Tag Archives: Executive

Leaders as Catalysts

lighthouse_0968The term “Executive catalyst” catches my attention.  Who are they, and where do their capacities come from?  A study  of such leaders says they,

  • Are highly self-aware as continuous learners and seekers.
  • Encourage others to act from their real selves.
  • Sparkle with ideas and spark them in others.
  • See potential everywhere in ideas, people, and partnerships.
  • Inspire others with their passions and through their values. (Akrivou and Brandbury-Huang, 2011)

The study about Executive catalysts found that self-understanding and continual self-learning are predictors of a leader’s ability to be a catalyst in the organizations they lead.

Wow. Such predictors have striking implications.

It suggests that we have to PRACTICE taking time to reflect, analyze situations and dilemmas, and carefully think through how to lead and influence. Executive catalysts are present to themselves as agents of action and as disciplined observers–including taking the time to observe themselves.  My client Cheryl has this ability in spades.  She senses that when a work dilemma stumps her, it is because there is something “out of awareness” about herself that she needs to explore.

Getting better at self-understanding implies that we have to take time to know and work with our inner “self-system.”  Like so many of us, my clients often come to me saying that they lack for time.  And yet, in their coaching sessions, they have decided to commit to reflection and discovery.

Because I love reading history, I think of how Abraham Lincoln was able to assess his strengths and limitations, as related in Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals.  Another catalyst who is a hero of mine is Franklin Roosevelt’s Secretary of Labor, Frances Perkins, whom you can read about in Kirstin Downey’s biography, The Woman Behind the New Deal.

Executive catalysts are able to watch themselves learning–they know how to learn how to learn.  What does that mean?  I’ll talk about this capacity in another article.