My approach: What do I tell my client?

Only after listening deeply to my client share the challenges he was facing in his role, both as a professional and as a human being, I was able to replay and reframe the overall challenge he was having with empathy. At the same time, I asked him simple yet probing questions to see whether he was ready to be courageous to make changes and whether I was the right coach to partner him. Having that initial conversation, we agreed that I was the coach for him, and allowed us to create our coaching contract: to support him to be a strong leader of transformation.

Our initial coaching sessions were about finding his own inner drive to act as an agent of change. He needed that time to pause, reflect and acknowledge his strengths so that he would know how better to leverage them. He realized that he was becoming an internal digital entrepreneur and connected quickly to gain opportunities, thus seeing himself as a surfer between the worlds: an old world of linear thinking and a new world of exponential change. Having that space to step back, he acknowledged how he was able to create quick wins and thereby realised how his colleagues were stuck in traditional mindsets and thereby stood in the way of change.

Forming a strong and powerful team was the next step forward. He could see the gap that needed to be closed and in the following sessions I pointed him towards managing progress and teaching his teams high performance management skills. Adapting this framework to his leadership style he was able to help them to conquer uncertainty, learn to accept “failures” and break silo-barriers to change. They learnt to communicate better and collaborate in trust. They even learnt to debate for the sake of the project. In a digital marathon, progress can be three steps ahead, two steps back. Re-loading energy and still iterating for a new attempt to drive excellence is a hard challenge a team leader of change and innovation. Here it is about keeping the trust and installing a sense of duty for the progress and the speed on results.

When meeting corporate barriers, my client now saw ways to outweigh them and align forces with internal partners. During some of our sessions, we developed tactics of connecting, thus seeing possible internal winners, hence engaging with new benefitting parties of the digitalisation marathon. Here, we tended to laugh about “kindergarten sand pit” rivalry and make the best of it. Changing perspectives and seeing the change from an intrapreneurial angle made it easier for my client to survive and continue. I loaded him up with information and materials on new thinking. If he had the budget, I would even be able to do a diagnostic of the organisational readiness, mindsets and barriers.