Together, we are making a difference

by Linda Miller, MCC

Update after Asia Pacific Summit
I’ve spent the last week in Singapore culminating in our Asia Pacific Client Summit yesterday.  What a pleasure sitting with colleagues and leaders from around the world.  Several themes emerged as various people were speaking:Teamwork - Hands photo

From Ken Blanchard on leadership:  Organizations must change in order to keep up with the many changes that continue to take place.  In order for organizations to change, leaders have to keep stepping up and leading at a higher level.

From Margie Blanchard on multi-generations at work:  One of the many changes that are taking place is the change in the demographics of people in the workplace. With 4 generations working together, each of us needs to look for the contribution that other generations are making and flex to the needs of the different generations.

From two clients (a Telecommunications Company and a Multinational Software Provider) during a panel discussion – Development of talent is a current and ongoing focus in organizations.  Aligning leadership development with corporate strategy is critical and can start anywhere in the organization. A top-down approach isn’t always possible or best. Regardless of where development is focused, alignment is critical.

From Lael Good on developing a common leadership language – Programs aren’t enough to create lasting change. Having an integrated approach to leadership development is needed, including a common system, structure, framework and language for current and future leaders.

I also had the privilege of speaking about coaching during the Summit. We were able to do a brief coaching demonstration and allow people to practice coaching during the session.

Hearing about the impact of coaching in organizations was exciting and almost brought me to tears. We heard about managers and leaders who are integrating coaching into their leadership styles, and external coaches who are partnering with internal leaders to develop talent and reach their targeted goals. It amazes me how many people around the globe know about coaching and are aware of its impact.

Together, we are making a difference.

Seriously, How Are You Doing?

“How are you doing?”

What a loaded and complicated question. Even though I hear it on a daily basis, and know it’s coming, it always catches me off guard.

It can be incredibly difficult to tell if the person posing the question really wants an honest answer. More often than not, they’re using it as a simple greeting. Like when you pass someone in the hall and, without skipping a stride, have this simple exchange:

“Hey, how are you doing?”

“Good, you?”

“Good, thanks.”

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9 Questions to Prepare You for Coaching

You’ve made the decision to hire a coach…now what?

If you want to hit the ground running, you need to help your coach understand who you are and what you hope to accomplish. The following questions can assist you in being better prepared to begin your coaching journey. Share your answers with your coach so that your coach is able to adjust her approach to one that is best suited to your style and needs. Your answers to these questions will allow your coach to better help you in gaining further clarity on your goals and to help you achieve them faster.

  • What do you want from your coaching experience?
  • If you could achieve something spectacular out of the coaching what would it be?
  • What causes you to perform at your best?
  • What would you like to tell your coach about you and how you make changes?
  • How have people successfully given you feedback about potential blind spots?
  • What could get in the way of a successful coaching experience?
  • What advice do you have for your coach about how to interact with you to make the relationship powerful and productive?
  • How will you know that the coaching process is working for you?
  • What is the first step you could take that would make the greatest difference in your current situation?

Coaches, what questions would you add to this list?

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To Beat Defeat is Really Neat

The last couple of days I’ve been doing some redesign work on our department intranet site. Things were moving along pretty well until I encountered a problem. I knew what I wanted to do and felt confident I knew how to make it happen but, for whatever reason, it just wasn’t working.

I was puzzled and slightly frustrated since everything appeared to be done correctly. I had reviewed and analyzed all the little details of my work to see if I missed something. I couldn’t find anything. So I started experimenting with different settings that might have contributed to my problem. That didn’t work either. At this point, slight frustration turned into genuine frustration.

I picked the brain of my colleague in the office next door as he’s worked on a similar project. He couldn’t find anything out of place either and suggested I call our expert up in the I.T. department. But by this point, I was committed to figuring this one out. I refused to admit defeat!

After attempting every possible minor adjustment without success, I discarded ALL my work and decided to start over again from scratch. As far as I know, I did everything the same the second time around only this time, it worked! I threw my hands up in victory and danced around my office while laughing uncontrollably. (OK, so I may have exaggerated that a bit but I was obviously pretty pleased with myself.) Even though I can’t tell you exactly why it worked the second time but not the first, I did learn some new techniques and approaches throughout the problem-solving process.

The takeaway here is that there is a huge learning opportunity and an enormous level of satisfaction to be gained from solving a problem. And in order to solve a problem, you need to allow for the extra time involved. In this instance, I spent an extra two or three hours that I hadn’t originally planned for but the emotional return far outweighed the time investment. Had I escalated the issue to our I.T. department, the problem may have been solved a little quicker, though no guarantees, but I wouldn’t have the same emotional attachment to the outcome that I am currently experiencing. I’m still smiling!

