By: Susan Mahoney
I’ve always wanted to write a book about people’s “moments of truth.” I am fascinated with stories about people who change their lives in deliberate and meaningful ways. What were their defining moments? When did they know they had no choice but to venture out on a new path, and not turn back? At what point does a person on this journey start thinking about themselves within their new identity?
My own moment of truth came after 20 years of defining my identity as a consultant who helped organizations improve sales effectiveness. During many years engaged in organizational change management as a consultant, while I experienced many success stories, I also saw many large initiatives not reach their potential, or not sustain, due to a lack of leadership. I observed many unhappy team members bide their time until the next big initiative launched—and then disappeared. I witnessed many disengaged employees count the days until they could move on, all while not receiving any direct feedback on their performance. There had to be a better way!
In my personal life, I saw a similar sort of resistance to change and a lack of personal leadership skills. I observed friends, family, and acquaintances who couldn’t find their voice to communicate and pursue what they wanted in life. I watched people caught in a negative mindset, who didn’t know how to break through that anger and regret to pursue new paths. Or people whose blindspots prevented them from seeing possibilities. Each example seemed to be further evidence of individuals accepting complacency rather than pursuing their journey to real and lasting change.
Through it all, I began to develop my philosophy that would come to permeate my belief system and decision to become a coach:
Leadership is an everyday act. I believe we shouldn’t leave leadership to the leaders—we are the leaders we’ve been waiting for.
My most rewarding work is supporting people as they step into the role of conscious leadership. I believe that committing to grow our leadership capacity is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves.
Once I identified this core belief, my own turning point came. I wanted to help others develop their leadership mindset and skills. I wanted to bring all of my knowledge and experience in change management from the corporate world to individuals seeking a life transition or life transformation.
Why do I use the term “leadership coach?” It is about supporting an individual’s desire to grow their personal and professional leadership capacity. As a leadership coach, I support an individual’s desire to change.
That desire starts as an itch or dissatisfaction that just won’t go away—a burning ember that won’t extinguish. Growth comes from channeling that dissatisfaction and igniting that ember.
We all want to align our personal values with our work and our lives and show up with authenticity every day. Coaching can align an individual’s internal and external worlds, and help people grow into who they want to be. To focus on becoming versus just being. Coaching can be an effective change methodology.
My greatest joy is supporting a coaching client to take a risk, try a new behavior, reframe a challenging situation, succeed with a change goal, and then continue to practice these new behaviors until they become a part of their everyday life. Their personal growth becomes their professional growth. It is an honor to partner with an individual or a team on their change journey. I’ve watched my coaching clients set and achieve goals to be more accessible as a leader, to be less reactive in challenging situations, to embark on a different career journey, to have difficult conversations, to develop their voice, and ask for what they want.
The world needs the conscious leader in us. There is a better way.
My coach training is from the Hudson Institute of Coaching, a year-long program that took me to the depths of my soul to learn about myself, and then slowly helped me build my coaching perspectives and abilities. We learned that a coach can’t take someone any deeper than they’ve been themselves, so ongoing learning and personal exploration is imperative. I bring that experience and introspection to each person who chooses to invite me to be a partner on their leadership journey. Along the way, my consulting practice has also deepened, as I support my business clients on their developmental paths.
As I move into this new decade, I can reflect on the journey to becoming a coach and feel affirmed and grounded in my decision. This path and change have been the most personally challenging and personally rewarding endeavor I’ve ever embarked on. It’s scary, exciting, and life-changing. It demands my attention and won’t let go. And, the journey is never really done. I welcome the commitment to lifelong learning.