Executive Coaching and Leadership in Uncertain Times

By Kevin “KJ” Johnson, PCCAs leaders, we’re often expected to know the way forward. This expectation is a trap. In today’s ever-changing business landscape, economic forecasts are less reliable, sales expectations are guessing games, and consumer feedback is harvested from Twitter within moments of launching an ad campaign — and this was before the emergence of the coronavirus. How do leaders navigate under challenging times such as these? Let’s look at a few scenarios my clients have worked through:

  • You’ve only felt safe to share certain parts of who you are at work. Your team and your leadership are more aware of this gap than you are and are asking for more authenticity — and you’re terrified at what that means and the risks of revealing more of who you are.
  • Your team and client base has become more diverse, but your cultural competency hasn’t kept pace and you feel like you’re walking on eggshells with every conversation.
  • Your business model has subtly been commoditized by technology and now one of your vendors could suddenly become your competitor — but you, your executive team, and your board of directors can’t see the emergent existential threat.

These are all real situations. Also…no one really knows what they’re doing.

Even those leaders we ascribe guru status to are only doing their absolute best to infuse their experience into the present moment and making the best decisions they can through their unique scope of social privilege and influence. The world has shifted in plain sight from empire-building to an interconnected, interdependent web of economic, cultural, social, academic, moral and emotional stakeholders. This volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) environment has corroded our tidy business containers, seeped into our personal lives and the boundaries are thinning with every news cycle. Our Western leadership may suggest you trust your “gut” or “lean in” to the challenge at hand, but those maxims aren’t scalable and we don’t have to go it alone.

A trained coach can support you in sifting through the tsunami of data and internal and interpersonal dynamics to widen your perspective. You get visibility into your leadership like a GPS location on a map. You will begin to see yourself in relationship to the external influences around and upon you. However, the map is not the landscape. When you put your new awareness into practice you’ll encounter obstacles the map didn’t prepare you for, and situations that demand that you form social and emotional agility and take unforeseen paths to your goal. You’ll develop practical self-awareness and interpersonal skills through iterative practice and feedback from your coach and other important stakeholders.

How do we navigate the VUCA times? Start with the map in mind. Work with your coach to assess the complexity before you and diagnose the challenges you may face along the way, and develop a plan of action that you can adapt as you gather new data. With these integrated insights, you can begin to explore the actual landscape and discover alignments with resources, talent and opportunities that lead to strategic, decisive actions. Coaching gives you a powerful space to deepen your growth on your leadership journey and prepare you for the challenges ahead.

To learn more about working with an executive coach for resiliency and leading in uncertain times: schedule a consultation with Kevin.