A Cure for Leadership Loneliness?

A Cure for Leadership Loneliness? 

An unanticipated surprise in my first leadership role was the unwelcome abrupt detachment from my former collegial teammates.   Jettisoned from the warm cocoon of a backup group, I was seen as a “suit.”  I discovered that my new supervisor was a limited confidant because she was simultaneously judging my abilities with unrelenting concern. (My leadership style was decidedly less autocratic than existing corporate culture.)  My search for a supportive and helpful person to discuss my role and responsibilities led me to lateral colleagues.  I was soon disappointed to recognize that those individuals could not be completely trusted because we were competing for limited resources and respect. Even though I hunted for a mentor, no one within the organization stepped forward to partner with me to focus on my work or my professional advancement with loyalty, caring support, frank feedback, or sponsorship. 

Recent studies about female job advancement and pay equity show ongoing gender disparity and also highlight a gap in mentorship and sponsorship opportunities for women.  Leaders, especially females, frequently lack a specific advocate guiding and cheering them forward.  (See Healthcare Dive for an informative overview:  http://www.healthcaredive.com/news/why-women-in-healthcare-get-paid-less/376154/).

Healthcare leaders make numerous decisions each day while charting the course for their units, departments, and organizations.  Healthcare leaders’ abilities affect the organization’s and employees’ vitality as well as the health of the communities that they serve.  These important roles mandate effective assistance, reinforcement and encouragement. 

Solitary reflection about our performance can feel isolated and desolate. Without a thinking partner to actively listen, ask probing questions, and make observations, an executive can miss important progress, ignore danger signs, overlook potential growth opportunities

A leadership coach, whether internal or external, will perform the role of your own special active listener, fulfilling the requirements of behind-the-scenes confidant and supporter.  Confidential discussions, observations, feedback, education, challenges, questions: all of these are the potential strategies the coach uses to help the leader learn, grow, and achieve her goals. 

McNally and Luken’s research related to the efficacy and return on investment for coaching found that 100% of 64 healthcare leaders felt more competent and confident post-coaching, and over 50% were more likely to stay in their positions, with significant benefits achieved in comparison with program costs. (Leadership Development: An Internal-External Coaching Partnership. McNally and Lukens March 2006 Journal of Nursing Administration 36:3).

Leaders that affect the lives of so many people and communities deserve a trusted professional beside them to listen, encourage, measure progress, and help establish optimal strategies to achieve their goals. Collaborating with a coach can help transform the loneliness of leadership into a partnership for personal growth, professional effectiveness, dynamic progress, and vital engagement.  

 For more information about your own leadership coaching, or developing an internal coaching program, email Ruth@Hansten.com, or 360.437.8060, www.Hansten.com, www.RROHC.com

Or visit http://tinyurl.com/mkvtcu6 to review the Master Coach Manual

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