Conscious relationships & personal growth

Our current featured member Grace Gedeon is an experienced and empathetic life coach, complementing her work as a business and executive coach. Here are Grace’s thoughts on conscious relationships and personal growth.

Executive Coach Exchange Grace Gedeon
Grace Gedeon

Grace writes:

“There’s a term I love to use called ‘nominative determinism’ which literally means name-driven outcome. Carl Jung put forward the idea that people are drawn to professions that fit their names. I also believe that the names we use to classify things, can be indicators of the essence of those things that we are naming. For example, what does the word relationship tell us about relationships? If we break that word down into two words: relation – ship, we can devise a metaphor that can be useful in guiding us towards a better understanding of relationships.

Let’s take a closer look at this…

A ship is a type of vehicle or vessel that takes people from one place to another across water.

Could a relation-ship be seen as a vessel, designed to take you and your significant other across the vast waters of your subconscious mind towards a new and wonderful destination of growth and transformation? This journey will likely involve travelling, at times, through storm and at times through magical beauty, depending on how you steer the ship and conquer the elements.

Let’s continue with this metaphor a little further.

What’s The Difference Between A Conscious And Unconscious Relationship?

A conscious relationship is one where the ship’s captain is awake, alert, engaged and capable of observing and navigating the deep unfathomable waters/emotions/subconscious terrains with mastery. There is no denial, avoidance, slacking off or ignorance.

An unconscious relationship by contrast, is like the Titanic – it looks amazing but doesn’t make the distance – it sinks. Why? Well, according to one theory, the sinking of the Titanic was attributed to a phenomenon known as thermal inversion that caused the light to refract in unusual ways. This distorted the size and distance of objects and created a false horizon. The mirage between the false horizon and the real one prevented the lookout from seeing the iceberg until it was only a mile away.

Aren’t human relationships much the same in that, to the extent that you disown or reject parts of yourself, you are basically operating your relationship through a series of mirages. You`ve now got your own version of thermal inversion! You can’t see clearly because your world is one of the projections of your subconscious issues onto those you are in relationship with and your own mirage now consists of mechanisms of avoidance, denial and deflection. Everything appears distorted, and before you know it, you hit an iceberg and your relationship is damaged or destroyed and it goes down.

Ways To Avoid Disaster

  • Play it safe. This would mean never venture out so that you avoid stormy waters or iceberg territory. OR
  • Take stock and ensure you understand how to be awake and alert and keep your relationship conscious.

To stay conscious, you must:

  • Engage in self- reflection to ensure that your childhood issues and past hurts do not become destructive projections on to your partner but instead opportunities for healing and connection with them.
  • Chose partners well and leave soul destroying relationships in the most loving way possible.
  • Look at your relationships the way A Course in Miracles describes them: as assignments – part of a vast plan for your enlightenment, the blueprint by which each individual soul is led to greater awareness and expanded love.

What Are Relationships Here To Teach Us?

Our relationships with others mirror the relationship we have with ourselves. Conflict with others mirrors the conflict we have between the persona we show to the world and our shadow self. So, the people who have the most teach us are often the ones who reflect to us the limits to our own capacity to love, those who consciously or unconsciously challenge that which we fear and are ashamed of within us.

In a conscious relationship, you and your partner learn how to move towards the goal of wholeness by fostering each other’s psycho-spiritual growth. You accept each other’s humanness and support each other’s growth towards wholeness.

In an unconscious relationship, there is no fostering of mutual growth. You and your partner are seeing mirages because you are unaware and resisting or denying the universal will for your mutual soul growth. You are stuck on the level of projection; your learning is limited.

Unconscious relationships often end over the obvious while being completely oblivious to the deeper lesson that the relationship was designed to help you learn. If you haven’t learnt the lesson intended by that relationship assignment, you won’t evolve to a higher vibrational relationship – perhaps you’ll create a different one but it won’t be a higher one.

