Q&A with Peter Shields PCC | Coaching the Senior Leader

Since 2001, IECL Associate Peter Shields has clocked more than 4,000 hours supporting the development of hundreds of leaders, in a broad range of industries, through executive coaching and mentoring. We sat down with Peter to demystify what keeps senior leaders up at night, and how they can transform and thrive in today’s complex and rapidly changing business landscape.


Q: Peter, you’ve been an executive coach to senior leaders at Australia’s top companies for more than 16 years now. What have you found are the top reasons senior leaders turn to you?

Peter: There are four themes that resonate when I get approached by leaders for executive coaching. Namely, to improve their leadership effectiveness to meet the increased complexity of their role or their organisation, to make the shift from technical or subject matter expert to being ‘a leader of people’, to understand and manage the politics they encounter within their large organisation, and lastly to improve their leadership presence in order to impact and influence individuals and organisation culture.

Q: You’ve engaged in over 4,000 hours practising business coaching. What insights have you taken away working so closely with senior leaders across a breadth of industries?

Peter: Leaders can be their own worst enemy and their own best friend. Self-worth and authenticity with oneself are the “base camp” of the best leaders I’ve seen. Leaders that become clear and focused on their purpose and vision can achieve amazing things. However, the structures and culture of an organisation either enable or interfere with a leader’s potential and vice versa. It’s the “chicken and egg” dilemma that only the fully aware leader can decide to leverage or deny responsibility. And finally, leadership is required at all levels, not just the top of the tree.

Q: As a final question, can you leave us with a thought on how leaders can effectively reach their potential through coaching?

Peter: Leaders that are prepared to “learn as they go” thrive in today’s complex and rapidly changing business landscape. Coaching supports real time learning and relies upon the leader being curious and open to understand and scale their leadership. When there’s an absence of openness to learning, the coaching is less effective! 

Peter Shields PCC is an IECL Faculty member and Senior Executive Coach, and has been coaching since 2001. He has also facilitated hundreds of workshops around strategic thinking, transformational change, performance improvement and the development of purpose and vision. Peter facilitates the IECL’s Level 1, 2 Coach accreditation training.