Coaching Tips

Four Ways to Celebrate Coaching

Celebrate CoachingPrior to the 90’s, most coaching was remedial.  Coaching’s purpose was to correct problems and it was often the last resort before firing. In the 90’s, coaching shifted to a positive; it gets the best out of people and creates a strong community at the same time. If you want to build coaching into your culture, you have to find ways to make it public and to celebrate it as a part of your team’s atmosphere.  Unless you find ways to celebrate coaching, it won’t grow. Here are four ways to celebrate coaching that are sure to get your team excited about the opportunity that coaching brings to their life.

Let them talk.  As a coach, part of your commitment is to maintain the confidentiality of your clients.  On the other hand, your clients don’t have to maintain confidentiality.  In fact, you should be excited when they want to tell others about it.  That’s “Word of Mouth” marketing at its best.  Your team members want to let others know about the great things happening, their struggles, and you.  This is a great way to build team support for coaching.  An additional side benefit is that the results are often more dramatic. Just think about it this way: If you were to start a diet and never tell anyone, you wouldn’t last very long. However, if you start a diet and make it public, your commitment level jumps and you increase the likelihood of your success.

Wouldn’t you want people to talk about being coached when it increases their chances of success?

Make Coaching Public Knowledge. You and the people who you coach are not secret agents. You don’t have to hide your behavior, only meeting in secret places after dark.  Before you start coaching, talk with your client about casual public communication about coaching that you will be having.  You want your client comfortable with letting people know she is being coached.  You won’t talk about what happens during the coaching but will make public the fact that coaching is occurring.  You now have permission to say things in public like:

  • How about we go to Starbucks for our coaching today?
  • I have to cut this short so I can make my appointment to coach Beth.
  • I am so excited about today.  I have lots of coaching calls scheduled.

Statements like these are an invitation to converse.  And you can talk about the role coaching is having in building your business and your team.

Solicit Testimonials.  Ask your clients to send you something in writing.  They will say nicer and more powerful things about coaching than you ever could.  Want to read some?  Dana Phillips asked several people to send her a brief note about what coaching has meant for them.  The results are powerful testimonials.  Sometimes you can even videotape quick statements and put them together.

Brag about Your Clients.  When you focus on the Four Guidelines for Building a Culture, you will start to see a lot of traction.  Let the culture speak for itself.  You can talk about the successes in the culture and those accomplishments will solidify the future of coaching as part of your team’s DNA. A great example of this is the way that Lyn Christian shares the successes of her salon coaching in the Paul Mitchell School and with the Progressions Salon.

You will know that you are on the right course with your celebrations when people start requesting coaching.

Thank you for reading about ways to celebrate coaching and extend it into your culture.

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The Secret to Coaching through the “I Don’t Know” Answer.

Coaching "I Don't Know"One of the hardest statements that a client hands to a coach is the one that starts “I don’t” and ends with “know.”  What should a coach say in order to continue moving the client forward? Your client has just told you that they don’t have an answer. What does that really mean?

I once heard a trainer tell me to ask, “If you did know, how would you answer?”  That’s clever, but blatantly calls your client a liar. How will you get your client to the point of answering without taking such a condescending approach?

I’ve had the honor recently of working with some excellent student coaches at Ultimate Coach University.  As they are finishing their training program, we take apart real coaching calls that they’ve had. With their client’s permission, the session is recorded and then the student coach and I discuss that session using a framework of the International Coaching Federation core competencies.

The “I don’t know” shows up at least once in every coaching call. Here are some approaches that I’ve heard used to great effectiveness:

Don’t Say anything.  Shut up.  The coach’s tendency is to rush in to fill the silence; to ask a new question or a rephrased one.  Sometimes when the client says “I don’t know” what it really means is that they haven’t asked or answered that question before.  When the coach rushes in, they are interrupting the client’s thoughts and the answer that is being formulated.  Deepak Chopra once observed that the space between thoughts is the place where insight can make itself known. When the coach hold a little bit of silence, wonderful thoughts start to appear.

Take smaller coaching bites.  Karen Bejjani from J. Hilburn has a great question that I’ve heard her use in classes and while coaching.  Her question is “Would you like to unpack what’s in that statement?” Her question treats the client as capable of answering.

“Talk to me” Questions. These questions just ask the client to talk and see what pops up.  It’s common for clients to discover their answer while they are talking.

When a client says that scary phrase, “I don’t know.” It seldom means that.

  • They may just have not put it into a sentence before.
  • They may have many thoughts and haven’t decided where to begin.
  • They may have a fear of saying their answer.

Your coaching task is to hold a space where the client is comfortable in providing an answer.

Thank you for reading about coaching clients through a tough answer.  If you like this, feel free to share it.  We’d love to have you comment with your thoughts.

