Coaching Tips

Three Key Insights on Language and Coaching

Language and reality for coachesThree umpires are arguing about their role in a baseball game.  The most intense argument is about their role in calling balls and strikes. 

The first umpire says (matter-of-factly), “The pitcher pitches.  If he throws a strike, I call it a strike.  If he throws a ball, I call it a ball.”

Throwing fuel on the argument’s fire, the second umpire says, “I just call them as I see them.  If it looks like a strike, that’s what I call it.  If it looks like a ball, then I call it a ball.”

The third umpire puffs up his chest and ends it all. “It ain’t nothing until I call it.”

How do your clients express their view of the world in their language?

Is their world out there and their job is to reflect reality?

Maybe they realize that their mental state plays a role and their role is to select the reality.

OR, maybe your client wants to hide the reality that others see and play a role to deflect it through their language.

What is your role as a coach in working with your client’s reality as it shows up in their language?

As coaches, we often see our role as supporting our clients in seeing alternatives.  How will you do that if your client wants to hide from the reality you want them to see?

When we treat our words as simple vehicles to describe what’s what, we give up on the richness of our surroundings.  And in that richness are the grounds for the best coaching.

How will you coach your client on their use of language to reflect, select, or deflect reality?

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Twenty-one Questions to Ignite a High Performance Leader

High performance opportunity

How would you ignite a leader to create a high performance team?  I was talking with an executive about someone he thought would really grow through coaching.  I asked him an obvious question, “What would you like to see happen?”  His answer was “I really like to see him develop a high performance team. It’s not that they do bad work; the team is just closer to average than a top one.”

My imagination exploded!  I already had an initial coaching call with the new leader, and he expressed some ambitious goals.  He wanted to be in front of his team rather than just herd them along.  While I know that coaching questions are organic and arise in the course of a conversation, I couldn’t help but think of some questions that might be helpful.

  1. What’s your vision for the team?
  2. Where does this lead?
  3. How do you make this happen?
  4. How can you push it to the level beyond what you describe?
  5. What will get your team to unite behind the vision?
  6. Have you seen the Nike commercial, “One more”?  What’s yours?
  7. What does a bigger game look like?
  8. What happens when your team performs beyond expectations?
  9. How will you execute to the vision?
  10. What will you do to meld your people into a team?
  11. Who gets to provide input on the vision?
  12. What’s your team’s mission statement?
  13. What does it look like when you are at peak performance?
  14. What’s your first step?
  15. What’s your first step to change you?
  16. What needs to change in you to lead like this?
  17. What’s holding your changes back?
  18. How did you feel when you first thought of this possibility?
  19. What excites you most about becoming a high performance team?
  20. What makes this important to you right here, right now?
  21. What’s the core difference between now and what you are creating?

Whether corporate or an entrepreneurial team, creating a high performance may be a real goal.  How will you coach higher performance?  Please share questions that come to your mind.

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Creating Your Company’s Future

Coaching for successionNearly every hard-driving leader I’ve ever met has picked a singular goal for themselves.  You want to get product out the door; you want to have a smooth production system; you want to create a business that stands the model on its head. You want to make your mark.

What if you picked the wrong goal?  Making your mark is not what you do during your lifetime or even your business career.  What happens to your drive if you say:

My job is to build bench strength.  I need more people ready to step up and fill leadership roles.  This is what Jack Welch and G.E. did for leadership in the 80’s.  Google is arguably doing the same with their business model.

My job is to find my successor.  When your work is to create the possibilities for the next generation, what you are doing for the business on any given day takes a back seat.  Your job isn’t about product; it’s about people.  It isn’t about today; it’s about tomorrow.

My job is coaching tomorrow’s leader.  You can’t tell your future leaders what to do.  You can only prepare them.  You can coach and mentor as a way to support them is seeing their capacity.

Which goal do you prefer: today’s or tomorrow’s?

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Feed Your Head: Dessert Blogs

iStock_000004588562SmallReading is a great way to open your mind to new alternatives.  Once you find a new thought, it becomes a force too powerful to ignore.  I will admit, however, that deliberately looking for new insights can just seem boring some days.  You need to have a few serendipitous pleasures along the way. Have yourself a group of blogs you call your dessert blogs.  You read these as a reward.  And sometimes, they will spark a wonderful thought.  This is Part Five of the Series called “Feed Your Head.”

