Leading with Inclusion: Unveiling Leadership Lessons with Dr. Gena Cox

Ep.13: Leading with Inclusion: Unveiling Leadership Lessons with Dr. Gena Cox


Meet our esteemed guest, Dr. Gena Cox, an organizational psychologist and an executive coach who believes in a human-centered approach to coaching. Her perspective, enriched by her travels, emphasizes the significance of understanding every individual’s point of view. She asserts that leaders who travel often develop a broad-minded approach, becoming more aware, inclusive, and adaptable. 

In this revealing conversation, Dr. Cox provides insights into the nuances of executive coaching, drawing a distinction from coaching middle managers. She dwells on the importance of intuition in coaching, indicating how it aids in comprehending clients’ needs. The conversation illuminates how change operates on different planes and how the client’s sense of being acknowledged and valued determines the effectiveness of the coaching. For those intrigued by leadership, inclusion, and coaching intricacies, this episode is a treasure trove of insights worth exploring.

Episode quotes

On how to be an effective leader

You can’t consider yourself to be an effective leader if you only understand the needs and expectations of a fraction of your workforce. An inclusive leader is one who understands 100% of that workforce and is then able to make decisions that support 100% of that workforce.

Who are the most effective leaders

I grew up on a Caribbean island called Barbados, and one of the things that I realized on the island is that you were interacting with people from all over the world just because those people were on your island, and you sort of looked outward.

And then, as I got older and as I traveled, I started to notice that people who traveled were apparently just more curious, more flexible in their approach to a variety of things.

And so, I guess we could say that, if that is true, that observation, it probably also is true with regard to leadership because the leaders that I think are the most effective, especially on this inclusion slice of leadership, are the ones that are able to realize that they have a perspective, that everybody’s perspective is sort of defined by their own experiences, and to be effective as a leader, you’ve got to understand a wide range of perspectives and then get comfortable with them. 

The one thing that’s made an outsized impact on her ability to help clients

I’m gonna call it just-in-time results-focused coaching. And the reason I labeled it that way just for this conversation is because I figured the possibility that there might be people listening to this conversation who have heard this idea about results-focused coaching.

Meaning you go into coaching with the perspective that you want to make sure that your clients are able to accomplish whatever it is that they desire. That’s why they’re doing coaching, it has to be worthwhile and useful. Well, that’s great. What I’ve learned to add to that over the years is that I really focus and spend more of my time thinking about what is going on with my clients. What is it that they need in the moment? 

And so, while it’s fine to talk about results and to have a big idea or a big goal that you’re working towards, it’s really important for me to think very clearly about the industry that my client is in, to stay up to date with what’s happening, news that may influence or impact the decisions that they have to make. Because when a client is with me, I want to sort of have a sense of what’s going on with them right now. That’s the true value of coaching.

Typical leadership coaching VS executive coaching

I think one of the distinguishing characteristics of working with executives is that, first of all, things are moving really fast. You have to be ready, to be in the moment and go to flow because the thing that they might want to talk about today might be the thing that was furthest from your mind.

So, there’s just that part of it that you’ve got to be extremely flexible and nimble and able to sort of go with that. The other thing, though, is that you sort of get to the point in the relationship where you know that they’re finally able to tell you what’s really on their minds. It’s a process in that sense. There’s no shorthand that you can take to that. It’s one of the challenges that I had when I would work with large companies that would want to say what their coaching process was.

Sometimes, they would say this is our process; this is how we want to do things, and that does not really work with regard to the kind of coaching that we’re talking about, and that’s, I think, a big distinguisher between typical leadership coaching and executive coaching.

You’ve got to have all that space for the client to be able to sort of flex and move and change. And one of the things you can do is kind of help them stay on the right map, stay on the path that they said they want to be on, but also make it possible and easy for them to deviate from that whenever they need to do it. 

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