Executive Coaching : The Imperative

It takes courage to lead effectively. It requires a level of vulnerability that many of us are not comfortable with, yet it has become a necessity. By helping me fully claim where I am strong, using the Strengths Strategy model has led me to be more confident in naming, being open to and vulnerable in where I am not strong.

As I have immersed myself in growing my Strengths Intelligence it has become easier to be with ‘confident vulnerability’. I am increasing my awareness of how my Strengths show up, taking action on what I need to do differently in order to have influence and align my actions with the best of what I have to offer.

My blind spots are exposed and managed. I can be more comfortable with my humanness, messy and all. This has helped me to show more grace with the humanness of others.

This is part 5 in the 5-part series on Effective Leaders by Diana Gabriel, Certified Strengths Strategy Coach.

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Four Promises, Lead Effectively, results, trust, leadership development, executive coaching, professional growth, personal growth, confident vulnerability, Strengths, Strengths Based Leadership, StrengthsFinder, leadership coach

I have been thinking and writing about what makes a leader truly effective. At a bare minimum, leaders must fulfill three promises in the areas of:

1. Strategy
2. Engagement
3. Execution

To Lead Effectively : The 4th Promise

The fourth promise is to lead effectively, to achieve and sustain desired results by engendering and maintaining trust. But, what, does “lead effectively” really mean?

The first three promises are more tangible: the transactional competencies universally taught in business schools and leadership training courses. The fourth promise is another matter altogether: more difficult to undertake, less tangible, yet it holds the capacity for profoundly influencing all other competencies.

Effective leaders continuously pursue personal and professional development opportunities to improve their competence, capacity, self-awareness and other-relatedness. They seek to grow in ways that are transformative, not just transactional.

We expect our leaders to be wise and to continually evolve. In fact, we raise the bar every year. Without a commitment to enhancing personal and professional development, leaders can easily lose their edge on effectively influencing their teams. They fumble when trying to drive their people and companies to excellence.

When leaders balk at coaching, training and ongoing learning, they cannot meet the increasing demands of today’s business environment, and they fail to deliver on the first three promises – they stagnate. Perhaps leadership coach Marshall Goldsmith says it best: “What got you here won’t get you there.”

“Leadership development must proceed at a pace consistent with what it takes to stay effective and relevant in today’s complex, rapidly changing business environment.”
– Robert J. Anderson and William A. Adams, Mastering Leadership: An Integrated Framework for Breakthrough Performance and Extraordinary Business Results (Wiley, 2015):


Leadership Development

Growing a company or organization requires leaders to commit to personal progress. Executive coaching has been proven to be one of the most effective leadership-development tactics. A large body of evidence shows a positive return on investment. Even conservative measures estimate an average return of 5.7 times the cost of coaching.

A CEO’s developmental stage significantly determines and influences the success of large-scale corporate transformation programs. As a leader you must lead by example. You cannot sustain 21st-century effectiveness without continually upgrading your competencies, coping strategies and capacity to influence others.


The Urgent Priority Leaders Don’t Have Time For

Yet, few leaders regularly set priorities for professional growth. Even those engaged in executive-coaching relationships struggle to keep appointments to do the work. Like many of us, you are so mired in day-to-day challenges that you fail to regularly pause, taking the time to think long term, to reflect or take actions that may not have immediate payoffs.

If you are unable to work on identified gaps in self-awareness, core Strengths and coping skills, you are not just standing still – you are regressing.


Beware of Your Blind Spots

Every leader falters at some point when under stress: with a fine-line ethical dilemma or with a delicate choice between right and more right. You will inevitably make a wrong decision – it is only human to do so if you are leaning into your leadership. You probably won’t see it coming until it’s too late. When you realize what has happened, you may or may not know you are in a blind spot, but you will recognize the familiar feeling because it’s been with you for a long time. These are the times when you are in need of a trusted confidant such as a coach to provide you feedback.

If you recoil at the idea of coaching, training or other personal-growth tools, you are creating a lonely place where conditions are ripe for failure. You are breaking all four leadership promises that your team members expect you to keep.

For you to be an effective leader you must stand in ‘confident vulnerability’, know where you are strong and know where you are not strong and be okay with both. It is the place of interdependence. The effective leadership paradox is that ‘it’s all about you and not about you’. The pace of leadership in business and in organizations will eventually exceed your capacity to handle new challenges alone. You need to be able to rely on the Strengths of your team members. In today’s fast-paced, constantly changing and complex marketplace no leader can expect that “what got me here will get me there.”

What have you put in place that shines a light on your blind spots? As a leader, what are you doing to keep the Four Promises and to lead effectively? I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me here and on LinkedIn.


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