Posts Taged coach-approach

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.

Read More

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?

 

Read More

How to Explore Alternative Views on Leading a Team

Coaching creates productive teamworkA client approached our coaching session last week with what he felt was a crucial confrontation that was just about to blow-up in his team. Here’s a little background and a new coaching perspective that we developed to deal with the issue.

He was directing a highly successful team and the more success they were having, the more the team was growing.  The team’s size (and responsibilities have doubled in the past year and were scheduled to do the same in the coming year.

The difficulty was that Robert, one of the team members, was constantly dragging his feet on highly urgent matters that range from new hires to team goals and individual responsibilities. Robert is a systematic thinker and is not going to be unnecessarily hurried through important topics.  Robert is a lone voice.  The other team members are all shoot-from-the-hip type of people who are getting more and more frustrated as the backlog of decisions keeps getting longer.

My client explained this background to me and then asked if we could use our coaching time to figure out what he should do.  Here’s how things went from my side.

First, I asked questions of make sure I understood what it was my client wanted.  Basically, he wanted to use our time to think aloud about this issue and to decide on a course of action.

Second, I asked permission to try something new. “Could we try something new?  I’d like to give you three different reactions to what you’ve told me and then, after each one, give you the opportunity to decide what you would do.  How does that sound?”

Third, I offered a perspective in a very excited voice. “Wow, this is great that you’ve got somebody who’s willing to offer a different opinion.  How are you going to support Robert?” We then talked through that viewpoint.

Fourth, I offered a perspective in a depressed voice. “This is a tough situation.  What will you do to get Robert in line with everyone else?”  We then talked through this viewpoint.

Fifth, I blamed my client. “Sounds like this is all your fault for letting it get this far.  What would you like to do now?”  My client laughed.  Awareness is raised. I again asked, “What do you want to do now?”  His answers were brilliant!

What other questions would you ask to support your client in situations like this?

Read More

Coaching Leaders to Maximize Their Impact

Give up control to get itDo you get more power by grabbing it or giving it away? As I coach leaders, I often try to get them to confront this question.  While this seems to be a question for the corporate executive, it fits almost every leader from the top of a direct sales organization to company directors.  The obvious answers often doesn’t work.

The usual answer is along the lines of “I need to tighten the reins of control.”  That means clearer organizational charts, roles, responsibilities, and micro-managing.  For most of the people I coach, this is a recipe for disaster.  They will alienate their teams, undercut their development, and create an environment in which people are content to meet the minimums rather than energized to provide maximums.

The real answer is “I need to equip and empower my team.”  Giving away control raises your leadership capacity.  Here are a baker’s dozen questions that might prove useful as you coach leaders on this issue.

  • What roles do you currently play (and get very detailed)?
  • What skills does it take to fill your roles?
  • What would make you better equipped to fill these roles?
  • How do the people you work with make you feel? What do they do to create those feelings?
  • How do you make the people around you feel? What are you doing to create these? Give examples.
  • What personal goals do you have?
  • What aspirations do your people have?
  • What would shift your enthusiasm up?
  • What limits your ability to influence at work?
  • What would enhance it?
  • How much control do you feel you have in your area (scale of 1 to 10)
  • How much control do you feel you need?
  • If you were to report to the you-boss, how do you feel about you-boss on an average day?

What questions would you like to add?  Remove?

 

Read More

Four Easy Guidelines When Advising Like a Coach

Advising like a coachMuch as coaches try to avoid giving advice, clients sometimes are very good at pulling out of us.  Just when the client seems to be rolling along quite nicely, they will throw in a “I don’t know, what do you think?”  You, as the coach, are caught off guard and before you can help yourself, you have turned into a mentor and a font of wisdom.  Here are four easy guidelines to follow when in this situation.

Always ask permission.  When advice is permission based, you will keep ownership of the strategy with the client.  You will often have the opportunity to ask permission several times.  Think about using questions like:

  • Are you asking for my advice? (This is your real-time opportunity to confirm what you heard.)
  • My advice is offered from outside your activities, so feel free to reject it or tweak it to fit better.

The other key benefit of asking permission is that you prevent resistance. Unsolicited advice immediately generates a backlash.

Start with what they’ve done.  Want to appear foolish?  Blurt out your advice and then listen to your client say, “I tried that and it didn’t work.” Discover what your client has done before giving advice.  You will save time and ego.  Ask the simple and straightforward question, “What have you tried?”

Be clear on what is requested.  Sometimes clients will ask for advice and, while it may be clear in their mind, it may not be in yours.  Ask questions like:

  • Is your question about your goal or your strategy?
  • Are you concerned about your process or your point of view?
  • What’s the advice you would like me to give? [This sounds like a weird question, but you will discover what they want.]

Avoid being Directive.  The phrase “you should” is usually an invitation to trouble.  Alternatively, try phrases like:

  • Other clients have found that. . . .  You are the expert on this situation.  How does this fit you?
  • Here’s another option. . . .
  • What I’ve found helpful is . . . .

These four guidelines keep you thinking and acting like a coach while providing an opportunity to partner with your client.  What have you found useful?

Read More

Should Your Client Quit or Not?

Iditarod Red LanternWe respect those who finish. A recent Seth Godin blog reminded me of this.  Seth wrote about The Red Lantern, which is the Iditarod reward that goes to the last person to finish the race.  The lantern is the reward for those who push through to the end. The Iditarod has found a way to recognize the value of hanging in to the finish.

As a coach, I’ve always struggled with finding the right balance for my clients between finishing what they start and moving on to a different goal.  Here are 19 key questions to sort through what is often a mixed motive situation:

  1. On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is it to you to hit this goal?
  2. Are you being driven by your courage or bravado?
  3. How do the costs and benefits look to you at this point?
  4. How do you feel about cutting your losses?
  5. What’s the win if you redirect your goal now?
  6. What’s the loss?
  7. How will you regain your sunk costs?
  8. What will you do to forgive yourself for stopping?
  9. How will you reward yourself for finishing?
  10. What’s changed?
  11. What hasn’t changed?
  12. Are you being internally or externally motivated right now?
  13. How would you feel if it was just you?
  14. How would you feel if you influenced others to do the same thing?
  15. What would _____________ tell you to do?  [Superman? Batman? Your mother?]
  16. What’s your gut reaction right now?
  17. What would happen if you put off deciding for 24 hours?
  18. How would you decide right now?
  19. If you couldn’t fail, what would you do?

The race is not always to the swift.  For Aesop, slow and steady wins the race. As coaches, we cannot decide on the right course of action for our clients.  Even more fundamentally, we need to do our best to avoid influencing their decision.

Think of a recent situation where you were coaching in a mixed motive situation.  What’s the question you would add to this list?

Read More

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?

Read More

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.

Read More

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?

Read More

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.

Read More

SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER

Find the greatest research about Leadership and how become one of Them.

  • Check our newest post about Leadership
  • Great inspiration to succeed as a Leader
  • Tips, Tricks and much more about Leadership
  • How to Discover the Leader within you

SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER

Find the greatest research about Leadership and how become one of Them.

  • Check our newest post about Leadership
  • Great inspiration to succeed as a Leader
  • Tips, Tricks and much more about Leadership
  • How to Discover the Leader within you