What emotions do you experience when you solve a difficult problem? Do you learn best by doing? If not, what type of learner are you? And finally, leaders, are you allowing room for your people to problem solve?

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The Corporate Ladder: To Climb or Not To Climb

Last week I read a great post by Ted Coine over at the Switch And Shift blog that really resonated with me. The title of the post was, “You and Your People: Very Different Motivations.” In his post, Ted challenges the common leadership assumption that all employees want and need to continue their ascent up the corporate ladder.

“One of the worst problems we have is that we put ourselves in the shoes of others, rather than trying to understand what the world looks like to them from their shoes.”

In his post, Ted shares the story of a friend who is currently in an uncomfortable place of contentment in her current role. As she or anyone who has found themselves in this situation can attest, it is uncomfortable because you don’t want your being content to be misinterpreted as being unmotivated or disengaged. To avoid these dreaded labels, here are some tips to consider when explaining to your supervisor that, “All I really want is to do my job even better than I do now…”

  • Know Your Role, Grow Your Role. Understand and be able to explain how your role adds value to the organization. Additionally, continually look for ways to enhance and improve your role and be prepared to share those ideas.
  • Share How Your Vision and Values Align With Those of the Organization. Even if you’re not 100% totally aligned, sharing the commonalities can go a long ways toward helping your supervisor understand that you’re still on board with the program.
  • Request More Frequent Reviews/Check-Ins. Never say never…6 months or 6 years from now, you’re liable to change your mind and want to start climbing the ladder again. Whether that’s the case or not, requesting more frequent feedback helps demonstrate that you’re serious about continuing to excel in your current role, while also providing a forum to discuss future opportunities should they arise.
  • Help Them Get To Know You Better. Odds are your feelings of contentment are influenced heavily by what’s going on in your personal life. Allowing your supervisor to have some insight into that should help them understand why you feel the way you do.

Do you have any other tips? Have you ever had this conversation, either as employee or as manager? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Who Is My Audience?

I recently saw a well-known company’s new ad campaign for the first time. And while I thought it was creative and well-executed, I couldn’t help but think that it likely wouldn’t resonate with 75% of their target audience. And while that in itself is a big problem, a bigger problem came to mind…not only would the campaign likely not resonate with that large and substantial majority of their audience, but it might actually offend or push some of them away altogether.

Obviously, I doubt pushing existing or potential clients away is that company’s intent. However, it reminds us of a very important question we all need to ask at times…
“who is my audience?”

Whether you’re an organization unleashing a new ad campaign or a leader trying to influence a call to action, it’s important to know and understand your audience. You might have the greatest idea in the world but if you aren’t able to pitch it in a way that appeals to your audience, then it becomes a wasted effort.

Leadership is about influence. And in order to influence, you must be able to connect with your audience. Once you’ve identified your audience, consider their demographic profile to make sure you’re connecting on a relatable level. Try to identify potential problems with your approach up front so that you can correct ahead of time. If you think your message could possibly alienate or offend a portion of your audience, stop and adjust.

The next time you find your leadership influence isn’t influencing, stop and ask yourself, “who is my audience?”

Can you think of a time where your message wasn’t effective, or you got into trouble, because you weren’t in tune with your audience?

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The Truth About Coaching

Casting a Critical Eye on Coaching must-read article on executive coaching in Chief Learning Officer magazine. This strongly supports everything we know to be true about coaching in organizations and thus our methodology and approach.

Their short story: There are proven benefits to coaching as a leadership development tool if engagements are structured, transparent and their effectiveness measured.

Our short story:

  • The coach is only as good as the players’ readiness, willingness and ability to shift and grow.  Coaching is best used to help good people be great, not to stabilize the “problem people.”
  • The goals for coaching must be crystal clear for coach, client and organization to know if it has been successful.
  • Coaching is an extremely broad and multi-purpose tool – like a Swiss army knife – and the task at hand must be clearly defined so the right tool can be deployed. And as great as a Swiss Army Knife is, sometimes you need a wrench, meaning: coaching is not right for everyone all of the time.
  • There are ways for the correct people in the organization to get good information about the coaching without betraying confidentiality.  It takes a little work and a lot of finesse – for more information on this go to Ace Coaching Alliances

We have devoted our lives to coaching and we are thrilled that the information about how to best leverage it in organizations is becoming more and more clear!