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The Leader as Coach

February 9, 2012

Mother Theresa with a child without arms

How to succeed through others?

Do you, as a leader, sometimes experience that it can be really hard to get all your employees or team members to go in the same direction? That important and urgent tasks take up too much time for you to follow up be the true leader you truly want to be? Through a coaching leadership style, you can create results through your employees by inspire them, facilitate, remove obstacles, ask questions and give feedback. You will develop self-propelled and independent employees who take ownership and responsibility for what they do, release their potential, create well-being and lots of empowerment in the workplace. Isn’t this what most leaders want?
1. Know your employees – know yourself!

When Mother Theresa held a speech in front of the world’s top leaders, about what characterizes a great leader, she asked the following two questions: “Do you know your employees? Do you love them?”. That was all… Then she left the stage.  How much time does a leader spend on this? Are they too concerned about results and goals that they don’t really take time to get to know their employees? Alternatively, take time to show their appreciation of them? To be able to focus on this, it is all about prioritizing questions like: “Why do you get up in the morning and what makes you want to go to work everyday? What are you passionate about and what gives you kick and energy?” These questions are just as relevant for the leader as for the employees.

The philosopher Socrates had a credo saying, “Know yourself”. As an intrusive gadfly he constantly reminded the leaders back then about the emptiness of ignorance. He said that the human life was not worth living for those who did not search into themselves. Some important questions to ask were: ” Who are you as a leader? What do you stand for? Who are you most capable to lead? What are your limitations/weaknesses and what is your plan to improve? What are you willing to sacrifice?” An excellent leader knows himself and knows the employees well. A great leader appreciates the employees, shows it often and thereby has a competitive edge because he has the knowledge about how to create the results they need over time.

2. Have a clear vision!

From Ibsen’s play “Kongsemnene” you will find this great dialogue:

Bishop: “Who does the grandest deed in the world?”

Skule: “That does the greatest man!”

Bishop: “But who is the greatest man?”

Skule: “The bravest one!”

Bishop: “So says the chief. A priest would say the most faithful. The wise man would say the most literate. Even so, it’s none of them Earl. The HAPPIEST man is the greatest man. The happiest man does the greatest deeds. He who receives the demands of time with passion, by thoughts he doesn’t understand but shows him the way he does not know where leads, but which he travels and must travel until he hears the crowds scream in ecstasy, and he wonders and finally understands that he has accomplished something GREAT!”

Why is it so important to have a vision? It is through this driving force a leader can create meaning and purpose for himself and his employees. These leaders know why they go to work everyday, and they are passionate about their vision. They radiate inspiration, and they make people want to follow them both in good as well as bad times.

3. Turn the negative to the positive!
What does a leader do when there is dissatisfaction, indifference or negativity in the workspace? How can he turn this to something constructive and good? Charles Dickens describes a breakthrough like this in the story “A Christmas Carol”. The story tells us that behind the destructive behavior and attitude of the old Mr. Scrooge lies a fundamental limiting belief. A belief about greed, scarcity and stinginess. To change this,  he encounters the Ghost of the Past, The Ghost of the Present and the Ghost of the Future. Mr. Scrooge learns why he has ended up like he has, the consequences of what he has done, and finally, sees a horror scenario about his future – if he continues on the same path. This becomes so powerful to him that he changes his fundamental belief and becomes a positive, generous and happy man. It is about being conscious about your limitations, what beliefs lie behind and what consequences this leads to now and in the future.  Then you can change the limiting beliefs into new, positive and constructive beliefs that you really believe in and inspire to help others change theirs.

It is all a matter of what you believe in! 

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