I hope this helps you understand the importance of staying conscious and conscientious in the pursuit of a deep and profound relationship that expands your heart and consciousness. There is work involved. These relationships, by their very nature, take you on a journey, they are not the destination, but rather the vessel that you can embark with another, to travel to a place of higher consciousness and expanded love, through the way you relate. What is required of you is that you stay true, not to the pursuit of power within the relationship, but rather to a deep desire for your mutual soul growth.”

Contributor:  Grace Gedeon is an international life coach, business coach and executive coach.  You can find more posts from Grace at www.gracegedeon.com and her radio show at News for the Soul.

Effective communication & conflict resolution

Grace Gedeon is an expert in the area of effective communication. Her work in the area of business coaching and leadership coaching, where she brings her experience as a lawyer and psychologist to bear, as well as her warm and genuine personality, has led her to the insights in this week’s post.

Grace Gideon, Executive Coach
Grace Gedeon, executive coach

Effective communication

Effective communication is about making your position clear while allowing others to feel respected and valued. One effective communication technique is to paraphrase the person with whom you are speaking in order to: a) make it clear that you are listening, and b) confirm that what you think you are hearing is what they intended. Listening with an open mind and an open heart is profoundly helpful when it comes to removing all judgment and projection, and establishing better and more respectful business relationships.

Conflict resolution

Full-blown battles waste time and energy, damage your good reputation, and decrease your motivation. Conflict resolution techniques, like effective communication and negotiation skills, can help you overcome these obstacles and maybe even make new allies.

Anger management

Anger management is about being able to lose a battle to win the war. It’s also about ensuring you don’t let your temper stand in the way of achieving the best business outcome. Certainly, anger has its uses. For instance, it can motivate you into action. Take note, hot energy motivates, cool energy mediates. Anger management helps you use your healthy anger to fuel appropriate action and once in action, you can learn how to stay cool, clam and collected in order to negotiate and mediate the best outcome for any given situation.

If you have a problem with anger management, talk to me. Together, we can identify your triggers and help you to develop more positive ways to react to perceived threats. This will ensure your business and career can go from strength to strength.

Stress management

Stress management isn’t always easy. The pressures of work can be a tremendous burden. With the right business coaching or executive coaching, you can learn the keys to stress management: self-awareness, self-care, establishing priorities, identifying the source of stress (environmental or emotional), managing your time effectively and, the best stress management technique of all, finding stress relief through love and gratitude in their many varied forms and languages.

Contributor: Our current featured member, Grace Gedeon, is a life coach and executive coach who blends her business and psychology experience to create her unique capacity to intuitively and clinically diagnose the psychological factors that stand in the way of your success and fulfillment. Grace teaches effective techniques to help you transform your career in a deep and long lasting way.

Why truly successful leaders need emotional intelligence

In this post Trish Kelly looks at the characteristics of emotional intelligence and tells us how you can improve this important area to become a truly successful leader.

Trish Kelly executive coach
Trish Kelly, executive coach

Most people agree that effective leaders have intellectual drive, knowledge, vision, passion, creativity and good communication skills. These days, it is increasingly being recognised that to be truly successful, leaders must also have emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is essentially the way we recognise, understand, express and manage our emotions and the emotions of others. Leaders with emotional intelligence understand how their emotions and actions affect the teams they work with. What’s more, they are able to use their emotional intelligence to connect with, motivate and empower their teams.

The five key characteristics leaders with emotional intelligence exhibit are:

  1. Self-Awareness
  2. Self-Management
  3. Motivation
  4. Empathy
  5. Social Skills

Self-Awareness – This is a critical pillar of emotional intelligence. It is our ability to recognise our emotions and the feelings associated with an emotion, the things that trigger those emotions and how we react to them. Self-awareness is the essential building block for self-management of our emotions. This is because, before we can look at how we can manage, control or adapt our emotions, we need to understand what they are and how we respond to them.

Awareness of our emotions can be developed. We can reflect on what our strengths and areas for development are and how we feel and respond in different situations, and we can seek feedback from others.

Self-Management This is our ability to use awareness of our emotions to stay flexible, to positively direct our behavior and to stay in control.

