“What really dismays and frightens us is not external events themselves, but the way in which we think about them. It is not things that disturb us, but our interpretation of their significance” Epictetus

As leaders, using a blend of different styles is the best way to offer the bespoke support that our people need. To develop these styles requires new skills as a leader, skills that might be uncomfortable to begin with but overtime become part of our muscle memory.

Think of it like this, cross your arms and then cross them the other way around. The first way is comfortable, and we don’t even think about it. The second way is harder, we pause and it’s clunky and weird. That’s how it feels to learn a new skill. If we were to repeat that task daily for a month we would be just as comfortable crossing our arms both ways.

The same is true for our leadership, we have a style and way of doing things.To develop yourself and grow as a leader the more tools you have and abilities to move from style to style will enable you to reach out and serve more people around you.

One of the most interesting coaching skills any leader can develop is to challenge the stories and thoughts that become definite statements in our people’s minds. It is a technique that has become increasingly popular over the last 100 years and it’s now more familiarly known as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

It sounds scary, especially with the word therapy in there, but in essence CBT is challenging a story that exists in our mind and rather than asking us to understand where it came from, instead to challenge it on merits of validity.

I was once coaching someone going for a new position at a different company. When it came to interview techniques they immediately said ‘I can’t do this, I’m no good at interviews’. On exploring it deeper, it turned out that in their lifetime they had attended 7 interviews and had been successful at 6 of them. There was no merit to their story, but it became the most important hurdle to get over to ensure the best possible performance.

The same is true for us now in this challenging time. We are surrounded by thoughts, stories and possibilities that aren’t always helpful – ‘I don’t want to be a burden’, ‘I can’t cope with the lockdown’,  and ‘what if we never come out of this?’.

When speaking to your people and serving them through this time try to pick out the stories, beliefs or thoughts that aren’t true, but can lead someone to a feeling that might not be helpful.

Remember how we think drives how we feel, and how we feel drives how we behave. Many of our behaviours are deeply rooted in these thoughts and as a leader, there is no better way of serving your people than enabling them to change their stories into something powerful.