Part 1 is on finding and subscribing to blogs.

Part 2 is about those blogs that whet your appetite.

Part 3 is about leadership blogs.

Part 4 reviews several outstanding coaching blogs.

Here are my dessert blogs.

Mental Floss.  Little more needs to be said about Mental Floss than its own description as “Random, Interesting, Amazing Facts – Fun Quizzes and Trivia.” If you are like me, there are times during the day you want a quick break, a chance to laugh or puzzle over anything besides work.  I love a two-minute break flossing my mind and am ready to dig back into my key activities.

Dilbert.  No morning is complete without a visit with Scott Adams’ cartoon Dilbert. While Dilbert may not make you laugh, you can find a cartoon or two to add to your inbox to start the day right.  Just Google the cartoon name and you find the opportunity to subscribe.  Frankly, a well-written cartoon puts my inbox into perspective.  I look forward to opening my mailbox in the morning and discovering the Dilbert sense of reality that makes me smile.

Dilbert 8-19-2013

PostSecret.  PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard. While this sounds a little like being a Peeping Tom, it’s not.  You’ll find that by reading these postcards once a week that you are not so different after all.

The Homesick Texan. The Homesick Texan left the state around 2005 and discovered that she missed the unique recipes and foods from her childhood.  This blog is her attempt to share those recipes and create some new ones.  When I moved to Texas, my sense of curious adventure pushes me to make some of these foods and her blog has been incredibly helpful.  You can find recipes ranging from Chocolate Cherry Scones (like Central Market makes!) to Carnitas and Hoe Cakes. I challenge you to try out at least one recipe from The Homesick Texan.

One of the great things about reading blog articles is that you get to pick and choose.  Try one, two, or as many as you can read.  Try them out.  If you don’t like one, simply unsubscribe and find another.  Can’t find the time to read much today?  Well then just delete a few and start over tomorrow.

I’ve heard from several people that they have started reading more and really love what they find.  Try it! It just might change your life.

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Feed Your Head: Coaching Blogs

AppetizerIf all you ever ate was chicken and rice, my guess is that you would get very bored with your diet very quickly.  The same is true for what you read. Pick the two or three main topics you want to more knowledge in and read those areas. In this, Part Four of the Feed Your Head series, you will hear about several outstanding coaching blogs.  The last piece in this series, Part 3 is about leadership blogs.  Part 2 is about those blogs that whet your appetite.  Part 1 is on finding and subscribing to blogs.

A Daring Adventure.  Tim Brownson’s blog, A Daring Adventure is the best coaching blog available in my mind.  He covers topics from goal setting to failure to what’s right and wrong with NLP and other approaches.  He is also very, very funny.  He has a blog, a newsletter, and several free e-books.  If you like what you find, you can also join his Google+ group.

School of Coaching Mastery.  Julie Stewart’s blog covers all of the important bases for coaches.  Julie is a Master Coach through the International Association of Coach.  Her goal is to support coaches in building a business and becoming great coaches as part of the process. She does a great job of incorporating current research on the coaching business and you will see references to the ICF, IAC, and Sherpa Coaching. Her thought pieces like the blog on Top Ten Reasons You Need a Coach are must read idea generators for new coaches.

ICF Blog.  The International Coach Federation has made a strong commitment to their blog and it is showing in the quality of the entries. http://coachfederation.org/blog has entries from top coaches from around the world who are writing about everything from transformational coaching to LinkedIn to develop strong core coaching habits.

IAC Voice. Most coaching blogs have a commitment to helping their readers see the difference between coaching and great coaching.  The ICF and the IAC do that by looking at coaching skills as pieces of core coaching competencies.  The International Association of Coaching Voice does an unparalleled job of clarifying, exploring, and developing the essence of a strong core competency.

The Success Alliance. Karyn Greenstreet has been working with Mastermind Groups since 1994.  She writes about Mastermind topics ranging from the big issues like getting started to the management ones like fees and confidentiality.  You’ll also read occasionally about how to deal with the crazies that can pop up. If you want to get started with a Mastermind, the Success Alliance is for you.

