There’s a cadence to coaching. After the initial goal-setting meeting, I usually meet with my clients every two weeks. They tell me what actions they have taken since our last meeting. Then we discuss what’s working and what’s not. I send them back out into the world and they come back two weeks later with another update — what they are learning, what they are doing, wins and shortcomings. And so it goes for three months or six months or a year. One of the reasons coaching works is simply to take the time to pause and reflect — “Am I showing up as the leader I want to be? Am I speaking our vision clearly and often? Am I recognizing the good work of my team?” In a recent meeting with my client, Dan, we paused to reflect on how much he has grown as a leader over the course of our coaching this year. He takes the time to check in with his team members more often, both on work projects and on home life. He is delegating more, both to help him focus on leading and also to give development opportunities to his staff. Where he used to jump from data to big vision (or vice versa), he spends more time on what he calls “Page 2,” filling in the gaps and more clearly drawing the path from the present to the desired future. The benefits of pausing have also been evident in the leadership development course, The Fit Leader’s Program, that I am co-leading this year with fellow coach, Ross Woodstock. We recently taught the module called The Balance Booster where we look at how satisfied we are in the various areas of our life. Our participants commented on how helpful it was to pause and reflect and then to create goals on improving in a few areas. Part of the uniqueness of the program is our holistic emphasis, making sure leaders can make a lasting contribution by paying attention to work-life balance. (Ross and I plan to start another cohort in March 2015, so please call or email us for more information.) Another benefit of the pause is taking time to celebrate our wins. So often I hear of leaders who zoom past the wins and harp on what’s still not working and, what still needs to be improved. That constant focus on the negative wears out a team. They start to feel like nothing will ever be good enough, so they start to disengage. In my client, Barb’s case, it’s her boss who is beating the negativity drum. Barb takes the opposite approach with her team. As often as she can, she reminds the team that they are the number one division in terms of sales. She is still realistically looking at solutions for improving their delivery time, but she makes sure to pause and celebrate the win of most sales. Last month I kicked off a corporate mentor program for a company outside Houston, Texas. This is another example of the importance of the pause. This group had their top leaders serving as mentors in their pilot program, showing the importance of pausing to talk with high potential leaders on career planning. As we head into the holiday season, this time of year gives us an excellent opportunity to hit the pause button. So, take time to pause to think, pause to learn and pause to celebrate. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
Susan Combs, MBA and Professional Certified Coach, works with coaching clients to create fresh starts, enhance their leadership skills and increase their confidence. She is an authorized licensee of the Fit Leader's Program. Susan provides one-on-one coaching, DiSC team-building training and manages corporate mentor programs. She lives in Lansing with her son, Max, and their golden retriever puppy. Visit SusanCombsCoaching.com or MentorRoadmap.com for more information.