Leaders who manage themselves effectively are trustworthy and adaptable. They stay calm and rational under pressure and maintain a solutions focus when things go wrong. They rarely make rushed or emotional decisions, stereotype people or compromise their values.

We can improve our ability to self-manage by developing skills to remain calm and solutions focussed in challenging situations, by being very clear about the values that are important to us and by knowing the values we will not comprise. We can also continually reflect on situations to understand why we acted in the way that we did, and then use that experience to learn how to better manage similar situations in the future.

Motivation – This is our ability to harness our emotions to motivate ourselves to commit to appropriate actions, to follow through and to deliver results.

Self-motivated leaders are usually optimistic and have high energy which is contagious in the workplace, and they consistently focus on delivering results even in challenging circumstances.

We can recharge our motivation by reminding ourselves what we love about our job and about leading our team, by reflecting on successes, by making sure our goals are relevant and energising, and by adopting a positive mindset in challenging situations.

Empathy – This is our ability to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from their perspective; in other words, it’s our ability ‘to walk in their shoes’.

Leaders who display empathy are good listeners. They pay attention to body language and are able to read other people’s feelings accurately. They welcome questions and feedback, are both confident and humble, and are able to adapt their communication style to suit the situation.

We can improve our empathy by being aware of our biases and making sure they don’t interfere with our ability to listen, and by keeping an open mind and asking respectful questions to get insights into situations from other people’s perspectives.

Social Skills – This is our ability to build relationships.

Leaders who have good social skills are great communicators, develop open and supportive workplace cultures, foster teamwork and innovation, celebrate successes, embrace change, resolve conflict well and model the values they hold.

We can improve our social skills by reflecting on how well we communicate and connect with our teams, and seeking feedback from others about what works well and what we could improve in our workplace.

It’s never too late to learn! So how would you rate your emotional intelligence and what actions can you take to enhance your emotional intelligence?

Contributor: Our current featured member, Trish Kelly, is an experienced leader, change manager and facilitator with over 30 years’ experience in the public sector, working in very large organisations in both regional and central office roles.

Through her experience as the General Manager Human Resources for 8 years in the NSW Department of Education and Communities, the largest organisation in the southern hemisphere, Trish is well equipped to work with executives, aspiring leaders and others to support and guide them to achieve their goals and to maximise their performance and impact.

Why high performing organisations foster and champion staff engagement

While leaders in most organisations would agree that our employees are more valuable and important to our business than any other asset, not all leaders drive a culture that encourages, values and recognises genuine employee engagement.

So what is employee engagement?

Trish Kelly executive coach
Trish Kelly, executive coach

Put simply, employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organisation and its goals.Engaged employees are not just working to earn money: they are actually motivated to do a good job and they connect with the organisation and its purpose.

Employee engagement occurs in workplaces where the culture is based on trust, is open, inclusive and transparent and employees have a clear understanding of the organisation’s vision, goals and targets. They feel motivated and connected to and valued by the organisation, they want to contribute to the organisation’s success and they are encouraged and feel empowered to provide their ideas and views to drive continuous improvement and innovation.

There are a number of benefits to the organisation from a highly engaged workforce.

Engaged employees are more likely to have high job satisfaction levels and have a high level of commitment and loyalty to the organisation. This in turn is likely to result in fewer staff grievances and less lost time to sick leave and workers compensation. It is also likely to lead to higher staff retention rates, and retaining high performing staff is a key success factor for most organisations. In addition, organisations that have a culture and reputation for staff engagement are more likely to attract high quality candidates when recruiting for new staff.

Staff productivity is essential in any organisation. Engaged employees are motivated to deliver results in the most effective and efficient way and, when the chips are down, they are committed to rolling their sleeves up and going the extra mile to deliver.

Successful organisations continue to grow and evolve. If they are great, they strive to become even greater. Among other things, these organisations foster continuous improvement and innovation. One of the best ways to generate improvements and innovation is to get input from the employees who do the actual work. They can often see problems and identify ways to improve business practices that are invisible to the leaders of an organisation. In addition, when employees see that their ideas and suggestions are listened to and implemented, where appropriate, they will become even more engaged and the organisation becomes more successful, a great win/win outcome.

