Change your words. Change your world.

When Marc Met Dave: Leading From The Front

When two Exactly What to Say Certified Guides come together, it creates something special. And when it’s two experienced coaches coming together to share ideas, then the conversation is endless.

This is what happened recently when Marc Pitman met with Dave Inglis to discuss how Dave helps to coach leaders through difficult times.

Dave is an executive coach, and over the last decade, he has been helping ambitious leaders do the inner work to build great businesses, teams, and families. He is incredibly passionate about getting the balance right between your professional life and your personal life.

For Dave, the family should always come first, but this is often something that high-profile leaders find difficult to balance in terms of their time and professional expectations.

The conversation he had with Marc focused on how to achieve a healthy balance and how to get your perspective right.

Leadership = Pressure

There is a lot of added pressure put on leaders. The higher you rise in an organization, the more problems you see, and the more problems find you.

Both Marc and Dave agree that the pressures their clients face have evolved since Covid. There is diversity in the problems, but they should be viewed as symptoms, not root causes.

And this is why the work of a coach is so important. They are there to uncover the root causes and understand exactly what’s happening and help make meaningful change.

Create More Slack

The way people face problems is often reactive, and as a result, they are pulled from problem to problem. This process can get incredibly overwhelming.

Dave believes that the trick to managing and becoming less reactive is to create a bit more slack.

Slack is essential. It allows a leader to respond appropriately and avoid being stuck in the perpetual cycle of react, deplete, react, deplete.

Creating this slack is, in itself, a massive challenge for leaders because everything is so interwoven and connected. One moment your focus can be on one thing, and then something happens to shift that focus entirely.

Create An Issue List

So how can you overcome this? Dave is a firm believer in the issue list. It’s a practical tool that can help you prioritize.

Quite a lot of the problems leaders are dealing with don’t require an emergency triage approach. But when you have a lot on your mind, it’s hard to get that much-needed perspective.

No one is at their best when they have a lot on their minds. If you get thrown into yet another problem that requires action from you as a leader, then it is easy to see how it can become overwhelming.

Using an issue list allows you to distance yourself from the actual problem. It slows things down so that you can find out exactly what’s going on. And then, when you’re ready to go in and thoughtfully triage the problem, you can do so.

This approach allows you to be better prepared and have enough perspective to turn the issue into an opportunity.

Self Leadership

Self-leadership is key to taking control. You need to know how you are leading yourself so that you can successfully interface with challenges.

It needs to be done in a way that doesn’t compromise your well-being, where it doesn’t compromise your focus, and where it doesn’t compromise your integrity.

As a leader, your first step is to throw your problem onto the issue list, that way, it’s parked and ready for you when you can actually deal with it.

You’ve not lost sight of it, and you’re not ignoring it. You’re acknowledging the issue, but you’re not running head-on trying to solve it when you’re deep in the moment.

This is how you can give yourself that much-needed slack. Define the problem, pause, and then respond.

Create The Right Systems

Some of the best organizations that both Dave and Marc have dealt with are the ones with internal systems. They display strong leadership, strategic vision and leadership development. They also had a clear succession plan.

Many leaders just don’t realize how important this is. Creating systems is often the real work of a leader. It’s systems that deal with the problems as they arise so that they don’t become overwhelming.

One of these systems might be a re-onboarding process. This can be beneficial if your workers have lost sight of their objectives or they don’t fully understand what their role has evolved into.

Covid, for example, has changed how people work. Job roles have also changed dramatically, and now that businesses are taking steps towards working in a post-covid environment, job positions and roles are naturally evolving once again.

Organizations and staff have to once again pivot, and with the right systems in place, the pivot is much easier.

That Make Sense

When problems arise, internal dialogues of I shouldn’t have to do that can prevent people from moving forward. Sometimes you just wish everyone did exactly what they were supposed to do.

Why should you be doing this extra work? Shouldn’t people just know what they are doing? 

Dave has the best response when he encounters this. Ask the question: how certain are you that that’s true?

Try to understand why they are doing things a certain way. What makes them believe that their way is the right way? Stay curious, and don’t assume that you know.

If you want to influence somebody to be more aligned with your vision, or encourage more action, then it’s critical to show that you understand them.

Understand that if you were them, with their exact knowledge and experience, you wouldn’t have done anything differently. How could you?

Three little words can make all the difference: That Makes Sense.

You’ve taken the time to understand why your team is working a certain way.

‘That makes sense’ isn’t about agreeing with their process though. It’s about understanding why they do it so you can suggest an alternative.

Focus On The Outcomes

Focus on the outcomes and stay curious. Your way is not always the only way.

Remember these key points:

Systems aren’t going to change until people do. Leaders need to extend this to themselves too.

Re-centre with these top tips from Dave, and you’ll be able to work with more calm.