Posts Taged coach-approach

What Defines Importance for You?

your authentic self

If a stranger were to watch you for a week, how would they know what is important in your life?

We all carry around a picture in our head of what’s important.  And if we talk about our values, materials wants and needs, beliefs and “why’s”, we can find a way to share that picture with someone.

My question is a little different.  If someone were to shadow you, what would they say?  How do you act towards what is important in your life?

One way they could probably tell is by the amount of time you spend on certain activities.  The assumption is that if it’s important, you spend more time doing it.  You know that doesn’t tell the whole story.

Your soul and spiritual life is important but as a percentage of time…not so much.

You spend most of your life at work.  Does that make it most important?

Can “quality time” replace “quantity of time” as a way to determine importance?  Does your passion matter?

I obviously don’t have the answers to these questions and yet I think they are worth pondering.  How will you SHOW people what’s important in your life?  When you find your answer, then your true self is obvious to everyone.

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The Art of Coaching

What is happiness questionHow do you explain passion?  How do you know with every core of your being that something is perfect or impossible?  The answer lies in what Michael Polanyi calls “The Tacit Dimension.”  Tacit knowledge is what we know that we would struggle to say.

Think about young Tim, a teenager just coming to grip with the concept of “love.” I can picture this 13-year-old boy coming to his father and saying, “I really love Betty.”  Dad, after calming down, would ask “What makes you think you’re in love?”  Tim has some ideas, but can’t come close to telling the whole story.

Tim’s problem is the one we all have.  We know more than we can say.  This is why we can recognize a face but not describe it.  It’s those hunches that gamblers play.  It’s those brass rings that let us say things we don’t even remember knowing but they fit the conversation perfectly.

Coaches get a lot of business because of this fundamental human characteristic.  Good coaches ask question to let you say what you know.  Great coaches ask questions to support you in digging deeper into what you know but haven’t said.

Michael Polyani, a scientific theorist, refers to this aspect of human knowledge as “the tacit dimension.”  We know more than we can tell.  And the more we tell, the more we know exists behind those statements.

Interestingly, we can’t get at our tacit knowledge by being told.  We only recognize that deeper knowledge when asked about it.

That’s why coaches matter.  They can ask the questions.  They are curious.  They take what you say and ask for what’s behind it.  Coaches have great metaphors to describe this:

  • Peeling back the layers
  • Unpacking this box
  • Digging deeper

The ability to do this well is not an easy skill.  It takes thought and training.  Learning the science of coaching helps, but understanding the right question at the right time is really about the art of coaching.  (And even great coaches can’t tell you everything about how they do it.)  How can you learn:

Engage with a mentor coach.  Your mentor can help you take apart a coaching sequence so you push your understanding deeper.

Practice mindfulness.  Think more about your second question than your first.  Take time to ask a question that pushes into the tacit dimension.

Get training.  Coach training gives you the opportunity to appreciate the art of coaching.  Investigate possible coach training programs and find one that seems to resonate with you.  Your tacit knowledge will help you find the right one if you listen to it.

 

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Learning Coaching from a 3-Year Old

fully present

As a coach, I consciously work to stay “present” when meeting with my clients.  After all, they want my time and attention and I want to make sure that I am fully there and stay there. Like most adults, I think I am a work in progress on this.  I think there is too much going on in my life to fully commit to one person at any given time.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to see my 3-year old grandson in action.  He is the living definition of “being present.”  Several family members and I attended a wedding in western Illinois.  My grandson was all-in on everything.

  • At a lake? Want to go swimming?
  • My uncle brought his girlfriend. Will you read to me?
  • Flight cancelled? Do we get to stay in a hotel?
  • Chicago? Let’s have deep dish pizza (He didn’t say this, but he whole-heartedly approved).

The point is that he was not concerned with being right or leaving the correct impression.  He wasn’t bothered by delayed flights or lost opportunities.  He was participating full-out.

One of the International Coaching Federation core competencies is “Coaching Presence—Ability to be fully conscious and create spontaneous relationship with the client, employing a style that is open, flexible and confident.”  They go on to describe this with phrases like dancing in the moment, going from your gut, and choosing in the moment.  That is my grandson in action.  This is also a central piece of what coaches strive to accomplish.

I think we do this when we want to have a completely open and honest dialogue with another person.  Carl Rogers describes this by saying “To be with another in this way means that for the time being you lay aside the views and values you hold for yourself in order to enter another’s world without prejudice.”

So the next time you start to get caught in your stuff, think of my grandson, the people you are with, and go dancing in the moment.

