“The First Friend is the alter ego, the man who first reveals to you that you are not alone in the world… but the Second Friend is the man who disagrees with you about everything. He is not so much the alter ego as the antiself. Of course he shares your interests; otherwise he would not become your friend at all. But he has approached them all at a different angle… out of this perpetual dogfight, a community of mind and a deep affection emerge.” – C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy
Our behaviors are the products of our thoughts. These thoughts, guided by feelings that are grown from years of emotional cultivation, are governed by an inherent view of ourselves that becomes increasingly fixed and difficult to modify, add to, subtract from, or change.
If many of our reactions result in self-affirming responses, we need a foreign perspective – a “Second Friend” – to invade our thought process, providing fresh and different perspectives for firmer, richer, and better behaviors to grow. In our world, we call this a Leadership Coach. In this person, we find a co-laborer, an individual who does not simply correct, but “seeks to seek” with you and walks alongside you as you ask the “whys.” In unpacking purpose of existence, motivation of behaviors and decisions, the reason for values, etc., a Leadership Coach can help carry you through circumstances. They focus beyond what you should do to why you are there and how you should carry yourself with integrity and consistency for optimal outcomes. In the Coach, different lenses are offered, weighed, and encouraged to move us from flat, black and white scenarios into three dimensional, full-color settings, uncovering subtle nuances that may have been previously unseen.
In addition to asking about your “Accountabilities”, a Leadership Coach also asks about the preceding “Well-Being” and subsequent “Development” that increases the likelihood of positive outcomes. Herein lies the distinction between a manager/accountability partner and a Leadership Coach. Preliminary questions of Well-Being should be full and mandatory, not haphazard and optional. A Coach asks, “How are you doing?” and listens long enough to hear the real answer. They note if accountabilities have been hit by way of heroic effort in the midst of significant personal stress. They are gracious when objectives are missed and encourage us to prepare ourselves first before reengaging in the undone tasks. Following both positive and negative responses to accountabilities, a Coach seeks to develop and facilitate an individual’s growth in areas that were previously underdone, stagnant, or in need of sharpening. In developing specific, targeted behaviors, you can return to responsibilities/accountabilities with renewed purpose and passion as well as new paradigms of thinking and techniques for engaging.
Rarely do we have time for (or seek out) one-off meetings where we bring recent scenarios to a confidant for commiseration and/or affirmation. As a leader, you are ultimately in the business of pouring into the lives and work of others. The question becomes – who is pouring into you and are you making time for it?
Please let us know if we can be helpful in your development as a leader.