The key to understanding others is to first know yourself.
Experience is Food For The Brain
Putting Those AHA Moments Into Action
If you have spent even a few minutes of time paying attention to the Oprah playbook you likely know that she talks about “Aha” moments a lot. We all have those moments in our life, when something that didn’t make sense or seem to fit before, suddenly becomes clear. How often have you taken your Aha moments and put them into action with clear outcomes? Jot down the last 3 times you had an Aha moment, what was it? What did you do with it? How did it improve or change an outcome?
ROI – Training
Were you sitting in a seminar one day and something the facilitator said brought on one of those thoughts? Then back in the workplace, armed with this insight, determined to turn it into an improvement, it quickly slid to the back of your mind. As you work your way through your day, your week, your month, that idea may still hover about your conscience mind but you just don’t get around to doing anything about it. This is a common scenario and one that plagues development efforts in many organizations. As often as we hear how important creativity and innovation are to the success of an organization, it is rare that those skills are given the time and resources to work. This is true of new ideas for products, services, efficiencies, and skill development of the humans in the workforce.
What Do We Do About This?
The obvious answer is to hire a coach. Coaches are committed to helping their clients to turn the Aha moments into action. This is why they assign practical, back on the job, exercises to clients. Putting thought into action is not only a productivity enhancer, it bolsters confidence, increases the value of knowledge, ramps up our ability to learn and adds points to the incremental learning bank we all have working away in our brains all the time.
Coaching And Training-Two For One
Executive Coaching is also a highly effective training method, one that carries us through every aspect of our lives. While the assignment may be based on workplace projects or needs, the experience of carrying out those assignments adds to our abilities in other areas of life. Working with a coach fits nicely into the organization’s training budget because it offers hands on learning opportunities. Trades such as plumbers and welders go through apprenticeship training because it strengthens learning and makes the most efficient use of the learning process for these trades. Anyone at work, whether they are executives or not, benefit from coaching in much the same way.
Visit our Services/Packages Page
Go here right now to see the variety of packages available. The EC-Impact and EC-Power packages are an ideal way to escalate your work performance. The Quick Start and Professional Career Planning Packages are our promotional packages from April 15-June 15, 2013. Contact me today to talk about which package will work best for your needs and take advantage of the promotional offers. I look forward to meeting you and talking about your coaching needs.
The emotional brain responds to an event more quickly than the thinking brain, Daniel Goleman.
I find that the more time I take to bolster my thinking brain the better my decisions are in business and in the other aspects of life. Reading books from a range of authors offers me a better way to think, connect ideas and see the bigger picture.
The following list is for anyone in a professional and/or managerial role that is looking for a less bumpy way to evolve through the shift to the [connected/digital era] we are experiencing now. Some of these books were published more than twenty years ago and some were published this year. Some of the older publications have updates and you may prefer to read those. They are all related and they all provide a picture of the workplace to come. I have listed them in the order that I think will most benefit you to read but you can choose your own way through them.
(1) The Art Of Systems Thinking (1997)
Joseph O’Connor & Ian McDermott
This little book is a gem for anyone struggling to understand how and why things happen in any organization. If you want to influence the decision makers in your organization to buy on board to your workplace ideas, start with this book. Being prepared to answer the Why, What, When, Who, Where questions will be easier once you understand Systems Thinking.
(2) The Fifth Discipline (1990)
Still the best starting point to grasp a reasonable understanding of the value of knowledge in organizations. If you haven’t read this don’t wait – it is as relevant today as it was when first published.
(3) Emotional Intelligence (1995)
Since Daniel Goleman first wrote Emotional Intelligence a number of other authors have published perspectives on Emotional Intelligence in the workplace. I believe that starting with Daniel Goleman’s work offers the reader a solid place to begin to understand how EI affects many aspects of organizational success.
