One of the great things about advising, coaching and mentoring senior leaders is how much you learn from them! My best clients have taught me a huge amount – sometimes explicitly, but usually by example, or by sharing experiences in between meetings, at airports or over a drink.

Not only has that helped me, but it’s also helped my other clients. Drawing from this reservoir of stories and ideas (preserving confidentiality of course) is sometimes more useful than providing advice or a management framework. 

Most senior leaders are drawing on years of experience, not just in their current business, but perhaps from earlier careers, or serious engagement in other pursuits. Hearing about this, you can identify the bit that applies to you and take what suits your circumstances.

Here are some of the things I’ve learned:

  • From the former Army officer: when you’re a soldier you simply have to handle whatever happens – and anything can happen. You can’t give up.
  • From the mountaineer: you need to manage your energy. You learn to relax in every available gap, even between individual steps up the mountain face.
  • From the scientist: Just because you think something will work doesn’t mean it will. On the other hand, something you think has no chance could be dramatically successful – you have to test your ideas against reality.
  • From the murder detective: don’t take anyone’s word for the facts. Look deeper than hearsay. And don’t believe what you read in the papers.
  • From the statistician: both threats and opportunities hide in the averages (remember the statistician who drowned crossing a river of an average depth of two feet). In the best of economies, some people are struggling, while in the worst, some are making fortunes. Some parts of a business may be struggling while the germ of transformational growth lurks hidden in the summary data.
  • From the international athlete: you can keep training while injured – indeed it’s the norm. You don’t stop, you trust yourself – and the expertise of your coaching team – to work around the problem.
  • From the musician: you can accumulate amazing capabilities little-by-little, almost without noticing how much you are changing.

There’s huge value in sharing experiences with great peers. Especially now, when many of the old playbooks have gone out of the window.

The cliche is that it’s lonely at the top. But it doesn’t have to be. Now is not the time to be trying to do this on your own: whose experiences are you sharing?

Copyright Andrew Bass 2020.



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