I’ve been reading a book by Seth Godin titled This is Marketing. Here is a quote I am pondering… “effective marketers don’t begin with a solution, with the thing that makes them more clever than everyone else. Instead, they begin with a group they seek to serve, a problem they seek to solve, and a change they seek to make.”
I’m reflecting on the problem I have sought to solve, and the change my team and I seek to make as coaches. My best thinking at this moment is this: helping leaders to make their leadership matter in a constructive way. My experience in my family and early in my career was that leadership matters…and in particular, that bad leadership is very destructive. It damages the development and self-worth and agency of those being led.
At the beginning, unconsciously, and now very consciously, I want The Bailey Group to focus on coaching leaders to make their leadership matter in a constructive way. Initially, my interest was on the psychological side. My premise (and I still think this is true) was that making your leadership matter constructively requires knowing yourself deeply (your values, your strengths and weaknesses, what you deeply care about, what you fear most), making the decision to become responsible for your choices and actions, and reflecting this insight into the vision, actions and decisions you make as a leader and a person. This requires a level of adult development that allows for independence of thought and action, clarity and confidence in the moment, self-regard and courage. Thus, coaching, in part, is about building self-knowledge, self-confidence, psychological autonomy and the courage to act.
But, for an executive coach, growth can’t be an end to itself. Leaders hire coaches to help them achieve goals and to solve problems (not realizing initially that this requires not just behavior change but also personal growth). Some of the critical issues we work with leaders to solve include making difficult decisions about direct reports, defining organizational structure, building an effective team, crystalizing the CEO’s role in setting the vision and goals in an agile organization, creating tools for managing change, and managing a board, among others. These require a coach (or team of coaches) to have practical business experience as an executive leader and to have a breadth of knowledge in organizational development and of valid research about effective leadership.
It is hard to put a dollar amount to achieving these outcomes. What is it worth in dollars to act with clarity? To make timely decisions? To act with courage? To create a vision and meaningful goals that align and activate the organization?
As we continue to ask ourselves and our clients these questions, and to reflect on the problems we seek to solve, we’ll write and talk about these topics and hope to find others (like you?) who also find value in the discussion. What problem do you seek to solve? What change do you seek to make? Send me an email or post a response. I’m always interested to hear from others.