A few weeks ago, I was in a meeting with a potential referral source, and we were discussing our backgrounds.
One woman observed that throughout my career I had been a fan of the underdog. Guilty as charged. If you read my Driving Forces report you’d know that’s an accurate statement.
But it got me thinking. The Senior Executive is today’s underdog.
We do a considerable amount of coaching and consulting with Senior Executive teams, and time after time I find that indeed, they are the underdog. Senior execs don’t get the development that they need, deserve and want.
It’s as if once you rise to a certain level in a company, you should know it all. As if magically, everything you’ve learned along the way was enough to take you the rest of the way, without dimming your light and your impact.
What I’ve found is that execs want and need the same thing as everyone else in the company. They want to be heard. They want to grow. They crave a safe space to be vulnerable and human, and if you can create a space for them to do that, they will.
As a coach, I’ve had more senior leaders than I can count tell me that they’ve “never told this to anyone else,” and those things are always the human pieces of the job.
They get out of their know-it-all heads and drop into their hearts as soon as we give them permission to, if not sooner.
And the work they do there is amazing and truly humbling to witness.
All of our coaching programs require a 6-month commitment, and we typically arrange a mid-point group meeting to bring the team back together.
Recently, in one of these meetings we had allocated 2 hours for the team to share their individual focus areas and the tools and resources they were using with the larger group. It’s a standard part of our process and helps to create sustainability after we leave.
During this particular meeting, the team had so much to say that our project sponsor (the President) determined that the dialog they were having was more valuable than anything else they could have used the time for, and they spent the entire afternoon on this one conversation.
The amount of heart that showed up in that room, the level of commitment to being great business AND people leaders, the level of trust they had in each other, their willingness to be vulnerable, show emotion, support each other and grow was like nothing they had ever seen.
We have the advantage of knowing it’s possible but watching, sometimes right before our eyes, the evolution of team never gets old.
Those leaders will never be the same, and that team will never be the same, in part because we gave the underdogs a space to find their strength and flourish. Mostly because they chose to step into the ring and do the hard work.
It’s why I Iove this work.
It’s why I love my team.
It’s why I love our clients.
Even (especially) if they are secretly the underdog sometimes.