Coach the Inner Game. Do You Lead with the Right Stuff?

How does one’s character develop? We commonly think of character development as deriving from things like early childhood experiences, modeling by important adults in our lives, the environment and culture in which we were raised, school and our religious affiliations – along with our free will. As I dive deeper into my personal strengths, I see my own patterns of common sense influenced by my unique set of strengths – which I have thought to be my free will and my character development, a manifestation of my strengths applied.

Many years ago a sibling of mine said to me, “You are not like all of the rest of us.” I have wondered why. Through the non-judgmental Strengths lens it makes perfect sense to me now – given what I now know about the combination of my top ten strengths and how they show-up. I also now see how this same combination of strengths has contributed to my resilience throughout my life.

The stuff of character is the hardest, yet most significant aspect of leadership development. Click To Tweet

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In my work as a coach, I find that the stuff of character is the hardest, yet most significant aspect of leadership development. My clients grapple most with articulating this. Professional strengths based leadership coaching is one of the most effective ways to approach leadership development, coupled with robust assessments and feedback surveys like StrengthsFinder and The Leadership Circle 360. Additionally, it is important to identify the core values that inform your character development.

Even the most conservative estimates show a five to seven times return on investment from strengths based leadership coaching (Price Waterhouse ICF study, Strengths Strategy). But coaching success depends on the relationship between leader and coach. The coaching relationship must provide you with a safe and confidential context to explore your core values, character strengths, and beliefs.

Whether applied to sports or work, the Inner Game is where there is the greatest opportunity for you to begin to understand yourself and make fundamental changes. The concept is neither new, nor particularly revolutionary, but is based on a profound concept: focusing attention without judgment.

When you learn to observe behavior (your own and that of others) without criticism, you will start to see where change is possible. Removing judgment facilitates change and allows for grace to be present.

The Coach as Nonjudgmental Partner

Communication skills, like listening and observing, are automatic and subconscious – you just know how to do them. Yet, in my experience, you do not always fully present listening and observing well, without judgment – a requirement for achieving desirable outcomes from your conversations.

Leaders, like you, experience ineffective conversations all the time. When people do not respond to your suggestions as delivered, you assume they were not listening. So, you repeat louder or with different words. The outcome is most often resistance, which only compounds the issue.

I have found that few people enjoy being told what to do, especially when the boss comes across as critical or judgmental. As a leader with authority, you will be perceived as controlling and dictatorial. It does not matter how well intentioned you may be.

What is your character story? What is your experience with the practice of being fully present in conversations and with being listened to? Have you worked with a dictatorial boss? Have you experienced a coach or mentor who was nonjudgmental? I would love to hear from you. You can reach me here and on LinkedIn.

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