Unsure if leadership coaching is the right step for your business? This article covers everything you need to know about what leadership coaching is, who it’s for, and what kind of results you can expect.
Is Leadership Coaching Right for The Entrepreneur?
In the US, working professionals spend $166B on leadership development each year. And a recent survey of industry professionals found that leadership coaching is the most prominent trend within the field of executive coaching.
89% of both internal and external coaches cited “leadership development programs with additional coaching” as a likely or highly likely trend through the end of this year.
The question is “do entrepreneurs need leadership coaching?”
Imagine this. You are a 17 year old babysitter. You arrive at the home of the family you are babysitting for. When you arrive, the Mom and Dad sit you down and walk you through a detailed plan for the evening. Jennifer – the 5 year old – is fed and fast asleep. Joseph – the 4 year old – just finished reading his favorite bedtime story and was tucked in. Everything is in order. Process for every contingency has been emailed to you and is posted on the refrigerator. The parents say, “just have to keep the status quo for 3 hours.”
Sounds just like your startup, right?
Or….you show up and Mom is curling her hair while Jennifer is running wild chasing Fido the dog. Dad just spilled his coffee all over his white shirt. Joseph has decided to throw up on the kitchen floor – and to play paper mache. Sound familiar?
It is one thing to “lead” when all things are in order. That is hard enough. It is quite another when nothing is in order. When you are defining a market. When you are building a team? When you don’t have a lot of process in place. When there is no culture.
In other words, no one is more in need of the ability to lead than the entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurs need to be able to set a vision that everyone believes in. Entrepreneurs need to be able to establish values that are unwavering. Entrepreneurs need to motivate resources that are often underpaid and overworked. Entrepreneurs need to help the team through the four Ps – passion, pleasure, pressure and pain.
When there is so much that is uncertain, leadership is essential. And in the same way that an entrepreneur must understand that passion without a financial plan is unlikely to succeed, an entrepreneur that hasn’t learned to lead is facing an uphill battle.
What is leadership for the entrepreneur?
It’s what you say and don’t say. The first time you criticize a customer in front of your team, is the time you’ve given them the license not to find a way to make your customer happy.
It’s understanding that you are always on stage. Every word. Every minute. Every action. In one moment of understandable frustration, it’s avoiding saying “I’m not sure we are going to make it” even though you were just letting some air out of the balloon.
It’s saying “we” not “I” even though you are the one that has built most of it, cries over it and has maxed out your credit cards.
It’s, as Rudyard Kipling said in his famous poem “If”, “If you can keep your wits about you while all others are losing theirs, and blaming you.”
It’s being a deliberate, thoughtful and unemotional leader when it’s hard to be even one of those.
It’ challenging your team to achieve not only for the company, but because it is a representation of their personal brand.
It’s going last in line for everything even though you deserve to go first. Give someone else the office. Give someone else first dibs at the buffet.
It’s understanding that process is not a dirty word but rather the enabler of progress with resources are scarce.
It’s resisting the temptation to say “our customers or investors don’t get it” and instead working even harder to make your message clear and compelling.
And so much more.
Leading when everything is in order is hard enough. Leading when nothing seems in order is virtually impossible.
As many entrepreneurs learn the hard way, passion, grit and a good idea are not enough. Being an entrepreneur requires you to improve your skills as an entrepreneur each and every day. And one of those skills is the ability to lead – and to do so amongst the chaos of having 100 hours of work and 10 hours of time.
Embracing the journey from struggle to success is one that requires a great deal of ego combined with a great deal of humility. And part that humility is to embrace being a “learner” and being committed to not only having a passion, but to leading a company from passion to success.
The four Ps – passion, pressure, pleasure and pain – come every day. Sometime every hour. Without leadership and getting coached as a leader, it can all seem like Joseph throwing up every day.