Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Closing the Gap: How to Get Coaching

Guest post from Michael Bungay Stanier:

Over the last few years, the leadership world has begun to understand the importance of coaching in the workplace. But what has that really translated to?

Some companies went about implementing coaching by bringing in an executive coach to help develop their employees.

And while that can be a good introduction and yield great results, it can also be quite

expensive, the individual training can be a little inconsistent, and it doesn’t effectively implement coaching into the workplace long term.

So, although leaders have acknowledged the need for coaching within their organizations, they still aren’t 100% sure how to close the gap.

The key lies in turning existing managers into future coaches. And here’s how to get started.

Define What Coaching Will Mean to You

If you don’t know what coaching really means to your organization, what’s the point of trying to get into it?

“Coaching’ has been a bit of a buzzword over the last few years, and there are hundreds of definitions of it. One of my personal favorites, though, is this: “Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.”

That definition comes from Sir John Whitmore, and I think it’s a perfect way to introduce coaching. But that doesn’t mean you can’t alter it to best suit your organization’s goals.

Don’t Turn Coaching into a Big Deal

“Don’t turn coaching into a big deal.” By that I mean don’t try to create a coaching culture or make it a formal event.

Just because the HR industry has touted coaching as one of the best concepts ever in the leadership world, that doesn’t mean it’s a fix-all for your organization. True, successful coaching can improve the workplace in many ways, but that doesn’t mean it will immediately drive change and fix all the obstacles you’re tackling.

And that’s where trying too hard to make it part of your organization’s culture can get you into trouble.

Coaching is a tool that works best when it’s targeted toward one specific objective.

So instead of focusing on implementing a coaching culture, focus on that specific objective. Are you looking to increase customer retention? To better track website metrics? To improve operations budgets and procedures?

If you don’t outline exactly why you’re looking to implement coaching in the workplace, the whole concept of it may come across a little too vague and distanced from the busyness of the everyday workflow.

Make It Mean Something

Managers are busy enough as it is without having to feel like they’re going to be forced to learn a new skill. They need to understand a connection — that is, what’s in it for them? In order to bridge the gap and successfully implement coaching into their lives, they need to understand that, when done right, coaching can reduce their workload, make their teams less dependent and make their employees more accountable.

Once managers understand this, why wouldn’t they be more open to learning how to become more coach-like?

Show That It Doesn’t Have to Be So Hard

My experience these days, working with busy managers around the world, tells me that managers are stretched more thinly than ever. We thought we were busy in the year 2000, but that was nothing compared with today’s hyper-connected digital world.

So why would a manager want to take on the added task of coaching employees? Well, we’ve already settled that it will help alleviate some of their stress by encouraging their employees to be more autonomous. And I think it’s safe to say that a reduction in workload is a good reason to get started.

But what’s important to explain to your managers is that coaching doesn’t have to take more time, it doesn’t have to be an added task to a seemingly never-ending to-do list. Instead, it can be something done in passing, nothing more than a daily interaction that’s as easy as catching up by the water cooler.

Be Lazy, Be Curious, Be Often

Managers don’t need to become coaches; they simply need to become more coach-like. And the way to do that is for them to offer advice a little less often, and ask questions a little more often.

So, as a manager, the next time someone comes to you …

Be lazy. Don’t jump in right away to offer advice. Ask something like “How can I help?” This will work in two ways. First, it will force the other person to get clear on what it is they want or need from you. Second, it acts as a self-management tool that will keep you lazy — preventing you from running off to do things you think people want you to do.

Be curious. Instead of saying yes all the time or taking over, ask questions. “And what else?” leaves no rock unturned. The first answer someone gives to this question is never the only answer, and rarely is it the best one. There are always more answers to be found and ideas to be generated — and this question will keep you lazy and encourage others to come up with them. So, without coming up with the ideas yourself, and without taking on more work, you’ll get the answers out anyway — by helping your employee learn along the way.

Be often. Don’t set time aside to coach; rather, turn everyday conversations into insightful moments of coaching. Asking questions like the two noted above won’t take any more time out of your day, but the results will be noticeable.