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Five Pitfalls to Avoid When Coaching for Change

Superhero Business Woman with computer

I used to think that that my resistance to change was a personal problem.  As soon as someone said to me, “You have to . . .” my first inclination was to do exactly the opposite.  I now feel great sympathy for my leader who patiently let me rant and provided all of the details I needed to reach “my decision.”

Change management has not gotten any easier for contemporary sales leaders.  The top people in direct sales are stuck between a company trying to move things forward and a downline with an attitude worse than mine.  I recently offered 30 Questions for Coaching Leaders through Major Change about the curious places I would come from as a coach.  If you are a direct sales leader, the question you are most concerned about is a different one:  How do I help my team move forward?

A leader-as-coach role is one of the best for supporting a team through change.  However, it’s not without its pitfalls.  As a leader, you have a stake in the outcome of coaching your downline.  You are walking a very thin line between protecting the company’s interests, your interests, and your team member’s interests.  Here are some pitfalls you can work to avoid.

Ask more than you tell.  Answers to your questions will tell you lots more than nods to your statements.

Listen more than you talk.  Let them talk.  You’ll find out what is really bothering your team member.  If they are feeling oppositional, then your talk (no matter what you say) will only make them feel more righteous in their anger.  Think back to the last time you were spitting mad.  How would you feel if someone said, “Will you stop and be reasonable?”

Don’t oversell.  Stop and think; would you be having this conversation if your downline loved the change?  The more you try to explain how good things are going to be, the more you sound like you are selling junk cars.

Every change has an upside and a downside. Your job as a leader is to help others find them both. You are in the best position when you can listen, ask questions, and let your team member decide how the changes will affect their business.

Focus on the basics.  Direct selling is always about three things:  selling, recruiting, and teaching others to do the same.  Keep your team focused on their business activities.  The rest is just stuff.

If you are a direct selling leader who has been in this situation, what advice would you give about possible pitfalls?

 

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Why Sales People Can Become Great Coaches

Today’s top sales people possess different skills than the top ones from a decade ago.  The internet changed everything, including sales skills.

A decade ago, the sales person was in information control.  That’s why you hated sales people.  They knew more than you know and didn’t ever appear to tell everything.  They present the features and benefits of a product in a way that worked to their advantage. Now flash forward.  The best contemporary sales people operate in conversational mode.  You don’t need them for information anymore. The sales person is responsible for helping you sort through all of your information so that you can make a good decision. Market needs have shifted the core skills of the sales person.

Daniel Pink in his book, To Sell is Human, focuses on three core sales skills:  attunement, buoyancy, and clarity. The International Coach Federation stresses similar core competencies for coaches.

Attunement is at the heart of understanding the other person.  It is empathy on steroids. You give up some control in order to step into the other person’s world more fully.  You listen with your head and heart so that you understand the other person in their world, and not so you can sell them on your idea. The ICF stresses co-creating a relationship based on trust and intimacy.  Active listening and awareness are also part of core coaching skills.

Buoyancy is the skill of staying positive in a world filled with “no’s.”  Sales people get this. Top people in sales tell themselves, “I’m just one more ask away from a YES.” By its very nature, coaching requires positivity.  The coach has a goal to create and raise awareness that leads to positive action. If the client isn’t progressing, the coach is charged to “positively confront” the situation.

Clarity is finding the right problems to act on and the right solutions for the situation. For the sales person, it’s finding the right frame for the circumstances.  Coaches do exactly the same thing. Coaches create awareness around an issue and support the client in designing actions that fit the situation.

In short, the same skills that a good sales person has are the same competencies that a coach has.  This is NOT to say that people good in sales are good coaches. That’s like saying a good quarterback will be a good football coach or a great business executive will make a wonderful executive coach.  The potential has to be developed.

Sales and coaching are profoundly different activities.  Just because you are good at one doesn’t automatically make you good at the other.  How do you see the difference?

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Hug the People Who Will Tell You NO

Really, they deserve a hug.   I’m not saying they should get one for “no;” I’m sure you would prefer an affirmative answer.  They get one for being open and forthright enough to tell you that.

Think about it:  Would you rather hear the “no” or be strung along thinking you will eventually get a “yes?”

As a coach, you have two categories of people you want to hear “no” from.

–Potential Clients. For most businesses, you have to have several conversations to get a “yes.”  You could end up spending a month or two cultivating a potential client only to hear that dreaded two-letter word.  What a waste of your time and energy! What do you think could happen if you tell someone early in the sales process, “If this isn’t for you right now, please tell me so I don’t waste your time.  Will you do that?”  You’ve not closed off all business, just coaching for right now.

