Over the past year I received similar introductions to five bright executives in different organizations. Before each assignment began, I was cautioned, “(S)he’s very hard-nosed. Doesn’t like touchy-feely. We advise you focus on business outcomes. No soft stuff.”
In each situation, I took this advice with several grains of salt. In fact, you might say I ignored it entirely. Sure, the coaching focused on outcomes at each stage of the program. I don’t know any other way to do it. But it also included the soft stuff–quite a bit of it–and the results were universally positive.
In all five instances, I began the first face-to-face meeting by asking these executives to tell me (among other things) what gets them out of bed in the morning and what keeps them up at night. All of these “hard-nosed” leaders answered the questions and did so in a way that felt real to me. I learned about the twists and turns in their careers, their early role models, the causes they cherish, the people (and pets) who matter most to them, and the disappointments and anxieties that eat away at them. [Read more…] about Leaders want to be loved. What’s so wrong with that? [May 2008]