Coach School

Breaking the Coaching Mold

Have you ever coached a client who just couldn’t seem to move forward?  And she was stuck for week after week after week? I was recently working with a UCU student coach on one of her clients.  I have permission to share the following.

The UCU student coach wanted to spend her session talking about her client.  Her client was saying all of the right things and appeared to be doing all that she committed to do, but there was no progress.  Sales, recruiting, and promoting were all stagnated.  Coaching calls also seemed to have stagnated. Neither coach nor client could figure out a way forward.

As we talked our way into the scenario, the student coach had an amazing AHA moment. For a client to do something differently, she has to think differently.  The same is true for a coach.  You have to coach differently in order for your client to respond differently.  The rest of our call was taken up with possible alternatives to the “business as usual” coaching model. The student coach was going to ask the client to “experiment” with some different coaching techniques.  (Let me stress that without client permission, none of these would occur). Here are some of the alternatives that might be used:

  • The coach may ask the client to allow interruptions.
  • The coach may ask the client to describe her week like a movie script or fairy tale.
  • The coach was only going to ask “what” questions.
  • The coach would speed coach as if the session was only half as long.

Get the picture?  The student coach is committed to coaching differently to see what different results she may get.

At the end of her experimental coaching session, the student coach will ask her client for feedback and thank her for experimenting.

How could you experiment with a client?

 

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Coaching Powerful People

Coaching powerful peopleI’ve had the opportunity recently to start coaching some new clients I would call very strong and outgoing people.  Despite their dissimilar backgrounds, diverse occupations, and geographic distance, they were a lot alike.  Old school sales leaders would call them FIREBALLS or “natural born leaders.”  Organizational psychologists would call them “Type A” personalities.  Organizational behavioralists would call them Alpha’s.

No matter how you classify them, they are not people to be ignored.  My new clients are:

  • public decision makers (“I announced what we were doing.”)
  • unshakable in their confidence (“This is the best way to proceed.  Anything else is flawed.”)
  • domineering over their opposition (“They need to get with it or get out.”)
  • as demanding with others as they are with themselves (“It’s worth doing better than right.”)

In short, they are not people who want to have casual conversations about coaching.  Their time is more valuable than that.

My new clients are prototypical leaders.  Unfortunately, their confidence in their decision making can become the source of their problems.  One way to describe this is by saying that their habits of success have created their blind spots.  They are successful, they are the cause of their success, and their future depends on them doing the same things over and over again.  Because they are strong-willed and confident people, they don’t want to hear that they are wrong.  It’s at this point, when their life and business is trouble filled, everyone knows it, and they have an epiphany that things are not working right.  Of course, a coach should be able to help them.  While I’m sure you have some thoughts on what this can mean, let me suggest three possibilities.

Problems start to show up in their personal lives that aren’t apparent at business.  In their business life, they can roll over problems.  Confusion is your fault; not theirs.  It’s not their job to understand their direct reports; it’s the underlings’ job to understand them.  The job of their personal assistant is to help you understand what they meant.  At home, however, the story is often different.  The alpha is willing to complain about not being understood, laments that “my spouse has changed,” or is having escalating fights with the children.  Interestingly, alpha’s have difficulty seeing themselves as the cause of their problem.  Equally interesting, their typical control methods don’t work.

These alpha personalities will seek a coach to help them understand what’s going on.  The client feels that if they have understanding of “a” particular situation then “all” situations will be open to new understanding.  The client is asking the coach to help them shift their paradigm while being fundamentally blind to the paradigm.  When the alpha finally discovers that understanding is not of an external situation but of their internal psyche, then their world will hold no ceilings.

Somebody stronger comes along.  That somebody may be a new CEO or member on the Board of Directors.  It may be somebody in a different company who has a parallel position and does things completely different from the alpha.  It may be a new hire who seems to be operating at peak efficiency but not like the alpha.  In any case, the strong leader has an indisputable conclusion that something needs to change—even if she is not sure what.

These alpha personalities often think they want a coach to help them plan different strategies.  In most of these situations, the success of the coaching encounter is often transitory.  The alpha is like the gunslinger in the old west—likely to die with their boots on.  They don’t get new understanding or enlightenment.  They get to create a nuance of what they have always done and long term success is illusory.