Engaged employees are enthusiastic, want to do a good job and take pride in it. In jobs that have a customer focus this means that the employee will do everything in their power to deliver a high quality service to their customers which is yet another win/win experience for the customer and the organisation.

What are you doing to drive and foster staff engagement in your organisation?

Contributor: Our current featured member, Trish Kelly, is an experienced leader, change manager and facilitator with over 30 years’ experience in the public sector, working in very large organisations in both regional and central office roles.

Through her experience as the General Manager Human Resources for 8 years in the NSW Department of Education and Communities, the largest organisation in the southern hemisphere, Trish is well equipped to work with executives, aspiring leaders and others to support and guide them to achieve their goals and to maximise their performance and impact.

How executive coaching can benefit employees

Executive coaching can assist individuals in the performance of their current role, in identifying and pursuing their career aspirations and can assist them to improve their professional relationships.

Trish Kelly executive coach
Trish Kelly, executive coach

For executive coaching to be successful there are some essential foundational elements from the individual’s perspective that need to be in place. The first is that the individual needs to be open to taking part in the coaching experience to learn and grow. Another essential aspect is that there needs to be the right “chemistry” between coach and coachee.  In other words the coachee needs to feel comfortable enough with their coach to be able to open up and discuss and pursue their issues and goals in a frank and honest way.

The following case study shows how coaching assisted an individual to navigate issues they were dealing with in their role.

Peter* was unhappy in his role and felt unsupported by his supervisor.

During the coaching sessions, Peter was able to unpack the situation. He began to more clearly articulate the different issues that were occurring and intersecting to make him feel unhappy and unsupported. This included some critical self-reflection and a new awareness and deeper understanding of how his own workplace communication and attitude was perceived by his supervisor. He realised this was a significant contributor to the situation.

As a result of focussed self-reflection, Peter was able to explore different options for addressing each of the issues he had identified and, most importantly, develop and prioritise an action plan to move forward with these options, including how he would modify his communication and interpersonal style with his supervisor.

Over a 6 month period, Peter progressively put his action plan in place. At each coaching session, he was able to reflect on the effectiveness of these strategies as he tried them our and openly discuss those that had worked and, equally, reflect on any that had not been as effective as hoped. In this way, he was able to keep moving forward with his plan.

In this particular situation, at the end of the 6 month period, Peter had a much more open and positive relationship with his supervisor and, as a result, had been able to develop and agree on a work plan and professional development plan for the next 12 months that provided clear direct and accountability and opportunities for further growth and development. This is turn led him to being happier in his role.

One of the key reasons for the success of this coaching assignment was Peter’s willingness to openly participate in the coaching process and to identify issues and develop solutions he owned and felt comfortable implementing.

Contributor: Our current featured member, Trish Kelly, is an experienced leader, change manager and facilitator with over 30 years’ experience in the public sector, working in very large organisations in both regional and central office roles.

Through her experience as the General Manager Human Resources for 8 years in the NSW Department of Education and Communities, the largest organisation in the southern hemisphere, Trish is well equipped to work with executives, aspiring leaders and others to support and guide them to achieve their goals and to maximise their performance and impact.

* ‘Peter’ is a blend of several clients.

Why executive coaching can add to your organisation’s bottom line

Trish Kelly executive coach
Trish Kelly, executive coach

Your staff are the most important resource for achieving your strategic directions and delivering results. Successful organisations have motivated, engaged and high performing staff and low staff turnover.

At the same time, employee related costs are one of the highest line items in the budget – if not the highest. That’s why it’s in your organisation’s interests to invest in strategies that grow staff capability and enhance staff engagement and retention.

While some managers may argue that coaching is an expensive strategy, the contrary is true. Because it is focussed on the coachee’s needs, and can quickly and flexibly assist them to discover how to address those needs, there is no “down time” in coaching sessions. Instead, the coachee can return to the workplace to implement the solutions they have developed. It is therefore a very cost-effective development strategy for the individual, and provides significant benefits to the organisation.

