So, what exactly is leadership anyway?
Let’s agree to skip the boring text book definitions. In one ear, out the other…
Not management. Not being a manager. That’s an important skill. But, management is not leadership.
Leadership is about the ability to influence others.
I like it because it’s simple. And true. Think about it at a gut level. Who do you consider a leader and why? Think of a real person. He or she has influenced you, right? The moment he or she stops influencing you is the moment he or she stops being a leader.
As leaders, that’s our job: to influence others. And, one of the most important ways we do that is by being a coach. I’ve been working on this idea with my coach, Dr. Daniel Friedland, author of Leading Well from Within. Danny has been leading me through a process of self-coaching. I’ve come to appreciate that leadership is largely the capacity to coach others to coach themselves so they can rise through powerful cycles of continuous learning and growth. What Danny calls the Infinite Curriculum.
Imagine you have a choice. You can either be a genius coach who inspires others to get better. Or, you can coach others to self-coach who then teach others to self-coach, and so on.
The inspirational genius coach sounds great. But… there is a shadow. How many people can our genius coach coach? Not only that, we can become dependent on the coach for their wisdom. And, what happens if they leave?
Wind back the clock to the pre-clock era. Who’s more impactful: the genius who can look at the sun and tell the time, or the person who teaches others to build a sundial so they can tell time?
Learning to coach ourselves and then teaching others to coach themselves is a true paradigm-changer. It’s not about our genius. It’s about activating the genius in others. That’s leading from our highest self. That’s how we elevate the leadership capacity across the organization.
The leader as coach who coaches others to coach themselves.
That’s influence. That’s leverage. That’s playing the long game.
Reflection: Think back on my most successful coaching relationship. What made it so?
Action: Track the time I spend coaching this week.