The job gets too big.  As any successful entrepreneur will tell you, if you are doing it right, eventually you will have to do it differently.  An unwillingness to change will make you into an historic artifact.  These alpha personalities want to discover their role in what they have created.

Often these leaders can find the future role by having the opportunity to explain to a naive third party (the coach) where they are and how they got there.  By the way, this is probably the most common situation for coaches.  Increasingly, companies are hiring coaches to help their new executives find the right role to play.

Whatever the scenario, it is important for the coach to hold alpha’s as whole; capable of getting past the thoughts, actions, and habits that no longer serve them.  Coaching an alpha requires powerful questions that relate to the outcome and desired results.  Questions that lead to more introspection are helpful in the discovery of what the alpha can do.  Questions that lead the alpha to examine the consequences of her behaviors are often a source of revelation for this type of client.

Powerful people want to be effective. Don’t be afraid of coaching the powerful person; be their advocate in discovering how to work from their strengths to create the results they desire.

As I finish writing this, I realize it’s seldom this simple and straightforward. There are other reasons and ways to work with powerful clients. Part of the reason I love working with Ultimate Coach University is the constant reminder that other opportunities and approaches are out there.  Let me know your thoughts and reactions.  I love to have you share your ideas with me.

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What Makes a Coach Authentic?

Authentic coachingWhat does it take to be an authentic coach?  The real deal?

I really want your help answering this question.

If someone claims to be a coach, does that make them one?

Does education and credentials make a coach?

What’s the attitude of an authentic coach?

How does an authentic coach act?

For the curious minded, here’s what prompted this question.  I came across the name of a coach that I didn’t know and wanted to know more about him.   I googled his name. I was surprised to see that one of the articles was from a marketing company talking about how they were marketing his persona as a coach.  What?  This is not to say he wasn’t a coach. I just think that it takes more to be a coach than having your marketing company call you one.

I do have some ideas of how I’d answer these questions, but I’d rather hear from you. You can leave a comment here.  If it’s easier, just leave a comment on the Facebook page.  What makes a coach authentic?

 

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Four Key Topics to Brand Your Coaching Business

Key branding issues for your coaching businessI make no claims as a branding expert.  When that subject comes up, I try to look at people like Walter Landor, who helped companies from Coca Cola to Shell Oil to Levi Strauss define their brand for the public. He would say things like, “Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind.”

As new coaches come into Ultimate Coach University and create their businesses, some key branding questions often come up.  They are simple and yet profound questions.  If branding is the something created in the minds of others, how will you approach this task?  Here are four core ideas.

1.  Who is your Ideal Customer?  This is your core question.  Start with your customer’s demographics.  Then work out from there to understand their values in action. This might be a business group (direct sellers, lawyers, salon owners, etc.) or it driven by the group’s characteristics such as entrepreneurial drive, introversion, or leadership development.

Once this image starts to come together, your opportunity is to become the expert for these customers.

  • What do they want that they don’t have? Don’t think about what happens in the coaching; what do they have afterwards?
  • Will these customers be better after coaching than before they started?
  • Will they know it?

2. How will they find you?  You have an image of your ideal customer.  How will they be able to find you?  Your goal is to have their mental image match the one that you are creating. Your passion and excitement need to be obvious.

  • Is your value statement clear as well as front and center?
  • How compelling is your mission or brand statement?
  • What visual images are you making available?
  • Is your headshot saying what you want?
  • What action shots or Pinterest options are available?
  • How well does your simple graphic represent you?

3. How will they know the real you? The answer is very simple: others will tell them.  Let’s face it; with information access at an all-time high, what others say is the most trustworthy source of information.

  • How often do you do a Google or Bing search for your name?
  • Who’s talking about you on Facebook?
  • How do you ask new customers, “How did you hear about me?”
  • One great suggestion: Ask your clients, “What is the one thing you would tell others about our coaching?”

4. Can you tell someone without blushing, stalling, or talking more than 30 seconds?  Seriously, you have to get comfortable talking about yourself and your business.  Have conversations.  Don’t just spew a prefab statement.  Tease, talk, entice, and solicit questions. You are not a megacorp.  You are having one-to-one conversations.