Coaching, when done well, is a powerful strategy which provides a safe and conducive space for personal reflection, growth and development. It engages the coachee in identifying the specific goals and issues they want to address. It empowers the coachee to take responsibility for their development and

  • assists them to identify and reflect on their goals,
  • allows them to identify their own learning needs and
  • builds their personal awareness of how they are perceived by others.

Coaching is also a highly effective professional development strategy because it is client-centric. The coachee works with the coach to discover and develop ideas and solutions to achieve their personal goals and address their personal issues. This encourages innovation: rather than a “text book” response to an issue, the coachee works with the coach to develop an individual intervention that is going to work for them in their particular context. This creates a sense of ownership, confidence and buy in from the coachee. They are therefore more likely to follow through on implementing their ideas and solutions.

Benefits to the broader organisation from coaching include:

  • improved relationships
  • fewer grievances
  • improved team work and productivity
  • improved quality of work and
  • improved staff engagement, job satisfaction and staff retention.

Many capability development strategies can assist with the identification of goals and how to make progress towards achieving them. The power of coaching is that it helps the coachee to become more personally aware of their possible blind spots, particularly those relating to their behaviour in the workplace and the impact this has on others. Their growing self-awareness frequently leads to the coachee having a “light globe” moment and identifying ways to make a fundamental shift in their approach to their work and the way they relate to others.

So in determining the best way to use the organisation’s capability development budget, executive coaching is definitely a cost-effective and results-driven strategy to include in the mix.

Contributor: Our current featured member, Trish Kelly, is an experienced leader, change manager and facilitator with over 30 years’ experience in the public sector, working in very large organisations in both regional and central office roles.

Through her experience as the General Manager Human Resources for 8 years in the NSW Department of Education and Communities, the largest organisation in the southern hemisphere, Trish is well equipped to work with executives, aspiring leaders and others to support and guide them to achieve their goals and to maximise their performance and impact.

You don’t have to be a yes-person …

… but you don’t have to be a naysayer.

What do you do when a manager suggests a project that you have reservations about?

As we’ve discussed in an earlier post, it’s important for managers to create a culture where their reports don’t feel that they have to be yes-people. When you are the report, it’s also important not to be a yes-person, both for the organisation’s success and for your own feeling of self-worth.

Recently, though, we were discussing with a colleague the importance of using judgement in this situation. Sometimes, in avoiding being a yes-person, it’s easy to fall into the trap of becoming a naysayer. Have a look at the differences in attitude that these responses suggest, and the likely reception you will get from your manager:

Yes-person Naysayer What about …
Yes! What’s the point of this? I’d like a better understanding of the business imperatives for this project.
 Yes! I don’t have time for this. Can we look at resourcing to ensure we meet these timeframes?
Yes! Senior management won’t like this. I have some suggestions for issues you’re likely to encounter in getting management approval.
Yes! I don’t know how to do this. Can you work with me to coach me through this?
Yes! That’s not how we do things here. I think you are likely to encounter some resistance from our accounting and risk departments because historically we have taken another approach to this, which I can give you more information on if you’d like.


Our colleague had recently been leading a project with some very resistant team members. It was difficult to give their concerns full weight, because of the negative way in which they expressed these concerns. She didn’t want or expect yes-people, but the nay-saying was both unhelpful and uninformative. Even when the proposal was to take on additional team members to help with the workload, she was met with the response, “A new team member will just make more work for me”.

Executive Coach Exchange team feedback
Can you recast negative feedback to be more useful and informative?

With responses more like those in the third column – and note, these are not all positive responses – our colleague would have been better placed to address the concerns and make the project work for the team members as well as for senior management.

Our colleague remembered an occasion when she was just starting out, when she was surprised to hear a senior manager strongly recommending someone for a challenging role, despite explicitly recognising that the candidate wasn’t qualified: “She doesn’t have the skills or experience for the job,” he said, “but she’s an energy-giver not an energy-taker, and she’ll bring enthusiasm to the team.”

