A short story from the mountains about how removing drag can be more effective than increasing power. Many times we could improve our life by cleaning up the things we do that actively damage ourselves: eating poorly, drinking too much, complaining, remaining angry, holding grudges, positioning myself as a victim.

What do you think? What’s your biggest “drag”?

This week’s video comes from Champery in Switzerland where I have been part of the faculty for a leadership program for the Avanade company. One of the other faculty is a Leadership Coach called Kris Girrell. He shared a simple 4 part structure for a Coaching Conversation.

The 4 Coaching Questions

  1. What’s Up?
  2. What’s So?
  3. What’s Possible?
  4. Let’s Go!
How to Have a Coaching Conversation

Learn More about Kris Girrell

In his TEDx talk, Kris shares a wonderful idea – the “Emotional Table of the Elements” – in which he created a someone tongue in cheek copy of the Periodic Table replacing atoms with emotions. I love the metaphor. Check out his TEDx talk below:

Knowing how to respond to others’ emotional states is the essence of Emotional Intelligence. But how do we actually learn it? Executive leadership coach Kris Girrell suggests that sometimes the path to becoming intimately aware of our emotions may be a little bumpier than we bargained for, but in the end, results in stronger relationships.

Kris is an executive leadership coach, co-owner of the Goddard Preschool in Reading, and author of A Married Man’s Survival Guide.

If you liked this post, you will also like The Greatest Coaching Question of All Time and 6 Questions to Ask Yourself Every Day to be a Great Leader.

This list is Conor’s “Sunday afternoon in a coffee shop brain dump” of reasons why Business Leaders seek the support of an Executive Coach or Mentor either independently or through an organisation like Vistage.

I’ve been working on leadership development for over a decade through my roles at IESE Business School, Entrepreneurs Organisation and Vistage.  I’ve come across hundreds of coaches and thousands of business leaders who have benefitted from the support of a coach.

  1. I have a specific need
    1. I regularly fail to achieve results (typically in one specific area)
    2. I want something specific (a promotion, more money, get fit, better golf handicap)
    3. I am frustrated at myself and nothing seems to be working
    4. I cannot relate effectively with somebody (children, parents, boss, team mates, senior leaders, wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend)
    5. I’m having a conflict with a colleague.
    6. I am burnt out/overwhelmed and need to release some of the pressure
  2. Someone Else tells me that I Need a Coach
    1. HR assigns coaches to all senior managers
    2. HR puts me on “fast track”
    3. HR identifies me as “needs improvement” but valuable enough to make the effort
    4. My friend/wife/husband/boss has told me that I have to make changes
  3. Conditions change
    1. I have been fired or my job made redundant
    2. I start a new business
    3. I change career path or change company
    4. I need new skills for my role (public speaking, writing, leading, managing others)
  4. I am Stuck
    1. I don’t know what I want (but I know that where I am now is not it)
    2. I have been passed over for promotion
    3. I need some help advancing my career, my career trajectory has hit a plateau.
    4. I feel bored with my life
    5. I feel that my improvement has stopped in an area of passion (golf, tennis, fitness)
    6. I feel that I am missing out on life (FOMO)
  5. My Leadership is Ineffective
    1. We don’t have a strategy.
    2. It takes too long to get things done.
    3. Turnover is high.
    4. My employees do not take responsibility for results
    5. The leadership team is not moving in the same direction.
    6. I need to take my Leadership Team or my Board to the next level.
  6. I want to “Win”
    1. I want to achieve something that will give me a sense of winning
    2. I want to increase my life challenge, I want to avoid complacency
  7. I want to be Inspired
    1. I wish to experience an excellent role model
    2. I want to see how you coach/lead me, what techniques you use
  8. I want Validation
    1. My self-worth depends greatly on external validation
    2. I lack a strong group of supportive friends
    3. I lack a trusted confidante who will be fully honest
    4. I need clear, objective and usable feedback

The Coach’s Perspective on Executive Performance

 

What about you?  Have you ever worked with a Coach?

What other situations or triggers would cause someone to see out Executive Coaching?  What is missing?  When have you sought out coaching?