  • How will you practice your conversational skills?  Who with?
  • How can you describe the opportunity you are creating?
  • What question will you ask to continue the conversation?
  • How will you ask for a follow-up?

This is by no means a complete list.  Branding is creating a promise in the minds of your potential customers.  Your job is to have a solid idea of the promise and a solid idea of how you will communicate it.  The rest is strategic.

Please share.  How are you focusing on your branding?

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Listening Like a Coach: What It Means to Not Be Heard

DiSC listening stylesAt the recent three-day workshop for Ultimate Coach University in Salt Lake City, I was gob smacked by one of those AHA moments that we all love to get once in a while.  The first day of the workshop, we spend several hours talking about DiSC and how coaches can use it to understand their clients.  On the second day, we dig deeper into the fundamental skills of coaching.  It was on the second day when Dana Phillips was teaching the section on listening skills for coaches that my learning moment appeared.  Let me share it here.

DiSC is a profile tool provides insights into communication and personality styles.  While we all are capable of using all four styles, most of us tend to exhibit a stable pattern of behaviors.   The four basic styles are:

D is the Dominance style.  These people prefer immediate results.  Their action orientation creates quick decisions and authoritative behaviors.

The i is the Influence style.  These people generate enthusiasm, a motivational environment, and fun.

S is for the Steadiness style.  These people tend to cooperate; their patience and loyalty tend to produce harmony and stable environments.

C is for the Conscientious style.  These people emphasize systematic approaches that will produce accurate results.

Now you may be wondering what this has to do with listening.  So here is the rest of the story.  As Dana Phillips gets started, she asks a very simple question.  “Will you describe to me what it feels like to not be heard?”  The answers in our group reflects the four DiSC styles.

  • The D said, “It was a waste of my time.”
  • The i said, “I was frustrated at being ignored.”
  • The S said, “I felt like I was not worth being listened to.”
  • The C said, “It was totally nonproductive.”

The lesson for me was pretty clear.  I can’t rely on my feelings of being heard because other people don’t think as I do.  As a coach, I want my clients to feel heard.  To do that, I need to speak their language in every way possible.

What do you think?  How do you know if you are speaking the other person’s language?

LIKE THIS ARTICLE? Don’t forget to share it with your friends! Don’t forget to leave your comments. Please, help me be heard.

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How Coaching Can Make You a Hero

Coaching Heroes transformWho wouldn’t want to be a hero?  Wikipedia defines a hero as “A person who performs extraordinary deeds for the benefit of others.” Yeah, it may not pay well and the hours may really suck, but what else can you do that get universal affirmations?  Unfortunately (or happily, depending on your perspective) heroes are made and not born.  You have to work to become a coaching hero.  Joseph Campbell describes the process of becoming a hero by saying, “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.” If you want to be a coaching hero, here’s what has to happen.

Follow your calling.  Ask anyone who is becoming a coach why they are doing it.  You hear things like:

  • People tell me that I do a lot of natural coaching.
  • I love listening to people talk about what they want to do with their business.
  • I’m curious about how people make their dream happen.
  • I get jazzed when I can help people figure out what to do.

I’ve never heard anyone say, “I wanted to become a coach because:

  • It pays really well.
  • I do a great job of managing people.
  • I got tired of working for a company and wanted to start my own business.

Coaches are people who are called to a quest.  It’s their fate.

Be transformed. Coaches don’t just spring fully born into the world.  Like other heroes, they go through a transformational process; they study, practice, reflect, coach, are coached, and do it again and again.  As coaches earn their title, they develop their coaching powers.  They can:

  • Understand what is not said as well as what is.
  • Ignore what they want in favor of the client’s needs and wants.
  • Act highly intuitively and hit the mark.
  • Create SMART goals with their eyes shut (just a little comic relief).

You may not notice it when you see a coach, but the coach knows. At the core, the coaching hero is in tune with their transformation.

