An Interview with Inspired leader Justin Kohlman
What does being an “inspiring leader” mean to you?
It means having people that don’t just want to follow you; they come to you with ideas and push the envelope to understand what the bigger vision is. They come up with their own ideas on how to take that vision someplace that I could never imagine.
Why do you believe that being an inspiring leader is an effective leadership style?
I think if you are an inspiring leader, people understand what the vision is, but they are implementing their own ideas and are sincerely committed to making them happen. They aren’t waiting for you to tell them what to do. I also believe that inspiring leaders need to be authentic and not try to be someone they are not. You need to be genuine to who you are with your team to inspire them to achieve the vision, and so to me, that’s effective leadership.
So how did working with Diane as your coach help you with the goal of becoming an inspiring leader?
I think what it helped me do was understand what my values were and understand what was really important to me, and what I was passionate about. Coaching helped me realize that what I need to do is share that passion with my staff and not try to be a different leader or something I am not or even try to lead something that I am not passionate about. It really grounded me and brought me to my core and realize this is what I am about and this is how I can help people using my strengths, not somebody else’s.
What did you think coaching was before you tried it?
Well, to be honest I wasn’t sure, but I thought it would be more about someone telling me what the right answers were. And someone saying “no Justin, that isn’t what you should do”., Instead, I found that it is someone pushing me to answer those questions myself. It’s not even the metaphor of teaching someone how to fish, this is about learning why you are fishing in the first place! And that was the ah-ha moment for me – the “why” am I doing this, not how should I do it.
“The simplest thing is that it’s my coach and its my time and I don’t have to worry about where the conversation is going to go. I can be totally open and speak my mind without judgment and I think that’s important both for the coach and for me…”
So how is working with a coach different than speaking to your boss or colleagues?
The simplest thing is that it’s my coach and its my time and I don’t have to worry about where the conversation is going to go. I can be totally open and speak my mind without judgment and I think that’s important both for the coach and for me, so I can be completely honest with myself and just say this is what is happening. I can be critical of myself, I can be critical of others, and reflect on that in my own space with the support of my coach.
What would say to someone who is thinking about working with a coach?
I would say that it is important to get to know your coach and find the right fit. I would also say its important to know what you want to get out of coaching. It was really valuable for me when I met with Diane initially and she asked me questions about what I wanted to get out of coaching. That really helped me get clear on the purpose for me and I think if I hadn’t had that conversation I would have floundered through the process. So I would say get to know your coach and spend time getting clear on your goals for coaching at the beginning.
How would you describe your ROI (return on investment) with coaching?
My coaching sessions were the only hour of the week when I could reflect and think about the projects I am working on in a totally different light and instead of thinking of them as “to do” items, I could think about why I was doing them, how am I approaching them and what could I do more effectively. The true ROI is that it affected every single project, not just the ones I brought to coaching. It changed the way I thought about everything I was doing and gave me clarity about what things I really wanted to spend time on and why. Knowing how to spend your most limited resource – your time, is incredibly valuable if you are a busy person. I often said that for every hour I spent with Diane, it repaid itself 40 times over in that it made my entire week more productive.
What did Diane do for you as your coach?
The best coaches succeed by helping others truly get what they want and Diane lives that mantra. By being in the moment, asking probing questions at just the right time and keeping me focused on my original goals, Diane ensured I was mentally prepared for whatever might come my way for the rest of the week and beyond!