Every Coach Needs a Coach Too

As I compliantly and happily took instruction and received feedback from my Pilates trainer, it was not only my body that was lighting up with the positive, intentional attention but my mind as well. As I quieted my own tendency to want to support, serve, and coach in order to be on the receiving end of good support, I found myself smiling and gratefully accepting help.

I don’t do that very well. I don’t ask for help readily or accept help with ease, though I have learned the important lesson of doing both many times. It doesn’t seem to stick. And yet, yesterday morning, when I put myself in the hands of someone else whom I trust and respect, I received greatly.

I think of myself as an instrument that, if played well, makes beautiful music and can help others to find their song as well. But if overplayed, allowed to get out of tune, or not well practiced, the music I create for the service of others can be dissonant. Are you following the metaphor?

Leaders as Instruments

I believe that, as leaders, we ourselves are instruments for facilitating the growth, development, and health of our organizations and the people we touch. If we do not develop our own instruments, we cannot develop others. And if we neglect ourselves, our competencies, and our interpersonal abilities, we become fragile. Even when we are tending to our own mental, physical, social, and spiritual well-being, the stress of day-to-day work and life can erode and warp our strengths.

So my awareness this day is that even the strongest, most capable, and seasoned leader/coach needs to have coaches in their lives helping them to keep their well-being nurtured and in balance. As I opened myself to more than the activity of coached exercise, and listened to what was being shared about how I could maintain my physical well-being and recover from overuse more readily, I left feeling renewed and clear-headed.

When I really gave myself the time and space to . . .

  • ask for help,
  • accept the help,
  • let go of needing to do anything but listen,
  • and internalize the learning

. . . it was like an expert tuning of my "self-instrument."

Rules for Balanced Leadership

David Ulrich, co-author of The Leadership Code – Five Rules to Lead By, shares his model of five key “rules” for balanced leadership:

  1. Strategist – Shape the Future
  2. Executor – Make Things Happen
  3. Talent Manager – Engage Today’s Talent
  4. Human Capital Developer – Build the Next Generation
  5. Personal Proficiency – Invest in Yourself

I believe that Rule #5 is the driver of the other four rules. Taking care of and developing one’s self in every phase of your career and for every situation is the only way to maintain your leadership resonance. The art of leadership is to be constantly growing, evolving, and opening to new awareness about yourself, so that you can remain relevant, resonant, and available for your organization and the individuals you influence.

Consider Your Own Instrument

Do you have a coach? More than one for different things? How do you stay open to their feedback?

When do you fall away from the habit of asking and accepting help?

How do you avoid the trap of always giving and supporting and then finding yourself empty and depleted? What are your habits and strategies for staying "in tune"?


Leslie Yerkes specialized in helping organizations turn challenges into opportunities. She is the founder and president of Catalyst Consulting Group, bestselling author, globally-renowned speaker, facilitator and coach. She also serves on the faculty of the Weatherhead School of Executive Education and is a two-time recipient of the Weatherhead 100 Award. In those rare moments when she’s not working, Leslie loves to travel to foreign lands and once spent a year backpacking around the world. Learn more and connect with Leslie at leslieyerkes.com.


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