–Clients.  When a client tells you, “Not a snowball’s chance in hell,” you have learned a lot. You have a clear-cut boundary and you don’t need to go around it.  You can ask, “What am I missing?” and discover other avenues the client wants to explore.

You have a lot to do with someone telling you “no.”  I don’t mean you should be so over the top obnoxious that people can’t stand to be with you.  You can create an atmosphere where someone isn’t afraid to turn you down without damaging the relationship. You keep the future open for possibilities.

What do you need to do to create that openness everywhere around you?

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Post-Convention Coaching of Direct Sellers

Direct Selling Convention ChaosSummertime is convention time for direct selling leaders.  They get to see the fall product line and incentives, network with friends from across the country, recognize the best-of-the-best performers and attend the best training that their company can offer.  And they often return home with their heads spinning because they are not sure of what they want to do.  Here’s a baker’s dozen questions you might use to coach direct selling leaders if this is the case.

1. What’s got you excited?

2. How do you want to show up at the convention next year?

3. Which recognition let you say, “I can do that!”

4. How will the new _______________ fit into your goals?

5. What did you see that’s distracting you from your major business goals?

6. How are your emerging leaders handling the convention?

7. What can you get excited about?

8. What can you get your team excited about?

9. How will you say “no” to things that don’t fit?

10. How will you leverage the new tools?

11. What do you see for yourself?

12. What’s first?

13. What do you want?

I love the convention season.  My direct selling clients are so energized by it all that they can’t stop vibrating.  My job is to support them in pointing that energy where they want it to go.

What other questions come to your mind?

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Coach Like a Child.

After spending the weekend with my two-year-old grandson, I decided that coaches would be much better at their job if they could embrace their inner child. Here are four reasons that come to mind.

Children have no hidden agenda.  They don’t care if you are smarter or cleverer.  They don’t have to fix you.

Children are vulnerable.  How can you, as a coach, stand back and pretend to be unchanged by the powerful things happening in your client?  Children don’t.  They play just as hard as you.

Children ask the best questions.  When a young child asks, “why” it’s not done to belittle or force you to justify your decision.  A child’s “why” is a curious question. Come to think of it, every question is a curious question.

Children maintain a positive atmosphere.   They really don’t want anyone to feel bad. The world’s a funny place if we don’t take it so seriously.  This video below has nothing to do with coaching.  It’s a child laughing.  I dare you to watch it and not join in! Twenty million others have.  That’s the power of a child.

How will you coach more like a child?  

 

 

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Two Lessons from Ultimate Coach University

Lessons from UCUWhile teaching at the Ultimate Coach University three-day program this past week, I was reminded of some of the important lessons I try to hold onto when coaching.  Here are the top two:

Everyone is whole and complete.  While this sounds like something out of New Age encounter groups, it is an important attitude for you to hold as you approach coaching.  It starts with yourself.  If you can’t hold yourself as whole, complete, and capable of making decisions, how will you do that for your clients?  You’ll see yourself as broken and then you’ll see your clients as broken.

Listening is the most important skill.  Good coaching starts with good communication and that starts with listening.  As a coach, you are trying to step in and stay in your client’s world.  That will let you ask the questions.  It ain’t going to happen unless listening takes the penultimate position for you. When you think about the questions, you are centering your thoughts on “you.”  When you focus on listening, you are focusing your thoughts on the client.

This past week, the eleventh cadre attended the Ultimate Coach University Launch in Dallas. The group of students represented five states and experience levels ranging from none to Master Coach.  Their interests were in direct sales coaching, life coaching, and business coaching.  While I’ve taught the material several times before, the coaching reminders are always important.  My sincerest hope is that the student’s took away some important lessons as well.

What about you?  What are the top reminders for you as you enter into coaching?

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A Direct Sales Coaching Demonstration

You don’t often get a chance to see good and bad coaching done side by side.  This is your chance.

Two of Ultimate Coach University students recently had the opportunity to train from the main stage at their company’s leadership conference.  Darla Oelmann and Jana Arkell are top leaders in their direct sales company.  The video isn’t all of the training that they did.  The video is of a skit they did as part of the training.  The first two minutes show how NOT to coach.  The rest shows good coaching techniques.

I must admit to cringing a little during the NOT section.  Haven’t you ever done something and then said to yourself it was all wrong?

Darla and Jana were part of the Ultimate Coach University launch workshop in Columbus, Ohio last November.  We want to say a BIG “Thank you” for spreading the word about good coaching techniques.

 

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