The Top 6 Reasons why Leaders Seek Coaching

  1. Creating a 90-day plan
  2. Navigating Organization politics identifying tactics to deal with “politics”
  3. Managing work and life priorities achieving a workable “balance”
  4. Developing a strategy to grow your leadership presence
  5. Accelerating momentum in your current role
  6. Clarify goals and pinpoint how to achieve them

Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 13.50.41Here’s a video I shared recently on my YouTube channel.

What is the underlying structure of your life?  What habits are made easy because of the layout of your home, your office, the friends you hang out with?  How might you change the structure of your life in order to make certain positive habits more likely to happen?

Our surroundings affect us more than our intention and our discipline.

Making Changes that Stick, Building Good Habits

Right or wrong? 😉

I find it hard sometimes to listen to someone who just wants to tell me about the problem. They have a lot of energy and passion to describe their problem, but I can’t get them to engage in positive ideas for how they can move the situation to a better place.

I am empathetic for a while, then I get tired and tune out.

pablo (2)

 

The Approach of Leadership Coach Dan Rockwell

Dan Rockwell in his recent TEDx talk shared a scheme for bringing a conversation away from problem description. When people call for his help, they want to talk about their problem. He has 45 minutes to make a difference… he needs to get the conversation moving on from the problem. How?

He uses the acronym: PITSIT’N

  • Problem – Problem “Other people are doing bad things”
  • Imagine – Imagine if things were going perfectly. What would it be like? (they have no idea)
  • Trying – What are you trying to make things better?
  • Stop – What do you need to stop? (try harder doing the same things is never a real strategy) “You seem smarter than this” repeating same and becoming more frustrated
  • Imperfect – What is the imperfect behaviour that will move this forward? (little steps, trying little positive things, “if you can’t see it, it doesn’t count”, “we don’t need a touchdown, we just need a first down”)  What are possible behaviours that will move this forward?
  • Try – What would you like to try this week? How, when? “Pretend I’m that person and say it to me”
  • Next week – Next week, I am going to ask you four questions: What did you do, how did it work, what did you learn, what are you going to try next time?

Watch Dan’s TEDx Talk

What tools work for you?  How do you decide when somebody wants you just to listen to their frustration, or when they really are interested in your coaching to make progress?

Psychologist Martin Seligman explained that there are three ways in which our internal beliefs or narratives  become damaging: we make them personal, pervasive, and permanent.

Personal: I failed, so I must be a failure

Pervasive: I failed in this instance, so I’ll probably fail in every instance.

Permanent: I failed once, so I’ll probably fail always

When something goes wrong, watch how you speak to yourself.  Be careful of the words “never” and “always”.  A failure is a single instance of particular context and a particular version of your past self – taken positively, each failure makes you a better version of yourself.

It is not what happens that makes life hard, it is the perspective we chose to take on what is happening.  We can chose which questions we ask ourself.  If I ask myself “Why am I such a loser?”, my brain happily provides a long list of good answers.  If I ask myself “What would I change next time?”, my brain engages in a more positive search for answers.

The only true failure is to let one setback stop you completely.  You are not your current situation, you are the fullness of the journey that you will complete over your lifetime.

A mountaineer is not a failure when they are at base camp and only a success when at the summit.

On Psychologically Resilient Self-Talk:

  1. 10 Habits of Resilient People
  2. All Life demands Struggle

The basic freedom we have in life is the freedom to make mistakes.  If we can’t make (reasonable) mistakes and learn from them, what freedom do we really have?

“The first time it is an accident, the second time it is a decision.”

My girlfriend likes to say: “The first time it is an accident, the second time it is a decision.”

My daughter is 8.  She is starting to develop the ability to be guilty about something, and expresses anxieties about the world like never before.  I assume this is a normal part of the growing up.  She has a powerful creative imagination and it can develop some pretty powerful scary future scenarios.  She hears about a plane crash and imagines her family on that plane.  She hears about a boat sinking and imagines her family on that boat.  She does something that hurts her friend (accidentally) and now spends 15 minutes feeling guilty and wallowing in the sadness.

