Posts on Jan 1970

Do You Want a Coach or a Mentor?

DistinctionsAs students work their way through the Ultimate Coach University Launch Workshop, one activity that we do is to create distinctions between the mental images of “coach” and “mentor.” While they are not completely distinct, the differences are telling.  Here are a few of the characterizations of mentors:

  • A mentor kicks your ass to do better.
  • Mentors want you to understand what they know.
  • Mentors push you until you fail.
  • You want your mentor’s approval.
  • Mentor’s want a mini-me.
  • Mentors have their own agenda. It’s the reason you hooked up with them.

In contrast, coaches create a different type of relationship.

  • Coaches want you to succeed in your own way on the way to your chosen goal.
  • Coaches support you without judgment.
  • Coaches stick to your agenda.
  • Coaches don’t want you to fail.
  • Coaches hold you accountable.
  • Coaches give you honest feedback.

So what are you looking for: a coach or a mentor?

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Three Types of Coaching Feedback

Positive FeedbackCoaches, especially new coaches, view feedback as a mixed blessing. They know it’s a key element for improvement but they fear being crushed by what clients have to say. Here are three ways to solicit feedback that are easier to take.

External feedback around the client informs you. When the client reports that people around him are noticing a difference, that’s telling you something as well. Performance reports, 360 surveys, and requests for coaching from your client’s colleagues all provide insights. Admittedly, these types of feedback are indirect indicators.  While they may not be directed towards your improvement, they have a high degree of credibility and truth.

External feedback from the client is invaluable.  The hardest part for new coaches is sitting in fearful anticipation about what will be given as feedback.  The problem is not the feedback; it’s the anticipation of feedback.  One thing that Ultimate Coach University student coaches have found is that written feedback carries less fear.  You are not hearing from the lips of your client; it’s not a knee jerk reaction. Instead, written feedback is designed to be more tactful and that makes it easier to take. Develop a quick one page email form that can be sent to your clients a few times during the coaching.  You’ll be glad for the insights it provides.

Internal feedback to you is integral to improvement. Unless you’ve stopped growing as a coach, you need to ask yourself some important questions.  Ask yourself questions like:

  • Did my client fully understand what he/she needs to change, improve, or continue doing?
  • Did my client understand why he/she needs to change, improve, or continue what he/she is doing?
  • Does my client have a sense of ownership for the plan and results?
  • Did I listen effectively?
  • Do I have a plan for reinforcing or following up on the coaching?

While you can talk harshly to yourself, you are more likely to find valuable answers to these questions that you will implement immediately.

Nothing can remove all of the fear surrounding feedback.  Once you start to become comfortable with your process, then the fear starts to dissipate.

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Coaching a Client on Building a Success Team

A Success TeamAs I coach solo entrepreneurs in their business, one common topic that comes up is the one of assistants and virtual assistants.  Coaching clients on this topic usually revolves around five key areas.

1. What can you do and what is it worth? If the most you can earn from doing the most lucrative things in your business is $50 an hour, then you can’t hire anyone for more than that for anything.  You’d lose money. For example, ABC Widgets will pay you $50 an hour as a creative designer.  There is nothing in your skill set that will let you earn a higher wage.  If you pay Susan Doe $50 an hour to answer the phone and do office work while you are out designing, then you don’t make any money.

2. What can you hire someone to do?  Frankly, you can pay someone to do just about anything.  You just have to decide what it is you don’t want to do.

3. What criteria will you use to determine the roles that you need filled?  Just because you can hire somebody doesn’t mean you should.  Some tasks may be eliminated or saved for your down time.  You may also be able to find hidden talents with people who you already know.  Once, for example, I had an office manager who was very competent at her job.  And then I discovered she could also take dictation at meetings.  The dictation could be added into her description much cheaper than it could be outsourced.

4. How will you earn while your employees are costing you money?  Usually you want to hire someone to do the jobs that you don’t want to do.  However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you get a vacation. Make sure that you can work enough extra to cover the cost of your new hires.

5. Who will you get to improve your game?  Your success team is more than the people you can hire to do the current jobs.  One key member of your success team is a mentor or a coach that is going to support you in improving your business.  While I’ve left it for last in this list, you might want to consider finding this person first.  They will support you in answering the other questions better than you can do on your own.

What other topics pop up on your agenda for building a success team?

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Why Coaching Works

You know how to do everything that you want to do.  If you have any doubts, you google a few things, read a few things, and fill in all of the details of what you need to know.  By the time you are an adult, the gap between what you know and what you don’t know is pretty small and you can close it on just about any subject with a little effort.

