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Executive coaching: changing attitudes from catabolic to anabolic

Have you ever noticed a leader react to a stressful situation in an ineffective way? Whenever I ask this question to an audience I usually get an earful. What did you notice about their behavior? What kind of effect did it have on their communication and relationships? How did you and your peers react?

In Bruce Schneider’s book, Energy Leadership, the concept of catabolic and anabolic energy is defined. Energy is can be described as a person’s attitude which begins with our thoughts. Catabolic energy is destructive and anabolic energy is constructive. 7 levels of energy are clearly defined, providing a common language for individuals to use in order to make the shift to anabolic thinking.

This unconscious, negative behavior is pervasive in leadership today as 85% of leaders operate in a catabolic state. It is no wonder that engagement surveys indicate that very few workers are engaged in their jobs.

Are your leaders catabolic or anabolic? If you see anger, guilt, anxiety and low morale, you can bet you have catabolic leadership. If you notice a calm presence among employees, especially during stressful situations, they likely have an anabolic leader. Anabolic leaders take nothing personally, think objectively and do not judge people or events as good or bad. The focus is on opportunity and solution as opposed to the problem. Their time orientation to thinking is in the present moment.

What about you? Do you act out in anger during stress? Do you feel that there is nothing you can do? Do you stand at the water cooler and say things like “what are you going to do, he will never change.?”
OR Do you ask yourself, “what are the possibilities here?

The concept of choice is critically important when making the shift from catabolic to anabolic. While we know our temperament or motivating drives and behaviors do not change, our response to stress is, in fact, a choice we make; therefore, our energy or attitude can change.

One of the things you can do to make the shift is to journal stressful events and the subsequent thoughts and feelings you had on a weekly basis. By journaling your thoughts, feelings and actions around these events, you can then begin to reprogram your thoughts in order to make the shift. This can be done alone, but it’s much easier with an outside party or coach.

As a leadership coach, my job is to “coach at the core” to help clients raise their awareness and empower them to make better decisions that will help their organizations improve communication, relationships, and ultimately performance and profitability. As awareness goes up, more choices become available which result in faster, more confident, more motivating, win-win, relationship building decision-making. Make no mistake, this is hard work for the individual and can take a very long time with expected setbacks along the way.

An executive coaching engagement provides a confidential, non-judgmental structured environment for the individual to work in. Once a foundation is built around anabolic energy, specific goals such as building leadership skills for the next level, designing reorganization, building a succession plan, or any change management endeavor can be approached with this new lens and the individual and organization have a much higher probability for success.

Post by Greg Barrett, Certified Executive Coach.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

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