Our colleague said that after her recent experience, while still not sharing the view that enthusiasm trumps ability, she could understand how a manager could reach the point of wanting to be surrounded by positivity.

When you need to raise concerns or give feedback to management, it’s worthwhile thinking about the result you want to achieve.  You can be honest and forthright without being negative. When you are purely negative, without any suggestions for overcoming the issue, it can be tempting for management to disregard your opinions. If you are prepared to put the time and thought into answers more like those in the third column, this can benefit everyone involved, including the organisation as a whole.

An executive coach can help junior managers reframe their feedback to achieve a more positive outcome, and can help senior managers create a culture where staff feel more able to express their concerns in an informative and helpful way.

Leadership series – Phil Cox

This week we continue our leadership series with an interview with Phil Cox. Phil currently holds Directorships at the Hunter Valley Training Company, the Lake Macquarie Foundation and the Honeysuckle Community Group. Prior to this, Phil was the Director of Hunter TAFE, where he used staff development to achieve significant cultural change in his organisation. We asked Phil to talk to us about this.

Phil Cox – achieving cultural change through leadership development

Executive Coach Exchange Phil Cox
Phil Cox

Phil told us that when he was appointed as Institute Director (a position equivalent to CEO at an institution with around 60,000 enrolments), he found a workplace culture which suited the previous incumbent but did not suit his personal leadership style. He found the culture rather hierarchical, where successors were identified more on their seniority than through a structured succession plan. He also found senior people in roles that he felt they were not best suited to, so he commenced the change process using restructuring. While some people chose to move on, others found a new and more appropriate role within the organisation.

Phil’s next step was to create a Developing Leaders Program, with the focus placed firmly on emerging leaders, rather than the existing leadership team. A consultant was brought in to help develop the program and to collect extensive data on the participants. Phil emphasised that the support and involvement of the Deputy Institute Director was integral to the ongoing success of the program.

It was a full-year program, run over 5 years, with up to 45 participants a year. While some program elements will sound familiar, others will not:

  1. The program commenced with a process of research, assessment of current leadership culture and staff consultation to identify 10 leadership effectiveness behaviours.
  2. The program was open to everyone. All staff were encouraged to apply, whether they were permanent or temporary, full-time or part-time; and from all levels of the organisation.
  3. Phil launched the program personally, using emails, podcasts and visits to most of the 15 campuses to promote it.
  4. Applications were assessed against the 10-point behaviour plan, which ensured the focus was on potential rather than past achievement.
  5. Despite his demanding role, Phil personally interviewed all short listed applicants and devoted 3 days, 3 times a year to the program. He was involved in both the initial interview and in robust follow-up discussions on the participants’ development plans, ideas and innovation.
  6. Tools including the Birkman Method and Leadership Effectiveness Analysis 360 degree evaluations were used, and repeated during the year to assess progress.
  7. Development Action Plans were established for each participant in consultation with the consultant. All participants discussed these Action Plans withthe Executive Strategy Group – comprising the CEO, the CEO of a partner institution and a member of the Institute’s Advisory Committee, ensuring an external focus on the interests of clients.
  8. The consultant was available as a ‘help line’ for participants and discussed emerging issues with Phil regularly. The consultant also provided 1:1 coaching to all participants.
  9. Participants were given projects to undertake which allowed them to experience new roles and experiment with new ideas.
  10. Participants were also given opportunities to act in other positions, based on their career Action Plans rather than on seniority, and were supported in these roles.

Clearly, this was a program designed to implement major cultural change, with the CEO at the centre of the experience.

We asked about the outcomes. Phil said that the majority of the participants are now in leadership roles, either within the organisation or elsewhere. People who wanted a career change were encouraged to try new roles. Phil gave the examples of a part-time security guard who now works in a specialist support role; and two IT technical specialists, one of whom moved into marketing and the other into a faculty leadership role in Tourism and Hospitality.

