In walked my newest client, a self-assured executive with an air of confidence that suggested that the was not easily rattled. Clearly this is a no BS, get it done kind of guy.
After exchanging a few pleasantries, we got right to the point. “What are some of the challenges that you’re facing right now?” He gave me a stock answer, but I noticed a subtle emotional shift behind the veil of confidence, so I dug a bit deeper. “What’s emotional about that for you?”
His eyes welled up and he had to turn away to avoid the flood gates from completely opening up. I realised in that moment that in his position perhaps he didn’t have someone in his life that he could share his deepest challenges with; certainly not his boss, his team, and maybe even his wife. He had worked hard to create this confident, “never let them see you sweat” exterior – the hallmark of a senior leader and provider.
To him, the emotion probably felt like weakness, but what I saw in that moment was not weakness, but real strength. A man whose character was defined by being there for those that mattered most to him. A man who desperately wanted to do the right thing.
With each question, we were able to draw out his thoughts, uncover his concerns and face his fears head on. By having a short break away from his desk, he was able to fully process his struggles and life challenges so that he could more effectively navigate the path ahead.
As a coach, I’ve learned that the most valuable thing that I can do is to be there in the moment, to meet my client exactly where they are and to hold space for them without judgment or advice.
So, do I require tears from my clients for a good coaching session?
No, but I consider it an honour when someone is comfortable enough to go to a place of truth and discovery; a place that most leaders can’t go in the boardroom. Ultimately, my hope is that the coaching process leads my clients to more confident decisions, greater authenticity and stronger, richer relationships.
What are the burning questions that you need to explore?
What would the value be in bringing more vulnerability to your work?
What fears are holding you back from having a bigger impact?
David Graham works with good leaders who want to become spectacular leaders. He also works with leaders to build high performing, super-focused teams.