Coaching is a priority. Ally approached me with multiple frustrations as she returned to her work with a multinational in Beijing. She didn’t comfortably smile when offering technical information. She was not inclined to go out after work with her staff or her colleagues, as she felt it would dilute her authority and she wouldn’t know how to manage staff that she had just eaten dinner with the night before. She’s beginning to look for another job, even as she just received an amazing year end bonus (six figures she reports) and her boss invites her into executive briefings.

Coaching is a priority.  Jason feels inept and easily nervous when he meets with his staff.  He wonders about “eye contact” when all he wants is the data.  He prefers to arrive early, scope out what everyone else is doing as each arrives, notices whether a colleague smiles and says hello, and puts his head down and doesn’t say much unless someone asks him a direct question.

Coaching is the priority, not a casual “maybe someday” lingering comment.  It doesn’t have to be a big deal, just a regular check-in with someone committed to your success and seasoned enough to know what will probably help.  Practicing with examples, celebrating when the ice begins to thaw, giving yourself a little credit for connecting.  My own career required several intervals of coaching when I didn’t really feel I needed it but a boss thought “it might help” whatever she considered needing help; I caught up later to the actual changes in my own style and then optimism as I  moved ahead…sometimes within the same organization, occasionally in the next one.  And I still remember each of the coaches I have used as I reflect on my career and leadership, both my own and the women and men I have been supported by.

I wouldn’t have achieved long, strong, often brilliant employment without these people and I’m grateful each took the time to gently suggest I try doing something a little differently than I was capable of doing at the time. Whatever we call it, it’s an easy opportunity to try something new and I am all for that!