Slaves to Guilt?

The limit on our freedom in most western societies has nothing to do with rules or laws or police.  It has to do with guilt, and imagined potential guilt.  Animals have a freedom in that they don’t lay awake at night painfully reliving their mistakes of the day and reliving the crap in a self-destructive guilty wallowing.

The first time you try anything, you should not be able to feel guilty.  I am able to feel guilty about certain things when just imagining them… and then feeling guilty that I even imagined it.  This then puts me in a crappy mood and I give up all efforts to be a better version of myself.

Sometimes it would be good to fall sleep with the guiltless calm of a dog or a cat.  A deer watches another deer being caught by lions without dwelling on the idea: “it could be me.”

Accident or Benefit?

I wonder whether guilt and anxiety are evolutionary advantages or they are accidents that came with the enlarged frontal cortex?  Our ability to imagine the future and plan how we will meet challenges is no doubt a powerful survival advantage.  The agonising feelings of anxiety, of low self worth, of being “bad”, of guilt – do they help?  Maybe they help us survive, but they do not help us thrive.

With my daughter, I don’t try to tell her to not feel the anxiety or the guilt.  What she feels is real.  I loved a conversation she had with a wise 11 year old.  My daughter asked “what is the worst thing that has ever happened to you?”  The older girl replied “I don’t find that a good thing to think about…  I prefer to ask what is the best thing that has happened.”  The older girl has a great imagination but has learnt to direct her imagination towards the positive.  It doesn’t mean that she ignores reality, but it does mean that she doesn’t wallow in the negative feelings of what could go wrong.

Life can be scary and bad things do happen.  We cannot pretend that this is not the case.

We can cultivate the belief that we are resourceful and when we face challenges we will do the best that we can do – but we don’t have to spend our hours, days and years preparing for every horrific potential scenario.

Are you a parent who has seen a child face anxieties and feelings of guilt?  How have you helped them deal with these uncomfortable feelings?

 

Screen Shot 2014-11-24 at 21.50.55
The Art of Mentorship

The Art of Mentorship

I just posted a short presentation to slideshare: The Art of Mentorship

3 Types of Mentor

  • Sponsor (or Advocate) – puts their reputation on the line and takes responsibility for your personal success. Protege = “one who is protected”. Protege must do everything in his power to make the sponsor look good, or is wasting the sponsors time. “you provide a perspective that I otherwise would not have”; must be senior and influential, must be willing to make a stand
  • Experienced Guide – “so, what’s your next step?” helps you learn to trust your own decisions.  I personally have learnt to trust my own decision making processes in people decisions (hiring, firing, recruiting) from my recent mentors.
  • Coach – focus on performance improvement, sets clear goals, asks good questions to widen your perspective; seniority not necessary if can establish good credible relationship

5 Powerful Mentor Questions

  1. What is it that you really want to be and do?
  2. What are you doing really well that is helping you get there?
  3. What are you not doing well that is preventing you from getting there?
  4. What will you do differently tomorrow to meet those challenges?
  5. Where do you need the most help? (Who can help you?)

How do you set limits on “Free”?

I teach communication skills.  I help entrepreneurs deal with leadership challenges.  I find it hard to effectively manage the gap between free advice and paid consulting.

“Would you listen to my speech?”

or “Can we meet for a coffee, I have an important meeting coming up?”

I find it hard to do the “American Lawyer” mode – bring a clock and start timing the conversation as soon as I talk about communications.

I like the little conversations, but I am conflicted about how to set some limits.

How do you set limits on your service?

Are you a coach – how do you distinguish between “free advice to friends” and “professional services”?  How do you have the conversation when someone assumes that they should get your help for free (and you’re not so sure)?

…And The Overly Complicated Sales Cycle

The other area that I have challenges is keeping the sales process under control.

I have a Swiss client that calls me, says they need a specific date, signs the contract and pays.  Minimal admin.  Zero hassle.

I had a Spanish client that asked me to come back and explain my services 11 times before signing the contract.  I would not have done the 2nd meeting if I had known that there were 9 more to come.