Sustainability is an extremely hot topic within our industry. One of its definitions is: “Sustainability consists of fulfilling the needs of current generations without compromising the needs of future generations, while ensuring a balance between economic growth, environmental care, and social well-being.” Our industry demonstrates countless initiatives that aim to deliver on the first two topics, whereas the social well-being of the leadership within our industry seems to be forgotten about. How can this be improved? Coaching could be the answer.
Personal coaching is becoming increasingly accepted as a means to boost work performance, relationships and, simultaneously, quality of life. On social media platforms, we regularly see pictures (meant to be funny) that show that logistics workers are better able to deliver under extremely stressful situations as opposed to people in other industries. Why do we think people in our industry are different compared to people in other industries in which seeking mental support is a much more accepted phenomenon? Is it because we are an industry where the vast majority of managers, and the boardroom, is still male?
Increasing demands on logistics leadership
Today’s managers are being confronted with different demands compared to 10-15 years ago: the extreme tension on global supply chains which we have seen in past 2 years seems to be here to stay due to political instability and other global upheavals. Record financial results in airlines and freight forwarding companies have increased expectations of shareholders for future results. At the same time, a younger generation is entering into the workforce, having different expectations compared to previous generations. This increases the pressure on managers working in our industry. In the past, people who worked hardest and gained the most knowledge and expertise, were promoted to next levels. This is not sufficient anymore and can even have a destructive effect on the achievements of teams and the overall organization. Today’s leader is required to be an expert in shaping an excellent team, knowing, and exploiting the team members’ talents, and orchestrating them to perform a great symphony. This requires constant development of the logistics manager as a person.
Our usual way of dealing with major challenges is to roll up our sleeves, work harder and stretch the working day. This is a debatable approach in the short run, let alone in the long run. When maintaining this approach, facing a burnout only seems a matter of time. How can coaching make a difference here?
How coaching can contribute to sustainability
Here are a few reasons why people make use of coaches:
- Personal growth and development: Coaching enables managers to identify their strengths, tackle their weak points, and tap into their full potential. A coach asking targeted questions will make people reflect on their behavior and become more receptive for feedback.
- Improved performance: Coaching helps to set goals, define priorities, and create action plans to reach these goals. A coach acts as a trusted partner offering support, challenging the coachee and holding them responsible. This stimulates the individual to step out of their comfort zone and to develop skills which they did not know they had.
- Increased self-confidence: Coaching increases self-confidence by helping coachees to recognize their capacities and value for the organization - this can both be a family system as well as the company they work for. By nurturing their talents, gaining new skills, and getting rid of limiting thoughts and convictions, leaders will gain self-confidence enabling them to tackle challenges they are facing.
- More effective communication and better relationships: The coach is focused on helping the coachee to improve their listening skills, ask more powerful questions, give and receive constructive feedback, and develop empathy and understanding of others. Improved communication results into better relationships, fewer conflicts, and better performance within the team.
- Leadership development: Coaching helps leaders to understand and optimize their leadership skills. This will result into improved decision making, strategical thinking, inspiring leadership, and motiving of their teams. It encourages managers to explore new perspectives and find creative, less traditional, solutions.
Coaching helps to make behavioral changes in the long run and, as such, is a valuable tool to allow today’s managers and C-suite leaders to take the right decisions and optimize team performance
Guest Author: Frans Vriend
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