(4) Who Are You Meant To Be? (2013)
Heather Dranitsaris-Hilliard and Anne Dranitsaris PhD
Anyone who has experienced one or more of the many personality or competency based assessment tools in their career will appreciate the work that Heather and Anne have done to bring actionable meaning to the awareness the other tools offer. If you have developed a cynical or resistent attitude towards such assessments based on past negative experiences, put it aside just long enough to understand the value offered here. Understanding this work will serve you well in any aspect of your life.
(5) Flourish (2011)
Martin E.P. Seligman
Martin Seligman has a friendly, let’s talk, way of writing about psychology. In this work he says: Coaching is a practice in search of a backbone. Two backbones, actually: a scientific, evidence-based backbone as well as a theoretical backbone. Positive psychology can provide both. And that, for this executive coach sounds like great common sense. Even if you are not a coach, this book will provide a nice little positive mood swing, something we can all benefit from.
(6) Immunity to Change (2009)
Robert Kegan & Lisa Laskow Lahey
I like this book as it fits neatly into my own research and work on change and resilience. If you have responsibility for strengthening the outcomes of change in your organization it can be a useful tool to add to your toolbox. I don’t see it as the answer but it does offer some thoughts that help when working through change with diverse teams. The more tools we have to work with the less chance of falling into the ‘one size fits all’ method of change management.
(7) Clear Leadership (2001)
This is an interesting work, somewhat more complex in the ideas inside it that the title suggests. However, it is worth having on your book shelf to refer to once in a while. It has a way of offering clarity when the fog rolls in.
(8) To Sell is Human (2012)
I appreciate the work that Daniel Pink has produced, while Drive certainly struck home with many, is it possible that To Sell is Human is more practical? I think so, and I would like to know what you think once you read it.
(9) The Connected Company (2012)
Dave Gray & Thomas Vander Wal
“To keep pace with today’s connected customers, your company must become a connected company. That means deeply engaging with workers, partners, and customers, changing how work is done, how you measure success, and how performance is rewarded. It requires a new way of thinking about your company: less like a machine to be controlled, and more like a complex, dynamic system that can learn and adapt over time.” I always prefer reading authors who have tested their theories and research through their own hands on efforts, it lends a level of credibility that makes all the difference.
(10) Flat Army (2013)
An unobstructed flow of corporate commonality.
Dan has deftly connected the wisdom of many other organizational behaviour and business research authors, added his own brand of organizational dynamics, and woven in his experience of employing these ideas in currently successful businesses. A rarity in leadership writing, offering the theory, research and practical application from the cyber desk of someone who can say, I researched it and also applied it. If you are not familiar with the other works on this list, I suggest you read them first as a way to ease into the groundbreaking work offered in Flat Army.
And that is my Evolve Top Ten List that offers much to consider about organizational life! What are your suggestions? What books have helped shape your thinking and how did they make a difference in how you went about your work?
As noted previously, client confidentiality is honoured, so while the quotes are real quotes from clients, the names are changed to ensure their privacy. It is important that my existing and future clients feel comfortable that I always comply with the Evolve Executive Coaching confidentiality promise. Do any of the clients quoted below resonate with you right now? Let me know.
I Always Wanted To Have A Different Career-I Feel Stuck!
‘Charles’ mentioned recently that our coaching work has helped him to “think outside the box”, meaning that he “no longer feels tied to something to fit into” but he can “look at using my abilities in other ways.” This highly competent professional has had a successful career yet throughout has always felt that there was some other work that would be more satisfactory, that would make use of the interests and competencies he has in ways that really met his needs. Even though he has participated in several assessments throughout his career I suggested the Striving Styles Personality System™ because of the length of time he had been seeking something new and also because it would appeal to his ‘always on’ search for knowledge. Our first goal was to get him past ‘stuck’ and the combination of the SSPS™, our coaching sessions and the assignments I give him, he has succeeded. He is now starting to look at and more importantly act on the optimal ways of making his next career project a reality. He is showing more enthusiasm and feeling happier in general and that is a successful coaching outcome. Our QS Impact and QS Power Leadership Packages are designed to shift you past ‘stuck’ and integrate your skills for a more satisfying career and life!
