It is common during an executive coaching session for me to ask the person that I am working with a simple but powerful question, namely “What does your gut tell you to do?” I some times follow this up with another equally powerful question, namely “Do you trust it?” The busier we get and the fuller our lives are we at times miss the subtle but important signals that we or our team may be out of alignment with the strategic nexus, the sum of the organization’s mission, vision and core values plus the strategic plan. I regularly advise executives to check their gut. This source always leads to profound insights.
I also advise them to ask a large variety of people for feedback about how they, their team and their company are doing. This may not be easy but it does yield tremendous perspective.
A long time ago, I decided I would ask our two young sons how I was doing as their Dad. Given both were very little, I did not think this was going to be so hard. Still, I wimped out and waited until my wife was away one night for dinner. Then, I made our children their favorite meal from scratch, mac and cheese plus peas. Once seated over a great dinner I asked, “So, how am I doing at being your Dad?”
As you might guess, I got an ear full. They gave me feedback about everything from putting them in time-out too often to not allowing them to watch more TV. Once they started, it was a solid 20 minutes. I should have taken notes but all of it was good and all of it was important. I learned a lot and made changes accordingly.
They key is to ask the questions. This summer trust your gut and seek feedback regularly from a variety of sources. It will make a world of difference over time.
P.S. Here is some excellent summer reading.
First, I loved reading William C. Taylor’s (co-founder and founding editor of Fast Company magazine) article in the summer 2011 issue of Leader to Leader called “Are you “Humbitious” enough to lead?” Covering a diversity of topics from leadership to innovation, it a wonderful read during the hot days of summer. Here is the link: http://www.leadertoleader.org/knowledgecenter/journal.aspx?ArticleID=875
Second, I discovered a delightfully short but wonderfully interesting blog entry by Tony Schwartz on the Harvard Business Review web site. Called “Ten Principles to Live by in Fiercely Complex Times,” Schwartz answers the question, “What enduring principles can you rely on to make choices that reflect, openness, integrity and authenticity?”. I know you will enjoy this one. Here is the link: http://blogs.hbr.org/schwartz/2011/07/ten-principles-for-living-in-f.html
Happy summer reading!
Geery Howe, M.A.Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer inLeadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational ChangeMorning Star Associates319 - 643 - 2257