1. Learn to Listen
When I first started off coaching nearly a decade ago, I thought I was a good listener. I thought I had a firm understanding of hearing what the other person was saying. Over the course of my career, I have recognized this to be untrue. Listening is an undervalued skill that everyone thinks they do well. I have fell victim many times to believing that I heard one thing when in reality, something drastically different was said. With any industry that works as closely with people as we do in coaching, we should ensure that we're allocating plenty of educational time and resources towards improving our interpersonal skill sets; which includes not only our communication skills but our ability to effectively listen to others.
2. Learn to Delegate
Hopefully, you will not find yourself in a position where you are stretched too thin, but when are you, you better be effective at delegating tasks to others. This is a hard realization to have but it's a vital one. In many cases, I've been in positions where I was juggling multiple responsibilities. My first instinct was that these tasks could only be done by myself. I was so wrong. After closer examination, many of the responsibilities and tasks I possessed could easily be done by others on my team. It was my ego that prevented me from realizing that others could do these tasks. The moment I began to absolve my ego, and open up to delegation, was the moment our entire team began to be more productive at accomplishing big goals.
3. Learn to Admit When Wrong
I have been wrong many times in my past and will continue to be wrong in the future. There's power in recognizing mistakes and learning from them. That process helps you "develop your eye" for spotting oncoming mistakes and failures. Many of the most impactful learning opportunities came from times when I've made a mistake or experienced a setback. If you can embrace those moments with an open mind, and not a defensive one, there is often a lesson to be learned.
4. Learn to Commit to Your Team
When the bullets are flying, learn to be a bodyguard for your team. One of the responsibilities of a leader is to share organizational success with others and take ownership of the failures. It is not a glorious job to shield the team from the criticisms or complaints, but as a leader, publically you must defend your team.
“You can always tell a leader by the arrows in his back.” (Unknown)
It's one thing to defend them but another thing entirely to help pave the path towards realizing success. Defending your team from criticism also can rob them from learning from their mistakes. This is the dualism of leadership. You must externally defend your team while internally helping to nurture an environment where they embrace their mistakes and learn from them.
5. Learn to be Calm Under Pressure
Any high stakes, fast pace working environment is going to produce tremendous amounts of pressure. If you want to build a resistance and robustness to pressure, you need to learn how to internalize it and use it positively. You also develop a calm mind and learn to harness your emotional energy. I have always been a student of the stoics and heavily lean towards meditative practices. You, however, do not need to sit in full-lotus to train your mind and ability to focus. Finding a discipline and practice you can routinely visit, focusing your mind during times of strife, all help strengthen your resolve.
6. Learn to Work
I can't tell you how many early mornings and late nights I've worked. The time I've been away from my family and friends - I will never get back. I am not here to glorify these long-hours but to illuminate the reality that this industry does produce long working conditions. The sooner you realize the time commitment, and embrace the hours and work that must be done, the faster you can move on to producing productive work.