Retail Observer

May 2018

he Retail Observer is an industry leading magazine for INDEPENDENT RETAILERS in Major Appliances, Consumer Electronics and Home Furnishings

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RETAILOBSERVER.COM MAY 2018 46 I work with leaders who are highly competent, credentialed, confident— in other words, they are good. Typically, people seek out an executive coach because they are on the edge of something— often it's significant change in their work or in their personal lives. Often, the impetus to consider coaching includes some level of discomfort or a sense of stuck-ness—something's just not quite right. Less often, someone will seek a coach because they are being proactive about a transition time or change that they know is coming, or they are dedicated, life-long learners who recognize investing in their continual development is a worthy pursuit. It doesn't really matter to me why they come, but that they do. And, most often, the space we begin to work together is at the edges of discomfort, or confusion or the unknown. One leader, the highest-ranking executive in a division of health care, had experienced a fast track to her success. She had won awards and received accolades for her career path. She mentored other leaders, was sought after for speaking and writing in her areas of expertise and organizations were seemingly in a bidding war to attract her to their organizations. At a particular point in her career, she'd chosen a location because of its proximity to an aging father and she said, "no, thank you" to various offers that came her way. But her team was a mess: low trust, gossip, sabotaging behaviors, secret intrigue and back stabbing were part of the daily drama that came across her desk. She didn't need to binge on Game of Thrones to watch people plot to take someone down. She was utterly mystified. Over and over, she wondered what the heck was going on: these other leaders were so talented and highly qualified. She'd always led high performing teams who were loyal and beloved. She kept wracking her brains asking, "What am I doing wrong?" and "How did I get here?" This challenging team was her growth edge—even though she'd experienced all sorts of success in the past, and by all evidence should be leaning into the last quarter of her career, mentoring others and enjoying the opportunities to share her expertise and knowledge on a grander scale, she was huddled with the attorneys and the human resources executives trying to figure out what to do about people who wouldn't talk to each other, union fights and potential law suits. What had always worked in the past, on her golden path, was not working now. This was indeed a new frontier. She'd never been here before. Another executive, in a high profile global firm, shot like a rocket to the top of his career by the age of 40. People described him as a brilliant visionary. Even though he could be painfully shy in one-on-one interactions, as soon as he got on stage or in front of a client to make a pitch, he was mesmerizing. Everyone wanted to be part of the vision he envisioned. The highest people in his organizations opened up their pockets handing over multi-millions to fund his vision and work. And yet, he often experienced extreme discomfort and anxiety with the high-pressure stress of a brutal industry that sometimes eats its own. The more his organization grew with talented people from all over the world, the greater responsibility he felt for each of the smallest interactions he had at his level. Every single conversation became high-stakes with potentially big losses, not only to himself, but also to those on his team who'd jumped on board to follow the beautiful horizon that he dreamed was possible. Recognizing and managing his internal conversation was his growth edge. How was he going to manage big stressors and remain calm and confident in his core, internal conversations? He'd never been there before. Our growth edges are uncomfortable. Sometimes, they are terrifying. And, it's more than just venturing a toe outside of the proverbial comfort zone. There was simply nothing comfortable for each of these leaders about the challenges they faced in critical times, despite the fact that their résumés and list of accomplishments were enviable to the ordinary person. The truth is that we can honor all that we've done in the past, we can build on the foundation of it and benefit and leverage the best parts of it, but this morning, this day is new: we've never been here before. Great leaders not only look for their own growth edges, they listen deeply, they ask for support, and they hold the notion that they will be here, at the edge, over and over again. Are you ready to take the invitation of your own growth edge? Libbywagner@libbywagner.com. GROWTH EDGES Libby Wagner Culture Coach RO Libby Wagner, author of The Influencing Option: The Art of Building a Profit Culture in Business, works with clients to help them create and sustain profit cultures. www.libbywagner.com

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