How Many Leadership Coaches does it take to Change a Light Bulb?


How Many Leadership Coaches does it take to Change a Light Bulb?

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None of course! A good leadership coach would never actually change the light bulb for his/her client. That could be the role for your management consultant or other trusted business advisors. A good leadership coach would instead offer new insights and ideas to that client based on past experiences and current thinking to enable him or her to change the light bulb independent of the coach.

While this little tale may seem silly, it speaks to the profound power and impact coaching can have on business leaders. Leadership coaches don’t get wrapped up in the political landscape and broader context of what happens in organizations. They have the privilege of being – and often uncanny ability to be – laser-focused in their diagnosis about what’s going on and bringing fresh ideas to the table for their clients to consider. I call it “challenging my clients’ thinking.”

My clients are bright — even brilliant — and often the strongest technically in their areas of expertise. They simply often get too deep in the weeds as good technicians do at times and need someone to pull them back up above the clouds for that bird’s eye view that can be so valuable to taking new actions and producing breakthrough results.

I’ve been fortunate enough to focus more and more of my time on leadership coaching these past few years, and as I do I become even more and more impressed with the individuals in these leadership positions. Most leaders know what needs to be done, just as I know where the ladder is if I need to change that light bulb. I also know exactly where the gym is, but that doesn’t mean I’ll be motivated to go unless I have an appointment with my personal trainer!

My trainer introduces me to new equipment and helps me flex my muscles in different ways such that I build strength and stamina. My coaching isn’t too different in that I help my clients flex new leadership muscles and practice using new management tools and techniques as well. This enables my clients to get past their fears about their bosses, their fears of failing, and any other fears that might be holding them back.

If you’re looking to your leadership coach to change your figurative light bulb, then you may be barking up the wrong tree – or, ladder! Coaching is not about “doing for you”. Coaching is about opening your mind and further developing your skills such that you can do for yourself.

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