Untangle and grow

A blog by Alison Maxwell

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Creating our own glass ceiling - issues in coaching

I've recently come back to an old favourite of mine - the 'Let Go, Preserve, Add On'  model * and found myself having some interesting and useful leadership coaching conversations on the back of it. Arthur Freedman's simple model suggests that the mix of skills, abilities, beliefs and knowledge (etc.) that got us to where we are today not only won't get us further up the organisational ladder but actually might be holding us back - our own glass ceiling if you like. The trick is to know what we should ditch, what we should preserve and what we need to add into the mix. The problem is we tend to be comfortable with the repertoire that got us to today and the idea of shaking it up can feel scary .. particularly behaviours that have served us well in the past.

This was born out in a conversation I had with Martin last week. Martin is a promoted expert in his company and is struggling with the fact that he now being asked to lead experts instead of being one. "I just love the work" he confided in me, "...so much so that I've been know to repeat my team's work just so I can feel connected again". Worse still, he was struggling to value working strategically and was in danger of doing neither his new or old role well.

Freedman talks about a series of 'crossroads' that leaders must navigate as they move upward through the organisation. At each of these turning points, a fundamental reappraisal of our 'leadership map' is called for if we are not to be trapped by a glass ceiling of our own making.

*Freedman, A. (1998) , Pathways and Crossroads to Institutional Leadership, Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, Vol. 50, No. 3,131-151  - click here for a copy

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