I've always loved a good problem to solve. I grew up doing jigsaws and crosswords and puzzles. So when a problem presents itself I've often come up with several different options almost before I've heard the whole issue. It can be a great skill, and is certainly part of a healthy mindset. Problems are not barriers, or obstacles, they are interesting, motivating and sometimes even exciting.
Coaching has also taught me the skill of restraint, of knowing its not all about me. When I'm working with a coaching client, it isn't about whether I have an answer to the problem, its about working with them to find their best answer. And when their answer wouldn't work for me, respecting and knowing it is still the right answer for them. So in my leadership role, I am frequently grateful for the skills coaching has led me to develop. In stepping back and listening to other solutions before always offering my own.
So when a former student joined me to facilitate the latest workshop on Improving Wellbeing with NLP, it led to a fascinating conversation. I've run this workshop many times and continue to ask for feedback so that it evolves and improves each time. This time I'd asked Sue what her favourite Presupposition from NLP was, and included it in the workshop. Her choice was 'Everyone is doing their best with the resources they have available'. As part of the workshop discussion I'd asked her what she liked about it, and she shared that one of the reasons was that it served as a reminder to her on occasions when she might feel frustrated with someone, that they were simply doing their best. A pretty good reason for liking it.
I reflected on the same question, and found myself drawn to the 'resources they have available'. Most people are resourceful, but sometimes accessing those resources can be harder than others. When we are feeling down, stuck, or stressed, it can be much harder to access our creative problem solving self. If we are feeling afraid, or uncertain in a meeting, it is so much more difficult to put forward our suggestions. It may be that we have the best contribution to make, but that the environment or the context leaves feeling unable to offer our suggestions.
So for all you leaders striding confidently forward in pursuit of an effective and efficient organisation, pause for a moment and ask yourself how you know your answer is the best one, that your solution is the right one? When you are chairing the meeting, how do you ensure everyone feels safe enough to offer their suggestions? And when you have those moments, and we all have them, when you feel pressure to have the answer, but not sure how to access your best self, who do you turn to?
The skills of coaching aren't just for coaches. They are very much part of truly effective leadership too. They take practice, and self control. They lead to reflection, and high quality listening. They avoid making assumptions, and recognising that sometimes the best answers from come unexpected places. If you want to find out more about how we can help, contact us for a chat