You’ve landed that role, whether at a new company or you finally got that promotion. You are excited to begin and more importantly, to show that you deserve the trust that leadership has placed in you. So, what do you do first?
After working with executives for more than 30 years, both in teams and individually, I have seen some clear patterns that emerge related to executives who elect to hire a coach to help them as they begin to transition to the new role.
Gone is the stigma that coaches are only for people with performance problems. While coaching remains a key part of helping people overcome some temporary challenges, most executives realize that a coach can provide some key benefits, especially as they take on a new role.
But…coaches are everywhere, so how do you find one that will actually improve the skills you need to succeed? Experts appear to agree that the most important skills for leaders across the board are interpersonal skills. Companies are realizing that while technological skills are still very important, the ability for executives to be able to motivate and lead diverse, technologically savvy and global workforces is far more critical than technical prowess, and much harder to find.
In The C-Suite Skills that Matter Most, written by Raffaella Sadun, Joseph Fuller, Stephen Hansen and PJ Neal for HBR, the team cites a study that demonstrates how social and interpersonal competence are recognized as sought after skills for the top jobs.
If you’ve ever worked with a good facilitator, you know that these interpersonal skills, this ability to influence, is one of the reasons executive teams and boards of directors hire facilitators to run their most important meetings. What you might not realize is that some facilitators are also specialists in developing these skills in others, helping executives create their own legacy of success built on facilitation skills. Specific skills you can learn from a facilitator include:
Enhancing Communication and Feedback Skills:
Facilitators specialize in making sure that all voices are heard, and that ideas are met with appropriate questions that preclude a rush to judgment.
Objective Perspective and Unbiased Feedback:
While most coaches offer their clients objectivity, facilitation coaches can teach their clients how to leverage objectivity in their own relationships with peers and supervisors.
Agreement, the foundation for results, is often missing from many of the senior executive meeting rooms and board tables. In an environment where leadership is often misunderstood, facilitators cut through the maze with techniques that
1) focus on and embrace the necessary conflict that is the foundation of great decisions, and
2) ensure commitment to decisions is reached by all the critical parties.
Managing Change and Driving Innovation:
Executives must start with an attitude that embraces growth and marshals forces around a clear vision. Facilitation tools enable leaders to help the whole organization deal with ambiguity and remove the angst that comes with challenging the traditions that hamper success.
Accelerating Leadership Development:
Coaches know how to guide, support and implement accountability for executives seeking development. Facilitators bring an innate knowledge of the techniques that foster natural curiosity and eliminate defensiveness within the team, so the best ideas come forward and leaders can learn to replicate what works.
The Board of Directors of many companies are evaluating the interpersonal skills of not just individuals but the C-suite as a whole. They know that leaders who cannot adapt to the new demand of leadership can bring the entire organization to its knees. It will manifest in the culture, where people spend time wondering what the right thing is to do and how to avoid being blamed when things go wrong. It will become obvious when there is a mass exodus of people who ignore salaries in pursuit of well-being.
If you are working in an organization where the leadership just doesn’t seem to be getting everyone aligned or where the culture has become the barrier to success, or even if you are just looking to be the best leader you can be, consider expanding/honing your facilitation skills. The power of facilitation might change your life.
Only for Linked In: How have you used facilitation to change your life in leadership?