One of my coaching clients came up with a brilliant practice for herself that I want to share. This client was (and is) an amazing leader who had learned how to be nimble and adaptive — she knew that national and local funding changes were a regular part of her project landscape. She excelled in being able to quickly pivot and adjust to meet new demands.
Her team, however, was struggling.
I had recently returned from a trip to Greece to attend a wedding, and I told my client the story of one of the wedding party who had booked an inner tube ride at the beach for their son. The adults went along, and what was a blast for the kid was agony for the parents. The boat whipped back and forth and while it was fun at first, it quickly became exhausting.
No one was in danger, but the novelty wore off for the older folks as they gripped the inner tube trying to anticipate the changes in direction, desperately hoping for the ride to be done.
My client and I talked about the difference of the experience for the boat driver and those behind clinging to the inner tubes. For her, as the leader, she could keep her view on the horizon and shift direction as needed, adjusting her stance as she did so. For those following, the experience was one of whiplash, disorientation, and stress. While that may be fun for a holiday adventure, it doesn’t work for creating a well-functioning team.
My client came up with the idea of taking “moments of pause.”
This practice allows her to take the time she needs to prepare her team, answer their questions, and support their adjustment to the new normal. She can put this into practice in pausing before she speaks, pausing at the start of meetings, and pausing to create space for adjustments.
As my own team grows, I am reminding myself how important this is. We might be drivers of the boat, but our goal is to bring everyone along in a way that is supportive, and even fun, not leave them holding on for dear life.
We love working with new leadership coaching clients. If you know any “boat drivers” out there that need support, we are here to help.