Leadership is a journey of continuous growth and self-discovery, and coaching is an invaluable tool that can help us break through into new realms of leadership. In this blog post, I invite you to join me as I share my personal story of growth and evolution as a leader. Fifteen years ago, I took on my first senior leadership role. Little did I know that this pivotal role would push me to my limits and force me to reimagine my entire approach to leadership. With the support of a trusted coach, I embarked on a profound transformation that not only reshaped my leadership style but also had a significant impact on the success of my team. Join me as I recount the obstacles, insights, and strategies that propelled me from a place of stagnation to one of thriving leadership.
My first senior leadership role, overseeing a national operations team, was a pivotal moment in my career. The transition from managing supervisors to leading regional managers was a significant milestone. However, the challenges that accompanied this role were more than I could have anticipated. We faced the complex task of restructuring an entire division, centralizing operations across multiple regions, and reducing headcount by a considerable margin.
In those initial months, I encountered numerous obstacles and experienced friction with some of my newly appointed managers. Each individual brought their unique ideas and perspectives, often diverging from my own. It felt as though we were speaking different languages, and I believed they were the problem. I came to realize that my definition of leadership was limited, rooted in outdated paradigms and a directive mindset. The strategies and tactics that had once served me well no longer aligned with the evolving landscape.
Despite having attended various leadership programs in the past, I soon discovered that they fell short of adequately preparing me for the challenges I faced. While these programs offered valuable insights, they lacked the personalized guidance and tailored support that I yearned for during this critical period of transformation.
It was during this time of uncertainty that the opportunity to work with a leadership coach presented itself. Initially, I approached it with scepticism, unsure of what to expect. However, from the very first session, I found myself at ease as the coach guided me through a process of reflective inquiry and exploration. Together, we embarked on a transformative journey of reframing and redefining leadership.
We dove deep into my beliefs and assumptions, exposing the outdated paradigms that had hindered my growth. The coach challenged me to question notions such as "having all the answers", and "separating personal issues from the work environment", or relying solely on clear measures to drive high performance. These revelations, though sometimes uncomfortable, triggered a profound shift in my mindset. I looked at my conflicting values and needs and realized that true change had to start within me before I could expect my team to follow suit. My definition of leadership shifted to creating an environment for my team to thrive, and get out of my own way! Instead of providing answers, I learned to ask meaningful questions and fostered a culture of collaboration and open dialogue within my team. Together, we co-created innovative solutions, celebrated victories, and engaged the broader team and customers in our journey.
Of course, this transformative path was not without its share of hiccups and mistakes. I certainly wasn't perfect, but I could sense a fundamental change taking hold within me. This shift translated into remarkable success for both myself and my team. We not only achieved our targets but also attained the highest engagement scores across the entire group within the same year.
As I reflect on this transformative experience, I can't help but wish that more leaders had the opportunity to undergo such a profound shift in their leadership approach. Just imagine the possibilities if our leadership models embraced this transformative mindset!
Now, after fifteen years, armed with a wealth of experiences, lessons learned, and refined coaching skills, I find myself doing what I love most: coaching and supporting others on their journey of leadership transformation. If you or someone you know is trapped in a similar paradigm, I invite you to share this story or reach out to me for a free discovery session. Let's embark on a shared journey of growth and unlock your leadership potential together.