My New WorkPlace Has A Different Culture-Help!
‘Jake’ noted, “It helps to have an objective person to talk through my work challenges with and the assignments show how to put the coaching to work. I learned that carrying out the assignments proved that experiential learning really helps”. ‘Jake’ did not complete any particular assessment tool; although we did gather helpful information by talking to some colleagues he worked with in a previous organization. He found his new role presented challenges in getting his team on board with his ideas that he had not encountered before. This is a common experience for new managers and managers that take over a leadership role in a new organization. Jake has established a more collaborative team culture in his workplace and reports that the productivity and innovation on projects has improved. Our EC-Impact-3 Months and EC-Power-6 Month Executive Coaching Packages are designed to navigate the cultural jungles of workplaces and help you to have a positive impact.
I Like The Company I Work For-But My Job Isn’t Right For Me-What Do I Do?
Leah was feeling stalled in her career and quickly admitted that her chosen career, in Finance had never felt ‘quite right’ and a sense of dissatisfaction was making continuing more difficult. We explored her interests, strengths, and skills to determine what role would be more satisfactory for the next phase of her career. Leah hoped to stay in her current organization, while the job was not quite right, she liked working there. Leah was able to turn her past accomplishments into a new role in her current organization by creating her own career dashboard. Leah commented, “Learning how to present my skills and understanding what was needed in the organization was the key to reaching my goal.” Evolve Executive Coaching Professional Career Planning packages help clients create a foundation that will benefit their careers at any point in time.
Evolve With Evolve Executive Coaching! Register for a complementary exploratory session today and find out which Evolve Executive Coaching Package is right for you.
Photo of “Evolve to Your Potential is courtesy of Ambro at freedigitalphotos.net
On the first day of April 2013 I started a new series for our blog posts, Create Your Niche-A Personal Perspective. Today, I am sharing some thoughts about coaching from a client’s perspective. In this post, I will talk about how I have benefitted from having coaches in my career. In the next post I will include quotes on the benefits realized from Evolve Executive Coaching clients.
It Started Here
Through much of my career I had a few informal mentors, mostly executives who recognized my work ethic, and saw my potential. They offered wise advice when asked and offered advice when they saw a way to help me at other times. I valued those interactions, took everything ever offered through their kindness and worked hard to create something out of that advice. I have never had a formal mentor but my first executive coach came as part of my management role in one organization. My coach at that time was the only person willing to tell me what I needed to hear and to work with me to turn that awareness into actions that helped create more success in my career. The benefit I gained from that coaching relationship was significant enough that I started playing with the idea of coaching as a career. This came up a few more times in other roles in which having the expertise of an executive coach was offered to me and it reinforced how helpful it is, offering benefits that are not available from performance reviews or 360 reviews.
Where It Really Started To Take Shape
Part of my responsibility in several of my organizational roles was to provide coaching from an internal perspective, to my client groups and to my colleagues. This was part of the overall development plan to assist a manager who may be new to a management role, struggling in their role or stuck in their career. So, executive coaching was something I was observing from a variety of perspectives. Additionally, I frequently heard from colleagues, clients and others that they felt I should consider being a coach as my next career. But I hesitated, for years, without really knowing why. I had all sorts of practical excuses- “the coaching field is saturated, the economy is in trouble, few people are paying for coaches” etc. Ask me about becoming a coach myself and I had a quick ‘oh so logical’ reason why not.
We All Get Stuck
I was also ‘stuck’, pursuing work I no longer felt any real satisfaction doing. I can only stand being ‘stuck’ for so long before acting, taking the leap, going after something new so my decision was made. I stopped thinking about why not as part of my work on my own Roadmap from the Striving Styles Personality System™. I recognized it wasn’t about the coaching business but about how I was seeing myself. I started thinking about why yes, looking for solutions and taking actions to accomplish my goals.