So, instead of thinking of coaching as something else to add to your plate, think of it as an adaptable skill. It’s all about asking the right questions, asking them often and watching your employees learn through your daily conversations.

We’re all hardwired to give advice. But promoting a little more curiosity rather than expertise will create perfectly coach-like managers — and that, surely, will help bridge the gap.

Michael Bungay Stanier
Michael is the Senior Partner at Box of Crayons, a company that teaches 10-minute
coaching so that busy managers can build stronger teams and get better results. His most recent book, The Coaching Habit, has sold a quarter of a million copies. Along with David Creelman and Anna Tavis, Michael recently conducted and released a new piece of research, The Truth & Lies of Performance Management. Michael is a Rhodes Scholar and was recently recognized as the #3 Global Guru in coaching. Visit BoxofCrayons.com and http://boxofcrayons.com/pmresearch/ for more information.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Leadership Comes in Many Forms. Helping Business Save the Earth.

Guest post from Michael Lenox:
Humanity faces a number of critical sustainability challenges, global climate change chief among them.  In my new book with Ronnie Chatterji, Can Business Save the Earth? Innovating Our Way to Sustainability, we assert that to address these challenges requires substantial, disruptive innovation across a wide number of sectors.  Electrical vehicles in transportation.  Renewable energy in electricity generation.  Electrification in heavy industrials.  And the list goes on.
Such innovation cannot and will not happen without the active involvement of the business community.  Innovation is more than invention.  It is the creation of commercial viable products and service.  Markets are where the value of innovations are articulated.  Innovation requires creating value that exceeds the cost of production.  Business, and markets more broadly, are often the catalyst for innovation and are thus a critical players in our innovation challenge.
However, the burden of our sustainability challenges does not solely rest on business leaders.  Rather than berate business for inaction or implore them on the business case for sustainability, we assert that we need to think of the broader institutional envelope – the system – that shapes and influences how markets function.  This systems perspective highlights, in the famous worlds of Pogo, that “we have met the enemy and he is us”.  Or put more positively, we all have a responsibility to bear and a role to play.
This suggests a new type of leadership – one that Jeff Walker and his coauthors have referred to as “shapers”. Shapers understand that one must look for levers to influence the system – to shape it to desired ends.  Command and control does not work.  The innovation system has a momentum and logic of its own.  To increase the innovative output of business, especially the output of sustainable technologies, requires pushes and nudges along the edges.  Individual action may seem ineffectual, but collectively such action can have a profound impact on how the system behaves.
Business leaders clearly have a role to play in driving innovative new sustainable technologies that disrupt current markets.  So do customers that demand green goods and services and investors who seek out investment opportunities in sustainable technologies.  Government can both help create demand “pull” through pricing interventions and regulation and technology “push” by subsidizing R&D and funding university research.  Social ventures and NGO’s, of all shapes and sizes, can help catalyze the innovation ecosystem, for example, by creating market transparency through labeling initiatives or motivating corporate action through boycotts and protests.  Universities and national laboratories can provide the basic research that drives new technologies.  Entrepreneurial communities can incubate nascent technologies and ventures through accelerator programs and crowdfunding.  Banks can create green bonds and other novel forms of investing in sustainable technologies. And so on.
Ultimately, each one of us has an opportunity to lead, to shape the institutional environment so as to catalyze the innovation ecosystem to generate more of the disruptive sustainable technologies that we need to meet our sustainability challenges.  Time is of the essence.  Only through collective leadership can we meet the challenges before us.
 Michael Lenox is co-author of Can Business Save the Earth? and Tayloe Murphy Professor of Business Administration and Senior Associate Dean and Chief Strategy Officer at the University of Virginia's Darden School of Business. His work has been cited by the New York Times, the Financial Times, and the Economist. In 2009, he was recognized as a Faculty Pioneer by the Aspen Institute and as the top strategy professor under 40 by the Strategic Management Society. In 2011, he was named one of the top 40 business professors under 40 by Poets & Quants.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Beyond Self Awareness: Leadership’s Next Frontier

Guest post from Glain Roberts-McCabe:

This year, I published my first book. When I was trying to think of a book title, I reached out to our community of ambitious leaders for advice.
As I polled them with ideas (100 Ways to Bullet Proof Your Career, The No Bullshit Guide to Getting Ahead, Leadership Truths from the Trenches), the one that become the hands down winner was the one that I threw out as a joke: Did I REALLY Sign Up for This?!

