Posts Taged coaching-process

10 Yogi Berra-isms for Coaches

yogiberraYogi Berra, one of the greatest baseball players of all time, passed away in September.  His feats as a baseball player and coach are legendary.  He still holds some records in major league baseball as a player and a coach.  He was even the inspiration for a long running cartoon character, Yogi Bear (although Hanna-Barbera denied the association for a long time).

He was also well-known for his ability to coin a phrase.  Many of his sayings have become long running punch lines.  Here are ten that offer good advice for coaches.

On the importance of deciding and acting:  When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

On driving to the end:  It ain’t over till it’s over.

On framing and reframing:  Slump? I ain’t in no slump… I just ain’t hitting.

On having goals:  You’ve got to be very careful if you don’t know where you are going, because you might not get there.

On being totally committed:  Baseball is 90% mental and the other half is physical.

On action orientation:  How can you think and hit at the same time?

On listening:  It was impossible to get a conversation going, everybody was talking too much.

On coaching silence:  You can observe a lot by just watching.

On owning the results:  I never blame myself when I’m not hitting. I just blame the bat and if it keeps up, I change bats. After all, if I know it isn’t my fault that I’m not hitting, how can I get mad at myself?

On being in the flow:  You don’t have to swing hard to hit a home run. If you got the timing, it’ll go.

Bonus:  (It fits every occasion)  If the world were perfect, it wouldn’t be.

May he long be remembered.

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Creating Your Summer Game Plan

Coaching summer plansIs it too early to be thinking about summer plans on tax day?  I had a coaching call this week with an entrepreneur and that’s what she wanted to discuss. For her, June was a major month for convention, travel, vacation, and kid-out-of-school-time and she wanted to be prepared.   I had my AHA before the call was done:  If you are an entrepreneur, it’s not too soon!  While we usually think about an intensive work time before and after a summer break, the entrepreneur has more to do than just the immediate tasks.

Whether you are in direct sales or some other business, as an entrepreneur your planning needs to go beyond a two-or three week period.  Think about direct selling, for example.  The people who join your team now will really be hitting their sales stride around late June.  The work you do in the summer will set the stage for your fall selling season.  Since you are in business for yourself, you need to constantly engage in high level planning.

During our coaching call, six core questions absorbed most of our time.  I wanted to share them with you as you start thinking about your summer.

  1. How up to date is your calendar? She was like most of us.  Her schedule was very complete for April, mainly complete for May and June, and then sketchy after that.  While June was her key month, she came to the realization she needed to be thinking about work for post-June.
  2. What business goals do you want to accomplish this summer? She had a clear vision.  Many of her summer goals center on building business relationships through follow-up from the conventions.
  3. What are the most important things you need to do now to prepare for June? This turned out to be a very important question. As she talked through the answer, her accomplishments in the next two weeks will make a lot of difference.
  4. What do your stakeholders need to know? While she thought a lot about his business, she hadn’t gotten to thinking about what her clients expectations are going from now to the end of June.  This will be the topic of several conversations between her and her clients before the summer.
  5. What do your contractors need to know? Like the previous question, she hadn’t talked with her support team and needed to bring them into the loop on her plans and work requirements for the next few months.
  6. What do you need to do to fill your fall pipeline? She realized that with a time lag of 90-120 days from starting the sales process to her first payment, her October-November business depends on starting in July. This is a new awareness and shifts her July business focus a bit.

How about you?  Are you thinking at a high level about your summer and fall business?  If you were, how will things change?

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The Medium Changes the Coaching Message

DeathtoStock_SlowDown3The medium (vocal, visual, textual) that you use for coaching affects what can occur during the coaching and after.  Nearly five decades ago, Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase. “The medium is the message.”  While it seemed somewhat revolutionary at the time, we’ve all come to recognize the importance of the medium as an influence on the shape of the message.  Any user of Twitter, Instagram or Facebook could hardly disagree.  What we don’t often realize is that the statement is equally true about the medium in which we coach.

Most of my coaching is done on the telephone.  Thoughts can sometimes wander through the exchange and the client who is working very creatively may be very difficult to follow.  I can tell when the client and I are feeling the same way when I ask a question like, “So where are you going with this?” and the client responds by saying that “That’s a good question.”

Recently, I challenged a client to use a different medium and the clarity was astounding.  Elizabeth, my client, was sorting out her thoughts on work, values, and what she really wanted in five years.  We’ve talked about this before and while Elizabeth was moving forward, I challenged her to go away to write answers to four questions:

  • What do I really, really want?
  • Is what I’m doing getting it for me?
  • What do I need to stop doing?
  • What do I need to start doing?

For Elizabeth, writing rather than talking about these topics made an enormous difference.

Thoughts that were swirling in her head had to be made into sentence. Thoughts are seldom complete and very seldom in sentence form. As thoughts became sentences, Elizabeth’s thinking clarified.

