collaborate, the soaring absence-rate and how you struggle to retain talent.
You know what you’re doing isn’t working.
I ask you what you’d like to do differently, and you fall silent. It’s a treadmill you say and you can’t change it. Your teams are exhausted, but you push them on because the CEO screams that the share price has tanked and the sales pipeline is weak.
I ask again what you’d like to do differently, and frustrated, you say flippantly "give my teams a break! A rest".
And I see the sadness in your eyes, and your exhaustion. “Maybe that’s what you need too...”
We Need New Ways to Lead
You shake your head, even the HR director simply urged you to tighten up on performance management and employ disciplinary processes if need be. You sigh. “No one sees… no one sees…”
“What don’t they see?”
“That we’re destroying it all; our reputation, our customer relationships; with poor service and after-care, and our people… We drive them like machines!”
You exhale, and you’re feeling the folly of it all.
And then you smile ruefully, and together we’re contemplating those two opposing forces in life and business. The ‘force for change’, some call will; to set goals and targets, take action, persist, achieve and shape the competitive environment. And opposing it the ‘force for acceptance’, some call love; to empathise with people and care for them, bring them together and to accept current reality in all its complexity.
We sit silently, feeling the tension between those forces and the awesome task to harmonise them and make business sustainable.
You shake your head, and say you don’t know where to start.
Leadership Requires Your Take Risks
And yet we make a plan, just baby steps, to begin to shift the balance in your division between achieving business targets and nurturing people and relationships.
And when you return you say it hasn’t been easy, but you’re now acknowledging what people have done instead of simply focusing on what’s next. You’re listening actively and engaging with your colleagues concerns rather than downplaying them. You’ve even championed people getting away from their desks at lunchtime!
But there’s pushback. Your higher–ups claim you’re losing your grip. They’re bringing forward the deadline for your division’s business plan so as to have it completed by the time the top team visit. You sigh, everyone will have to work late nights to achieve that!
You shrug and I feel how it hurts you to consider reneging on the ‘better way’ you’ve promised your teams.
And then I see your nascent leader emerging, and your passion, to make your division a place where you deliver results AND care for your people.
Leaders Need to Speak Up and Speak Out
We imagine how you might inspire them to consider change,and develop your negotiation strategy to get the deadline pushed back, including your red lines. We also work with what holds you back.
And as you leave, you smile and say you’ll give it your best shot, but the important thing was deciding.
“To listen to the voice inside, and to speak up and; change or no change, choosing to speak out.
And my heart sings at the leader you’re becoming.
© 2019 Trudy Lloyd & Associates. All Rights Reserved.
I hear your disappointment. You trusted, you opened up to the coaching process and revealed your deepest thoughts and feelings, but you didn’t get what you'd hoped for.
All Executive Coaching is NOT the Same
I’m saddened because I know executive coaching can be so much better. Executive coaching can transform the way you see your world. It can energise you and free you; to raise your level of personal happiness and achievement.
But this hasn’t happened for you. So here’s my thoughts.
All executive coaching is NOT the same. Many models of coaching tell us that the coachee (individual being coached) holds sway over their whole personality. Such models assume you’re in control, or can ‘take control’ of your thoughts and feelings and leverage them at will. The assumption is that you choose your goals and then you can simply mobilise your necessary resources; brain, body and emotions to pursue and deliver those goals.
'Unconscious' Blocks to Change
Now let me tell you about what some models¹ of human psychology and personality maintain – and it’s different. These models hypothesise that for most people such ‘freedom to act’ rarely exists.
These psychological models suggest that your everyday interactions, behaviour and thinking are greatly influenced by your ‘unconscious’. This is 'psychic material' that you are scarcely or totally unaware of and which has accumulated throughout your lifetime - much of it from your childhood experience. The models suggest that it’s your ‘unconscious’ which gives rise to many of your mental barriers and emotional blocks to change.
Many coaches focus almost exclusively on goal setting and action. Typically, coaches don’t concern themselves with helping you discover what YOUR entrenched mental barriers and emotional blocks to change are.
Accountability is Not Enough
As a result, no matter how much your coach ‘holds you to account’ and checks your progress, your blocks to change may triumph over the goals and plans you’ve created. You fail to achieve what you want and worse, may lose self-confidence.
Sally’s* story may help illuminate. Sally was deeply unhappy about her boss's new 'ways of working'. He scheduled early morning meetings with her – despite her having previously agreed with her employer that she could flex her hours around the school run. She also felt that her boss valued her contributions and proposals less than those from other team members.
Along with her executive coach Sally set goals to improve her relationship with her boss. She planned how to approach him, she got clear on what she needed to say to him and how. She gathered the evidence to support her case. Sally and her executive coach also worked on strategies and techniques to help her build her confidence.
Unfortunately Sally neither followed through nor achieved her goals. By the time I met Sally she was disillusioned with executive coaching. However, she was brave enough to give coaching another chance.
I worked with Sally using a psychodynamic coaching approach. Psychodynamic coaching has a broader focus that just goals and plans. Psychodynamic coaching takes into account the ‘unconscious material’ that can block our progress.
During the coaching, we discovered Sally’s ‘pleaser’. This part of her personality was terrified of confrontation and always put the needs of others before her own.
Sally’s ‘pleaser’ had developed when she was growing up, as a response to her unpredictable home life. When Sally had planned to talk to her boss, even though she had it mind to be reasonable and to put forward a well-researched proposal, the ‘pleaser’ stopped her. Her 'pleaser' was terrified of the situation turning nasty.
Sally had not been aware of this ‘pleaser’ part of her personality before. In fact, Sally learned that much of the time she was at work she was strongly ‘identified’ with her. ‘Identified’ means relating to the world through a particular part of your personality. Doing so can feel familiar and safe. However, it is our ‘identifications’ that are often the cause of mental or emotional blocks to change.
Psychodynamic Coaching Can Release Your Entrenched Mental Barriers and Emotional Blocks
A psychodynamic model of coaching can help you discover where you may be overly reliant on a particular part of your personality. We don’t all have 'pleasers'! Some people have ‘judges’ or ‘drivers’ or other parts that are ‘ruling the roost’ and preventing them from achieving what they truly want.
What’s more, psychodynamic coaching can also release you from living in this unbalanced way. By doing so you transform your perspective and your life. You gain greater self-awareness and open up more choices for yourself. You become better able to set the goals that truly matter to you and you can tap into new energy and motivation to make those goals happen.
As I said, I’m sorry that you were disappointed with your coaching and I hope in time you’ll dare to trust executive coaching again… Perhaps with a psychodynamic approach? I’d love you to experience its transformational gift.
* Name and some details have been changed to protect confidentiality
¹ Unfolding Self. The Practice of Psychosynthesis. Molly Young Brown (Allsworth Press 2004)
© 2019 Trudy Lloyd & Associates. All Rights Reserved.
I believe that everyone should enjoy meaningful, satisfying and rewarding work - work that fires you up! I am fascinated by human potential and the life journeys people make to find work and careers where they can channel and develop their skills and talents in meaningful and satisfying ways.