Posts Taged coach-approach

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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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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Will Roger’s Advice on Coaching

cowboy_will_rogersI was emptying some files the other day and came across a few quotable moments from Will Rogers that I saved.  I’ve always admired Will Rogers.  Who can’t admire a man that jokes about his epitaph? Rogers said, “When I die, my epitaph, or whatever you call those signs on gravestones, is going to read: ‘I joked about every prominent man of my time, but I never met a man I didn’t like.’ I am so proud of that, I can hardly wait to die so it can be carved.”

As I was reading through my collection, I began wondering what a man like Will Rogers would be telling contemporary coaches.  Here are a few thoughts that I found.

Why coaches should not offer advice:

WR: “Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.”

 

Why coaches should not feel slighted by a client’s attitude:

WR: “If you get to thinkin’ you’re a person of some influence, try orderin’ someone else’s dog around.”

 

Why the capacity to celebrate is important to a coach:

WR: “When you give a lesson in meanness to a critter or a person, don’t be surprised if they learn their lesson.”

 

Why goal setting is important.

WR: “Live your life so that whenever you lose, you are ahead.”

WR: “Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.”

 

Will-RogersClients have different learning styles.

WR: “There are three kinds of men.  The one that learns by reading. The few who learn by observation.  The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.

 

Feel free to share witticisms that you’ve found.

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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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Coaching the What and Why and the $75,000 Question

Life evaluation and emotional wellbeingMy guess is that it would be a rare life or personal coach that does not have their client try to dig into personal motivations. As coaches, we call them goals, mission, values, passion, why’s, etc. Our assumption as coaches is that as our clients grow in self-knowledge, their path to the future becomes clearer. It also puts a tool in our coaching hands. When a client seems to stall out, we make some mental leaps to their passion and try to get them moving forward on their program.

One place we often have difficulty is separating the material reasons from the mental ones. New coaches often go to the material corner. Talking about things is less threatening or invasive than talking about values and passions. Experienced coaches often go the other way; we ignore the material wants because they aren’t as personally exciting as digging into a client’s mental pathways.

Recent research points to the need to make sure that people are meeting both their material and their emotional needs.  Angus Deaton, Ph.D., a renowned economist, and Daniel Kahneman, Ph.D., a Nobel prize-winning psychologist put their heads and work together on an amazing research project.  They wanted to discover the numbers behind happiness. They analyzed nearly a half million responses to the Gallup Healthways Well-Being Index (GHWBI), a battery of survey questions about happiness.

The two concepts that we refer to as the “material what” and the “emotional why” are called “life evaluation” and “emotional wellbeing.” While the two dimensions overlap, they have distinct measures.

  • Life evaluation is based on a view of our achievements. We look at things like goal accomplishment, financial security, education, marriage, and job satisfaction.
  • Emotional wellbeing is social and reflects our day-to-day emotional quality and satisfaction.

Without getting into too many more details, there are two research findings that I found interesting from a coaching perspective.

First, achieving your goals is important for both dimensions. We evaluate our lives poorly when we fail (the “I just suck” syndrome) and it negatively affects our emotional wellbeing.  As Dr. Kahneman explains, “Having goals that you can meet is essential to life satisfaction. Setting goals that you’re not going to meet sets you up for failure.”

Second, there is a dollar figure for happiness. In the United States, $75,000 is the threshold for happiness.  In other words, when you earn $75,000, you’ve hit the magic number.  More money doesn’t make you happier.  People who earn more may have more a higher life evaluation (“I love my life!”) but they are any happier about it.  Their emotional wellbeing has hit the top.

As a coach, I am intrigued by what these research results mean to my profession.  Besides making sure my clients are aware of and working on both pieces, I have some cultural insights into where they might want to go.

Honestly, I can’t make this stuff up. I encourage you to read more of the research results as The Gallup Management Journal reports them.

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