Multi-Tasking For Change
I decided that I would earn a certification in Executive Coaching, create a business and go through the rebranding process. I already had a lot of research available about executive coaching certifications, was easily able to determine that I also needed a program that offered a business-coaching module. What I needed was new tools! Once I found the right option for my needs, I signed up and once committed threw myself fully into earning the certification and creating my business.
At the same time I started the certification process for the Striving Styles Personality System™ because I knew that the better the tools I had to offer my future clients the more benefits they would gain from working with me. This was a good decision because Heather and Anne have the experience in working with similar tools with their clients and knew what was missing in many of them. It was also a good decision because the SSPS™ helped me understand more about myself, which led to improving my conversations when talking to prospective clients. It offers a lot more benefits in other areas of my business and life in general so overall my satisfaction in business and life is back on track.
Using What I Learn
As I reflect on my decision last Fall to take this path, and consider the time spent pursuing something that no longer provided satisfaction I also came to gain even more appreciation for the coaches I had in my career. My current business coach, Catherine Rocheleau of Ignite Leadership International, was instrumental in helping me put everything I learned into action. I still use what I learned from my executive coaches in previous roles, and now use all of that for the benefit of Evolve Executive Coaching clients.
Where Are You Right Now?
Today’s questions: When was the last time you felt ‘stuck’, you knew a change was needed but just could not quite make it happen? What did you do to resolve it? How did that work? What else are you willing to do to achieve what you want in your career or business?
In the Winter blog series we talked about The Leadership Change Gap, Values Based Leadership ROI, and Improving Performance-A Value Proposition. Spring is now here and it is time for a new thread. This season we take a look at coaching from a more personal perspective so let me know if anything in particular resonates with you.
Coaching has so many meanings these days that it seems to have become a little blurred in peoples minds. This is one of the reasons why it helps to define a niche for ones coaching practice. The niche that a coach defines for their practice helps clients and prospective clients understand what benefits they will gain from working with the coach they choose. I am starting this series with a look at how I created Evolve Executive Coaching.
I chose Executive Coaching as the area to focus on because throughout my corporate career working with managers, supervisors, executives, and emerging leaders has always been the most rewarding aspect of my work. Since moving to the entrepreneurial world, especially small business, I have also discovered that same level of rewards in working with the creators and drivers of these businesses. I am building my business by having coaching packages that are suitable for owners and managers in small businesses and packages that are suitable for executives in medium to large organizations. I tend to be a ‘big picture’ thinker so from my perspective working toward successful change with leaders and emerging leaders is the most impactful way to use my own skills.
Having a front row seat to observe all these different types of leaders create even more impact in their organizations and communities through the coaching plus action process is terrific.
I know from my years working in medium to large organizations that when the leadership is effective, the culture in the organization is more conducive to a good employee experience. That counts, not just because I want everyone to have a good experience at work, but because when employees have a good experience in the workplace, the customers they serve are much more likely to also have a good experience with your business. Independent business owners also benefit from this type of coaching as it helps to create an approach to employees and customers that improves their ability to create the type of trust and value proposition the customer is seeking.
Coaching benefits come about through two primary ways: the ‘aha’ moment when something just clicks and the longer process of understanding how and when we create the results we get. Those ‘aha’ moments shed light on a challenge but that understanding rarely provides the solution. Coaches take those aha moments and create the solution with the client, the “Evolve” process and turning that into sustainable change. Sometimes it can be accomplished in two coaching sessions [assessments help speed up results] and sometimes it occurs over a longer period of time. Evolve Executive Coaching offers complementary exploratory sessions to determine the best choice for the client and their readiness for committing to the process.
This month I am adding new service packages to my practice because I have been working with several professionals that are in the beginning or middle of wanting something different from their work. This work reminded me how much I enjoy working with people in transition that are committed to change. Being part of this transition is very rewarding for me as the results are positive but more importantly that these clients trust me enough to work with me at a vulnerable point in their career is meaningful. Watch the Evolve Executive Coaching blog, Twitter and LinkedIn posts for details on these packages.