Coach the Life Coach. Tim Brownson has added coach training to his offerings.  As a result, he has added a second blog call Coach the Life Coach. While this blog is too new to evaluate, it holds great promise as a place for new coaches to understand what they need to do to find and keep clients.

Try them out. The worst you could do is decide they are not for you and then you can unsubscribe.  On the other hand, they may just change your life.

Part 5 is coming soon. Every meal needs a desert.  Some blogs are just for fun!

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Three Tips to Listen for What is NOT Said

businesswoman with big earsCoaches work on listening.  We check, repeat, and rephrase our clients’ words to make sure we are hearing them.  We work with clients on their listening skills.  In business, in families, and in communities, better listening creates better communication.

Peter Drucker once said, “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.”  I am not sure I would agree that is it the MOST important thing, but I do think that there is merit in using all of our senses to “hear” what is not being said.

Here are three tips you might find useful in determining what is not being said.

  1. Use all of your senses to listen.  Check body language, close your eyes and see the person as they describe a situation.  Try to experience the smells, sounds, and touch when the other person is sharing what is happening to them. Picture what is happening to them. One coach describes his sessions as a seeing a movie of the clients life, complete with all of the camera angles, music, and color.
  2. Avoid autobiographical responses.  The more we enter into the other person’s world, the more we leave our own story at the gate.  Too often coaches make the mistake of filling in what is not being said with their own experience, depriving the client of self-discovery.
  3. Listen to the “absents”.  What is missing in the picture they are painting for you? There is a story of a person who struggled with getting a promotion.  He knew that he did all of the work.  He was prompt, showed initiative, and received great reviews on this accuracy.  As he told his coach all about the situation, she noticed what was absent.  He never mentioned any person, relationship, or conversation in his story.  She made the observation; he was stunned and began a conscience journey to work on awareness of people.  Now as a senior vice president in a large corporation, he listens to what is being said and what is not being said.

Coaching is dialogue.  The more we listen to what is said and what is not said, the more we enhance the dialogue.  What do you do to improve your listening?

 

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Feed Your Head: Leadership Blogs

iStock_000005835000SmallThe main reason that you read blogs is to grow your capacity and knowledge in your profession; to feed your head.  These blogs are one of your main courses.  This is Part 3 of the Feed Your Head Series.  Part 2 is about those blogs that whet your appetite.  Part 1 is on finding and subscribing to blogs.

For me, the main category of blogs I read are on leadership development. and coaching.  This is what I want to feed my head.  You may have different topics. If you like this areas, let me share some of the top ones that I read.

Linked2LeadershipL2L is a group blog designed to support it’s readers in building their leadership so that you can build others. They have a great goal on 2013. “Imagine a “virtual year-long leadership development conference” where members and interested readers can come to read and participate in 12 related topics that we have selected for the 2013 season.”

Leadership Freak. Dan Rockwell is crazy about leadership development. His blog, Leadership Freak, reflects that. Right now he is using his Facebook page to take suggests about terms related to leadership.  He’s up to “H.”

Brian Tracy’s blog.  What can I say; it’s Brian Tracy’s blog. The blog is concise, helpful, and you will never leave without know what the core idea is.

Blanchard LeaderChat. See comment on Brian Tracy.  Except call it the Blanchard Leaderchat.  It’s a little more of the big picture ideas and a little less of the personal leadership development approach.

Great Leadership. Dan McCarthy is the Direct of Executive Development Programs at the University of New Hampshire. The blog title, Great Leadership, says it all. He covers the breadth of topics on leadership development.  His insights on personal development will leave you asking why you haven’t done that before.

Try them out.  The worst you could do is not subscribe.  On the other hand, they may just change your life.

Part 4 is coming soon.  Any meal would be boring if you ate the same thing.  These are the other main course: coaching blogs.

 

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Feed Your Head: Good Blogs for Your Start

iStock_000008635378SmallSome things are written so well that you have to read them even if you haven’t heard of the author before.  These blogs are the kind to whet your appetite.  This is Part 2 of the Feed Your Head series.  Part 1 is on finding and subscribing to blogs.

