8 Lessons in Modern Leadership

I was chilling out on my sofa at home the other night, glass of red wine in hand, watching ABC’s The Business, as I like to do. Kathryn Robinson was the host.

I think Kathryn is a great presenter and also a great interviewer. She asks incisive and insightful questions that cut to the point. Also, she asks her insightful questions one at a time*, and astutely uses silence, waiting patiently for the person she is interviewing to respond and not giving them any room to wriggle out.

When I was a counsellor at Lifeline, one of the tools I was taught was the 9-second pause…ask ONE question, shut up, and slowly count to 9. That silence gives people space to reflect and think. People also usually feel compelled to fill what can feel like a palpable void of quietness, so they tend to open up and talk more to ‘fill the space’. It can make people feel particularly uncomfortable if used wrongly – or rightly in a penetrating interview.

*One of my pet hates is people asking double (or triple!) barrelled, manipulative and leading questions e.g. what do you think of the state of the economy? Do you think inflation is going to be a problem? How will it impact on the housing market? It is ineffective, manipulative, and confusing for people, and you usually only get the last question answered. Don’t do it!

As I watched, Kathryn asked one of her incisive questions and fell silent. I was drawn in to see how the person being interviewed would respond… The camera cut across to the expert she was interviewing, and zoomed in slightly, building the tension. Time seemed to slow briefly as I watched. The background blurred as the expert swiftly came into sharp focus. He was nodding almost imperceptibly as he contemplated the question, unruffled by the silence Kathryn had skilfully presented him.

My immediate impression was that he was a very level-headed, down to earth, and easy-going person. He emanated an air of unflappable serenity and calm confidence, overlaid with a genuine humility as he silently contemplated and crafted his reply.

After a couple of seconds, he started to talk. He spoke with a relaxed, unpretentious authenticity. His straightforward but respectful response came across with the deep gravitas that only comes from someone who clearly knows their stuff and has an underlying passion it.

It was only after he started talking that I realised who he was. To my very pleasant surprise, the cool, calm, and collected expert was someone Southern Cross Coaching & Development had run an Executive Coaching program for about 18 months ago.

Why is that so remarkable? Well, from a selfish point of view, of course I was proud to see that one of my clients was on TV – that’s always rewarding.

But it was way more than that. The following day I texted the expert to say how impressed I was and what a great job he did. I was impressed because I knew how much he had grown from the unassuming, reserved, technical expert I first met at the beginning of the coaching.

It was also remarkable because the person’s then Director had the brilliant insight to see the latent potential in this person. She had incredibly perceptive vision to see the capability and promise in front of her and to believe in him.

Then, just as importantly, she walked her talk and ‘nudged’ him into the limelight to develop that potential.

She invested time and money in developing and nurturing him to grow, and mature that potential into the person I was watching on my screen: the confident, relaxed, unflappable, authentic authority giving his expert opinion on National TV.

After I’d texted the expert the next day, I also texted the ex-Director (she’d moved roles to allow the person to step up), and acknowledged her for all the things I’ve said above, particularly for that somewhat rare element of leadership that she displayed, in believing in & investing in a person’s potential. And rarer still, stepping out of the spotlight and letting that light shine on him while she melted into the background.

That’s also an amazing quality that the Executive Coaches, who are part of our team, have. Later that day I also spoke to our Executive Coach who had coached the expert and shared with her what I’d witnessed. I shared how appreciative and reverential I was to her for her deep coaching expertise and gave her massive kudos for her pivotal contribution in all of this. Like most amazing coaches, she had melted into the background and let the spotlight shine elsewhere, so it was great to be able to redirect it onto her. 😊

This example beautifully highlights 8 critical leadership traits that can be exhibited at all levels. Leadership traits that will boost engagement and help retain and attract staff:

  1. Actively look for and acknowledge the potential in people
  2. Walking your talk and invest time and money to realise that potential
  3. Have the humility to step out of the spotlight and let a person bloom in their own right
  4. Catch people doing something right: give credit and kudos to people at all stages of the journey
  5. Be open to self-development when someone sees your potential
  6. Believe in yourself enough to work hard through challenging times to realise your potential
  7. Celebrate success – stop, reflect, and acknowledge how far you and other people have come
  8. Say thank you when someone gives kudos for ‘catching you doing something right’ 😊

We have a very ROI/ results orientated Executive Coaching process, but even so, it’s not very often we get to so vibrantly and demonstrably ‘complete the loop’ and see the impact 18+ months after a coaching assignment, so it was so deeply rewarding to be able to do that in this case.

Here at SCC&D, our mission is “Make the World a Better Place through Better, Neuroscience-based Leadership”.

Seeing this mission so vividly fulfilled like it was in this situation is what has kept me and my team going through many tough times over the past 16+ years – not least of which the couple of grindingly tough years COVID threw at us.

If you’re interested in finding more about our Executive Coaching services here at SCC&D, please do get in touch.

We have our own unique Coach/Coachee Matching Matrix™ to match coachees to coaches – we’ve never got a coach match wrong since we started in 2006.

We have a team of 35+ coaches, trainers, and consultants and coach people from new and aspiring managers through to C-suite and Board level across the Public, Private and Not-for-Profit Sectors, nationally and internationally. We operate across Australia, New Zealand, and the Asia Pacific basin.

“Hi Simon, I wanted to drop you a quick note to say thanks so far. Today, my CEO took time to give feedback that the last 5 months in particular [since the coaching started] have been very good from his view and he can sense the contribution to the business I am making. He has asked me to explore 2 new national distribution opportunities. My relationship with my core team has improved hugely and we have very open dialogue. Thanks again, I’m starting to sleep at night and feel more positive about life in general as a result of your work.”
Executive Manager, Australia, Global Blue-chip company.

About SCC&D’s Executive Coaching Programs
Our premium quality, results, and Return-On-Investment (ROI) orientated Executive Coaching solutions are underpinned by our unparalleled Coach/Coachee Matching Matrix™ (patent pending), and our best practice Coaching Assignment Methodology. Using our unique Coach/Coachee Matching Matrix™ to match coaches, we’ve never got a coach match wrong since we started in 2006.

Our Pioneering Results-orientated Coaching Assignment Methodology
We have a highly innovative, unique, industry-first pre-coaching process that ensures mutually beneficial results and support for the organisation and for the coachee. Our clients consistently remark how thorough and effective this process is and consider it to be industry best practice.

“I’ve never come across this process before – it’s excellent, it gets results and makes such a difference”
Deputy Secretary (NSW Dept of Communities & Justice) & Key Stakeholder sponsoring the coaching

Our Awards
SCC&D and our CEO, Simon Smith are CEO Magazine 2021 ‘Professional Services Executive of the Year Finalists’ (only 4 finalists were chosen by CEO Magazine from across Australia and New Zealand).

A measure of the quality of our Executive Coaching services is that our CEO was also awarded as ‘Coach of the Year’ by the International Coach Federation Australia (ICFA). The ICFA is undisputedly the premier coaching organisation in Australia and internationally, with the highest number of member coaches.

If you want to find out more about our Executive Coaching service (or any of our training sessions of course!) please email us at [email protected], visit our website at www.southerncrosscoaching.com.au or simply pick up the phone and talk to a real person – give us a call on (02) 7901 5618.

Simon and the team @ Southern Cross Coaching & Development