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WNC Business

Pro-Tips: You have to get comfortable in the gray

Mar 31, 2023 02:30PM ● By Tracey Greene-Washington

"You have to get comfortable in the gray."

These powerful words from my executive coach during one of my first-ever coaching sessions left me speechless. In one single phrase, she could name and articulate all of my discomfort, pain points, and areas of 'stuckness' as a leader. She invited me into an intentional relationship to stretch, grow, and release thinking, feelings, and actions that were getting in the way of my why, my purpose, and preventing me from showing up to leadership self-aware and understanding of the privilege to lead and embrace transformational change.

I couldn't name it then but today, I embody change and ‘gray areas’ in my leadership; I was in the messy middle of my leadership journey – the transformational space that represents the gap between our current state of being and desired purpose. This critical space for strategic leaders invites grappling with three important truths: 

  • The leadership walk can't be done alone. Alignment with your unique purpose will serve as important anchoring as you resist the disorientation, distraction, and fatigue of this heavy work. 

  • It is a walk that requires a level of intimacy with discomfort that can shift one into a range of emotions that can cause leaders to move from being paralyzed and fearful to excitement in the collective work. 

  • This walk requires a coach that can ask powerful questions, support space for reflection, creates accountability through action steps, and provides an open curious space to grapple with fears, shadows, and unspoken ideas that have yet to be shared with the world.

My experience of the messy middle heightened my awareness and unapologetic belief that in these moments-for leaders working on the cutting edge of some of the most complex social issues of our life-time-coaching is vital. A powerful coach can provide a consistent voice armed with powerful and curious questions converging in just the right way to unearth new insights, reveal and interrupt false narratives, and create permission for truth-telling to facilitate healing and identification of pain points. A coach provides confidential and intentional space to speak unspoken desires and consent to be in alignment and support your unique purpose. I have learned a healthy partnership with a coach accepts and honors each individual and travels alongside them in the transformational process to amplify their innate leadership, vision, passion, will, desire, and clarity. Lastly, a powerful coach supports your proximity to discomfort and navigation of the messy middle in service to unleashing superpowers, catalyzing authentic partnerships, resisting complicity, and mitigating harm to support transformation change within communities, networks, and diverse teams leading some of the most complex work in transformational change. 

Coaching enables each of us to:

  • Sharpen our ability to shift our thinking, which influences our feelings and activates our actions to harness the necessary skills, relationships, and networks in service to generate the greatest return on investment towards tackling complex issues;

  • Lean into a transformational process by leaders/team members at all four levels, the "I", "We," "Work," and "Walk" (Ideology), to truly step into this type of posture within ecosystems of change to effectively align our unique superpowers, skills, relationships, and networks in service to achieving key goals; and 

  • Make a collective commitment to show up as our best selves in a way that catalyzes change, model the way, constantly assume a learning posture ready to be sharpened, and be of service that supports others around us.

I've had the privilege of receiving support from four influential coaches throughout my career. Each entered my life at a critical moment where I knew intuitively as a leader that it was time to shift my posture in a significant way but unable to see, name, and navigate the critical path ahead to amplify my voice, level up my impact, and stretch into my influence in service to something greater than myself. These relationships throughout my career have allowed me to understand the power of coaching as a tool and respect the inextricable link between coaching, effective leadership, purpose, and transformational change. Consequently, fueling my desire through Indigo Innovation Group to foster ongoing spaces, cultures, and practices that intentionally normalize coaching as a vital lever to strategically position leaders to be bolder, more innovative, healers, and equity centered. Given this proposition, I ask one single question of you, "Who's coaching you?" 

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