The participants were highly motivated and were empowered to become change agents. Phil said he saw positive changes every week, as the desired new behaviours were increasingly adopted throughout the Institute.

The final benefit was for Phil, himself. Phil told us he found the enthusiasm of the participants infectious. For Phil, the program was exciting and motivating and it was very clear that this Leadership Program was one of the most rewarding aspects of his work at Hunter TAFE.

What messages are you sending when you refuse to delegate?

Recently I met up with a senior colleague who is a truly exceptional manager: great at leading, great at delegating and outstanding at bringing out the best in their staff.

Speaking with someone with such highly developed skills reminded me of the importance of delegating well. You can see that this is an issue we have written about frequently before, including in our series on effective delegation.

Executive Coach Exchange delegate
Are you prepared to take the time to delegate effectively?

Our discussion came around to the messages you are sending when you don’t delegate. The first is that you simply don’t trust your staff to do their jobs.

My colleague gave the interesting example of a second level manager intervening unnecessarily between their direct report – the first level manager – and the first level manager’s own team. When senior managers do this, they tell both the first level manager and the team that they don’t trust the first level manager to do the job well. What a terrible message to send!

The second message you send by not delegating, is that you don’t think your staff are worth the investment of your time. To delegate effectively means supporting people as they learn to do their jobs, helping them grow as technical staff, managers and leaders. This takes time – delegating isn’t only about lightening your own workload. You need to dedicate the time, and be prepared for the fact that, in the early stages, delegating will actually slow down workflow and increase your workload. The payoff comes later in the form of a skilled, motivated team.

As well as sending messages about your staff, you also send messages about yourself. When you do the work of the people who report to you, you are saying that you can’t manage them and their performance effectively. If you are in a management role, you need to be a manager.

The fourth message you send about yourself is potentially the most destructive to your career. You are saying that you are not comfortable working at your own level but only at the level of your reports.

If you send this message, your own manager has every right to wonder why you have been promoted to management when you are not working at that level.

An executive coach can help you work on strategies for good delegation. In the meantime, you will find some suggestions to explore in our posts on scaffolding and helping your team rise to the challenge.

Controlling your emotions during difficult conversations

Imagine that you are about to have a difficult conversation in the workplace. For the sake of this discussion, let’s imagine it’s someone who reports to you and who has annoyed you by their behaviour or actions. The specifics don’t matter.

Marg Lennon, Executive Coach
Marg Lennon, Executive Coach

Something to guard against is this. When you talk to them about what they have done you may find your emotions get the better of you. You will want to avoid this and focus on achieving the outcome you desire. How can you achieve this?

The first and most obvious point is to apply the Boy Scout motto: Be prepared. Certainly you will want to be clear about what has occurred to upset you and why. But beyond that you can try to anticipate the responses that you may receive from the other person.

Secondly, think about the sorts of reactions that you may have unconsciously inside yourself. You may find yourself getting defensive and fearful. This is natural. However, the better you have prepared, the less likely it is that these emotions will overwhelm you.

Now let’s remedy this situation with a good dose of curiosity. Think about what caused their behaviour or action, because you can be sure that they feel self-justified. In fact, you can be confident that they see their own actions and behaviour as proper and correct.

Don’t judge too quickly, don’t blame, rather listen to them.

Of course, this is not in any sense to diminish the need to achieve the outcome you want. After all, this person reports to you and you are supposed to be in charge.

However, this approach should allow you a stronger sense of control so that your emotions don’t impede your ability to achieve your objective.

This way, both parties can walk away feeling OK about the outcome.

Contributor: Our current featured member, Marg Lennon, is an executive coach who provides coaching, mentoring and leadership development consultancy services to clients across a variety of industries, including Health, Financial Services, Insurance, Pharmaceutical, Mining, Telecommunications, Education, Architecture, Medical Devices and Public Relations. Marg’s measured approach and insight coupled with her innate ability to build rapport readily enable her to help others minimise risks, operate more strategically and gain critical perspectives to make significant positive changes.