness in leaders is highly correlated with organizational effectiveness and profitability, and employees prefer to follow leaders who see themselves clearly (and are willing to share their perceptions). When you engage with a good coach, they will generally gather input about how others see you at the beginning of the engagement and share it with you.
Throughout the coaching engagement, your coach will also share their perceptions of you, based on observation of you and your interactions with others. Most importantly, if your coach is effective, they will help you build skills to see yourself more clearly, to question your assumptions about yourself, get curious about where you’re strong, and where you need to grow.
See Others More Clearly.
Over the years, I’ve often seen leaders run into problems because of their inaccurate assessments of those around them. They may lose good employees because they don’t recognize and support their capabilities or keep poor performers too long because they think they’re better than they are. They may stumble politically because they over-or under-estimate someone’s ability to have an impact on their career success.
A good and insightful coach will often have more neutral and accurate perceptions of those around you than you will and will share those perceptions with you (especially if he or she is doing other work in your organization). Skilled coaches work to make their coaching clients independent. They will help you apply the same mental skills you learned from seeing yourself more clearly so that you can become more accurate in your assessment of others.
Learn New Ways to Respond.
Marshall Goldsmith, perhaps the best-known executive coach in the U.S., wrote a book called What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. It’s a wonderful title because the idea is so true. We all have a set of capabilities and responses that may serve us well as mid-level employees but that won’t help us as more senior leaders.
I coached a very smart and capable senior vice president at a financial company a couple of years ago who was still mostly just putting her head down and getting her work done, she hadn’t learned to bring her team together and ensure they were all working in sync toward the highest-priority goals. I was able to help her see that her success now depended not only on the quality of her own work but also on her ability to inspire and direct others. I worked with her to teach her the necessary skills to shift her mindset. She now has new, useful, and effective tools in her “leadership toolkit.”