The pace of change we are currently experiencing is unparalleled in human history.
This is due in large part to exponential technological change coupled with the instantaneous dissemination of ideas and information across an increasingly connected world. (See Duleesha Kulasooriya and Maggie Wooll, Unlocking Human Potential: Proactive Practices for Individual Elasticity, Deloitte University Press, 2017). The options available to meet our needs and pursue our goals are evolving in extremely rapid and often unpredictable ways. New business models are sprouting seemingly everywhere. For some executives, this is a step into a new world full of excitement, vitality and promise. For others, there is distress over the unknown. They worry about what (and how many) jobs will remain in the age of intelligent machines and rapidly improving artificial intelligence. Some envision our changing world as a kind of hyper-connected technological wasteland where their connection to others – and to themselves – is being lost.
We are all struggling to keep pace with the world we have created and are continuing to create that now has unlimited options and on-demand everything. We are left with a sense of fleeting time and lost opportunities. Amid these pressures, we need to develop new ways of coping, adapting and leading.
While our world is evolving rapidly, our basic human needs remain unchanged. To better deal with the pressures and stresses of today’s business environment, many executives are striving to manage their lives holistically: physical and mental well-being, professional development, volunteering, community service, etc. They are not turning their backs on technology. Rather, they embrace smart phones, social media, and video conferencing, among others. However, they are also searching for more balance in their lives. Some are turning to ancient disciplines such as meditation, mindfulness, yoga, etc. Today, the workplace wellness industry in the US is worth over $40B US. (See Unlocking Human Potential: Proactive Practices for Individual Elasticity.) The practise of these disciplines can help executives bring creativity, calm, reflection, and resilience to the challenges of a turbulent, uncertain future. This, in turn, can lead to increased productivity, improved performance and better staff morale.
The International Coaching Federation defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. Our work with executives has shown that coaching at a deep level is a highly effective way of developing and sustaining leadership. Deep coaching focusses on acquiring awareness of intellectual, emotional, physical and spiritual needs without encroaching on the domain of psychotherapy. Our approach helps executives develop and maintain equilibrium between the exponential change in their everyday lives and their own human needs. Deep coaching helps leaders develop the insights and decisiveness to successfully manage unrelenting and unpredictable challenges. They let go of previously ineffective approaches. They commit themselves to learning new skills and knowledge that are urgently needed now and going forward. The most successful executives concentrate on finding and striving for a higher goal and purpose beyond themselves and their organizations. Thus, in transforming themselves, they can transform their organizations, as well.
Each one of our clients is unique and has specific needs. ‘One size does not fit all.’ Before starting deep coaching with a new client, we follow a rigorous preparation program. This will be the subject of my next article.