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COACHING: Isn’t that what Gym Teachers Do?

Liz Cooper comments on coachingI know coaching works.  If you are thinking about being a better coach or becoming a professional direct selling coach, read this short essay written by one of my awesome clients. Here is what Liz Cooper has to say:

Coaching…the word alone brings back memories of numerous laps around the track field in oppressive East Texas heat.  Nightmares of wind sprints in a basketball gym that smelled of polished wood floors and sweat.  Needless to say “coaching” is not something that I really ever considered again.  After all, athletics never really became my passion.  Don’t get me wrong, I always had great respect for my coaches and knew the results they wanted us to achieve. I just never imagined that I would pay someone to “coach” me in a business.

A year into my business I became a trainer for the company.  It was a joy to be able to train new partners and share my enthusiasm. Then it happened…I hit the wall.  My sales were not coming as easily and my sponsoring seemed to just dry up. What was I going to do?  Was I going to let this beat me once again? The answer was NO!  But how was I going to get over this wall?  I had heard about “coaching” but didn’t think it was for me…boy was I wrong.

I hired a coach and realized that “coaching” was just what I needed. She asked me numerous questions that made me examine my business and my work habits. I had fallen into negative thinking and it was affecting all aspects of my business and my personal life. I had convinced myself that I was not good at sponsoring.  She never told me I was doing anything wrong, but made me realize what was and was not working. Through her coaching, I learned that I THINK more than I DO. My follow-up skills, with regards to team building, needed work. When I did have a chat with someone about the business I was failing to make the close.  I wasn’t even extending an invitation to join my team. I needed to treat team building just like client appointments. It sounds so simple, but the mental shift has been so beneficial.

To succeed, I need to work with intention and a plan.  Planning really does lead to success! Writing it down and charting my actions gives me a true picture of my efforts. Being accountable to Dana made me realize that I was not being accountable to myself.  So what have been my results?  The past two months I have had my personal best for sales. Two of my team members who have been in business over a year have sponsored their first team members! Talking to more people about this business has started to come much more easily for me.  I have had two chats with potential team members who are considering the business and I have two chats scheduled for next week with potential team members.

My business is moving forward and gaining momentum in every area.  I am sharing what I have learned from coaching with my current team members and everyone is benefiting.

Hiring a coach was a great decision!  There was no oppressive East Texas heat or smelly gyms to endure.  My fear of side cramps and shin splits was all for nothing.  Dana coached me out of my own way and helped me realize that through my actions, more success is right around the corner.

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Ten Questions to See How Your Coaching Culture is Doing

Your Coaching CultureWith the explosive boom in self-development over the last decade, the growth of the coaching business is pretty predictable.  While executives have used coaches for decades, only recently has it also become a part of corporate culture at other levels.  When companies hire external coaches, they have some certainty that what is called “coaching” really is.  High percentages of external coaches are trained as coaches and bring that professional training with them.  Internal coaching is a developing field.  Internal coaches are seeking training, developing internal coach training program, and approaching coaching as a proactive (rather than a reactive) strategy for development.

Whether the coaches are internal or external, HR departments are very positive in their reactions.  The biggest change found in the 2013 Sherpa Executive Coaching Survey is the response of the HR professionals.  As that report summarizes, “Human resources and training professionals report a double-digit increase in their confidence in the value of coaching. The number of contributors from HR and training who now see the value of executive coaching as ‘very high’ jumped from 63% to 75%.”

If you are responsible for developing a coaching culture, here are 10 key questions that will help you shape the program to get what you want:

1. How often are formal coaching conversations being initiated?

2. Is coaching viewed as helpful and proactive or remedial and threatening?

3.  Are coaching conversations used for personal development, performance improvement, or both?

4.  Are the executives verbally supporting a coaching culture?  Are they being coached?

5.  How is coaching being celebrated?

6. How often do leaders in the company initiate impromptu coaching conversations?

7. What resources are available to improve listening, feedback, and questioning skills?

8. Are peer engaging in sideways coaching?

9. What feedback are coaches receiving about their activities?

10. What external evaluations of the coaching process are being undertaken?

Coaching is not effective when it is offered as an “if you build it they will come” program.  Like other company initiatives, your goals, resources, and emotional commitment are primary determinants of the results.

At Ultimate Coach University, we’d welcome the chance to support you in building your coaching culture.

I’m curious.  What questions would you ask to shape a coaching culture?

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Good Coaches Make Good Neighbors

Coaches are like nieghborsWith apologies to Robert Frost, the metaphor about “good fences make good neighbors” also seems to fit with coaching.  Coaches recognize the boundaries; they love fences.  Coaches want to coach.  They don’t want to mentor, train, or do.  That’s a very important fence.  How else do coaches make good neighbors?  Here are some thoughts.

