Simple but not easy

Why courage, humility and discipline are the must-haves to successful leadership growth

Become aware of the triggers to behaviour

Great leaders encourage leadership development by openly developing themselves. - Marshall Goldsmith

A story in a book entitled "Triggers" by Dr Marshall Goldsmith helped me realise the power of environmental triggers that sometimes make potentially great leaders to look like monsters. Marshall, a Thinkers50 leading leadership thinkers, talked about how a client would often behave in an unhelpful way in a group whenever another person, let's call him A, was present. As he probed, they realised that his client had an unsubstantiated prejudice against A. The behavioural coaching then focused on having the humility to consider the feedback from the client's stakeholders to work on changing his mindsets courageously. His client practised discipline of holding back unhelpful behaviours until it led to new awareness and change in belief to overcome the original prejudice. Through courage, humility and discipline, Marshall's client managed to turn his image as a disagreeable leader around for his stakeholders.


The first step to any personal growth is having the courage to acknowledge that we are always work-in-progress. My personal tip is not to take yourself too seriously. However, leaders who have a high sense of insecurity tend to hold on to a false image of themselves as a shield to protect their status. Putting down their guard takes courage. Until that happens a closed up leader's first barrier to personal growth is himself.

Culture can often reinforce unhelpful beliefs preventing leaders to have courage to change . For example, some Asian cultures teach us to put leaders in high regard as if they cannot be wrong in all circumstances. As a result, leaders who need the change do not see themselves as needing coaching or take suggestions from someone more junior then themselves. Unless wisdom prevails, such leaders will be stuck in their beliefs that the problem is always someone else when the real issue lies with them.


Most of us like to be seen as humble until perspectives we receive hurts our own elevated image of ourselves. Some leaders may deliberately put ourselves down so that we don't get hurt in a false sense of humility. Marshall Goldsmith coaching talks about authentic leadership where leaders acknowledge their own strengths but also have the healthy pinch of real humility. Such humility allows leaders to accept feedback from everyone and work on ourselves for improvement. In fact, One of the best part of Marshall Goldsmith Stakeholders' Centred Coaching is the systematic way in which leaders get feedback from stakeholders selected by the leaders themselves. You could of course choose people who are agreeable or people who really matter to your business or leadership journey. In this respect, as experienced leaders, we can help to clarify your goals during leadership coaching so that you can more appropriately choose stakeholders to participate in the process.


The most challenging part of leadership journey is the discipline to work on your behaviours for positive desired outcomes. Like an exercise regime, one has to constantly focus on his or her ultimate goals as if this is the only thing that matters. It is quite easy to let distractions like short-term gains of profits or pleasures to take over. Have chocolate or take a break. If one is not enough, take another. Soon, the leader forgets the purpose of his or her own transformation journey. Change becomes too hard even if this change is really necessary to move your business or leadership goals forward.

For such individuals, our job as coaches is to hold the space for the leader to consider what he or she really wants. Like a mirror, we reflect back to the leader's own aspirations and induce the volition to get on track. Leadership is a journey and discipline is essential for self-improvement and growth. It does not need to be a lonely journey. As a coach, we will journey with you in confidence and confidentially.

Change is simple not easy.


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