The makings of a positive friendship


How Suzanne gained confidence in her leadership abilities through coaching

Some would argue great leaders are born, not made.

I disagree. I have coached many individuals improve their leadership skills and who have gone on to become effective, well regarded, highly skilled leaders.

During my time as a leadership coach, one question I have heard many executives who are going through a crisis of confidence ask, is: “should I stay, or should I go?”

A great example of building confidence through leadership coaching is a recent client, Suzanne (to preserve client confidentiality, I have changed her name).

Suzanne was in-house counsel heading the legal department at a Commonwealth government agency. She wanted to improve her leadership skills, however had reservations about her career direction and needed a trusted advisor as a sounding board.

It was a turbulent time for the agency, as it was going through a restructure within a broader environment of ‘seismic’ change and renewal, with the result that Suzanne needed to put on a brave face and be resilient and responsive for her team.

In fact, I had been retained to assist the organisation support and develop a wide range of individuals and teams ‘survive and thrive’ through this significant organisational change.

I worked with Suzanne on her strengths and weaknesses, and together we identified new career directions using a psychometric profiling tool aimed at improving her self-awareness. Through this exercise, she identified her key skills, which opened her eyes to new career options for her.

Ultimately, she decided to move on from the agency to another senior role at another Government organisation, and developed peace of mind and certainty about her decision by going through a thorough analysis of her options.

“I had never looked at my options before,” she said. “I hadn’t been looking to make changes in my career previously, but suddenly I found myself in my 40s with family in a different city to the one I was living, looking at alternatives.”

“Alan helped me at a critical juncture in my career by helping me through the process. His approach helped me crystallise my thinking. Using Alan’s methods, I was able to satisfy myself with my decision to continue in my current career path, rather than pursuing alternatives. Ultimately, coaching gave me confidence that I was on the right path.”

The impact of our coaching sessions
Through coaching, Suzanne came to understand herself better, and how areas she needed to address were impacting her career.

Following regular one-on-one coaching sessions over 12 months, Suzanne developed a confidence in herself, which translated into better leadership approach.

“It was highly important for me to do the coaching at the time. It was vital in terms of where I was at and what was going on in the organisation,” Suzanne said.

My approach to leadership coaching
Suzanne mentioned a great benefit to her was my approach to leadership coaching – I try to be as interactive as possible to understand the challenges facing an individual. My sessions are not structured; hence I am guided by the client and what they are facing. This includes asking probing questions to elicit responses that help me recognise their style and how it may impact progression or leadership.

“Because Alan wasn’t a family or friend, he could be objective. If I invited a viewpoint, Alan was very forthcoming even if it wasn’t something I wanted to hear,” Suzanne told me. “I found this approach to be beneficial, as well as his guidance on certain scenarios.”

Develop your skills through executive leadership coaching
Leadership skills coaching is effective in pinpointing specific skills that leaders want to develop. For example, a manager may be having difficulty inspiring their team, although they may be very functionally sound.

You can engage executive leadership coaching to improve the following leadership skills, for example:

  • Inspiring others to perform higher levels of achievement;
  • Stimulating others intellectually, questioning accepted wisdom and challenging others to create alternative solutions;
  • Stretching the individual’s ability to take on more responsibility;
  • Empowering people to solve their own problems; or
  • Producing opportunities for followers to become leaders.

If you or your team are looking for individualised coaching and leadership development program, I can offer tailored options to enhance the key skills and optimise performance. My passion is helping executives achieve success through self-insight and skilful relationship management.

Best wishes


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