Since the pandemic accelerated into lockdown around two months ago, I’ve been providing many thirty-minute sounding board calls to support individuals with clarity around one or more leadership questions they are focussed on in that moment.
This morning I’m musing on the themes that emerged from conversations yesterday in England, Scotland, Cayman, USA and Canada, including:
- Finding a balance between leading “Doers” and “Thinkers”
- As a Leader, finding your own balance between the tendency to spend most time “Doing” and not enough time “Thinking”.
- Taking time to look ahead, “past this” to what opportunities there may be for your business, whilst recognising the pressure you feel to “do” what is needed at the moment.
- Finding balance when you feel off-balance, unable to work out what to focus on, even unable to focus.
The overall theme, though, was simply that each person felt out of balance and sought clarity to help bring them more into balance.
My role, then, is to support first in bringing awareness of where they are out of balance. From that place, often they can leave a relatively short call with more clarity. What kind of clarity? I have found that people are seeking to find balance through clarity in three core ways.
Clarity of Mind
The first type of clarity comes where I observe the other person is off-balance overall, that (explicitly or sometimes implicitly) what they seek most is to bring awareness to their state of mind.
Often gently bringing awareness to them around that is all they need to both focus on their personal resilience, then to become more present so they know what to think or do next.
I mention this type of clarity first, as this is where being a Sounding Board it is also critical to be an empathic and experienced Coach, as many successful leaders have developed skills in “getting on with it” such that their self-awareness is somewhat blocked around when their state of mind is less than clear. In other words, often they won’t bring forward that this is something they wish to focus on.
Sometimes it takes a Coach to observe this to them, and when that happens, handled with deep listening, care and empathy, it can truly release awareness and help the individual find clarity and balance quickly.
Prioritising next actions
The second type of clarity comes when the individual may be feeling overwhelmed with having so many things to do (“ready, fire, aim!”), so seek clarity for themselves on what to focus on first.
In such a situation, this is where being more than coach is of real value, hence I use the term Sounding Board. Coaches will listen and understand what is happening behaviorally for the individual, but the majority (in my experience) have never run businesses at a senior level and their understanding of business issues is often slim.
The approach a good coach will take in helping someone gain clarity on what to do next, what to prioritise, will be the same. It will be about raising the context up from the list of “stuff” up to a very few core themes of “what are you looking to achieve” or similar. This is really valuable.
Add the Sounding Board element, though, a coach with deep experience in decades of business, and that persona will also often hear where the core priorities are for specific action in the business, even when the individual is so lost in the volume of choices they could make that they can’t tell it for themselves.
So, in such situations, once the invididual has downloaded, my approach is to find my own balance of a) helping them raise their context so they can then gain clarity of focus, and b) sometimes hearing what they don’t hear, the absolute key priority areas or items for their business that they need to action now.
Seeing Future Opportunities
The third type of clarity will typically only be available for individuals who a) have a clear state of mind, and b) are not in overwhelm from the number of choices they have to prioritise and make.
When this is possible, I love to support leaders in seeing their opportunities for the future beyond the pandemic. I’ve written often recently about the fact that there will be many, many opportunities to think differently and choose how to serve others through your leadership, your business, what you offer.
Innovation is doing things differently and doing different things
In two cases yesterday I had the opportunity to play with this with people. They were ready to explore, to think differently, to look at opportunities they may have, to explore and find clarity as to the direction opportunities may lie for them.
Now, one last thought on this third type of clarity is that, in looking out into the future past the current uncertainty we all face in the world, this can also provide an energising focus that can support us with state of mind.
So, in closing, I hope my musings on three types of clarity has value for you.
If you’d like to explore this together, I’d love to talk to you on one such thirty-minute call.
Book your 30-minute meeting here.
Also published on Medium.