Posts Taged coaching-process

Coaching Happiness

martinseligmanNo matter what else, one of the roles of a coach is to support a client’s happiness.  Happiness is one of those fundamental human needs.  What’s the one thing you want for your children, your spouse and your friends?  And you want it for your coaching clients as well.  If you produce nothing else in a coaching engagement, if your client goes away happier, it’s successful.

At the same time, happiness is an elusive concept.  You are not quite sure what happiness is to your client.  Interestingly, there has been some recent research that is very fruitful for coaches.

Martin Seligman gave a TED talk a few years ago about positive psychology.  His general framework was about the changes in psychology from a field that looked at sickness and healing to one that has a growing focus on building better lives for healthy people. One of his central topics was about the differences between happy people and the rest of the world.  There are really three aspects to happiness.

The first type of happiness is the pleasant life.  Good food, good friends and all of the activities that make you smile. Interestingly, this is the least powerful type of happiness.  We tired of “the pleasant life” after a while.

The second type of happiness is the good life.  This is the type of life where time seems to stop.  Where you are so engaged that you don’t even notice the passage of life around you.  We often talk about this as living your strengths and your passions.

The third type of happiness is the meaningful life. This is not only knowing your strengths, but also using them in service to a higher cause.

For more details, take a few minutes and listen to Martin Seligman explain.

As a coach, you have an opportunity to really tune into your client, discover their strengths and passions, and then support them as they put those attributes to use.  That’s the happiness that will really matter.

What do you think?  How will you support your client’s happiness?

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Raising Your IQ? Possible?

 

For most of us, the inner workings of our brain are like the insides of a black box.  We know there is something going on there but don’t really understand it.  With the advent of modern research techniques and some new theories of physiology, the brain is not completely a black box to everyone.

Eric Kandel received the Nobel Prize in 2000 for his work his research on the physiological basis of memory storage.  The more we come to understand how the brain works, the more the possibilities grow that we can learn, relearn, and grow our IQ.

Kandel is now in his 80’s and just published a book titled, The Age of Insight: The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present.

While I’m not sure I will ever understand much of what he writes, his interviews are a patient and incredibly clear explanation of some core concepts in his mind.  As a coach, insights like those of Eric Kandel let us raise the standard of what we do even higher.  Take a few minutes and consider the possibility of becoming smarter and what the implication for this are for your business and your life.

If you are unable to view the video, click here to go to the website. http://bigthink.com/big-think-tv/the-human-brain-in-the-age-of-insight-eric-kandel-live-on-big-think

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Watch David Rock Coaching

Have you ever wondered why your brain seems to operate differently at work than it does when relaxing with friends and family? Maybe you’ve been curious about how sometimes it’s hard to focus or collaborate with others.  You are not alone.

Dr. David Rock is one of the thought leaders in the human-performance coaching field. Since the mid-90’s, he has trained over thousands of executive, personal and workplace coaches in more than 60 countries.  Two of his more recent books are Coaching with the Brain in Mind: Foundations for Practice and Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long. David Rock works in the area of NeuroLeadership (in fact, he coined the term) and believes that coaching is a powerful tool for discovering what goes on in the brain and is a key for performance improvement.

This 10 minute video is a sample of David Rock coaching an executive.  From a rtechnical standpoint, he leaves a lot to be desired.  Most of his questions are closed and require either a yes-no answer or a choice among alternative he provides.  He’s quick and seldom leaves time for reflective thought.  On the other hand, the client finds some really powerful insights.

Watch the video and then make your judgment:  good coaching or bad?

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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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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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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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