Spoken justifications may sound reasonable–until put on paper.   Elizabeth was more willing to throw a foul flag when she saw some of her thinking in writing. In hindsight, she called saw some of her excuses “lame or half-formulated.”

Progress is still at a very measured pace.  However, Elizabeth is clear on the direction she wants to go and is very steadily moving to her goal.

How can you switch medium with your client?

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Why coaches say: It depends

The client owns the coaching agendaWhen I first started as a coaching student, we went through a mind-opening exercise in one class.  We were paired with other students, coached them for five minutes, and couldn’t tell them what to do.  We couldn’t give advice, offer suggestions, and were even supposed to avoid answering questions.  After a while, I started to realize that my challenge wasn’t to solve the other student’s problem.  It was to control myself.  Once I understood what my problem was, I could figure out what to do.

There is an old saying, “Who owns the problem, owns the solution.”  Good coaches try to keep that in mind.

You, as the coach, are undermining the possibility of your client’s success if you don’t allow them to own their own problem and the solution.  Coaches in the direct selling profession are especially good at this.  As a leader, you recognize the issues that your team struggles with every day.  You’ve been there and done that. So when:

  • Susan, your downline leader, says, “I need to have $100,000 in sales by June.” You say, “How’s your recruiting?”  Susan thinks the problem is sales.  You don’t.  As a coach, you’ve stolen her problem and she is dependent on you for the solution.
  • Jane says, “I don’t know, what do you think?” You feel trapped.  Jane want’s your opinion so you give it.  You now own the solution.
  • Your company just announced a new incentive trip. You open your coaching call with Chris by saying, “Isn’t the trip something else!  What do you need to do to go?”  You have become a one-to-one trainer.

The problem is that when things start to go wrong (even if it’s just a little thing), the coach starts to get the blame.  Your downline leader starts to say things like:

  • I’m not you.
  • This is what she’d do, not what I’d do.
  • She’s not in my shoes. If she were here, she’d know this wouldn’t work.

As a coach, you’ve made things tougher for everyone.  Your downline client is losing faith in you, in coaching, and in her potential for success.

To fully enter the coaching moment and to put the power of ownership in your client’s hands, you have to avoid being the coach with an opinion. One of the easiest ways to do that is to ask another question.  You can say:

  • “It depends. What did you do want to do?”
  • “It depends. What’s the first thing that comes to mind?”
  • “It depends. What worked last time you wanted to reach like this?”
  • “It depends. What possible ideas are you getting from other leaders?”

As a coach, you don’t have to be a subject matter expert.  You have to be a coach.  Your problem is to be the coach.  Let your client own her problem and its solution.

I’m open to ideas.  How do you, as a coach, make sure that your client owns the agenda?

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Breaking the Coaching Mold

Have you ever coached a client who just couldn’t seem to move forward?  And she was stuck for week after week after week? I was recently working with a UCU student coach on one of her clients.  I have permission to share the following.

The UCU student coach wanted to spend her session talking about her client.  Her client was saying all of the right things and appeared to be doing all that she committed to do, but there was no progress.  Sales, recruiting, and promoting were all stagnated.  Coaching calls also seemed to have stagnated. Neither coach nor client could figure out a way forward.

As we talked our way into the scenario, the student coach had an amazing AHA moment. For a client to do something differently, she has to think differently.  The same is true for a coach.  You have to coach differently in order for your client to respond differently.  The rest of our call was taken up with possible alternatives to the “business as usual” coaching model. The student coach was going to ask the client to “experiment” with some different coaching techniques.  (Let me stress that without client permission, none of these would occur). Here are some of the alternatives that might be used:

  • The coach may ask the client to allow interruptions.
  • The coach may ask the client to describe her week like a movie script or fairy tale.
  • The coach was only going to ask “what” questions.
  • The coach would speed coach as if the session was only half as long.

Get the picture?  The student coach is committed to coaching differently to see what different results she may get.

At the end of her experimental coaching session, the student coach will ask her client for feedback and thank her for experimenting.

How could you experiment with a client?

 

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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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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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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.

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What’s More Powerful Than Language?

Coaches find powerful languageOne client this week brought to mind the words from Marianne Williamson about “Our Greatest Fear.” Marianne wrote:

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?

Those are powerful words.

I kept getting other reminders on how important words are.  Just imagine:

  • Martin Luther’s 95 Theses without the written word.
  • Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address without those 267 words.
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. delivering his 16-minute “I have a Dream” address without words.

I’m sure you can think of your own historical examples.  Words are also incredibly important in our everyday lives as well.  Think about:

  • Your telephone time today.
  • Your emails and text messages.
  • Face-to-face conversations.

When I forget the power of words, my clients keep doing things to remind me.  My clients think that they are describing their reality. At some point during every coaching call, they come to realize that they are creating their reality.

When we describe our future, we create a possibility. When we establish goals, our words shape our future.  When we speak, we are so powerful.  We need to recognize that power.

Those are powerful words.

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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?

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

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  • Tips, Tricks and much more about Leadership
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