Each soft skill and mental agility level maps across to a certain kind of way of doing things.
Most senior managers work solely at Tier 1 constantly making a change in the moment to address a specific situation, these people rely on procedure which is simply another word for technique. This is where most good coaches can help because however well intentioned managers are at Tier 1, they are often perceived at board level to be lacking in authority, gravitas, reliability and execution skills.
At tier 2 to initiate and sustain change in a broader context, executives and managers start with learning and teaching, and applying new strategies (often other peoples strategies). At this level many still lack the mental toughness and thinking bandwidth as well. The “thought-bandwidth” capability that an executive possesses differentiates the mainstream mediocre from the superstar tier. This is the level where managers develop true integrity – they have to live up to their promises – or risk exposing themselves. This is also where some gifted executives and managers begin to realize they have a propensity to spot monetizing opportunities in virtually every aspect of their daily life. Here you need to choose your coach wisely as very few coaches are able to develop a person’s thinking bandwidth and opportunity intuition skills over a short period – assuming there is talent in the first place:-) Many coaches can talk about working up to Tier 3 but if you scratch below their surface they don’t even have a clue what tier 3 is. (Unless your coach LIVES at tier 3 on a day to day basis you will end up stuck in a tier 2 “Groundhog day” scenario)
At Tier 3 the function is to actually change how the world is – to change lives and how we live. This is the true executive level; a place where the incumbents (e.g. Google, Virgin, DAVOS or Apple) and the experienced (e.g. GE or Siemens,) deliver a whole new paradigm, or perspective – a new way of seeing – and a new way. This is the rarified atmosphere of the “king-maker” the super-coach world where I love to work. At this level change is a journey, an expedition (not something you are doing) this is also the ultimate soft skills territory.
At tier 3 you will truly be observing at a quantum-like level, you will be centred enough to be able to see all of the options before you – thereafter you get to choose how and if to respond.
A coach helps you to observe through life changing options – Ask Richard Branson, Jack Welch, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, Tiger Woods, Charles Saatchi: like them or hate ’em – they have all ventured beyond simply contributing, they are “the contribution” because they own the space.
To truly understand Tier 3, imagine you were framing a photograph and simultaneously recording a movie of what you are observing. You begin to think like a camera; you notice details in a person, landscape or object and you accept them as they are – pure opportunities. At Tier 3 you take time to notice things that other people are not seeing. You see the details of the world as well as noticing the bigger picture. This is a talent some people have in varying degrees, but it also takes a large degree of patience, a constant dedication to observation, a strong sense of non-judgment, an understanding of the true nature of mindfulness a big heart and a good coach.