A Coaching Model By Elizabeth Weesner, Executive Coach, Facilitator Coach, UNITED STATES
Although the dictionary definition of legacy is “an amount of money or property left to someone in a will.” I argue that legacy is about more than money or property. It’s the way to leave one’s mark on the world. Legacy is how someone is remembered by their loved ones, their organizations, and their communities. Legacy became profoundly important to me when my father passed away two years ago. He was a beloved teacher and had over six hundred people at his memorial, sharing similar emotions about my dad. He had changed their lives in meaningful ways through teaching and his ability to listen, coach, mentor, and encourage them. This was when I realized that I wanted to continue his legacy.
Working with leaders to create their legacy is important because I have spent time in workplaces that were toxic for some employees. Organizations talk about diversity and even hire trainers to train on diversity, but these interventions don’t often work. Research overwhelmingly shows that diversity enhances organizational performance, and leaders often have the best intentions, but it isn’t always apparent how biases play out from their own beliefs. Many founders and CEOs want their organizations to be great places to work, and they want to create environments in which employees can achieve professional and personal success. However, often the incentives in place are solely focused on the bottom line profits causing workplace morale and treatment of employees to suffer. Conscious leadership requires that leaders possess more than the skills and abilities to do the job well. It requires that their behavior matches the vision and goals of the organization. Creating an environment that fuels innovation and human potential requires a commitment to employees, which must be ingrained into an organization’s culture.
What is the LEGACY Model?
For an organization to be a great place to work, it requires an organization to hold leaders accountable. The organization must be willing to make hard decisions to let go of employees who won’t work within the culture demands’ behavior parameters. For leaders to ensure the desired culture is sustainable, every leader must take personal responsibility for their behavior which requires a significant amount of self-awareness. The culture must be feedback-driven for leaders to develop the awareness necessary to regulate their decisions and behavior. While I don’t believe psychological solutions in a workplace are a one size fits all scenario, there are opportunities to support leaders in growing their emotional intelligence through coaching and training interventions. To ensure the bridge between culture and leadership is developed and maintained, I’ve created a model for working with leaders.
The LEGACY (Learn, Emotion, Goal, Action, Considerations, Yes I’m committed) model supports leaders in creating their personal brand as a leader. It helps them determine the impact they want to create in their professional and personal lives and connects them to the meaning and purpose that matters to them now and in the future. It provides a framework for their continued development and growth. As the coach, this empowering process gives me a common language to guide their journey.
At this stage of the model, the leader is exploring how their leadership style aligns with their organizational culture and values. They are identifying the areas in which they want to grow. At this point, they are looking at their relationships up, down, and across the organization and their personal lives. As a coach, I’m using motivational interviewing techniques to ask open-ended questions to understand or create their intrinsic desire for change, surface the motivations, and understand the emotions associated with making change.
Emotions are vital because they encourage our drive. We use our drive to fulfill our goals, but often we need to rethink our goals based on what we really want. Change isn’t always easy or natural, and usually, it’s our emotions that keep us from making the changes we say we want. At this stage in the coaching process, we explore feelings that may be standing in our way. Biases exist in many areas of our lives, some of them unconscious, so this part of the journey is about creating awareness of what we are holding onto that doesn’t serve us in getting where we want to go. Disrupting old patterns and creating a new approach will require a shared ambition and a plan of action (Michels & Murphy, 2021).
As a coach, I encourage leaders to develop SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) goals to move from awareness to action. To help clients get specific, I use questions like “how will you know you have achieved your goal?” Setting goals can help clients identify the pain points they are trying to overcome and develop goals accordingly. Partnering with clients to determine how to measure their goals is critical to creating a plan that can be measured and achieve their leadership goals (Elder, 2020).
By this time, the leader has defined their goal or goals. They need to define how and when they will start and exactly what they will complete by a stated time. There will be several “what” and “when” questions that I ask as a coach to support the client in developing their action plan.
At this point of the coaching process, I explore with the leader what could get in the way of achieving the goals. I will provide feedback or observations on things I’ve noticed or that they may want to consider. The leader may also agree to elicit feedback from others.
As a coach, one of my jobs is to support the client, helping them assign accountability for the plan they have developed. I will ask questions about how committed they are to their plan. We will revisit why these changes are essential to them to align the action to their meaning and purpose.
I have used this model myself to develop my leadership style, and it works. I’ve created my leadership legacy by diving deep into the emotions that impact my behavior. Historically, I would relentlessly chase my goals at all costs without considering what mattered to me and the why behind my motivation. As I got in touch with what was driving me, I became conscious of my actions. I challenged myself to make decisions carefully, requiring me to recognize my habits and elicit feedback from others. I seek out feedback from people that won’t tell me what I want to hear so that I can make considerations and commit to saying yes to what will ultimately make me the best leader I can be.”
I created the LEGACY model to align with the changes I want to see in the corporate world. I will work with clients that care about diversity and inclusion. I’m committed to going go “all-in” with clients that want to make a difference for others in their organizations so that every worker feels they belong. By remaining clear on who I am as a leader and the legacy I want to leave, I will find the clients that want to partner to transform organizations and make a difference in people’s lives.
Elder, D. (n.d.). Council Post: Coaching Your Client To Action With SMART Goals. Forbes. Retrieved July 26, 2021, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2020/03/24/coaching-your-client-to-action-with-smart-goals/
Michels, B. & Murphy, K. (2021, July/August). How good is your company at change? Harvard Business Review. 64-71.