Experiencing Altitude Sickness? Coaching Can Help!
Altitude sickness is defined as: “illness caused by ascent to a high altitude and the resulting shortage of oxygen, characterized chiefly by hyperventilation, nausea, and exhaustion…”
This generally occurs when climbers’, hikers’, or skiers’ bodies cannot acclimate to higher altitudes where the oxygen is less abundant; they are operating in more rarified air.
Altitude sickness can occur for leaders as well; it happens most often when high performers are promoted to leadership based on their work success, or when high potential leaders ascend quickly from a successful role to a larger role that demands a different perspective and presence.
Some common examples:
- Manager associate ascends to leader of people (no direct authority to direct authority accountability)
- Leader of front-line teams to leader of leaders (manager to director level)
- Leader of leaders to leader of strategy (director to vice president level)
While the circumstances for the ascendant leader in a corporation are different, the symptoms of altitude sickness may be the same; they can experience metaphoric symptoms of hyperventilation and very real symptoms of nausea and exhaustion. They are operating in rarified air, where the expectations of their work are vastly different from what made them successful previously.
Frequently the identified solution is to provide more training, but training may not be the best answer.
To help these leaders with their immediate need to navigate change and shift their perspectives and behaviors, coaching is key!
In coaching engagements with leaders experiencing altitude sickness, their ideas for shifting into their new role are most often about what they think they need to do to be successful. While they now are responsible for translating organizational strategy, leading transformational change, developing other leaders, or creating new lines of business, they are impacted by the pull of gravity, back to the solutions that ensured their previous success.
In their new role, it may be more important for them to explore who they want to be in a specific situation.
The juxtaposition of doing and being can be perplexing and can seem like a new language.
Coaching can help the leader connect to their values and passions and explore their new way of being. They can then look outwards once again to their skills, practices, and behaviors, which inevitably will have changed. In other words, their “doing” changes to “being”.
If your company has leaders experiencing “altitude sickness,” contact Koachee for help.
Our accomplished corporate coaches have decades of experience supporting leaders in succeeding, and we can craft a custom solution for you.
Written By Cory Colton.