A Day in the Life of a Leadership Coach
A behind-the-scenes peek
A while back I did a post about a day in a leader’s life. It was so well-liked that I thought I’d give a peek into my world. My work as an exec coach and leadership consultant means having to do many tasks to run my business. To avoid context switching I schedule my work in big chunks with most coaching calls on two days. My writing days are sort of boring — mostly me walking around trying to find inspiration and creative flow. I chose this day because it gives the best sense of my work and what I think about.
I grasp my matcha latte, savor it in small sips. This ritual starts every morning. Once I feel its silky goodness drip through my veins I move on to the rest of my morning routine. I put on my favorite playlist. Then I journal to pull the thoughts out of my head. Then I do a plank and stretch to give fuel for the day. Finally, I eat, do my skin routine and take my supplements.
Coaching others means you have to set your own needs aside for large swaths of the day. This makes morning self-care essential. I wake up at least an hour before my first call. This hour is critical as my routine puts me into a flow state of mine and allows me to be present for others.
I start the workday by reading, about workplace trends or profiles of leaders. I read 2-3 hours a day, more on days when I’m not coaching. I tend to read more broadly like this piece about Rachel Held Evans, a Christian author, and leader who died young. Despite working in tech, think there’s much to learn from the way leaders in this realm inspire and influence large groups of people.
Sometimes I read social sciences perspectives like this one on the nature of feelings. I adored this interview with Jessica Dore, a writer exploring using tarot in new ways. Her philosophy about what tarot reader looks like is similar to my own about leaders.
“I remember myself, when I started reading cards, I had all of these ideas about what I was supposed to do that weren’t congruent with what I had learned over the years of reading books about how to do counseling and therapy, which is so much more about the person feeling safe and feeling empowered and all of these things – values that really you don’t see at all in a more traditional style of tarot reading, which is very much like, okay, the tarot reader is the expert and they’re up here.”
Coaching calls begin. Running a business as an exec coach and leadership consultant means having to do many tasks. To avoid context switching I schedule my coaching calls in big chunks.
Between calls, I take a quick peek at Twitter where I learn my tweet about being debt-free has gone a bit viral. The popularity of this tweet pleases me because it shows my humanity. There’s a way we elevate coaches (and leaders) to pedestals — from which they’re bound to fall. Like everyone, coaches and leaders make mistakes, get into debt, say dumb things, and make decisions that don’t turn out great.
I make my lunch every day. Today it’s smoked salmon on a bed of microgreens and a side of avocado. This brain food gives me sustained energy throughout the afternoon sessions.
As I eat, I reflect on the leader who felt the pressure of being a CEO. He carried it like a rock. Some days he felt like Sisyphus pushing the boulder up the hill only to have it roll down again. He constantly wondered if he’d done enough. Despite extensive efforts, he still worried about doing right by the team. He defied the stereotype of leader as a egotistical and uncaring. Thinking of his challenges reminds me to write more about the impact of traditional stereotypes of leadership.
Following coaching calls, I deliver a Leadership Masterclass for a leadership team. Afterward, I jot down some notes on patterns I see emerging with the Leadership Archetypes framework. I also take note of new ways to describe the framework to help people put it to use more quickly. I take some notes about the patterns I’m seeing in my 1:1 coaching work. These will turn into editions for Suzan’s Fieldnotes, tweets or blog posts.
I work with the excellent folks at LeadDev to prepare for my next Bookmarked interview. It’s one of my favorite things I do each month. I'm lucky to interview folks like Nadia Egbahl, Michael Lopp, and many others. This week I’ll be talking with Camille Fournier about her book The Manager’s Path.
Before I close out the day I do a bit more reading. I keep my eye on industry news like the company that rescinded their every other Friday off policy. According to the outlet, 99% of the employees surveyed wanted to keep the policy. I wonder what else was going at the company for the leadership to make this decision. There’s always more context outsiders lack. I read about industry trends like the Great Resignation that impact leaders and orgs. Today I discovered this treasure trove. I’ll spend the next couple of weeks sifting through it.
I’m writing case studies for my leadership archetypes so I spend a few hours each week reading profiles of leaders. Today I re-read this interview with Tobi Lüetke, CEO of Shopify. This one is a must read.
These days dinner is a chopped salad with some sort of protein — feta cheese, chicken, or salmon. My favorite dressing is tahini sauce. While I make the dressing and chop the vegetables I listen to podcasts. Tonight I listened to this two-part series on Heavyweight — a perennial in rotation. I love the Smartless podcast because I like learning about a different industry. It’s also plain fun, something I crave, especially during a global pandemic.
After dinner I follow up on critical email — responding to a speaking request, approving the design for Leadership Archetypes materials. Then I review the latest edition of Suzan’s Fieldnotes before scheduling it for 7:36 am on Monday.
Then it’s time to relax. Lately, I’ve been into the Great Pottery Throw Down so I watch an episode. I love seeing the creative process at work. Finally, I climb into bed with a novel. I love slipping into other worlds before falling asleep.
Until next time, be well.
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