Imagine a bright red helium
balloon floating purposefully above a sea of brilliantly-colored blue, green
and yellow balloons. All sway uniformly in the gentle wind, like a well-choreographed
dance. Every one knows its place.
Now imagine a gust of wind
infiltrating the pack, scattering the balloons in all directions. To gain control, the red balloon takes on
more and more air until it will either burst from taking too much in, or begin
to let air out to gain composure.
This scenario is not unlike
what many of our business and corporate leaders have been exposed to the last
For decades, their
businesses were growing steadily year-by-year, decade-by-decade. Then the economy smashed in like a burst of
wind and the old way of doing things along with profits scattered.
To cope, leaders took on
more pressure, creating stress to the point of bursting.
Those around them saw the
warning signs in poor decisions, in waning confidence. If only the leaders could
see the picture looking in.
Deep into my twelfth
year of leadership coaching, I am more convinced than ever that to be truly
effective, leaders need someone on the outside looking in.
In the first few months of working with
a new leader, I hear a
profound sigh of relief.
He or she learns that they don't have
to do it all on their own.
Leadership is no easy
endeavor. Those who take on the daunting
task are to be admired, not criticized.
As with everyone, leaders make mistakes. Theirs are more noticeable with
scrutinizing people all around.
Here are some of the gifts I
give my clients. Perhaps you know a
leader in need of support and you can offer similar gifts:
Advisor: Leaders need someone with whom to confide
and brainstorm. They don't want to
look vulnerable in not having the answers.
This is not the role of a spouse or friend. They simply need a safe environment in
which to explore options, hear themselves talk out loud, see their
challenges and opportunities through different lenses.
Advisor: It's lonely at the top. The higher up the success ladder leaders
go, the more difficult it is to find someone who will tell them the
truth - what they need to know, not what they want to hear.
Advisor: Those in the same industry are typically
not equipped to stretch a leader's thinking. Having coached leaders in diverse fields,
I've learned first hand what works and doesn't work so well with common
challenges such as: creating vision, inspiring change, motivating teams,
exceeding customer satisfaction. Its fun for me to bring other leader's
solutions to the table to see what may work.
If you are a leader whose
balloon is about to pop, ask for help to let some air out and breathe a sigh of
relief. No matter where you are, I am a click away.
If you witness a leader
whose balloon is about to pop, pass this Success Thought along to them so
they know help is just a click away. Or,
pick one of the above gifts of coaching and do what you can to support your
diligent, deserving leader.