Posts Taged coach-approach

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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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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Six Ways to Create a Coaching Culture

coaching culture

We usually think of culture creation as a haphazard process that just happens.  That doesn’t have to be the case.  While you can’t order people to absorb the team’s culture, you can do things to push it along.  Soren Kaplan recently wrote an article on Six Ways to Create a Culture of Innovation for Fast Company.  The article is a great blueprint for creating cultural change in a big sense.  What if you were to apply his six ideas to creating a culture of coaching?  Here are the six ideas (in bold) and how they fit a coaching culture:

1. Be intentional with your innovation intent.  The goal is to frame the world in the terms you want to see. 

  • Why would you want to support coaching?
  • What does it give you that nothing can or will?
  • How does it affect your team and your customers?

One client of mine is working to develop a team of leaders building leaders.  She knows that’s more than having a coaching element.  She also knows that it won’t happen without coaching.

2. Create a structure for unstructured time.  Think of this as an incubation time.  Eggs don’t hatch as soon as they are laid.  The baby bird has to develop in a protected atmosphere for a while. 

  • How will you take away rigidity in your work expectations?
  • How will you let them explore their ideas about coaching and what it can mean for their life?
  • What will you do to guarantee your team time to incubate and grow under your protection but without your direction?

3.  Step in, then step back.  One company I work with regularly has “lunch and learn” sessions designed to provide a structure that allows exploration.  The participants decide how best to use that time. Within a company, you can find ways to put people together.  For entrepreneurs the task is a little different but still doable. For example, a mastermind group gives you a structure to play around with your ideas.

4.  Measure what’s meaningful.  How will you know you are successful? Finding your return-on-investment is sometimes a difficult if not impossible task.  However, you can measure satisfaction levels.  Ask your people “How is this making a difference for you?”  The answers will be enlightening. Retention is often an important measure of coaching effectiveness.

5.  Give “worthless” rewards.  Find ways to celebrate every day.  Who doesn’t like to get recognition for who they are and what they do?  Just imagine encouraging peer coaching for personal growth opportunities.  What’s stopping you from buying lunch as a way of recognizing people who are exploring new horizons through coaching? You should check out the article from Sean Blaze on 35 ways to do this cheaply.

6.  Get symbolic.  You know when you have entered a church, police station, government office, or YMCA.  You see their symbols everywhere.  What are your symbols that say “we coach here?” Your mission and vision statements, stories, key phrases are all part of the culture.  When you figure those pieces out, your culture become even more obvious.

What do you think?  Which piece strikes you as the one for your focus?

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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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Early Signs of a Coaching Culture

Early warning signsLanguage often foreshadows the development of a coaching culture.  Imagine yourself in the midst of a major transition.  You want your top leaders to show their independence.  In short, you want them to lead.  You decide that coaching is the way to make this happen.  And so you begin.  You set appointments; you support your team as they make goals and set plans.  You struggle to be as coach-like as possible.  How will you know it is working before you see results?  The answer is to listen to what your team is saying.

Coaching phrases will start to pop up in conversations. Unless you are listening for them, the language changes will be so soft that they are noticeable.  If you are listening, you’ll start to hear things like:

  • Wow!  I just had an AHA!
  • What do you want to do with it? (You’ll also start to hear more questions and fewer declarations.)

I’m familiar with one coach at a company who is fond of saying, “Would you like to unpack that idea” in her coaching calls.  At a recent meeting, I heard three different people use that phrase.

Accountability becomes a natural part of conversations. One key part of coaching is the management of progress and accountability. Think of the answers to questions like:

  • What do you want?
  • What will you do to get it?
  • When will you have it done?

In a simple sense, people who engage in coaching start to think in goal setting and goal making language.  Phrases around goal setting will show up regularly in everyday conversations.

Behaviors trickle out from your beginning.  Once you start coaching your team leaders, you will see them start to replicate the behavior with their direct reports.  A sure sign of a coaching culture is when the willingness to coach and to be coached become important expectations.  You may not be seeing tangible results from the coaching, but they are coming.

As you work to develop coaching as an important part of your team’s culture, you want to make sure and stay the course.  Coaching is not a quick fix.  I like the way Daniel Goleman describes it, “Our research found that the coaching style is used least often.  Many leaders told us they don’t have the time in this high-pressure economy for the slow and tedious work of teaching people and helping them grow. . . Leaders who ignore this style are passing up a powerful tool: its impact on climate and performance are markedly positive.”

Language clues may let you smile while you are waiting for results.  What do you think?  What other clues can you point to as an indication that coaching is taking hold?

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Gratitude Matters

iStock_000007716756SmallI have a lot to say about coaching, but sometimes it’s better to shut my mouth and let others do the talking.  Many knowledgeable people write about leadership, psychology, and coaching.  Here are some of their thoughts about gratitude.

I am thankful for my life.  In just the last two weeks, I’ve gotten to train a dozen new coaches at Ultimate Coach University, to train 35 new and exciting leaders at J. Hilburn, meet 10 new clients and start two Master Mind groups. I’m exhausted, and very grateful for all of these opportunities.  One of life’s little puzzles is how often we read about what we are feeling. You have to wonder about a grand plan wherein you start to feel grateful and then see articles about it.

