Aim for the top, as there is plenty of room there. There are so few people at the top, it’s almost lonely there” (Samuel Insull).
In July 2009, a group of Nigerian businessmen and professionals converged in Johannesburg, South Africa for a one-week workshop on executive and leadership coaching. At the start of the workshop was an informal get-together meeting of the participants. This was planned to be a meet and greet event, with the specific aim of creating the opportunity for socialization among the workshop participants. In the course of this particular event, each participant was requested to share with others his or her expectations and outcomes regarding the workshop.
The real idea behind the informal socialization event was to ensure that there was a period of effective ‘ice-breaking” before the workshop proper got underway. Therefore, speaking about expectations and outcomes was a way of gauging the level of personal awareness and self motivation of the participants. This was also partly because the participants were drawn from eight different organisations and businesses in Nigeria. It was therefore pleasing to note the passion and energy on display even from the first day, which obviously set the stage for a highly inspiring and enriching workshop.
Another effective ice-breaking idea that featured during the socializing event was the manner in which each participant introduced himself or herself. The instruction was that people must introduce themselves by coining a “power” name using the first letter of their first name. For example, a person whose first name is Emmanuel could introduce himself as “Energetic Emmanuel” or a lady whose first name is Alice could introduce herself as “Audacious Alice”. These power names were to be used in addressing one another for the period of the workshop, and possibly beyond.
The two above mentioned ice-breakers were of course designed and introduced mainly to get the participants to loosen up and be as relaxed as possibly right from the start of the coaching workshop. This is because the organisers did not want them to feel as if they came for another leadership or management course. But, added to that was also the need for the participants to feel personally empowered, self motivated and be ready to take ownership for their leadership aspirations, power and influence.
Leadership power and influence are of course quite important in leadership and executive coaching engagements. For instance, one of the most obvious powers of leaders, irrespective of the medium, platform and level of leadership is their ability to influence change, whether positively or negatively. As a result, every form of leadership involves the interplay of the processes of exercising power and influence over other people.
It is important to stress that executive and leadership coaching actually focuses upon how such power and influence can be appropriately channelled to compel sustainable profit for both the leaders and their people. For avoidance of doubt, influence in this regard must be understood to refer to the process that enables someone to alter the thoughts, behaviour and actions of another person or a group of people. Relatedly, leadership power is the resource that enables the person to influence others.
What this means is that, in order to truly exercise influence over a person or group of people, a leader must possess some kind of power. Obviously, without such power or authority handed over to the leader in one way or the other, leadership cannot be truly exerted. This is regardless of the techniques or methods of influence adopted. Hence, we see that power may be freely given by others or can be adopted by an established leadership succession system. Leadership power can also be generated through an acceptable democratic process, or in some instances can be grabbed by superior force or a process of manipulation.
It is obvious that the methods and processes that give rise to a particular kind of leadership would also have an impact on the success or failure of the leadership power. These are what in turn determine to a large extent the ability of a leader to truly influence and impact others. As a result of the potential power of influence, it is critical that leaders of people must be cautious and wary of how power is obtained. Influence is of course both active and dynamic. It can increase and it can dwindle or be whittled down. It can build people and processes up and it can also break them down.
The essence in this regard is to use the coaching process as a platform to establish a unique coach-client partnership, which enables and supports leaders to amplify personal awareness, increase management capacity, and eliminate self-limiting inhibitions in their desire to reach specific heights and achieve set goals. The objective must however continue to be about empowering self and others. This is because the best team is made up of people that build their energy around the personal energy of their leader. That is how inspirational leadership becomes transformational.
You can read more about the transformational power of coaching at www.ceedcoaching.com.