Coaches are a positive force.  As a coach, you want to raise and not tear down.  As Author Baer describes neighbors, “A good neighbor is a fellow who smiles at you over the back fence, but doesn’t climb over it.”  As a coach, you want to be the person who smiles and maintains an optimistic disposition.  You want to be the neighbor that is there to put a sunny disposition on the situation.

Coaches are more than a person.  As a coach, you fulfill a role and do a job.  You are a coach and you do coaching.  You seek to understand and to ask empathic questions.  Gilbert Chesterson would describe you by saying, “Your next-door neighbor is not a man; he is an environment. He is the barking of a dog; he is the noise of a piano; he is a dispute about a party wall; he is drains that are worse than yours, or roses that are better than yours.”

Not very coach fits every client.  Like neighbors, you need to realize that not everyone will have universal appeal.  While all coaches would work to be good neighbors, not everyone will strike you that way. Louise Beal closes this thought with her statement about neighbors: “Love thy neighbor as thyself, but choose your neighborhood.”

There are probably more positive things to say about coaches than they make good neighbors.  On the other hand, there is a whole universe of worse things.  How would you be described as a neighbor?  Would you make a good coach?

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Powerful Coaching Questions? Depends on the Listener

Crumpled question marks heapI’ve gotten a great reminder lately that powerful questions are really in the mind of the listener.  As a coach, you don’t know if a question is powerful until after it hits the listener.  Here’s what reminded me.

I’ve recently joined several LinkedIn Coaching groups, one of which is the ICF Coach’s Forum.  One participant posted a discussion question, “What would you ask clients if they had to answer honestly? For some background information, I’m currently working on creating feedback forms for clients who call into my site and speak with coaches at random. What would you ask clients that could help you as a coach and entrepreneur? Is there anything you think you could/should improve as a coach?”

The answers are all over the board.  Here’s a sample (note the breadth of content covered by the questions):

  • What is your best coaching take away that happily stuck to you like super glue?
  • What worked well?
  • What’s not quite right?
  • Would you recommend this website? [I like this one.  One purpose of this is to get feedback on a website!]
  • Who are the top four individuals you invite into your circle of trust?
  • What three things keep you awake at night?
  • What is the single most important thing you will do tomorrow?
  • ¡Qué puedes sacar de todo esto? [What conclusion can be drawn from all this?]

All of these questions have potential.  They are not like the powerful questions that we ask in a coaching session. These questions seek to improve a broader process and, as a result, stretch beyond the client’s needs.

One of the International Coaching Federation’s Core Competencies is asking powerful questions.  At Ultimate Coaching University, the class on Powerful Questions is one of the first ones we teach at the Three Day Launch Session.  Almost 100% of the student would like to have a list of the best questions to ask. While we do provide some examples of good questions, our goal is to focus the student on the client.  Until you step into the coaching circle with a client and design questions for his needs, all that you have are words.

Think about coaching situations that you have been involved in.  We’d love to hear your best question (even if we never know the client and the situation).

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Coaching Happiness

martinseligmanNo matter what else, one of the roles of a coach is to support a client’s happiness.  Happiness is one of those fundamental human needs.  What’s the one thing you want for your children, your spouse and your friends?  And you want it for your coaching clients as well.  If you produce nothing else in a coaching engagement, if your client goes away happier, it’s successful.

At the same time, happiness is an elusive concept.  You are not quite sure what happiness is to your client.  Interestingly, there has been some recent research that is very fruitful for coaches.

Martin Seligman gave a TED talk a few years ago about positive psychology.  His general framework was about the changes in psychology from a field that looked at sickness and healing to one that has a growing focus on building better lives for healthy people. One of his central topics was about the differences between happy people and the rest of the world.  There are really three aspects to happiness.

The first type of happiness is the pleasant life.  Good food, good friends and all of the activities that make you smile. Interestingly, this is the least powerful type of happiness.  We tired of “the pleasant life” after a while.

The second type of happiness is the good life.  This is the type of life where time seems to stop.  Where you are so engaged that you don’t even notice the passage of life around you.  We often talk about this as living your strengths and your passions.

The third type of happiness is the meaningful life. This is not only knowing your strengths, but also using them in service to a higher cause.

For more details, take a few minutes and listen to Martin Seligman explain.

As a coach, you have an opportunity to really tune into your client, discover their strengths and passions, and then support them as they put those attributes to use.  That’s the happiness that will really matter.

What do you think?  How will you support your client’s happiness?

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Coach Advice: Breathe out 2012

Breathe out the old before breathing in the new.

Breathe out the old before breathing in the new.

As you get ready for 2013, you are preparing to breathe in your future.  The fresh air will bring you a boost of oxygen and along with it, a feeling of energy and sharpness to your thoughts.

However, there is one thing that has to happen first.  You have to empty your lungs before you can breathe in.

