Following is an interview with Bill Carrier–a senior executive coach who specializes in work with leaders of major organizations. The interview is conducted by Kevin Weitz and builds on his own work as a consultant and coach, and as guest co-editor of two issues of The Future of Coaching that focus on work with clients who are facing the opportunities and challenges of receiving feedback as well as expert observations and perspective. Here is the interview.
The insights offered by Bill Carrier fully complement those offered in the other essays in this issue of The Future of Coaching. Among other insights, Bill identifies several other elements of the crisis of expertise, among them are untapped potential and overworked executives.
Bill often finds that senior leaders don’t fully appreciate the extraordinary extent and potential impact of their own talents, wisdom, skills and relevant experiences. For a variety of reasons—perhaps an extreme focus on execution/busy-ness, a version of imposter syndrome, or because they are aggressively humble, among others– they overlook the opportunity for even greater impact.
Because senior leaders have so many responsibilities in such a complex environment (especially in the last few years) and because so many of them take their work with such a deep sense of responsibility, they risk burnout. Bill notes that mission-driven leaders can put their goals and their work at risk because they forget to take care of themselves while they are taking care of others and the important work of their organizations.
Some quotes from Bill Carrier:
“We all have blind spots – its impossible not to have blind spots”
Relative to hubris: “I tend to have the opposite experience – Leaders don’t know their own expertise”
“I work with mission-centered leaders … and a person who is mission-centered may ignore what others care about because they are so driven. When you keep your eyes on the horizon, you can miss that there are people that are right next to you … You can’t see the back of your own head”
“I spend a lot of time working with leaders about how they align the needs of others with their own mission-focus. It is the leaders’ job to get people moving in the same direction for the same purpose”
I often ask “what is the most important thing you focus on” – (and its seldom) on themselves. Most leaders point to human resources or other things, but seldom themselves.
Question by Bill Bergquist: Does this suggest that there is an important awareness of self-care (that is missing)? “Yes, for example, not enough sleep, diet, exercise etc.”
Relative to blind spots: “We need to find opportunities to identify things that we don’t understand and set up systems for sensing and testing … ask questions, test it, start small”. (Coaches should) ask questions that don’t have a judgement associated with them.”