One of the members of the current American Olympic team admitted that despite winning gold in a previous Olympics, he lost interest in the sport. His motivation waned. His head was no longer in the game. I see the same thing happen to high-potential leaders within the competitive corporate arena. It can become difficult to find a trusted advisor to give constructive strategic guidance and brainstorm solutions in a confidential environment.
That’s why many senior executives lose their perspective, find that they can no longer innovate, and become insecure or suffer burnout. You cannot grow and develop in isolation. But that athlete I mentioned regained his focus, inspiration, and motivation…thanks to the support of his family, friends, and coaches. He once again found joy in the challenge…and won another gold medal. So can you…with the insights of a qualified executive coach.
Even world champions rely on the support of professional coaches. Nearly all of the top leaders in today’s Fortune 500 companies have their own expert coaches. Here are some ways that outside perspective can enhance your career and strengthen your leadership DNA.
You Don’t Need Fluff or Flattery
Most senior executives aren’t comfortable asking their subordinates for feedback. Even if you are, don’t expect them to give you the straight sauce. Nobody feels free to critique their boss to their face. You can use a Gallup score or anonymous 360 review. But that’s mostly statistical data. What you need is the hard, cold facts of how you are perceived and what you can do better.
You need someone who shows you where to raise the bar…and who holds you accountable. All of my senior-level clients know that I’m going to give them candid feedback. They know that I always have their best interest in mind, even when they don’t want to hear my honest critique. But they also know that I am going to pair that with actionable, personalized steps they can implement to make measurable progress.
Once You’re Promoted, Hit the Ground Running
A big promotion can give you a real boost. Then the day-to-day reality hits. You are shouldering a workload you cannot manage…because nobody prepared you for it. I have seen so many careers destroyed by a promotion because the person just wasn’t ready. It’s like those instant millionaires who win the lottery, but a few years later declare bankruptcy. They weren’t prepared to deal with their newfound power.
You need to train before you enter the Super Bowl of your career. You need a coach who has preceded you and knows exactly what to expect and how to illuminate your blind spots and bolster your natural strengths. Unless they’ve been there, in the trenches, they won’t know how to give you the tools you’ll need to thrive at that rarified level.
Don’t Succumb to Imposter Syndrome
It’s not unusual for the imposter syndrome to set in – thinking “Who am I to deserve this role?” or “How do I know I’ll be successful in this new position?” Preparation for promotion is essential. But having a success partner after assuming the new position is just as vital.
According to renowned management consultant Dr. Gary J. Myszkowski, at least 40 percent of senior-level executive promotions will result in failure within the first 18 months. When you invest in your leadership pipeline or your own leadership career, keep that statistic in mind.
To Succeed at Work, You Need to Succeed at Home
This past week I was meeting with a SVP of a major company. We discussed strategy, innovation, team-building, and communication skills. But I could tell something was bothering him. Then he asked if I could help with his work/life integration. He admitted that he works too much and is not fully present with his family on nights and weekends.
We fixed that. You need to ask yourself where your priorities are. A perceptive coach will ensure you maintain a healthy balance, because that will enhance your leadership at work while simultaneously keeping what’s most important in life front and center.
The Bottom Line
You wouldn’t hire LeBron James to lead your team, and then not provide him with a coach, just because he’s demonstrated that he’s got talent. That’s why Fortune 500 organizations hire me. They want me as their outside point person to make sure leaders have strategic vision and confident, capable corporate DNA. When you weigh the value of executive coaching, factor in the cost of failure…and the robust ROI that you reap from investing in your long-term success.
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