Breathing is a two-step process. To breathe in you need to breathe out first.  Before you breathe in 2013, you need to breathe out the old year.  How do you do that?

Release your feelings.  What happened is a fact.  Everything else in in your thoughts.  Let go of the regrets, the doubts and the misgivings. They are those bits of old air stuck in your lungs.  Bring one of those bits into active thought and then breathe it out.  Those feelings are only there for you.  They cease to exist when you breather them out.

Before you can set new goals and intentions, you need to create a space for them. Empty a space so that you can fill it with sharp, clean, crisp positivity.

Just about everybody involving in a birthing event understands the process of taking a cleansing breath.  Cleansing breaths are also a technique to stimulate your mind and body. That’s what you are going to do with 2012.

I read recently that over 90% of the New Year resolutions are broken within the first month.  I suspect that part of the cause is a failure to breathe out.  Does it really matter if you gave up regular exercise in 2012?  No.  Does it really matter if never got around to starting that savings account?  No.  Breathe out those regrets.  They’re gone.

What are you breathing out today?

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The Secret of Mastermind Groups

MastermindWho wouldn’t want to be in a mastermind group? And what coach wouldn’t want to work with one?  The name says it all:  MASTERMIND; complete understanding; supreme oneness with anything that matters; peace with the universe.  I’ve wanted to coach a mastermind group for several years but couldn’t get past the planning stage.  I was going to have to describe to possible participants the characteristics of a mastermind group and the reasons to be in one.  What makes a mastermind group unique and why is it better than regular group coaching?  I couldn’t figure it out.  Then the light bulb moment hit.  I was over-thinking it all.  (Isn’t there something ironic about making that decision after 14 months?)  Here is the difference:  The core distinction between group coaching and mastermind group coaching is a single word, “mastermind.”  This word creates three differences.

Mastermind groups are synergistic.  As the group participants come together in a mastermind group, they create a power greater than that which can be explained as simple group dynamics.  They create a mastermind.  Napoleon Hill describes it best, “You may catch a significant suggestion from this statement: No two minds ever come together without, thereby, creating a third, invisible, intangible force which may be likened to a third mind.” For Hill, this is a spiritual energy that “becomes available to every individual brain in a group.”

Mastermind groups are cooperatively competitive. While that sounds like a contradiction in terms, it’s not.  Every participant in a mastermind group plays full-out and in doing so, pushes everyone else to do the same.  The best competitors in the world will tell you that the competition is really within them.  It’s not a matter of beating the other person; you have to beat yourself.  When you join a mastermind group, you agree to do that: to not hold back; to push everyone else so that they will push you; to cooperatively drive everyone to their best level.  Ginger Cockerham refers to this concept in her book, Group Coaching: A Comprehensive Blueprint.   She writes, “As the group evolves from an unformed group of individuals seeking personal achievement and becomes a formed group of interactive and interdependent members, participants understand that they have a vested interest in supporting and encouraging other members to achieve the outcomes they want.”

Mastermind groups are highly creative. Regular coaching depends primarily on the creativity of one person—the one being coached.  Most group coaching does the same thing.  A mastermind group is different.  When you participate in a mastermind, you have the opportunity to offer alternatives, weigh ideas from the other participants. Napoleon Hill talks about Andrew Carnegie, who surrounded himself with about 50 men in his mastermind so that he had plenty of people to weigh in with their ideas.

Once I developed a clear mindset of the mastermind, I began to understand how my role as a coach shifts.  Here’s how:

  • My job is to build the mastermind.  When I grow the mastermind, everyone in the group benefits.
  • My job is to coach less and facilitate more.  My role is to allow others to coach, challenge, and innovate.
  • My mindset requires me to stay coach-like without behaving like a coach.

Please react.  I’ve you’ve been in a mastermind, what made it different for you?

 

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Raising Your IQ? Possible?

 

For most of us, the inner workings of our brain are like the insides of a black box.  We know there is something going on there but don’t really understand it.  With the advent of modern research techniques and some new theories of physiology, the brain is not completely a black box to everyone.

Eric Kandel received the Nobel Prize in 2000 for his work his research on the physiological basis of memory storage.  The more we come to understand how the brain works, the more the possibilities grow that we can learn, relearn, and grow our IQ.

Kandel is now in his 80’s and just published a book titled, The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present.

While I’m not sure I will ever understand much of what he writes, his interviews are a patient and incredibly clear explanation of some core concepts in his mind.  As a coach, insights like those of Eric Kandel let us raise the standard of what we do even higher.  Take a few minutes and consider the possibility of becoming smarter and what the implication for this are for your business and your life.

If you are unable to view the video, click here to go to the website. http://bigthink.com/big-think-tv/the-human-brain-in-the-age-of-insight-eric-kandel-live-on-big-think

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