Stephan was a VP of a Fortune 200 company. He was one of the top performers and indispensable for high stake projects. As a result, he was stretched thin; and had no downtime. He tried to delegate to his team, but unfortunately, he had to jump in when things got tough. It was unsustainable and unscalable for him and the organization. That is when he looked for a coach. I summarized his learning journey in the sections below.
Start with Selfcare
On our first meeting, I noticed that Stephan looked sleep deprived. However, he also candidly admitted that he had so much to do and so few resources that working long hours was a regular thing.
Coaching is about helping clients tap into their inner resourcefulness, creating learning from within, and helping them broaden their perspective. I knew that none of those were possible when he was sleep deprived. So we focused on that the first week, and he happily took the challenge to prioritize sleep.
Let it “Fail” a Bit
The second big rock was his attachment to work and his sense of responsibility. So I asked, God forbid, what if he got sick and ended up in the hospital? What would happen? He paused and, to my surprise, said, “Nothing. Nothing will be disrupted.” “There might be some delays, but nothing will stall completely,” he continued with an amused face. So we played with the “What-If” scenario that led to his insight that there had to be a “controlled failure” for his team to pick up the work.
Delegate with Mentoring
He used to accompany the person he delegated to client meetings, hoping to help them learn the ropes. But in reality, it was hindering. The new leader looked up to him when the customer asked tough questions.
It prompted him to create a newer model for delegation. He would mentor the new leader offline and let them be responsible for client interactions. He learned how to set expectations and accept others’ ways of doing things as long as they met the specified criteria.
Leverage the Bigger Team
Once he got the hang of the delegation process, it came to him that the people below him were only a fraction of his resources; he needed to engage and leverage his peer teams and management.
He was frustrated by other teams not assuming enough responsibility, but he didn’t know how to influence them. His polarity thinking between being friendly and assertive communication got in the way of his executive presence. However, he saw positive results once he tapped into his authentic boldness. His leaders noticed and acknowledged it too.
The Overall Learning
I asked Stephan how he felt about all these shifts. He said it was more challenging than just doing things himself. But it was not about personal achievement and getting things done. Instead, it was about scaling and improving the organizational capacity. And he was committed and confident as he embraced the shift as a true leader.
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