Maybe I shouldn’t have been all that surprised. We are, after all, in a work world where we’re pulling terms from the US military to describe the levels of disruption we’re all feeling. VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) has gone mainstream.
Many of us feel like we’re going into battle each day. As leaders, we’re often simply trying to survive and make it to the next round of the fight.

No wonder we lose sight of our ‘why’. Work is exhausting. We’ve sped up technology and innovation but remain trapped in models, processes and working norms that were built in the early twentieth century. We are in the Age of Collaboration and yet bound by the Age of Industrialization.
We focus on the acquisition of knowledge and yet ignore how to increase our mind’s capacity to handle all this bombardment of data.

Where we used to think of self-insight and self-awareness as the ‘holy grail’ in leadership development, it is time to move beyond simply ‘knowing’ who we are as leaders to ‘reshaping’ who we are as leaders.
Here are three ways we can expand our individual and collective capacity in order to engage fully in this accelerated world of work.

1. Get Present
There’s a reason why mindfulness has gone mainstream. In a 24/7 world, our brains need some forced downtime. I tell my clients to grab an app (I recommend Headspace), join a program, download a podcast or simply start taking one purposeful breath before entering any room.

Seriously. Breathing alone will be a game changer. Check-in: where’s your breath right now as you read this? Is it shallow and at the top of your chest? Or nice and deep in your belly?

Take a breath. A nice, deep belly breath. Ah...

2. Manage Your Energy
For the past twenty years, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about working to strengths but not enough time thinking about how we manage energy. Given that a strength is the intersection between our capability and our passion, our attention goes easily to cultivating capability but we assume that passion won’t falter.

To manage in a complex, challenging workplace, we need to pay attention to how we keep the energy that fuels our passion buoyant. By taking control of your calendar and putting your ‘big energy boosts’ in first, you increase your odds of maintaining your motivation for the tasks that drain you.

Managing energy is one of the keys to building resilience.
3. Be Intentional

With so much disruption around us, it’s easy to get lost in the minutia of our day-to-day leadership. We lose track of our higher purpose (our ‘why’ as Simon Sinek would say) and forget about the impact we can make on those around us. Maya Angelou famously said, ‘I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’
How easy it is for our strengths to become overused in times of pressure. How quickly we can unintentionally succumb to behaviours that negatively impact those around us.

Leading with intention means stating your intention before the chips are down and the stress levels are high.
I am kind. I am patient. I am generous.

What are your intention statements? Read and repeat them every day, multiple times a day. Watch how your inner dialog changes as this mantra of intention takes hold.
Self-insight for leaders is great. Being self-absorbed with all this self-awareness is not. The future will belong to those leaders with the ability to expand their repertoire and adapt their approach to meet a world that’s accelerating at a pace never seen before.

This is the age of the mind and it’s time we start thinking about how we’re cultivating it.

Glain Roberts-McCabe is Founder of the Roundtable, a place where leaders cultivate their leadership, together through group and team coaching. She is the author of Did I REALLY Sign Up for This?! #leadership truths on how to drive, survive and thrive. The Roundtable was named the top External HR Advisory/Consultancy of the Year in 2016 by the Canadian HR Awards. Visit their website at www.goroundtable.com.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

What's Your Leadership B Side?

Guest post by Suzanne Vickberg and Kim Christfort:

Some of you will remember the days when listening to music didn't mean streaming it on your phone but instead putting on a record. And if that record was a 45, after listening to the hit song on the A side, you had to flip that little black disc over to hear the other song (the B side). The A side was why you bought the record but you got the B side song too whether you wanted it or not. As a leader, you too have an A and a B side. The A side features those strengths that are most coveted by organizations and teams and that make you valuable. Maybe you spark energy and imagination, or instead you bring order and rigor. Perhaps you generate momentum, or rather you draw teams together. These contributions are what set you apart as a leader. But like those old-fashioned records, you have a B side whether you want it or not. These characteristics are the flip side of your strengths, and they’re part of who you are as a leader, too. How your B side will impact your team depends on your leadership style. If you’re the type who focuses on possibilities and inspiring creativity in others, you may also be so impractical that your team is left scratching their heads about how to execute on anything. Or, if instead you provide a stable foundation that mitigates risk and makes people feel secure, your team may end up being too cautious and inflexible for today's fast-paced environment. If your style is to push your team hard to excel and rise to a challenge, you might also prioritize results over people with detrimental effects on the way team members relate to one another. Or, if on the other hand you build trust by prioritizing people and a collaborative culture, you might overemphasize getting everyone to agree, which can discourage differing opinions and lead to Groupthink.

