Clearing Mental Clutter: A Coaching Case Study

A few years ago, I had the pleasure of working with Camille Kluge, who was then the President of the Wichita Area Technical College. She was facing a unique set of challenges—the College was transitioning to a stand-alone technical college, and as a result, she was dealing with many stakeholders with competing interests, all of which were equally pressing. She was being pulled in different directions on a daily basis, and quickly realized that she would need some assistance in sorting through the priorities of the College.

For those of you who haven’t faced the challenges of working in higher education administration, suffice it to say that institutions of higher learning come with more bureaucracy and red tape than you might imagine. Upset the structure, and you’re left with chaos. That’s what Camille was facing.

Camille writes, “At the time that I started working with [Tim], I felt like my mind was fragmented because the transitions that we were going through were so chaotic, and Tim’s coaching style created a particular kind of discipline so that I could think strategically and not just in the moment.”

One of the problems that Camille struggled with was a lack of peers to help her with troubleshooting. I’ve found that many of my clients face a similar problem—the old adage that “it’s lonely at the top” is true. This is one of the reasons I founded the ExecuLink™ program. This forum allows participants get to meet with other executives to work through challenges, share strategies, and bounce ideas off each other.

Everyone needs the guidance of their peers from time to time, for both emotional and strategic support. We all function better when we cooperate rather than trying to go it alone. Isolating yourself is a sure way to induce burn-out. Working with an executive coach is another way to avoid this problem. In Camille’s words, “A lot of what Tim does is relationship-oriented; he can see through all the clutter to where the problems lie. In my experience, Tim was the single person who didn’t have a vested interest except supporting me as an individual and as a leader and, by extension, the success of the organization.”

Coaching is about relationship building—not just between coaches and clients, but within organizations as a whole. Improve the way you and your employees relate to each other, and you improve the functionality of the organization. Cut through your own mental clutter and your vision becomes clearer, setting the stage for long-lasting professional relationships that benefit everyone.

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