Posts Taged coaching

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.

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Feed Your Head: Good Blogs for Your Start

iStock_000008635378SmallSome things are written so well that you have to read them even if you haven’t heard of the author before.  These blogs are the kind to whet your appetite.  This is Part 2 of the Feed Your Head series.  Part 1 is on finding and subscribing to blogs.

This post is about some of those great blogs that you will want to consider adding to your reading material.  While there are lots out there for you to select, we’ll focus on five. Check them out, subscribe for a while, and then either keep’em or unsubscribe.

Seth Godin’s blogSeth Godin has been blogging longer than about anybody but God.  That means he has figured out how to do it well.  Seth is a self-described agent of change.  No comments are allowed, quick reads (often less that 200 words) and seldom are their pictures.

Celebrate What’s Right with the World.  DeWitt Jones spent 20 years as a photographer for the National Geographic.  His blog, Celebrate What’s Right with the World, is just a cool place to visit.  You’ll see pictures that change you if you let them.

Get Rich Slowly.  This group blog is centered around Get Rich Slowly.  It’s about common sense ways to save or make money.  You can also figure out how to talk with children, parents, or spouses about money.

ZenHabits. Take a habit, break it down into little pieces, and then figure out what you know.  That’s what Leo Babauta does in zenhabits.  If you are trying to figure out how you got where you are, this blog will help you in that journey.

The Calm Space.   Do you need to get centered? The Calm Space will help you do that.  They describe themselves as “an online magazine that is like a virtual day-spa for your senses… decadent, informative, relaxing. A real no-mobile-phones-allowed kind of escape where you can chill for a minute or an hour and emerge refreshed and ready to face anything your day throws at you!”

Part 3 of Feed Your Head is coming soon. Look for blog “Main Courses.”

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Get a Coach: The First Key to Starting Your Coaching Culture

First steps to a coaching cultureFor a decade or more, coaching has almost been seen as a perk of the executive position in large corporations.  In the past few years, interesting is growing in developing coaching as a method of interaction and development at virtually all company levels in all sizes of companies.  More and more, businesses are working to build coaching into the DNA of their culture.  The initial steps don’t have to cost you an arm and a leg, but you do have to make a commitment.  While most philosophers will tell you that the first step is the most important one, the step you choose need to be the right one.  Here is one informed suggestion.

Get a Coach.  When I say, “get a coach,” I mean get a credentialed coach or one who received their coach training through an accredited program.  You want someone who has the knowledge to interact well with you in a coaching encounter.  You want a coach who has been trained by professionals.   At a recent leadership training program, Betty (the name is to protect the innocent) approached me to have a conversation around coaching.  She said, “I tried coaching once, and it didn’t
work.”  As we continued the discussion, it became very apparent to both of us what went wrong.  Betty’s friend persuaded her to start coaching with a friend of a friend who was just beginning their coaching business.  This coach had no professional training other than “he had been to several weekend retreats where they taught coaching.”  Furthermore, he started his coaching career because a lot of “people at his old job told him that he would be good at it.”  While a step of this kind can be successful, it is more often the wrong one.

As with any buying decision, don’t take it lightly.

  • Google a phrase like “find a coach” or “hire a coach.”  Then research it like you would buying a car.
  • Go to a website of a professional organization like the International Coach Federation.  Most of them will let you search for coaches with credentials.
  • Talk to the coach before you hire.  Go with your gut.  How does this coach make you feel?

Start your coaching culture by working with a coach.  You’ll learn from the inside of the experience how it works; what you feel, think and do.  By experiencing coaching, you know how to grow the culture that fits your company.

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Unconscious Communication as a Basis for Coaching

Have you ever watched a leader walk into a room and see the interpersonal dynamics change around them?  The flow of the chatter changes.  The topics change.  And people start to look to the leader for approval.  The conversation may even shift to the point that the leader becomes responsible for determining turn taking and who gets to talk next.  The charismatic behaviors of the leader subtly influence their surroundings.  It’s not something the leader tries to do; it just happens.  There is an unconscious shift in the communication patterns.

Alex Pentland from MIT refers to these patterns as honest signals in his book, Honest Signals: How They Shape Our World. They are the nonverbal cues that are so deeply embedded that we have extreme difficulty faking them.  He and his associates spent years studying these signals and developed the technology to measure them.  As coaches, an awareness of our client’s unconscious communication can be fruitful coaching territority.