Be willing to bestow boons.  Coaches have a different set of powers from most heroes.  Coaches know they are successful when the client succeeds and is willing to claim the credit.  Coaches bestow powers like:

  • Self-determination
  • Positivity
  • Proactivity
  • Self-awareness

How about you?

Are you a coaching hero?

Do you have a coaching hero?

Would you like to be a coaching hero?

At Ultimate Coach University, the goal is to unlock the coach in you, to set your hero free.  UCU Launch workshops start in March and May.  Leave a comment and we’ll fill you in.

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Why We Need More Direct Selling Coaches

Coaches supportPart of the great joy of training coaches is to see what happens to a client.  Recently I asked some clients to think about what they get out of coaching.  When you read their thoughts, it just might inspire to you to become a professional coach.  I am so glad I did.

COACHING SERVES THE WHOLE PERSON: Barb Braden, Legacy Executive Director. I have had a personal coach for the past 6 years.  While the original intent of getting a coach was for my Tupperware business and to help me be a better “Leader of Leaders”, the coaching experience has helped me in all aspects of my life.  Having a coach that is truly interested in my success not only as a business owner/leader but as a person gives me permission to explore all areas in my life.  This then leads me to a better understanding of how I work physically, mentally and emotionally allowing me to be much more proactive in my thinking and doing.  My coach keeps me honest with myself.

COACHING HELPS KEEP THE MAIN THING THE MAIN THINGDiane Nozik, Senior Executive Director.  Coaching has not only transformed both my personal business but also my organization with some fantastic spillover into even my personal relationships. This year, I promoted more leaders then I ever had before, closed more shows and submitted higher sales. Beyond that, it helped me focus on the truly important areas of my business and I learned how to let go of so many of the distractions that seemed to pop up and keep me from being truly productive. Working with my coach helps me address some of the uncomfortable parts of being a top producing direct seller so I’m more confident and can help my team be more confident. Plus, I’m now working more efficiently in my business and that has spilled over into more quality time with my family plus I have more to give to my team. The work I do with her is really the most important part of my work week.

COACHING BRINGS ACCOUNTABILITY: Sally Michael, Senior Executive Managing Partner.  Coaching has been an enormous step for me in my business. I have never run a large organization and coaching has helped keep me stay on track and keeps my business moving forward. I am a person who has a lot of energy and drive but can get sidetracked so much of the time. Coaching in three areas has been life changing for me:

  • calendar blocking or time management
  • accountability with my team and personal goals
  • processing decisions and sticking with them

Because I have accountability, I tend to not procrastinate as much and I am always looking at the steps I need to take to make my goals happen. I have realized through coaching that I can work smarter and not harder. I need to plan my work and not let my work plan me. I have more balance in life, my business and in my head because of my investment in myself.

How can we encourage more people to consider becoming a coach?

Please.  Take a moment and comment.  How has coaching helped you?

 

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The First Step to Being a Coach

Student coaches coachingI’m sure it’s a common complaint among children that they are not treated right.  I remember protesting to my mother when I was a very young boy about “You never let me ___________ .  When are you going to treat me like a _________ .” (Fill in the blanks.  I said it a lot.)  Her answer was always the same.  “When you start acting like a ______ , I’ll start treating you like a __________ .”  That’s still great advice today.  I want to give that same advice to new coaches.  They want to know how to get started.  My answer is to act like one and the rest will follow.

You don’t need to fake being a coach.  You have some idea about what you need to do:

  • Ask curious questions
  • Ask open-ended questions
  • Let the client control the outcomes.
  • Listen with your whole heart
  • Ask about accountability for actions.

Nobody says that you have to do these activities well.  Just do them.  Put your heart into acting like a coach and then you will be one.  The key word is ACT.  ACT is the root word of ACTION.  DO something and the rest will follow.

I don’t just make this stuff up.  No matter how much you study coaching, train on coaching, write about coaching, or claim to be a coach, you are NOT a coach unless you actually coach.  The verb COACH is part of being a noun COACH.

The International Coach Federation has worldwide standards for the certification process.  To be an ICF Certified Coach, you must experience coaching.  The minimum amount of experience required is 100 hours.  To be a Master Coach requires 2,500 hours of documented experience.  For the ICF, learning requires doing.

