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Finding Vision and Courage:
One Man's Dilemma Shows What You Need
by Jerry Stein


As I was finishing a chapter on executive leadership and peak performance for my new book with Stephen Covey and Brian Tracy, I was asked to give a few examples of my clients' success stories. The more I got into developing the list, the more I had to work at condensing their stories -- because we're all unique. and it's the behind-the-scenes details that are so fascinating.

Sure, I can rattle off a list of clients and describe their "before" and "after" situations, but that's not the story that needs to be told. You see, a mere list misses the critical issues and full richness of the experiences these wonderful people faced during significant periods of their lives.

So what do people need as they face significant challenges or critical periods of growth in their lives? Well, I don't think you can effectively separate personal and professional issues; as a professional coach, I look at how the person functions as a whole. In that light, I'll share with you a brief overview of one of my clients' stories, along with a few insights.

Bob H., a new CEO for a technology company, came to the Executive Roundtable to share in our best-practices module. He was in an impossible situation, with an international board of directors made up of high-profile, wealthy venture capitalists. There was a noticeable leadership vacuum in the company; major decisions and key hires needed to be made to put the company into the black, but Bob was being micromanaged by his own board and was intimidated by their wealth and status.

He needed to make some critical decisions based on his professional knowledge and ability -- but he also had a family to feed. Nevertheless, within a year he had implemented a new strategy, reformatting the board and getting its support; making those key hires and critical decisions that needed to be made; and had the company in the black six months later.

It sounds simple, but it wasn't.

First, Bob had to change his mind-set. He needed to fully understand the situation he was in. He really only had two choices: Make the tough decision to grow the company and risk getting fired, or start looking elsewhere to develop his career. That's not easy for someone to accept. You may know it, and the client may know it, but that doesn't mean they can hear it.

If he accepted the status quo, the outcome was certain and unacceptable -- a slow corporate death. Other options had been explored and failed, so in coaching Bob, it boiled down to understanding a major, bottom-line ground truth about leadership: A leader must have the vision and the courage to make the best possible decisions.

Of course, as his coach, I believed Bob had the professional ability to make it happen. Still, while I can get my clients ready to play the game, they have to play it - after all, it's their life. My job was to support Bob during this process by hearing what's not said, and seeing what's not visible.

In Bob's case, he needed clarity in a complex situation. I knew he couldn't take the needed steps until he changed his mind-set and fully understood his situation. Bob had to be ready to exercise his vision and make the tough decisions, and be ready to deal with the consequences. Once he realized that, and acted upon that realization, he got it done.


The Author


Jerry Stein is CEO of the Executive Roundtable in Atlanta, GA. A motivational speaker and executive coach, he is recognized for his expertise in leadership development and personal performance. You can learn more about Jerry and his company's services at .

Many more articles in Coaching in The CEO Refresher Archives
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Copyright 2007 by Jerry Stein. All rights reserved.

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