First, as coaches, we can pay more attention to honest signals.  We can’t really cheat with our nonverbal signals.  In fact, Pentland conducted a number of experiments where people tried to change and they were generally failures.  Think of it this way.  You are walking with a friend and having a very interesting conversation.  Suddenly, your friend starts skipping while talking.  It looks like fun to you so you try skipping and talking, too.  Doesn’t work.  You are thinking so hard about skipping that that you can’t talk straight.  As coaches, we have the opportunity to become conscious of the honest signals from our clients.  Start noticing when there is an extra-long pause or maybe a sigh just before they say, “It’s been an adventurous week.”

Second, we can support our clients as they improve their self-monitoring.  Much of my coaching with executives centers on their awareness of how they appear to others.  I ask them to think about the honest signals that they are providing to others.  As that awareness grows, the clients also grow in their ability to adapt their activities.

Third, we can support our clients as they learn new honest signals.  Have you ever noticed how sales people always are nodding?  It’s an honest signal.  And it’s learned.  Alex Pentland says that we can learn new honest signals by role playing.  In one sense, we do that a lot as coaches.  We ask our clients to try on new behaviors and do different things.  I use the DiSC profile with most of my clients.  Imagine the conversation where I am coaching a “D” style who likes to address issues quickly, directly, and decisively and I ask him how he might approach the situation as an “S” who wants everyone comfortable with their surroundings and changing policies.  Once we understand the role, we can honestly play it.

If you have an opportunity to read Pentland’s book, I recommend it.  Most treatments of nonverbal communication treat it as something that can be easily dissected and manipulated.  David Pentland recognizes the subtleties of our unconscious behaviors and the resultant honesty in our communication.  As coaches, we also have an opportunity to work on our honest signals.

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Group Coaches Are Group Facilitators

At Ultimate Coach University, we teach some courses in group coaching.  Most beginning coaches are concerned about doing too much telling, training or directing.  The perspective we try to develop is one in which group facilitation is a key part of group coaching.  Here’s why:

Coaches are always facilitators.   A facilitator is defined as “one that helps to bring about an outcome (as learning, productivity, or communication) by providing indirect or unobtrusive assistance, guidance, or supervision.”  That’s what coaches do.  Whether it’s one-to-one or with a group, coaches create an environment within which learning, self-discovery, curious invention and the like occurs.

The focus is the individual in the group setting.  Groups are not teams. Teams have a goal that requires a specialized participation from everyone.  Groups do not. Groups exist because the group members see an individual benefit from being there.  As a coach facilitator, the goal is to maximize the benefits for all of the individuals in the group.  The only goal of the group is to maximize the individual’s achievements.

Group dynamics are more complex. The coach always has part of themselves in the coaching and part of themselves monitoring the coaching.  The coach is responsible for time management, focus, productivity and accountability.  Those occur when the coach is monitoring (facilitating) the interactions.  In one sense, the coach is both mental in and mentally out of the coaching space.  When group coaching, the mentally out part is more complex.  Here are a couple of examples:

  • Instead of overall time, the coach has to manage the portion of time available for each person to talk.
  • When each person talks, it changes the communication expectations for everyone else.  Imagine a group of sales leaders and one says, “This month sucks. My top people have taken the month off, nobody wants to promote, and our ability to attract new people is terrible.”  The group can easily spiral down from there.  Somebody who is having a good month may hesitate to talk because they don’t want make other participants feel bad.

In short, the coach has to manage the group in order to produce an environment that will maximize things for each individual.  The coach may have to interrupt clients, add topics to the agenda, or cut some topics short for the purpose of getting the most for everyone.

Peer coaching opportunities arise.  I’ve been working with groups for nearly five years. In that time, one of the benefits for everyone is what they get from the other participants.  They get a diversity of opinions, questions from the group, and suggestions to move things forward.  In addition, the group members get to hear others being coached in real-time and strong role modeling in communication skills.

Ginger Cockerham defines group coaching in her book, Group Coaching, as “a facilitated group process led by a skilled professional coach and created with the intention of maximizing the combined energy, experience, and wisdom of individuals who choose to join in order to achieve organizational objectives or individual goals.” In other words, coaching and facilitation are conjoined.  When we start with the assumption that the two go together, the resulting coaching is stronger.

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