The biggest challenge you face is the first step; the first little bit of acting like a coach. At Ultimate Coach University, we work to make that a positive experience from the very beginning.  You get to experience coaching at our three-day launch program.  As part of the process, you get immediate feedback from your client and from the faculty who are cheering you along.  By the time you leave your coaching launch workshop, you will have already started acting like a coach.

Are you interested in learning more about launching your coaching practice or building your company’s coaching culture?  We have Launch Workshops in Salt Lake City in March and Dallas in May.  You can read about what you get during the launch at the website or by sending an email to dana@ultimatecoachuniversity.  We’d love to unlock your coach.

 

 

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The Science vs. The Art of Coaching

Art and science of coachingI’ve been working with another coach recently to enrich the student experience at Ultimate Coach University. The program has two major goals for every student: (1) provide students with exposure to the collective body of knowledge around coaching and (2) provide student with the opportunity to apply that knowledge to their own coaching practice.  The alignment of these two goals provides the student with an incredibly powerful learning opportunity.  The former provides a chance to see the science of coaching and the latter provides insights into the art of coaching.   If the emphasis between the two is lopsided, then you won’t be well prepared as a coach.  The sense of balance between the art and science of coaching will let you be part of a great program or an average one.

  • The science of coaching is concerned with tools and replication.
  • The art of coaching is concerned with finding the meaning in the moment
  • Science is about finding significance and understanding the probabilities.
  • Art is about giving significance and unlimited possibilities.
  • Science lets you appreciate the chaos that you don’t understand.
  • Art lets you appreciate the regularity and predictability in nature.

A good training program tries to find that balance between art and science that lets you appreciate replication and rules while at the same time encourages you to own your coaching art.  Besides the recent work at UCU, we’ve also had some opportunities to work on the development of leadership training programs with several companies.  It’s a difficult balance to find.  When you spend money, you want to be able to point to widespread replicable results; those things that you can say prove a solid return on your investment. But if you don’t leave space for the art of leadership, you only have half a program.   An IQ based education without an EQ component leaves you unable to work with others.  And the reverse also is true; an EQ based education without an IQ component lacks substance.

We can learn science, but must experience art.  The best education gives a good blend of both.

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The Two Big Reasons for Accredited Coach Training

ACSTH_WEBAs the interest in coaching continues to grow at an accelerated pace, the number of coaching schools continues to proliferate.  Unfortunately, not all coaching schools are created equal.  When you look for a coach-training program, you should seek one that is accredited or seeking accreditation.  While accreditation is no guarantee of a quality program, it certainly increases the odds of finding a reputable program.  There are two strong reasons to look for an accredited program.

1.       Accredited coaching programs must meet standards.  ANYONE can open a coaching school.  There is no guarantee of quality to a coaching school.  On the other hand, an accredited program has to meet the standards set by a professional organization.  Ultimate Coach University offers Approved Coach Specific Training Hours, which is one level of accreditation from the International Coach Federation.  For ICF programs, the standards are pretty comprehensive:

  • The Director of Training for the coach-training program is required to meet the highest level of coaching certification (Master Certified Coach).
  • Faculty need to be credentialed, seeking a credential, or be delivering coaching for 50% of their time.
  • Classes are taught using approved methods such as live or live webinars.
  • ALL of the training material related to the courses (slides, handouts, recordings) need to be submitted as part of the application.

Put simply, there is an extra layer of security that non-accredited programs can’t offer.

2.       Programs without accreditation are trainer dependent. If you are looking at a program because of the trainers involved and you like what you see, then choose that program.  Realize, however, that you may not really be getting coach training. You will be getting that trainer’s vision of what coaching is.  Their vision may not match professional standards and may not teach you anything about the core competencies of coaching.

Ultimate Coach University has put in the time and work to receive accreditation from the ICF.  You can always check at the ICF website to see if the program is listed.  Click this link and then type in Ultimate Coach University as the training organization.  That listing is your guarantee that you will receive coach training that meets professional standards. When you graduate from the program, you can tell people that you have been trained as a coach because you have.  You will have been immersed in the International Coach Federation competencies in a program that meets their standards.

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