The leadership cases look at a different kind of leadership: the kind that goes 360° round.
Some people seem to be completely surrounded by difficult people. They meet them all the time, at work, but also in their family circle. Nobody seems to listen, they have no impact and they end up doing all the work themselves. No wonder they start feeling unsupported by their superiors and peers. Let alone that they would step up as leaders.
Is this a situation in which to advise 'to accept things as they are', 'put it all into perspective', 'letting go' or lowering personal standards altogether?
Coaching for a different kind of leadership
I met K. about a year ago. She had just accepted a new position, reporting directly to the general director in a large educational institution. Her task involved implementing ambitious innovation projects, difficult conversations with students and parents, and conflict handling between colleagues.
Having been a teacher herself before, she now had to step up to help develop and improve her former peers. However, K. had not been assigned any formal power, which made it al the more difficult to assume the new role.
K. had high moral standards and a really big heart for students as well as staff, but reaching goals and obtaining impact appeared very difficult. There seemed to be quarrelling and opposition everywhere. K. tried to solve it all without conflict and by the time we started to work together she was very emotional, angry and frustrated with a lot of people.
Three months after the end of coaching track, I met her for a follow up conversation.
Shutting up impactfully
K. was looking great, blush on the cheeks, full of energy. This was what she told me about the start of the new academic year:
"It was hectic as always, but I felt much more comfortable in my role this year. I have accepted the role fully. I also finished the bachelor degree, which really makes me feel like the expert in certain domains. I am happy to contribute and no longer ashamed to step up.
On the other hand I am no longer trying to solve every problem myself and I put out clear boundaries without guilt. A former colleague who - in my perception - used to bully me, actually apologised to me after I simply told her 'no'.
Taking a small 'time-out' still works wonders. When there is a harsh moment, I let 15 minutes pass. Often it seems like a different world opens up. Solutions become clear, people take responsibility 'automatically'. Silence can be quite impactful. In many cases, I actually don't have to do anything to have impact.
Towards my director I come with clear proposals and rational questions. This is apparently the language she understands. We work together perfectly now. My personal life I keep to myself. I have other contacts for that."
Walking dangerous dogs
When asking about what had been most impactful in the coaching, K responded resolutely:
"The most impactful insight has been the systemic family counstellations. It made me understand where I had learned to play the part I always played. Once I understood this, I came down from the 'pied de stalle'. It felt all right to be just a person, making a contribution. I did no longer have to be larger than life, solve it all. I became less emotional and more rational. This is when my impact started to increase. I am using my intelligence and my heart and it works!
And the best part? Even my dogs listen to me now. I walk them together, two giants, one at each side. They know what I want and they know that I mean it."
K. looks amused, energetic and free. She wanted to do meaningful things, I know she will.
The story explained: what is the gain?
Positive impact has more to do with personal growth and alignment than with power. K's story illustrates this in a double way. But what is the practical use of all this?
1° Alignment of mission, role and competence: more impact, more energy
K. had always been clear on what her personal mission was. She wanted to 'care and connect'. By accepting the position fully and aligning it with this mission, she was motivated to learn (on the job, in coaching, the bachelor) and acquire more competence. In a year's time she obtained this expertise which gave her more confidence to confront the director, peers and parents if necessary and be heard.
On the other hand she sorted out what was really part of her role: tasks, but also that she was not a friend to her colleagues and not a Florence Nightingale to parents and students either. She learned to keep things separated. As a result her behaviour - far from being less heartful! - became more clear and impactful. More energy could now flow to more meaningful things.
2° Alignment of brain, heart, body: more patience, better results, more happiness
K also aligned in another way. Her heart had always been open, but now she also keeps her body in shape and her brain free from old patterns and triggers. The three components work in alignment now, generating more patience to work towards better results as well as more personal happiness.
And what about you?
Of course you would you like to feel like K.
Discover how far evolved you are and take the test to give you an idea:
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Kristien De Wolf is a certified career coach accepting VDAB cheques.
You are entitled to these cheques if you work in the Flamish region as an employee or independant.
Kristien De Wolf is personal business coach with 20 years of international experience, certified in NLP and Transpersonal Coaching and Counseling.
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0032 476 40 74 15 or email@example.com
Live like a mighty river