Fear of failure – we’ve all experienced it one time or another
Beth had signed up for coaching because she was leading a transformation project fraught with politics and big egos. Despite her experience and the faith that had been placed in her, she was concerned that she would “drop some of these moving pieces.”
Like a lot of my clients she was afraid she might fail
Today that fear seemed close to the surface. When I asked her what she would like to think through in our session, she seemed startled.
“Well,” she said. “I guess I just want to talk it out loud…if that doesn’t seem too self-indulgent?”
The value of just talking to someone who is really listening without judgement is often a way clients begin to make sense of their jumble of thoughts and feelings.
But clients also bring their inner critics with them
I could hear her inner critic loud and clear.
Beth told me that she felt that she should just get on with it. She was a master of planning; used to this stage…..etc….etc. And then she was off into the detail of the project.
She really did need to talk this one through.
And it was helpful for me to listen less to the deep content of what she was saying and more to the emotions that lay beneath the words. A pattern began to emerge:
“If I don’t….”
Organisations consistently report that executive and leadership coaching works.
Coaching individuals has been proved to help leaders to:
- Set more stretch goals and increase the chance of achieving them
- Ask for feedback about their performance and act on it
- Improve their well-being and resilience
- Lower their stress levels
Perhaps more importantly, in surveys from direct reports they are seen to be more effective managers and leaders.
Over the two decades I’ve been coaching leaders, I have had many HR and line managers ask me how we will test that the coaching investment has paid off and I always say: “You will know within a few sessions; you will see and feel the difference in that exec’s behavior.” And they do, which is why most of my work comes from referrals.
In my experience leadership coaching radically changes executives’ ability to know who they are and to show up consistently as open, vulnerable, strong and trustworthy, able to generate followship.
However, over the years I have discovered something even more important.
Team work isn’t optional. Management theorists tend to over-complicate things by differentiating between groups and teams, but I like to keep it simple.
I frequently work with leaders and teams who ask me a version of this question:
“What if we’re not a great team and we don’t all really trust each other?”
Which is a necessarily honest and courageous start.
In my work I encourage my clients to consciously re-think what we mean by “teams”; to go beyond the idea that a team is only the group of people who report to one manager or one project lead.
We all belong to multiple teams
If you need other people to contribute to your output at work, then you’re part of their team. Their contribution might be time, advice, encouragement or materials and the contribution may be big or small, consistent or intermittent.
Team work is about co-operation and contribution
Great teams work well when the individuals have the mindset:
This is my favourite picture of me at work. I love seeing every single one of those people, smiling, engaged, fully present.
What’s more, it’s taken in the middle of a challenging and competitive activity where everyone present has experienced unexpected loss and disappointment.
What you are looking at is resilience
Here’s what the CIPD has to say on the importance of resilience:
“A consistent theme among the range of definitions of resilience is a sense of adaptation, recovery and bounce back despite adversity or change”
And what does this mean for organisations?
Conflict. What comes to mind when you read that word? How do you feel about conflict? Almost every team I’ve ever worked with comes to me asking for help with both uncovering unvoiced conflict and strategies for dealing more effectively with conflict when it arises. The way we deal with conflict – ignoring it, running away from it, confronting it – is a reflection of our early programming.
We bring our family of origin to work
The way we respond to power and group dynamics are echoes – sometimes very loud ones – of those we find in our family. Indeed, our notion of leadership and what makes a team will also come from our earliest experiences of power and notions of “fitting in.” Similarly with conflict.