- Do you ever feel like you are not a ‘natural born leader’?
- Are you in a position of leadership but feel like your team doesn’t listen to you or respect your authority and want to know how to be a better manager?
- Do you find it difficult to assert yourself or state your opinions to the rest of your team?
- Do you feel like you’re not reaching your potential at work?
- Are you part of a team but often wish you could be leading it?
- Do you think some management training/coaching would benefit you?
If you said yes to any of the above, perhaps you and your team would benefit from the unique training experience being offered by inspireMy.team ?
It’s always hard sharing tough times in your life where you could have done things better. When you’re a bit embarrassed about what you did, how you did it, who you burned along the way. However, if I don’t share my backstory, you won’t trust or believe that maybe I could help you. So here it is.
My “Being Coached” Experiences
I’ve experienced being coached 3 times in my 20 year career so far. Why? 3 times?!! Let me explain…
I’ll start by saying, I was a complete cynic about the benefits of someone bossing me about. But that’s not what coaching is. My understanding of the word coach was someone who would say “listen son, do it like this”. It’s nothing like that at all. It’s full of questions to you – an insightful, inspiring and impactful experience. Coaching is engaging, enlightening and emotionally exhausting. The outcomes are life changing.
Seven years ago, I had a moment of crisis as the leader of a team of 25 people who were well established with the internal politics of the company and very settled in their ways of working. They didn’t trust me. They talked behind my back. In their 360 appraisal of me, they wrote that they didn’t feel they knew what was going on and I didn’t listen. As the picture shows at the top, it was as if I’d said “Talk to the hand, the face ain’t listening!”.
It was a nightmare. How did this happen? I’d always felt like my charm could overcome everything. I’d led many teams through organisational change before. It was simple really, when I look back. I’d been brought in to the company to do two dramatic things: sift out the under-performers and create new startups from the running Research & Development projects. I had 6 short months from day 1 to identify the ones to ‘let go’ in order to spend the HR pot of cash kept for redundancies. Golden goodbyes, if you will. This shaped everything about my approach. I honestly wasn’t acting like me – I was acting as my sponsoring C level expected me to act; critical and cut-throat. I should have pushed back, defended my team, bought more time to evaluate, collaborate, coach and understand.
I spoke to a trusted colleague and friend Mike I’d met years before who had recently become a professional coach. He offered to coach me. Not mentor me. Not tell me what to do, but ask me questions that put me in my team member’s shoes to see things from a totally different perspective. Oh my gosh, it was very hard to realise what a horrible ‘boss’ I was. No sign of ‘leader’ in me. Just that old fashioned style ‘do this by when’, very little listening, very little humility, setting unrealistic expectations in an organisation that hadn’t been doing SMART objectives.
He also introduced me to one of his colleagues, my 2nd coach Geraldine, who didn’t know me at all. This completely fresh perspective can be important as there’s no clouded, preconceived ideas in there. Just pure coaching. She was able to help me start thinking about what I really might want from my career.
But at the end of the sessions, exhausted as I was from these self realisations, I understood what I’d done wrong. Sadly, it was too late for my team as the axe had already been dropped and the 5 necessary headcount cut, done. But what goes around comes around. My air cover from the CEO disappeared as he was silently exited during a ‘business trip’ he never came back from. Then my boss had lost his cover as a result, so we had to call it a day on the disruption and we went on our separate ways. Lessons learned. Luckily, when the dust had settled, those that had been exited, returned. Status quo returned for that organisation.
After this, I needed to figure out what I wanted to do next. How do you dust yourself off and go for the next leadership role when you’ve had your confidence knocked and don’t even like yourself very much?
I then met my third career coach. A superb listener and guide, Andrew. Over 6 sessions, he reignited my fire and my self belief. Through many hours of self analysis about relationships, expectations, behaviours and motivations, I realised I had previously been a good leader and tree shaker. I needed to stop beating myself up. I could help teams find their way but this time on my terms, not the unrealistic expectations of a quango that didn’t really want to change.
Phoenix from the fire
I had some cash put away, and felt it was time to start my own venture doing interim director work for product innovation and digital marketing. To rise from the ashes, like a Phoenix as it were.
BUT I was scared of failing and creating financial stress for my family. As the only earner in the family, I had to commit to make my new business work. He asked me what could I do to reduce my anxiety about failure, could I find firewood to start a fire – a simple metaphor about providing cash for the family fire. I said I could prove I could earn money for a project within 2 weeks; before we next met. Not necessarily in the specific field my business would be about. Simply proof that if needs must, I could generate money fast.
I did, I achieved it. I looked at my LinkedIn network and approaches from various people in connection requests and messages. I convinced a conference company in Asia to pay me to attend as their Chairman for the event and pay for a post conference report. I secured 50% of my fee up front. Enough to cover 1 month of my costs. The match was struck, ignited and the kindling started a fire.
Life is for Leading and…Cracking Poverty
After that moment, there was no stopping my energy. I found a raft of customers, parachuted in led teams through positive change. I had simultaneously decided that as well as starting a business, I would begin my life’s ambition for helping to crack poverty by climbing a mountain for Giving Africa. This would prove to give me my needed life balance between earning and giving. You’ll realise that once you’ve opened your heart and mind to what’s inside you, nothing is impossible.
The rest as they say is history. By being true to myself, listening, coaching and inspiring people in the teams I’ve led, they’ve said things like:
- “His charming and friendly personality made him a natural ambassador for the company, and a liked and respected leader within it.”
- “Chris is a great leader and a truly inspiring person. He has the ability to think out of the box while at the same time staying focused on larger strategic objectives. He is very creative and is great at leading others to innovative solutions. His strong communication skills help him adapt to various situations and people incredibly quickly and he thrives in challenging working environments. Chris is constantly pushing the envelope and striving to do things bigger and better.”
- “He is a patient hands-on leader who would be an asset to any organisation”
- “Chris is both an inspirational leader, who is able to drive innovative product diversification strategies and he’s also an effective manager in delivering shorter term / tactical objectives”
There you go. My backstory to show, that there is a way to find the positive leader inside you, to inspire others. When you look back after this change, you’ll be proud that you’ve transformed your life for the better.
Ready to reboot your life?
If after reading this, you feel it’s time for you to discover yourself, come and read about the team leadership programme, inspire my team which I deliver with my life coaching friend Lottie Moore from Mindset Metaphors.