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PART 3: Mitigating Interference with Leadership Coaching

AKA: We’re all in the same boat, it’s the human condition

AKA: My coaching approach

AKA: Mental Fitness is the key to lasting positive change

Three areas where leadership coaching can help with mitigating interference limiting achieving excellence are:

  • Strength blindspots

  • Saboteurs & Inner Critic

  • Wellness imbalance

Strengths blindspots:

Strengths are defined as the sweet spot we reach with a behaviour based on investing in our natural talents. Adopting our talents/strengths drives activity that brings us joy, is easy to work with and produces exceptional results. What happens when we use our strengths in a manner that is perceived differently by the recipient than we had intended? Often we don’t even notice as we are caught up in being awesome at, and deriving joy from, exercising our strengths.

I've found bringing a strength blindspot into awareness really turns the lights on for some people. A specific type of blindspot is the concept of reciprocal expectation. In the Clifton Strengths framework 8 of 34 strengths have an expectation of reciprocity. I.e. If you have E.g. Positivity as strength then you expect that in return from the people you interact with. Same for Maximiser, Responsibility and others. This is a difficult area to manage for some. One who is high in Responsibility often expects others to take on tasks with the same level of ownership as them. The other person may execute to completion from a completely different set of strengths, and despite completing the task their way, with both high quality and timeliness, if that approach doesn’t outwardly doesn't call out “ownership” the high Responsibility person may react negatively.

Non Strengths, the ones at the bottom of the list of 34 are neither blindspots nor weaknesses. I will discuss in a separate blog about how they can be looked at as either unimportant, positive or able to be worked around with core strengths.

Mental Fitness can help with both the ability to identify over-use, mis-use, and reciprocal expectation of strengths as well as provide the ability to consistently switch this behaviour to a more positive approach in the moment.

Saboteurs & Inner Critic:

We’ve all met our inner critic. We know that voice that judges: us - that we can’t do something, judges someone else - he/she is an &^%$ $#@!, or judges a situation - this sucks because of X, Y and/or Z. That voice is relatively easy to hear when you listen for it. Which is not to say it is easy to manage or shift. But we also have a sneakier set of saboteurs, ones that we often view as positive. The anecdote that I connected with on this was resistance fighters in a war. The more embedded, innocuous and trusted they are the less they are noticed and concurrently the bigger negative impact they can have.

Identifying saboteurs and how we act as a result is important to movement up the excellence continuum. Mental Fitness is key to our effectiveness with these in both developing awareness as well as shifting to an alternate positive behaviour.

Wellness imbalance:

Where the saboteurs and inner critic are largely confined to inside our heads, our mental and emotional patterns, wellness often describes macrocosm impacts of forces beyond our control being the driver of the emotional and mental patterns. E.g. remote work, financial stability, social circles, relationships. This is clearly an oversimplification. For a longer discussion on my view on wellness please look here.

Strong Mental Fitness as it relates to wellness describes our ability to manage the influence of external factors and our reaction to it.

Bringing it together, when working on developmental goals with clients leadership coaching involves

  • Evaluating where they currently are on their excellence continuum

  • Identify goals, intentions and/or guiding principles

  • Identify significant areas of wellness imbalance

  • Expand their understanding of strengths generally and of their strengths specifically

  • Clarify how they can leverage their strengths and communicate their strengths profile to others

  • Determine the biggest area of interference and develop plans to mitigate

As with all forms of holistic continuous improvement, mitigating the biggest area of imbalance will reset many other areas. So start with the big thing, move it, and review. Moving one point higher on the scale will feel significant for most. In my experience when we are lower on the excellence continuum the support needed to move up and effort to maintain positive change is greater. As Mental Fitness grows the ability to move up the scale and maintain that position without falling backward is improved.

So how do you build Mental Fitness? More on that coming soon :-)

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