Recently, I had a Leadership Circle 360 profile debrief with a highly creative leader whose only apparent shortcoming was a lack of balance between personal and work life. For high achieving individuals and teams, this is a common theme. Going into a follow up debrief, the question arose, “What do I have to offer this person?” This was not a worry; just a curiosity. With this inquiry, came a blank response. Nothing to prepare, nothing to study, nothing to invent. Just go to the meeting and see what shows up. Which is what I did.
Upon entering her office, my client warmly greeted me. As soon as we sat down, she said with a mix of enthusiasm and frustration, “Bob, I want to work on balance!” I replied, “Tell me more.” She said, “I have 20 direct reports………….!” Wow, that’s all I needed to hear. The “what do I have to offer” spontaneously arose as a productive dialogue about how she could reorganize her reports in a way that not only gave her more quiet time at work but also time with family. Her closing comment to me was, “Making this happen is life changing for me!”
This experience reinforces the true role of a consultant/coach: To hold space for the client to arrive at their own conclusions/decisions. Yes, preparation is a necessary piece but is not the answer to a successful coaching session. The key to a productive session is a willingness to go in completely open to anything that may arise. If I had gone into that meeting with an agenda, a set of things to be covered or accomplished, the same outcome may have come up or just as likely, my agenda may have derailed the conversation. Time and time again, I am amazed at what arises in these deep conversations with clients. Being willing to go there with no expectations or outcomes in mind other than to be there, fully present takes confidence and courage. Sometimes what arises is messy and uncomfortable. Sometimes inspiring and uplifting. All brilliantly organized by a relationship system whose voice seeks being heard. When listened to, great things can happen.
Tags: Holding Space