What you haven’t figured out is how to make yourself do it.   That’s why coaching matters.  Here are three key ideas to explore this more.

Coaching asks the hard questions. Training may ask about what do you want and what you are willing to do to get there.  When was the last time that a trainer asked questions like:

  • What has prevented you from doing this before?
  • What will prevent your old habits from slipping back in?
  • What happened the last time you tried that?
  • What’s going to be different this time?

In other words, a coach supports you in putting your focus on your mental state before you start to take action.

Coaching supports your perseverance. To truly change, you must build new habits and that requires consistent and persistent change.  The changes that you make don’t have to be giant steps; they just have to move you in the direction of your new habit.  Now imagine the scene where week after week you are paying your coach to listen to you say, “I didn’t do what I said that I would.”  One of the biggest reasons people hire a coach is to have an accountability partner.  Trainers don’t do that.

Coaching values success.  The pain of saying you failed is worse than the risk of failure; the reward for telling your coach you succeeded is higher than the reward for doing nothing.  The value of success is higher than the comfort of doing nothing and failing.  You are in it for the One on One coachinglong-term gain. When you work with a coach, you are in a low judgment zone.  Your coach wants you to succeed on your terms and will support you on your journey.

There is a place for training.  A combination of training and coaching are often the most successful approach within a company.  The error is in not recognizing the differences between the two which results in not getting the best of either.

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Coaching Clients on Authenticity

In just about every list of leadership characteristics, you will find “authenticity.” Seldom, however, do leaders come to coaching so they can be more authentic. They want to know what to DO, not what to BE.  Often, they will say things like:

  • I want to create a more trusting team.  No more backstabbing.
  • I want to do a better job of mentoring and growing new leaders.
  • I want to take my leadership to the next level.
  • I want my team to perform better.

As we work through the coaching path to create goals for our engagement, new leaders come to the realization that great leaders have already discovered; leadership growth is about discovery and self-development.  Great leaders work to understand more about themselves and, in doing so, start to understand how WHO they are affects HOW they act.

Authenticity is the ability to be you regardless of the situation. It is a state in which you are so comfortable that you can share deep pieces of yourself comfortably. Coaching for authenticity usually involves three pieces.

Leaders seek clarity and understanding about their values. You can’t be authentic if you are clear about what you value. At Ultimate Coach University, we have several classes on value clarification with clients. The tools for this involve value sorting exercises, biographies of admired leaders, visualization boards, and practice in powerful discovery questions.  One tool that is recommended is the Values In Action Survey of Character Strengths which is free.

Leaders seek clarity and understanding about their strengths.  In its simplest, a strength is anything that leaves you feeling more powerful and a weakness is anything that leaves you feeling drained. Besides strength finding surveys, coaching clients are pushed to discover these things on a day-to-day basis.  A 360 is a great way to discover what others see in you.  Strengths are the activities that we want to do: the behaviors.

Leaders develop a strong connection between their values and their strengths. The core questions are powerful ones:

  • What do you need to do so your behaviors (strengths) reflect your values?
  • How will others know this is the real you?
  • What will make this a consistent and persistent pattern of activities for you

As coaching clients start to live what they believe, their authenticity becomes more and more apparent. What they want to do will match who they are.

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Coaching insight: The map is not the territory

iStock_000019326792SmallIn 1931, Alfred Korzybski, a Polish-American philosopher and scientist, used the phrase, “the map is not the territory” to draw a key distinction between reality and our thoughts about reality.  It’s a very rich metaphor because there are so many ways to think about it and extend it.  You tend to create problems when you lose the distinction.

When you look at a map, you know it represents the territory.

What about your thoughts?  Your map may say that all Democrats are spenders and all Republicans are tightwads.  And think about your life.  The destination says “winner” but the route seems a little fuzzy at times.  In one sense, coaches operate within that metaphor as they coach.   Here are a few possibilities:

Clients want to reroute their map.  I have a client who joined a company ten years ago.  He was in the right spot at the right time and quickly moved from the production floor to management and is still going.  He’s added three children and life got very settled and busy.  Now he thinks he’s gone as far as he will with this company and it’s not what he wants for the rest of his life.  His dream of being the “thought hub” had turned into a comfortable existence.  The dream hasn’t changed, but he’s now in the process of finding a new route.

Clients think their map is real.  Whenever a client says, “That’s just the way I am” they are thinking that their map is real.  Fascinating comparisons show up when they compare their map to those around them.

Clients want to enjoy the scenic route.  Ever had a client think the express lane was going to burn out their engine?  If the journey no longer is fun, then the client wants to slow down and enjoy the moment.

What about you?  How well does your map match the territory?

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