Monday, May 25, 2009

Six Months of Coaching Christian Executives

I recently sat down to reflect on the last six months of coaching Christian executives and leaders.

I wanted to review the topics that clients brought to our coaching calls so we could anticipate areas where we could improve our service to them and so I could do further study for my own personal and professional growth.  I've done this regularly over the past 11 years of full-time professional coaching.

Just what do Christian executives work on with their Coach? Here is my top 10 list from over the last six months spent working with my clients.

  1. To make their organization even better. It may sound simple, even trite,  but it has big consequences. Leaders were focused on improving across all areas of the organization. Not satisfied with maintaining what is, they were intentionally reaching for what can be.

  2. To increase their ability to leverage their time. Leaders wanted to work on achieving their highest priorities as much as possible. Almost to a person, they realized that there was room for better use of time and planning that could be made.

  3. To improve how they work with people. Executives and leaders have to work with people to make priorities happen. Clients have consistently worked on improving how they interact with others. We've done a lot of work on speed reading people for better communications and relationships.

  4. To tease out incubating ideas. This is an exhilarating area. If half of the ideas produce that my clients are working on, it will make a tremendous impact for good.

  5. To reveal and work on blind spots. Clients know that they need to grow. They know that they have blind spots that need to be addressed and over the course of coaching they expect those career limiting behaviors to be spotted and dealt with.

  6. To work more effectively with their boards. Some executives work as leaders of nonprofits and have to prepare for important board presentations, coordinate and strategize with the board chair and generally work in harmony with the board. The want to keep sharp and realize improvements in this area.

  7. To expand, clarify and articulate a collective vision and strategy. If there is one area we work on most often it is that of getting clarity .. particularly in the context of seeing what's possible, harvesting the vision of the whole team and reaching for it with well articulated strategy and inspiration.

  8. To have a safe, confidential place to vent. It's lonely at the top. There are frustrations and people problems. Things move too slowly or run into complicated roadblocks. I have the most professional, caring group of clients but like anyone, sometimes they just need a few seconds to express their frustration. I'm glad I can provide that place. It happens ... then we get on with moving forward.

  9. To get non-judgmental feedback. A lot of time has been spent simply being a sounding board. I become the testing ground for new ideas, insights and musings and because of years of experience am able to provide the back and forth that helps the executive come up with their best.

  10. To reduce stress and help avoiding burnout. Leadership is stressful. Clients worked on incorporating the lessons of stress to create greater resilience moving forward. Dealing immediately and head on with those things that sap emotional energy keeps clients avoiding burnout.

You might have thought that because these were Christian executives and leaders, they would be working on great matters of faith. In fact, with all of my Christian clients, their faith forms the backdrop for working on all issues of everyday work and leadership. Their faith is the 'operating system' running in the background and giving direction to the rest.

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