What’s going to make you more effective? Learning, planning, process, new ideas? The efforts that matter are the ones that fit you: your work, your colleagues, your company, the market you’re in. You don’t want to be more effective in the abstract. You want to be more effective in a unique situation: yours. Coaching can address learning, planning, process, new ideas and more. But unlike other ways to get them, it’s tailored to the context that matters: yours.
And we want to be effective when it’s most difficult. When the situation is complex, ambiguous, when the stakes are high, that’s when we really need to be at our best. And that is also when we recognize our limits. If the next challenge is a new kind of problem, the familiar solutions may invite more problems.
It can be challenging to recognize that we don’t know. It may raise questions in our minds about our ability for the role. That challenge, and the inner question about whether we are able to meet it, is almost universally normal. However, we only tend to hear about leaders’ doubts and fears when they are part of their success story much later. They are part of every story. That’s why leadership coaching is never really remedial.
Welcome to new territory
One of the ideas conspiring against us is “leadership.” We may have already outgrown the lessons we took from role models. The ideas that helped us get here may not be sturdy enough for today’s challenges. And there’s a possibility that the leaders we admire are exercising capabilities we can’t see. Let’s face it. All leadership approaches have limits.
If you have a sense that you need to be more effective and can’t quite imagine how, you don’t need to be fixed. You’re in new territory. You haven’t been here before. You are in a position to discover a frontier and reshape what “leadership” means to you. Sure, it may call for learning and change. But you’ve been doing that along the road that led you to this meaningful new vantage point. And you’ve had plenty of help. In my experience, people who learn to ask for help are more effective and more satisfied than the so-called heroes who go it alone.