Sometimes you don’t feel very grateful. You want to “do down” for a day or two.  The Change Blog has a list of seven ways to pull yourself out of it.   Read Why Gratitude Will Save Your Life (& 7 Ways to Increase It Starting Today).

While “gratitude” is an important topic when it comes to leadership by example, there is more to it than that.  As a leader, creating and maintaining an environment of gratitude is a good work practice.  Christine Riordan write in the Harvard Business Review Blog Network about why and how to Foster a Culture of Gratitude.

If this all sounds a bit heavy for you, chuck the attitude.  Leonie Dawson wants you to smile a lot and her blog shows it.  Read what she has to say about WANT TO GET HAPPY? ADOPT AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE!

I know, some of you are saying to yourself, “Gratitude has nothing to do with it. I’m just a realist.”  Maybe you are.  Read Tim Brownson’s article about What Is A Self Limiting Belief?  Maybe you will discover that gratitude is a whole new way of looking at things.

Thank you for your time.  I’d be very thankful if you would leave a comment about gratitude.  I’d also love to hear from you about this type of post.  Is it useful?

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Who Are You Kidding?

iStock_000001754493SmallI have a coach to support me in my weight loss process.  Part of my commitment is to be more active.  When I started last December I set a goal to increase my number of steps by 500 per day every week.  I moved from 3,000 to 8,000 steps a day which was pretty great for me.  Today I hit 10,000 steps every single day.  The new habit required change.

Looking back, I remember the week where I was upping my steps, didn’t make it and almost wrote down the number I had committed to achieving.  I stopped and said to myself, “Who are you kidding?”

Who wants to lose weight?  Me.

Who committed to the changes?  Me.

Who benefits from the steps?  Me.

Who am I kidding?

Of course my coach wouldn’t know. But I would know.  I stopped and marveled at my own conniving. Who am I kidding?

As I coach many top sales people, I hear, “I made a TON of calls,”  “I worked sooo hard!”  and lots of other statements.  Who are you kidding?

When I coach direct sellers, I often remind them that I want to not only hold their dreams, but hold them to the activities that will lead to their dreams.  When you make a commitment, there is a temptation to want to appear to be doing things “right” for your coach.  Stop and ask yourself, “Who am I kidding?”

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When Your Client Misses the Mark

iStock_000002066688XSmallI was talking to another coach recently and she told me about a client who wanted to stop meeting with her because she felt like she wasn’t living up to the agreements she made.  The more I thought about it, the more I realized that this happens to all coaches occasionally.  I have clients who discontinue coaching because they are unwilling to keep the commitments they make.  Some use the excuse that they want to “try it on their own.”  Others sheepishly confess that they were ashamed and just didn’t want to continue.

I have a weight loss coach. When I first started using this coach, I wasn’t reaching my walking goal on most days.  I thought about not showing up and decided out of respect for the coach, I needed to face the music.  She noticed my disappointment and we worked through the real issue.

Here are three possible steps if you sense your client is missing the mark.

  1. Don’t ignore it.  The ICF is clear about the role of the coach, “The coach trusts the client to be accountable to themselves and lovingly calls the client to account or discussion if agreed upon forward movement does not occur.”
  2. Look for progress.  Ask, “What did go well?”
  3. Look for over-committing.  If a client is missing the mark consistently, you may want to check in and explore the motivation and/or reason for not meeting the actions designed.

The ICF core competencies outline the value of exploration, “The coach’s invitation to exploration precedes and is significantly greater than invitation to solution.”

I always see my time with my coach as important in the process. I know the value of someone holding me accountable. As a coach, I want to lovingly hold my client’s behavior in their mirror.

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Want Your Employees to Stick Around? Try Coaching

Coaching benefit: employee retentionWhen you invest in a coach, you want to know that coaching is going to matter.  You make a choice to spend invest in your future.  You could take classes at a community college; you could hire a consultant to tell you what to do; you could just keep doing what you’ve always been doing.  Instead, you are investing in a coach.  While no coach can give you a concrete guarantee of the results of coaching, there are some good indications that it’s worth your investment.

You get your money’s worth. On the Ultimate Coach University website, we provided some of the benefits found in the studies of the return on investment in coaching. The numbers are astounding.  The International Coach Federation documents a return on investment from some companies of 50 to 1.

One of the benefits to having a coaching culture that isn’t always recognized is retention.

Coaching improves retention.  When you ask people how coaching changes their outlook, you will hear them say things like:

  • I felt heard
  • I felt more in control
  • I figured out how to get along with my director.

People who experience feelings like that are more likely to stay around.  They don’t feel oppressed by their surroundings. Interestingly, employees who work with the coaching client also are more likely to stay.  I’ve coached many executives in direct selling companies.  When I talk with their direct reports, I commonly hear them talk about how their boss is easier to work with and more pleasant to be around.  They will also add that they are feeling more productive.

One of the more famous studies on ROI is from MetrixGlobal, which found a return of 5 to 1 for every dollar invested. They found that ROI was boosted even higher when you include the financial benefits of retention.  Retention boosts the ROI of coaching by an addition 2.5 to 1.

Numbers like these make coaching sound too good. I wouldn’t believe them either if I weren’t a coach and have the opportunity to talk with companies that have a coaching culture.  They think it’s worth every penny.

I love coaching.  I love hearing people reach a new awareness of the future they can create.  I may never get to see the results of the coaching, and I’m okay with that because I know that it’s making a difference in their life.

 

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