I recently worked with a client called Sal. Sal works in a corporate organisation. She was telling me about the politics being played out, the things that were not being said — and the leaders who were playing games.

Sometimes, as a business leadership coach, I need to hold a mirror to the person I am talking to and ask the tough questions. So, I asked Sal how she was contributing to the issues we were discussing.

There was silence, excruciating silence. I waited …

After one minute, Sal looked me straight in the eye and, very bravely, told me her contribution to the situation.

Not a lot of leaders can do that, you know. It’s rare for a leader to lean into a situation and examine their role in it. At that moment, Sal made herself proud.

Once we had discussed the role Sal and others were playing in her organisation’s issues, we talked about how she could turn things around. As leaders, we need to maintain our integrity when the going gets tough. As personal branding expert Jane Anderson says, “People aren’t watching how you respond as a leader when things go well – they watch what happens when things go pear-shaped.”

Sal had some choices to make …

The first thing we did was determine Sal’s circle of control. Our circle of control includes things we have direct control over, including our actions and responses to challenges and opportunities. Sal was then was able to see what was immediately within her power, and what was outside of it.

As we worked on the things that were within Sal’s control:

We discussed her response to the situation

When we jump at shadows or make assumptions, we don’t respond in a way that is useful. People see the response but don’t understand it. So, before hitting the respond button, Sal took a carefully considered approach to what she wanted to respond to and why.

We made decisions

We decided what was in Sal’s circle of control and what wasn’t. We focused on what she could do rather than what she couldn’t. We also agreed on the conversations she needed to have and with who, and considered the reactions and responses she may get.

We workshopped it

We role-played the conversations, we laughed at it all, but by the end, Sal was fully prepared for the discussions she needed to have.

We managed her mindset

Sal was a people pleaser. We realised her need to be liked was stopping her from fully stepping into her leadership role. So, we worked on growing her self-confidence and mindset as a leader.

The result of this work?

Sal felt ready, prepared and clear on her next steps. Regardless of how the conversations would go, Sal knew she had done the thinking and the prep work to handle the conversations that needed to happen. She also knew the conversations might prove to be unpopular, but she was prepared for that.

What about you? Do you struggle with knowing what’s within your control, and what’s out of it? Sometimes it’s a grey area, right? Not much is black and white these days!

I’m Emma, and I’m a business and executive coach who believes wholeheartedly in the potential of women. My coaching philosophy is simple- taking action leads to results- and I love working with women in business and in corporate roles to take their passion and drive and transform their professional and personal lives.

Be enthusiastic, optimistic and energetic, every day.

Em x