Wednesday, 26 November 2014

My self limitation is in desperate need of some complimentary medicine

Later today I'm going to meet my new executive coach.

I've never had an executive coach before.
I've had the odd business mentor here and there. And a boss or two who I really looked up to. But this is different.

Throughout my career, if not my life, I've been a self-limiter.

By that I mean I've held myself back. At certain points I had a chip on my shoulder. Enviously looking at others and what they had achieved. And I let that get in the way of my ambition.

I wanted success to come quickly and at times thought I knew it all, especially in my early career when some colleagues probably thought I was a bit cocky.

At school I was even called arrogant, albeit only by one teacher who coached our football team and mistook my lack of skill when getting caught in possession as arrogance, when in reality I just wasn't that good.

Or was I? With the right support, challenge and practice could I have been a decent player?

See there I go again. Forever questioning how good I really am?

I've said before on here I'm the kind of player who needs the gaffer's arm around his shoulder every now and then.

But having been given a new job back in April, that I had no idea how to do, I've come out the other side and for the first time in a long time am beginning to feel like I'm half decent.

As a result I'm at another cross roads.
But this time rather than being faced with only going left or right, I feel like I could be lifted up and dropped off more or less anywhere now and somehow I'd find my way.

I read the other day that 'good leaders are good path makers. Sometimes the journey is not clear' (via @LeandroEHerrero).

I like that thought. Sometimes you need a map. Sometimes you need to follow the well trodden path. And other times you need to create your own way for others to follow.

Hence the time feels right for some guidance. Someone to expand my horizons. And to help me realise my full potential.

The job I'm doing right now has taught me a new level of resilience.

But it's also demonstrated to me that I'm more capable than I have ever given myself credit for.

That's a very liberating experience to go through. I've lost my fear of failure.

So back to meeting my coach...

Last week we had a pre meet call with him and my boss.

Following a few introductions my coach asked my boss to outline three things:

1. What he liked about me.
2. What would make me even better.
3. And what people say about me when I leave the room.

It was an illuminating experience, thankfully, as it could've been fairly humiliating.

What follows btw feels a little self congratulatory but to overcome my self limiting tendencies I've resolved myself to share (look away now Mr Hague or whatever his name was).

My boss said things like:

"Dom is incredibly honest, he's very authentic with high integrity. He's a very inspiring leader."

He went on to say how I get to know my team, I'm very creative and very adept.

So far so good.

What could Dom do more of asked my coach?

My boss described how although I have magnificent ideas (his words not mine). The opportunity for me was to convert these into impactful business plans.

I need to hold myself and my team more accountable. Blending ideas with real commerciality. Taking myself into tough leadership forums. Elevating what I do up to senior stakeholders in the business.

It was then that my new coach singled in on something simple but extremely revealing.

He described how all senior leaders are effectively in two teams. The one they manage, and the one they share with their peers.

Team one, the most important one, is your peers, not the one you manage.

As I sat there and thought about it I realised I spend 95% of my time and effort on team two.

Rightly or wrongly I always felt they were in more need of my time and full attention.

Then came the killer third question about my own personal brand. My reputation.  What others say about me when I leave the room.

My boss listed off the things I often hear said of me.

Positives: Nice guy. Full of ideas. Great fun. Different perspective. Etc.

Negatives: Where's Dom today? Would be good to have visibility of his plans. It would be great if Dom could offer a view on this.

There is a sense that if you need a whacky idea I'm the guy to go to. If you can find me that is.

Ironically I'm on the early train to London penning this blog so no doubt someone is wandering the corridors of Asda HQ looking for me right now to solve something for them.

So what do I want out if this new executive coach relationship?

I want someone to challenge my thinking.

I want someone to recognise in me the skills and characteristics of a great leader, albeit one at the early part of his development.

And I want to overcome my self limiting tendencies once and for all.

Not much then. Wish me luck.

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