My husband and I traveled to St. John’s Newfoundland this past summer to attend a conference and arrived a few days early so that we could experience the sights. One of our excursions took us up to Signal Hill. Now if you know something about Signal Hill, you will know that it was the reception point of the first wireless signal by Guglielmo Marconi in 1901, as well as the site of harbour defences for St. John's from the 18th century to the Second World War.
As we climbed to the top of the hill and entered the Cabot Tower, we could envision attacking ships from the 18th century arriving on the shores of St. John’s. Although we could see out a considerable distance due to the extreme height that Cabot Tower provided we realized that we were restricted by the amount of fog that had begun to creep in from the mighty Atlantic Ocean. We wondered if on the day of the attacks whether the sentry's view from Cabot Tower were masked by that fog.
Similar to the leaders in the 18th century,today’s leaders are expected to be able to look out, have a clear view of what is ahead and prepare for it. But again,there is often a "fog" that may obstruct their view, a fog in the sense of conflicting priorities, challenging personalities, internal struggles etc. Today, rather than ships lumbering through ocean waters we have a myriad of vehicles and communication devices traveling a record speeds. The pace of change and demands to produce more with less creates increased pressures for leaders to make quick as well as accurate decisions. So how do leaders maintain perspective,recognize their own internal biases that may impact decision making and create a clear path for themselves and their teams. This is where coaching comes in...
If I can play with the nautical theme, the coach is like a nightwatchman on the bridge of a ship, helping the ship stay or course or aiding in course correction when needed, shining a light on the path ahead so the captain can have an objective view of the waters ahead. It doesn't mean there won't be dangerous waters and bad weather but it does mean that there will be someone watching fora safe port helping to make the journey an adventure to learn from.
Contrary to many beliefs, the coach does not provide the answers but acts as an enabler so that the leader can self discover and develop new skills to navigate through the torrents. And, like most journeys, there are goals and strategies on how to achieve what the leaders wants to accomplish. The leader sets the course but the coach is curious, asks probing questions, challenges their thinking and helps the leader to tap into new dimensions of thought.
So as you climb those hills, sail through storms and seek out new lands you may want to consider a leadership coach who will make the journey more rewarding with a greater chance of discovering the buried treasure within you.