Many leaders in the business and voluntary sector are visionaries. They have bright ideas, a plan to execute them and the personal qualities to get others on board.
Normally it seems like they’ve made it. Perhaps they’ve landed a senior management position, are directors of their own startups or are the powerhouses behind inspirational organisations that are doing great work.
The reality is, no-one can achieve anything on their own and “success’ can have a whole bunch of unwanted side-effects that were not planned for. This means that some leaders find it hard to function in the best way possible and may find it impossible to switch off.
It’s no surprise that after a few years in high flying positions, many leaders either move on or have to take time off due to ‘burn out’. The stats are very sobering.
“Stress, depression or anxiety and musculoskeletal disorders accounted for the majority of days lost due to work-related ill health, 11.7 and 8.8 million days respectively.”
HSE stats for 2015/2016
Back in 2012, when I undertook a training entitled “Leadership in Times of Chaos” at the world-leading Schumacher College, the facilitator Margaret Wheatley mentioned that the leaders she worked with all had some kind of reflective or even spiritual discipline to help them survive the pressure. She intimated that without it, they wouldn’t cope.
Any kind of psychological resourcing seems so essential, and after teaching thousands of people Tai Chi (and hearing their reasons for trying it) I completely agree with what she said. It’s also one of the reasons leaders hire Coaches - because it helps them reflect and bring order to their chaotic minds. As a Coach, that’s my main job - or more accurately, it’s to help my clients allow their reflective, deeper qualities to come to the surface. Problems then seem to solve themselves.
Life's Tough, Get On With It
Whilst a certain amount of stoicism might be appealing, the reality is that psychological forces are at work within us, so can’t be ignored or swept under the carpet. We’d like to think that everything’s ok, but tricky feelings and situations keep on coming up and you know that cliché about using the same thinking to try and solve problems as you used to create them...well it’s true.
Our Mind is The Creator
In many fields, the role of the mind in performance is well established. In most professional sports, for example, it’s an essential component of how performance is developed, maintained and improved upon. In other disciplines such as yoga, Tai Chi and meditation it’s inseparable from how leading teachers work. Many Coaches are taking this kind of approach on-board too - especially those influenced by the Three Principles of Sydney Banks (read “Invisible Power” - it’s a cracking read). For me, this kind of thing is a basic principle of the Buddhist psychology I’ve studied for the last 16 years - so it’s really heartening to see these ideas, which take personal responsibility to a new level, catching on within the business world.
It’s interesting also to see how neuroscience is really ‘catching up’ with the spiritual systems have been saying this kind of thing for a couple of thousand years at least. This video featuring the neuroscientist David Eagleman pretty much nails it (thanks, Martin Palethorpe for this). It’s all a user-generated experience.
So What Can Leaders Learn From This?
Well, if there’s one thing leaders need to know and understand deeply - it’s how their minds work and how their minds are creating their reality, the quality of their interactions with others and how they feel about themselves. If you feel good as a leader and can connect with the power of your own mind, then nothing will be a problem (although it may well remain a challenge).
When you gain an insight into how your mind works, and that your essential nature is peace, wisdom, compassion and clarity then you’ll be actualising your potential and be more able to actualise the potential of your organisation, project or team.
So Why Do Leaders Need a Coach?
Having an Executive Coach that understands the role of the mind in dealing with the demands of modern life means one thing: Having a powerful ally.
That’s kind of it. The training they would have had, the experience they have and the skills they possess means they’re able to see things with a degree of detachment, clarity and strength that amplifies your own inner wisdom.
Plus, they’re able to really listen, hold you to account (in a compassionate way), challenge and keep you focused on the goals that really matter to you.
Running an organisation, managing a team, or keeping a project on track is never going to be easy. Having a Coach means you’ll have more inner resources to deal with it all and a structure that supports success and fulfilment.
Want to Find Out More?
If you'd like to find out more about me and my approach to Coaching, then just click below.