Executive Coaching and Strategic Thinking During COVID-19

by Bluewater Advisory

August 10, 2020

I have heard more business owners and executives quote this iconic phrase from fictitious character Michael Corleone over the past few months, as the forces out of our control associated with COVID-19 have required all executives to swing their pendulum from strategic to more tactical.  Even the most seasoned executives who pride themselves on staying primarily in strategic paradigm – working on their business instead of in their business – have found themselves pulled into tactical decisions, daily calls and policy making due to circumstances never before encountered.

By now, most organizations have (mostly) adjusted to the new normal; however, striking the balance of work-from-home, returning workforce and a potential second wave of the virus is testing everyone’s mettle, and keeping most execs in tactical zones much longer than they would like.

One of our clients on the eastern shore of Maryland recently described the paradox of juggling while running a marathon.  Just the visualization can make one uneasy!

The harsh reality is, as a leader you must learn to do both – and do both very well.  The urgent decisions required by the ever-changing tides of COVID are calling for many executives to make decisions well outside of their standard comfort zone of data gathering and analysis.  For those “processor and high-compliant” behavioral styles, the urgency combined with risk has often added exponential levels of stress.  Moreover, these “negative pings” to one’s psyche combined with the added decision stress, can create a lingering resistance effect, making it nearly impossible for some executives to move out of the tactical and into strategic thought and futuristic thinking.

So how does an executive attend to the tactical needs of her organization while keeping a long-term strategic view?  We have few suggestions:

  1. Practice self-awareness.  Often an overused buzzword, by self-awareness we mean understanding how you are feeling, and why you are feeling that way.
  2. Share how you are feeling with someone you trust.  This can be a family member, trusted colleague, or someone else in your inner circle or support network.  Note: you cannot bypass this step if you are really going to swing the pendulum back toward the strategic end of the continuum.  Sharing your thoughts that come from reflection and self-awareness is like a huge cathartic wave washing the tactical by-products and mental garbage out to sea.
  3. Work with an executive coach.  A coach worth his or her salt will always provide an unbiased, non-judgmental ear (hence, the cleanse), while responding with a Socratic approach in order to inspire you to move into the strategic zone, and spend more time there.

Bluewater Partners Lindsey Weigle and Mark Debinski proudly engage as executive coaches with business owners and executives from around the world – currently as far as India –  to move the needle where needed and maintain strategic thought during these trying times.  Reach out if you would like to discuss coaching for yourself or one of your executives.