This post is about some of those great blogs that you will want to consider adding to your reading material.  While there are lots out there for you to select, we’ll focus on five. Check them out, subscribe for a while, and then either keep’em or unsubscribe.

Seth Godin’s blogSeth Godin has been blogging longer than about anybody but God.  That means he has figured out how to do it well.  Seth is a self-described agent of change.  No comments are allowed, quick reads (often less that 200 words) and seldom are their pictures.

Celebrate What’s Right with the World.  DeWitt Jones spent 20 years as a photographer for the National Geographic.  His blog, Celebrate What’s Right with the World, is just a cool place to visit.  You’ll see pictures that change you if you let them.

Get Rich Slowly.  This group blog is centered around Get Rich Slowly.  It’s about common sense ways to save or make money.  You can also figure out how to talk with children, parents, or spouses about money.

ZenHabits. Take a habit, break it down into little pieces, and then figure out what you know.  That’s what Leo Babauta does in zenhabits.  If you are trying to figure out how you got where you are, this blog will help you in that journey.

The Calm Space.   Do you need to get centered? The Calm Space will help you do that.  They describe themselves as “an online magazine that is like a virtual day-spa for your senses… decadent, informative, relaxing. A real no-mobile-phones-allowed kind of escape where you can chill for a minute or an hour and emerge refreshed and ready to face anything your day throws at you!”

Part 3 of Feed Your Head is coming soon. Look for blog “Main Courses.”

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Educating Others about Coaching is Worth It

Direct Selling Association ConventionIn early June,  Neil Phillips and I had the opportunity to represent Ultimate Coach University at the Direct Selling Association national conference.  Over 1,000 corporate executives and supplier members were in attendance and it was a great time to discover the best practices in the direct selling industry.

I was privileged to present a workshop on coaching as part of leadership development for company employees and independent contractors.  My assumption that people don’t really understand coaching was spot on.  After the session, people came up to us with comments such as these:

“I think we haven’t been coaching at all.

I didn’t realize companies like PepsiCo, ATT, Xerox, and IBM have coaching programs for internal leadership.

Our company has been calling one-on-one training ‘coaching’.

We are ready to look at coaching as part of our overall leadership development strategy.

The big aha for me was that coaching bridges the gap from what I know to what I don’t do.”

As coaches, we know coaching works!  We know that coaching raises awareness.  We understand the distinctions between coaching and training.  We have a tremendous opportunity to share everyday about the benefit of coaching for self-discovery, personal and professional productivity, and permanent change.

My challenge to coaches today: create a short and engaging answer when people ask, “What is coaching?” and be ready to share.

What is your answer when people ask?

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Leadership Coaching

crowdsourcing leadership trainingI need your help.  Badly.  I want to develop some teaching tools on to help train leadership coaches in direct sales.  Direct sales leadership is not about sales and recruiting; it’s about growing others to become leaders in their own way.

It’s hard to train people in leadership coaching without being formulaic.  Don’t get me wrong: I coach people through corporate transitions as they move higher up the ladder. I know how to create and hold a coaching space for my clients.  I ask them questions like:

  • What does a leader do?
  • What do you do when you are wearing your “leader” title?
  • What separates your leadership from what you used to do?
  • How are you a leader at home?
  • What are the characteristics of a great leader you have?

I love asking questions like these and giving people a chance to think aloud about their answers.  And the coolest part is that every answer is right!

My problem is that I want to develop some training tools for leadership coaches.  To make it fun, I want to crowdsource some tools to teach leadership coaching.  You can help develop some teaching tools to help train leadership coaches in direct sales. Please hit reply and leave a comment.  Here are some things I want your insights on:

  • What would you like to know about training sales leaders?
  • What makes sales leaders different from other types of leaders?
  • Are there core values of a direct sales leader?
  • What are the best tools you have?
  • How do you know you are successfully training leadership?
  • Curious random thoughts about leadership that you would like answered.

As you can tell, I am wide open to hear your thoughts.  If you share, I’ll respond in kind.  As I develop some tools, I’ll be happy to share them with you.  For example, one common tool for values clarification is to sort through a list of terms and narrow it down to three or less core values.  Would a tool like that be useful to explore the core concepts of a leader? When it’s ready, you can try it out first and have full access to it.

Worth a comment?  Please leave one.

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