So what to do when you can’t escape your B side?

We suggest you don't go it alone. Leadership shouldn't be a solitary venture and neither should exploring how to manage your own strengths and weaknesses. Bring others into the effort by letting them know what you’re trying to do. Learn together about different working styles, both the positives and negatives that tend to accompany them. Acknowledge your own B side traits and ask for help in managing their impact on the team. The great thing about this strategy is that by making yourself vulnerable, you are building trust with others. And it also makes it okay for others to be vulnerable and to focus on their own improvements. So go ahead and admit to your weaknesses. Your team likely already sees them anyway.

Another way to offset your B side might be to consider taking on a leadership partner, or co-lead, with a different leadership style. If a co-lead of equal rank isn’t the right solution for you, a second-in-command who’s different can also be a good balance. If you tend to get bogged down in considering too many perspectives, choose someone who can help you decide when to cut off discussion and make a decision. If you tend to push your team too hard or fast, partner with someone who might be able to help you see when it’s important to take a breather. Your leadership partner will have a B side too, and assuming it's different from yours, you can also help shore them up. Your team will benefit from more diverse strengths (two A sides!), and the less desirable aspects of your leadership may have less impact too.

Kim Christfort is the national managing director of The Deloitte Greenhouse™ Experience
team, which helps executives tackle tough business challenges through immersive, facilitated Lab experiences, and client experience IP such as Business Chemistry. As part of this role, Kim leads US Deloitte Greenhouses, permanent spaces designed to promote exploration and problem solving away from business as usual.

Suzanne Vickberg, PhD (aka Dr. Suz) is The Deloitte Greenhouse™ Experience team’s very own social-personality psychologist and the Business Chemistry lead researcher, which means she studies how people’s thoughts, behaviors, and preferences are influenced by both who they are and the situations they’re in. She uses Business Chemistry to help teams explore how the mix of perspectives brought by their individual members influences their work together. 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Hit Songs and Great Leadership

Guest post by Brant Menswar and Jim Trick:

While on the surface, you would think the goal of any songwriter is to write a song that  dominates the airwaves, flies up the charts, sells millions of records and wins a coveted Grammy Award. In reality, any successful songwriter is only trying to do one thing…connect heads and hearts. By doing so, we encourage the listener to become emotionally involved and internalize the song in a way that is unique to them. It even enables listeners to better remember the lyrics and melody by tapping into their limbic brain. If a song can inspire that level of connection, the awards and end results will take care of themselves.

So what does this have to do leadership?

A great leader shouldn’t be solely focused on driving record profits or earning that year-end bonus. A great leader must also connect heads and hearts. More specifically, an inspired leader is constantly trying to align organizational values with employee feelings. When we are successful in aligning values and feelings, our teams become more agile and adept at handling any change they may face. Your business is changing on a daily basis. In fact, that change brings with it an enormous amount of uncertainty. Unfortunately, our brains are wired to view uncertainty as a threat, so aligning values and feelings and connecting heads and hearts is no simple task.
Leadership guru and author, Simon Sinek recently said, “To affect change inside an organization we must remember why people resist change. People don't fear change, people like comfort. The status quo is more comfortable than the unknown.” 

With all due respect, Simon is partially correct but doesn’t tell the whole story. People do like things to be comfortable, however, people in fact do fear change. To be more specific, people fear the uncertainty that change always travels with. Surprisingly, fear is not the biggest obstacle to navigating change. 

In a recent Rock ‘N’ Roll With It survey we conducted about change, we found that while nearly 90% of respondents said they desired meaningful change in their lives, the number one obstacle stopping people from achieving that change was discipline (30%).  