The next post in this series will include some quotes from Evolve Executive Coaching clients that talk about the benefits they achieved from the packages they signed on for. As always, client confidentiality is honoured, so while the quotes are real quotes from clients they will not be identified.
I leave you with a few questions to either answer via the comments or to take away and consider on your own, so here are a couple of questions for you today:
When was the last time you sat down and looked at your own Evolve process? What did you learn when you did this? What actions did you take based on that review?
Welcome to our new readers and my appreciation to those of you who have returned for more! As promised this post is about improving performance by making it the centre of attention through consistent and timely communication.
Executive coaching focuses on helping us find results based solutions through the process of our own growth and skill development. As we evolve we take that new confidence into the workplace and begin to help others improve their performance. It starts with us, and one of the things that executive coaching offers is insight to how we learn and change that will help us in guiding others through their own performance improvements.
I have experienced performance management from many different angles and so many different methods in my career so what I am proposing here based on years of experience, observation, research and outcomes. Optimal performance is critical to the success of any organization, if you get the performance conversation right, the ‘engagement’ factor that is garnering so much attention lately will take care of itself. Engagement is not a program, it is an outcome of a workplace culture that understands and values the contributions of the people who work there. Create a culture of accountability, trust, and consistency and make sure that performance is a natural part of the workday chat.
There are three absolutes that have been consistently proven to create the best outcomes in my adventures in performance management:
(1) Your communication style will make or break effective performance discussions.
(2) Timeliness is not optional.
(3) Participation by all parties is mandatory.
Do the three absolutes resonate with you? Do you practice them consistently at work?
Try this exercise:
- Jot down the number of times you have interacted with an employee in your organization (regardless of where in the organization) in the last three days and offered some form of performance related comment. Consider colleagues, peers, boss, support staff etc. And, jot down when someone else in the organization offered some form of performance related comment to you.
- Who were they? What was the nature of the comment? What response did you get from the employee you spoke with?
- Now think about the last time you conducted (or was the recipient of) the annual or quarterly or semi-annual formal review-what did that communication feel like?
- Did anyone seem surprised by what you communicated? Were there disagreements about your review content? Did anyone express appreciation for how helpful they found your performance communications over the previous period in their work?
- Does performance review time feel like a burden in your workplace? If you were unable to recall even one performance related discussion in your workplace in the previous three days it is time to get started.
How committed are you to changing that going forward?
Even when we work in organizations that have traditional performance review programs we can easily create our own practice that works well despite those programs. The key is within the absolutes, and that is something that you do have control over. It begins with you changing how you view and approach performance results in your work every day. And it requires consistently operating with the core values in mind.
Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Welcome back. As promised we are going to talk about operating outside our comfort zone. Most leaders operate outside their comfort zone at different points in their career and how successful the outcomes are depend on how prepared we are to take that leap into the unknown. It requires us to accept that we will be inviting some degree of distributed leadership to be available. It also requires that as a leader you must expect accountability from others and be clear and consistent on that.
If that sounds like a recipe for increasing stress, read on! One of the best arguments for values based leadership in organizations is that it creates a culture of accountability and allows for distributed leadership. Leaders who operate primarily from a control format, putting rules and policies into place in an attempt to reduce the unknowns will feel quite challenged by this idea.
Values-Based Leadership Delivers ROI
The rewards for creating a values-based leadership practice are significant and the process for shifting an organizational culture to one of accountability and values based decision-making requires a commitment to change. The rewards are significant. Values-based leaders find they are free to attend to the responsibilities of their role, keeping the vision focused forward, making important connections, and creating strength in the marketplace. They are able to trust that the employees in the organization are providing the customer service that is expected and required. They are comfortable with a defined level of distributed leadership because they are committed to the core values and have ensured that the values are communicated, understood and utilized throughout the organization. They trust that decisions are made based on the core values.
In a recent talk at a meeting of local business owners in Vancouver, WebNames President Cybele Negris credited much of her executive success and the growth of the business to values-based leadership. She noted that because she is able to trust her team to be accountable she is free to focus on continuing the growth of WebNames.Cybele strongly believes in values-based leadership and the continued success and growth of WebNames is a testament to the return on investment of this executive style of management.
