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Coaching,more than ever

Imagine: 'You are all part of an executive committee. Last week, an accident in your factory in India resulted in the loss of 100 workers' lives. You have one week to provide recommendations to your shareholders on the next steps from a general, sales, marketing, industrial, financial, and supply chain perspective.'

Liam – my son - began his studies at a well-known french business school this year. The first week was dedicated to this business case. The school objective is to emphasize business ethics as the fundamental principle in the education of these 18-year-old students. Simply amazing!

This focus on ethical decision-making was a revelation for Liam: True leadership is closely linked with ethical consciousness!

To be honest, I didn't have such an enlightening experience when I was 18, and now I often struggle to balance long-term ethics with short-term business benefits. It arises in how I choose my clients, in delivering what truly helps or what the client want, and in the time I devote to broaden my own perspective about life.

Questioning how my behaviours align with the world I want to see demands a tremendous amount of energy.

I also see how most leaders struggle with similar issues. Here are some concrete examples from my experiences in the past week as a coach.

  • “It is tough to challenge my conservative CEO for sustainable innovation when my daughter’s university fees are at stake.”

  • “I wonder how much is my need for approval holding back my true aspirations to fight for my factory’s survival?”

  • “I know advocating for eco-friendly changes risks my professional future, yet I can’t ignore the ethical implications?”

This new generation seem clear. It seems easier for them to make strong decisions because they are more clear on what matters. They have been raised with a mindset where ethics are more central and it shapes the way they see the world.

Looking at this education grounded in ethics, I’m again touched by this simple truth: Leadership is about more than decisions and strategies; it's about aligning actions with values.

Liam's generation is fortunate to start with this foundation. For the rest of us, there are many ways to train our ability to stay true to ourselves. Coaching is one of them. It’s more than just a way to grow professionally. Coaching creates spaces to address the deep inner tensions we all face. It helps us realign with our values, enabling choices that resonate not just in boardrooms, but also in our personal lives and for the benefit of our children and others.

Embracing this path often means acknowledging fears but not being ruled by them. It's about giving fear its due place – no more, no less – and using "what matters" as a catalyst for growth.

As we step into a new year, let’s challenge ourselves. Start each day with a simple but profound question: 'What can I do today that aligns with my deepest values? And why not even enjoying the tension that this question creates :-)?

I wish you a fulfilling 2024.


Manu Henrard is a Executive Somatic Coach and an Executive Recruiter based in Brussels. He is also an associate from the Strozzi Institute for embodied leadership. Manu's professional commitment is to help leaders increase meaningful productivity and achieve inner peace. More about his coaching program here.


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