The inspiration for this VIM Executive Coaching post does not come from the lofty world of business, but from professional baseball. I was reading some pretty startling statistics for all you parents who see star power as your child steps up the plate in T-ball!
About 6% of high school baseball players will get to play college ball. Of those kids, only 10% will make it to professional baseball. However, that doesn’t mean the Colorado Rockies or Minnesota Twins. It means a modest contract to play in the minor leagues. Of all the minor league players in Single-A, Double-A or Triple-A leagues, at best only 10% of those make it to “The Show.” (So, a fall-back plan might be a good idea if the baseball thing doesn't work out!)
The window of opportunity to stay in Major League Baseball is smaller still. Competition is very tough, and a slump or injury or off-the-field indiscretion can send a player tumbling back to oblivion. To make it to the highest ranks of professional baseball is the narrowest of windows. It cannot be taken for granted.
The Executive Leader
Like baseball players, executive leaders have a pretty narrow window of opportunity. The trip from college, up the ranks to be a C-level executive is one that takes a great deal of work and sacrifice. In business or baseball, talent plays a major role, of course, as well as a bit of luck. The difference between batting .250 and .300 is not all that great in terms of hits; but it can be everything in terms of promotion to a better league. Executive leadership is surprisingly similar.
However, unlike baseball players, junior executives and middle management are rarely fortunate to get professional coaching. This is not necessarily a commercial for VIM Executive Coaching, but it is an important point! In terms of leadership development, there are numerous, formalized courses ranging from tedious to “oh, that’s nice to know.” While we would never disparage any course that attempts to elevate an executive, our approach is quite different.
A professional baseball player develops a strong set of instincts guided by years of practice and honed by coaching and competition. In the growth and nurturing of instincts, a ball player is attuned to the slightest of opportunities; a shift of a foot or two, an adjustment in swing, knowing when to hit away or lay-off a pitch. It is a type of journey within. Instincts are beautiful things!
In executive coaching, especially in the evolving workplace, with inter-generational differences, often a virtual and digital workplace with far-flung contractors or offices, coaching has changed. VIM Executive Coaching has adapted to change by incorporating both new and surprisingly ancient techniques.
The Mindful Leader
The narrow windows through which executive leaders and entrepreneurs emerge to the next level in their growth and development must encourage mindfulness, compassion and authenticity as key tools. For an executive to be disconnected to her staff, for an executive to be unable to help solve a personnel problem within two or three far-flung offices, for an entrepreneur to not sense leadership obstacles to the development of his organization is to lack the instincts to positively advance an organization.
Mindfulness meditation, for example, a skill we develop and coach at VIM Executive Coaching helps executive leaders by the very nature of the techniques of breathing and awareness. It opens the mind to any and all possibilities and works towards erasing bias and reacting rather than responding.
The greatest baseball players are, in fact, mindful of all opportunities. So too, must an executive leader. The era of reactive, hard-charging executives and entrepreneurs has largely been supplanted by leaders who have honed a much more open view. While they seek growth and change for their companies, of course, they have learned the art of response.
A baseball player who is absolutely convinced the pitcher will throw a fastball, will have difficulty when a curve is thrown. The player is in the moment, prepared to respond to what instincts have been honed and coached to do.
Our mission at VIM Executive Coaching is to coach and encourage such instincts in executive leaders. You may never be able to hit a curve, but your ability to respond and not react to workplace challenges will greatly enhance your effectiveness.
Want to learn more about VIM Executive Coaching and our dynamic, highly effective coaching programs for executives and entrepreneurs? We would be happy to offer you a FREE, NO OBLIGATION coaching consultation! Please click on the link below.