Friday, May 20, 2011

9 Reasons Your Organization's Leadership May Need Coaching

There are 9 reasons your organization's leadership may need coaching. 

Whether you are a business or a nonprofit, a board member or a shareholder, the organization you are a part of exists somewhere on a spectrum which ranges from weak to strong. It's either losing ground, dynamically moving forward or at a point somewhere in between. It's seeing new possibilities and has the energy to foster and pursue them or it doesn't. It is forward thinking or it's stuck somewhere in mediocrity or mess.

Unless you are a 'yes man/woman' or simply not paying attention, you and your colleagues probably have a pretty good sense of how well the organization is doing.

An effective leadership translates into better stewardship of resources. Effective, growing leadership can make the difference between success and failure. A great leader and a great leadership team can substantively move priorities forward and add to the bottom line ... however that bottom line may be measured, whether in number of people helped or revenues brought in. 

So, see whether your leadership would benefit from getting engaged in a process of improvement ... possibly even working with a professional coach like myself. Take the following list. Copy it. Go away and take an honest inventory of your organization, its current direction and health.
1. Good things are happening so fast that we need to develop new methods of responding.
  • Fantastic. What a great position to be in. But those good things can quickly evaporate unless you put in the systems needed to lock in their long term sustainability and oversight. Sometimes we can get so caught up in managing the new thing that we miss out on taking the time to establish what might be needed to ensure its success and longevity. We become victims of our own success. 
2. We see opportunities we haven't taken advantage of yet. 
  • Who knows what might be possible if you were able to harness those opportunities. Sometimes timing is everything. What exists as an opportunity today may be commonplace tomorrow. But who will go for it ... you? On the other hand sometimes great opportunities may have to be passed by. They may be great but for someone else. The pursuit of them would take you off your current game
 3. We want to excel at what we currently do.
  • With so much mediocrity and downright low engagement and productivity out there, it's refreshing to hear of an organization that wants to excel. Of course it doesn't mean you will be perfect. But it does mean that you have the attitude that propel you along much further than others. That's the whole point of a leadership or executive coach ... they help you excel. 
4. We think we can be even better. 
  • The mere fact that you have this attitude is significant. Many organizations can't seem to acknowledge the fact that 'better' is possible. They exhibit a degree of apathy to their 'customers' and those who care about their pursuits. The quest for doing better engages all stakeholders. The quagmire of arrogance or indifference paralyzes even the most hardy stakeholder.
5. We have lost some of our original sense of direction that compelled us to move forward.
  • It's going to be very tough to get where you are going if you don't know where that is. The end point needs to be articulated with clarity. If that's not the case, you need assistance in regaining a passion and focus for the organization. You've become lazy and lethargic over time and that needs to change.  
6. We are a tired organization.
  • A tired organization means a tired leadership. Unless you've just arrived you may need to consider leaving. Either move over and let fresh energy and vision take over or get in gear and find what's needed to get a tired organization out of bed and into action. Probably everybody has become comfortable with the status-quo and moving them forward will be challenging but it will have to be done.
7. We are going backwards.
  • Backwards isn't good. Wrong direction. If the organization is moving backwards it is probably a reality that people are disengaging. Their heart isn't in it. They aren't being inspired to contribute and keep moving positively forward. Even the paycheck isn't doing it for them. There needs to be some real soul searching in the leadership team and for the organization as a whole. 
8. We are having problems we can't seem to overcome on our own.
  • It is true that nothing can drag an organization down like problems, especially those that hang on and don't seem solvable. When that happens, leaders often adopt tunnel vision. They tend to focus on a few closely held 'answers' that never work but make them feel comfortable and it takes a shake-up or someone from the outside to jump start new ways of thinking and approaching old problems.
9. We need to make radical changes soon or get out.
  •  This is a 'patient critical' response. It's going to take being bolder sooner to deal with the current reality. Life support isn't going to work. Leadership needs to call a spade, a space and be open to exploring new possibilities that may feel very uncomfortable. Getting through that initial 'emotional' reaction may be the hardest part. Once you get focused in a new direction there can be breakthroughs, momentum and the accumulation of wins that gain everyone's confidence and support.

Why coaching? Because a professional coach can deal with the 'people' side of the equation. They aren't limited in scope to processes and programs. They look at the players and what needs to happen in them, before determining what might be possible to happen in it ... the organization. I know that my first concern is always the individuals involved who will have to address the situation, whatever it is, that is playing out. 

Work with the people and you will be in a better position to take advantage of the opportunities and deal with the problems ... and significantly move forward that important cause, project or program that represents the priorities of the organization and the heartbeat of its leadership. 

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