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Self-Coaching Tactics for New and Anxious Leaders

September 7, 2022

I would say that self-coaching is something I learned, honed, and employed intentionally and strategically through my experience in leadership – but that would be a lie. Self-coaching is something motherhood has taught me the most. 

And by “taught,” I mean I had to adapt to survive. I struggle with anxiety and depression and motherhood really wears you down so those struggles simmer beneath the surface. More often than not they bubble over, and if I’m not quick to identify the issue and stop myself from spiraling they will consume me. 

I’m in a season right now of learning and applying my own self-coaching mechanisms, and while they apply to any human who needs them they will be extremely beneficial to new leaders (especially if you struggle with anxiety as well)!

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What is self-coaching?

Self-coaching is the ability to practice self-awareness, self-study, and self-reflection. The goal of self-coaching is to understand your current situation, identify your greatest goals, map out a path forward toward your desired state, and commit to a course of action that you then take. 

Why is self-coaching useful?

Like coaching a team member, self-coaching helps us stay in alignment with our ultimate goals and desired state. It’s a way to remain in control of your actions and behaviors to ensure they’re aligned with what you want to accomplish. 

Personally, I use self-coaching when I experience depressive episodes or panic attacks. I’m learning to observe and be aware of when they’re occurring, identify the non-truths I’m believing in the moment, identify that this is not my desired state, and take a course of action to alter the experience. 

It’s tough, I’m not going to lie about that. But I know that what my body and mind need are a focused distraction, like a project. I love baking, painting, or accomplishing a small, tedious task to help me step out of these attacks.

Leaders can use self-coaching to identify areas of weakness, struggle, or blind spots. Practicing awareness and goal-alignment will help new leaders become more self-observant and focused on becoming the best leader they can be. 

Using the GROW coaching model for self-coaching

I’ve talked in depth about the GROW coaching model before, and I teach it inside the Joy to Lead Academy course for entrepreneurs building their first teams. 

The GROW coaching model is broken down into steps:

  • Goal: What is your ultimate goal? What does success look like for you in this situation, project, or endeavor?
  • Reality: What is your current situation? What’s currently happening?
  • Options: Name ALL the paths forward you could take. Get creative, leave no stone unturned. 
  • Will: Identify the one path you will commit to taking right away. Define your steps forward clearly. 

As a self-coaching tool, I use the GROW model to ask myself the following questions:

  • What do I really want right now?
  • But where am I at right now?
  • What can I do to get where I want to go?
  • How can I take a step forward right now?

It’s simple and straightforward, and feel free to tailor those questions to however feels most natural to you!

More resources to practice self-awareness and self-coaching

Self-coaching may feel daunting at first, but here are some tactics you can use to begin self-observation and goal setting. 

Journaling for leaders

A huge component of my mental health practice is journaling, and this is a practice that has massive benefits for leaders, too. Journaling helps us identify loops, or patterns of thinking, feeling, and believing that our brains love to stay within. Loops are protective, but not always helpful. I love how journaling helps me confront myself so I can make positive changes in my life. 

Personality tests for leaders

I also love to use personality tests when appropriate to help me explore different facets of my behaviors and tendencies. It’s important to remember that personality tests do not define you, nor are they even definite or complete in their assessments. Use them as a tool, and a tool only, for self-study. 

Creating a leadership development plan

Then, create a self-development plan! Once you’ve observed, explored, and practiced self-coaching, a self-development plan will help you put some goals to paper. A self-development plan will help you identify growth areas you want to pursue in this season and map out a course of action. This will greatly help you when you practice self-coaching in your leadership role!

Map out your leadership style

And lastly, map out your leadership style and explore the inner workings of who you are as a leader. Map out your leadership strengths, your communication style, your skills as a leader, and learn to practice your leadership style. 

Remember, self-coaching is not something you’ll wake up one day having mastered. There is no end goal – there is only growth and continuous improvement!

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I'm Kaylan, leadership educator, podcaster & speaker

What are you searching for?

Reading suggestions

Crafting a 90-Day Onboarding Plan

Job Postings that Attract Top Talent

Mapping Your Leadership Style