How does this impact great leadership? It means that we need to help those we lead stay disciplined while working towards personal and organizational goals. We do that by first understanding that discipline can be broken into two parts.  


Being disciplined begins with commitment. Gathering a strong commitment from those we lead will have the greatest impact on achieving the positive results we are responsible for producing. So how do we inspire a level of commitment that will move the needle within our organizations? 

In order for anyone to consistently stay committed to something, they must define their core values. Core values are developed over a lifetime and are what guide our decision-making process. Unfortunately, most people have never taken the time to discern what their four or five core values actually are. This can lead to decisions driven heavily on “feelings” and that is a recipe for unstable, volatile, and potentially dangerous results.   

Have you ever been faced with a decision that was incredibly difficult and kept you up at night worrying? We all have been in that position at one point in our lives. But those of us who have taken the time to define what truly matters to us can reach a decision much faster knowing that the decision made was in alignment with our core values. No matter what the outcome.  

A great leader helps those around them define their core values to enable more efficient and burden-free decision-making. Bringing these core values into the light actually makes it easier to stay committed. It allows us to connect on a much deeper level to the work at hand so when an obstacle arises, we can find the proper motivation to push through and stay focused on achieving our goals. 


The second part of discipline is forgiveness. It begins with forgiving ourselves for past failures and lack of commitment. Staying 100% committed to anything is incredibly difficult at best and damn near impossible at worst. As humans, we love to punish ourselves for not being committed enough to reach our goals and aspirations. By not forgiving ourselves, we bring that baggage to the start of every new project and before you know it, there is no room left to make mistakes.  

Performing with the sole expectation of perfection is a soul-crushing, anxiety-ridden, creativity-killing endeavor -- one that can lead to failure, which will require more forgiveness and the cycle starts again.  

A great leader helps their people accept forgiveness and encourages the high level of commitment needed to positively affect change. Some days that level is greater than others. Making people aware that you understand that commitment level provides them with the freedom to make mistakes and take risks.  

It’s not just the individuals that need help forgiving themselves, but an effective leader can also help them forgive the organization for falling short of expectations and breaking past promises. Managing veteran employees who have been around long enough to witness disappointments can have a profound effect on employee morale. Helping them establish their core values and keeping them focused on the current work at hand will make it easier to align values and feelings.  

At the end of the day, being a great leader means making things personal and taking an interest in helping those you lead to become better individuals. When you help someone define their core values, you are providing them with shelter to weather life’s storms that go far beyond “work.” By encouraging and guiding their commitment, you allow them to achieve things they once thought impossible.  
As a leader, you have a choice as to the type of song you can write. We believe everyone has a hit song inside of them. What’s yours?

About the Authors:

Brant Menswar is the co-author of Rock ‘N’ Roll With It: Overcoming the Challenge of Change, a sought after keynote speaker, author and award-winning musician. Through his work as Managing Partner with Banding People Together, he has helped clients navigate change and influenced the collaborative culture of companies like NASA, Netflix, Verizon, Sony Pictures, Hard Rock and dozens of others. As the front man for the critically acclaimed blues/soul band, Big Kettle Drum, Menswar's voice has been described as “gritty and magnificent” by industry titans like Billboard and Sirius/XM Radio. Brant’s private fundraising concerts have raised over a million dollars for the non-profit organizations he supports. He serves on the Board of Directors for Children’s Home Society of Florida and is a graduate of Florida Southern College.

Jim Trick is the co-author of Rock ‘N’ Roll With It: Overcoming the Challenge of Change, a certified life coach, author, speaker and acclaimed folk musician. Trained by the prestigious Coach Training Institute and certified by the International Coach Federation, Jim has built a highly successful coaching practice in Marblehead, MA. Through his work with Banding People Together, Jim has helped organizations like Focus Brands, Hampton, SunTrust, NASA, ESPN and Cisco build a culture of effective collaboration. He is a regular guest lecturer at Berklee College of Music. Jim has founded two inner city food outreach programs for the homeless and continues to live his passion of working with people who want to personally and professionally live with greater freedom, fulfillment and success.