In our next post we are going to talk about improving performance by making it the centre of attention through consistent and timely communication.Be sure to join us next week and share your thoughts on the state of performance management in organizations today.
Questions To Consider:
How often do the leaders in your organization use the core values as the decision point for actions? Do employees in the organization observe that decisions, both positive and negative are true to the core values? Are the core values and how those values are experienced in action understood consistently by everyone in the organization?
An important function of leadership is to engage others in your vision for the future. The vision, regardless of what it is, will likely mean those you lead will experience some form of change. How much of an impact that has on productivity and the acceptance of the changes needed depends on a number of factors. In this post we will take a look at the gap that often exists between where you, as the leader, are in the process and where the people you are leading are in the process.
I have worked in several large organizations as they underwent significant change, and have observed this gap repeat itself over and over. Even when the change expert reminds the leader that they have been researching, analyzing and adjusting to the change for some time, often the people outside of the executive team have little or no awareness of what is being contemplated. The gap, then, is that place where you as the leader are in the change, and where the rest of the people in the organization are in the process. This gap is then magnified because the bumps in the change process are reflected in the experience of not just employees but in the experience of the customers.
Recently, I was in the local grocery store that had changed to a new point-of-sale system and on this busy Sunday afternoon, the glitches in the system were creating a chaotic effect. The staff members, who are generally quite laid back and calm, were clearly experiencing stress and expressed this to customers. The system created multiple errors that had to be corrected, the line-ups were getting longer and slower and the staff were frustrated. This is not an unusual scenario when change is introduced without closing the gap. It is one that is played out in workplaces often.
The only way to reduce the gap is to change the way we approach change. This is done primarily through changing our communication style within the organization. Leaders often spend a lot of time thinking about how to communicate a change in the organization. The key to closing the gap is to think about changing when you communicate. This necessitates an open form of dialogue early in the process. And that will take many leaders outside their comfort zone. In our next Evolve Executive Coaching blog post we will talk about leaders operating outside their comfort zone. What do you see as your biggest communication challenge going forward? How have you changed your approach in the last eighteen months?
Welcome to the new home of Evolve Executive Coaching blog!
I am excited to be starting out 2013 by establishing a new home for my website and blog all in one place. My practice is now focused on executive coaching while keeping a strong connection to my work in Digital Era Leadership. The two areas of focus are relevant in a world in which communication channels are wide open and collaboration is an increasingly important key to successful business results. As in the industrial era when machinery changed the way we worked, consumed and lived, the proliferation of technology tools has created a new Digital Era in which our connections, communication skills and trust become the hallmarks of success.
I am currently working with two virtual teams on Digital Era Leadership projects. We use Skype, Zipcast, Google+ Hangout, and Signal 37 Basecamp project management tools to interact, share information and schedule team meetings. I conduct sessions with clients, in-person, via Skype or Google+ Hangout and sometimes by phone.
For coaching sessions I much prefer using tools that include the ability to see the person I am working with when not meeting in-person. There are nuances that can be missed and a bigger challenge to establishing strong connections with clients and colleagues when we can not see the people we are working with in many of the same ways that the switch to email vs. talking to clients and colleagues were experienced way back when email became a common method of sharing information. I also prefer being able to see colleagues on the virtual teams when we ‘meet’ as a voice only set up often means that several people start responding at once and thus many contributions can be lost in the confusion. So for those reasons, I applaud the creators of tools that let us see our clients and colleagues when they are thousands of miles away.
With all the tools available to us to ‘meet’ virtually it is important to remember that meeting in-person is a valuable aid to strengthening our work relationships and I encourage everyone to always try to meet in-person when possible.
Thank-you for visiting our new home at Evolve Executive Coaching. Please browse our other features to learn why Evolve Executive Coaching may be just the answer to your workplace challenges!
Evolve Executive Coaching for results based solutions specific to your leadership development needs. Contact us today!