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    Entries in coaching (4)

    Thursday
    Jan122017

    Leader as Coach: T-o-o  s-l-o-w

    The Leader as Coach approach has been a leadership staple in many industries and organisations for years.

    This is where a leader schedules one-on-one conversations and meetings with their team members. These conversations may be about helping that team member progress and develop, help them uncover ideas and actions to tackle challenges or barriers getting in that person's way or to perhaps have a tricky or difficult conversation about behaviour or performance.

    'Train the Coach', 'Coach the Coach' or 'Leader as Coach' programs have been a popular part of the learning and development offer for years.

    I recall delivering a coaching training program for leaders for a large banking and financial institution about ten+ years ago. They wanted to ensure their leaders adopted a coaching culture and in turn, help them be more effective at those crucial one-on-one conversations. 

    So, yes, coaching is a highly valued and valid leadership tool.

    But there's a but: it can be so. freakin'. s-l-o-w.

    Many leaders find the drain, drag and pace of one-to-ones across their team less efficient than they'd like ... and less efficient for the time they have available. 

    As one leader in the bank's coaching program I ran said (in objection to doing coaching):

    "It takes so long to get that person to realise what needs to be done, to go through the GROW model or whatever tool we're working on. I just don't think I have the time or the patience for this all the time".

    While that type of comment may run counter to what leadership or leaders should be like (read: more patient or more effective at coaching or more 'something'), the realities of pressured schedules, busy teams and project deadlines mean many leaders avoid the one-on-one or push it out and delay it or try and reschedule it time and again.

    As a result, communication, leadership, colalboration, performance and engagement all suffer.

    Rather than telling leaders to coach more or insisting they must coach more, I believe we need to acknowledge that leaders have time to leverage and the better they can do that, the greater impact they'll have - certainly more than what a raft of one-to-ones can achieve.

    To all the coaches or pro-coaches out there... relax, this is not to say one-on-one coaching conversations aren't needed; they are. For things like performance and development and tricky situations, sure; book a room, one-on-one and go coach. They will always be needed.

    But for some organisations who adopt and prioritise coaching, it can seem as if every conversation a leader has to have with their team members has the danger of turning into a book-a-meeting-room-for-a-one-on-one kind of meeting.

    When a business decrees that coaching or one-on-one conversations are the priority to lift performance or address issues, it can begin to chew up a lot of time in the diary.

    As a leader in a tech organisation said to me recently,

    "I've got a team of 12. When you add in the time of having heaps of one-on-ones with them, along with the team and group meetings, and the other responsibilities I have influencing and managing stuff, it all gets too much. I find myself thinking how else could I be leveraging this time".

    Not more meetings

    Please don't assume we're talking about running more meetings here. Meetings are already under pressure for wasting time, running off topic and being dominated by the loudest voices.

    But what I do think can be done is having more group conversations and sessions - small or larger groups.

    These small or larger group sessions can be focused on the same sort of development, barriers, progress... whatever other topics need to be managed for that team - but done in a group setting rather than always believing it needs to be done via a bunch of one-on-ones.

    This is where the leader as coach, shifts into a leader as facilitator.

    For some leaders there is a fear there; 'I don't want to be running a group session' or'Then the whole thing will get out of control; I'll never reign them in!' or 'How do I shut them up?' or 'I don't want things going off-track or getting to negative or turning into a whinge-fest'.

    Still other leaders are nervous in front of a group or worry about the questions they'll be asked or if they'd ever be bombarded or ambushed by a team of clique of people.

    But these are simply some of the fears of facilitation, the fears of working with and leading a group... and these fears can be allayed when you know what to do with a group or team in a group setting.

    Leverage for impact

    Indeed it's time for leaders to better leverage their time as well as the time of their team members. Rather than going s-l-o-w with lots of one-on-ones, leaders need to bring those individuals together to have more effective and impactful group sessions: both small group: twos, threes or fours... and larger groups seven, 10, 12, 25, 40 people.

    Time gets leveraged for all. Rather that 12 x 1 hour meetings, get everyone (or groups of everyone!) in the room and have a 15, 30 or 45 minute engaging session and conversation - well-facilitated by the leader.

    Lift the game

    Lazy leaders limp into meetings, slump into chairs and bark commands or tap their pens on the table. It's old school, last century and not facilitative. At all. Lazy leaders interrupt, bluff and bluster their way through BS jargon and wonder whey they have a disengaged and disempowered team.

    The leader as facilitator is a different way of behaving and leading. It requires a lift in your thinking and capability.

    The shift from 'Leader as Coach' to 'Leader as Facilitator' is underway and I see it as one of the most exciting shifts in leadership today.

    When a leader facilitates, group harmony and cohesion is strengthened and the sheer energy or vibe of the team, tribe or group coming together lift people to higher levels of performance. 

    Facilitators make progress easy... or easier. They run a process, respond to what happens and draw on very cool tools to make progress. 

    As a participant in my Leader as Facilitator program said:

    "Now I'm able to get stuff done; we talk as a team, I can help remove barriers across the team, we can make decisions as a team and I'm better able to handle the general sh*t that goes down daily in our team."

    (Note, this leader wasn't naming his people as sh*t; it was more about the finicky, challenging issues and hiccups that happen throughout a typical day when leading a diverse team).

    There are authentic, empathic and realistic ways to get stuff done in teams and keep the team connected to the work to be done, all via the power of facilitation. This is about being more of a Leader as Facilitator.

    Tuesday
    Oct042016

    You are sooooo much more than a coach

    The commitment to being a coach runs deep. To spend time with someone, one on one. To take time to uncover the situation, identify some possibilities for breaking through and achieving that shift that is needed to help people reach their best.

    There may have been accreditations and development and courses to get you to this space of being able to do it seemingly effortlessly, artfully and craftfully.

    So when people set up their business as a coach, life coach, business coach, coach's coach or executive coach, I often twitch a little and think to myself, ‘Oh but you are soooooo much more than a coach.'

     

    Ingenious and Interlocking

    You might call yourself ‘coach' so people can find you and that explains what you do, but the art of coaching runs way deeper.

    Yes, the capabilities are complex and interlocking, layered and so very clever - ingenious even - to be able to connect with people and help them unlock or breakthrough and reach greater clarity, progress, understanding or heights.

    But why do so many coaches only deliver these brilliant services primarily as a coach?

    Many coaches have developed their own IP or curriculum, models or processes - or they’ve adapted ones they’ve learned to suit the field or industry they coach in.

    So why don’t they do more with their coaching skills?

    If they’re content and happy, great. But for many, it’s hard work, earning a decent living and having time to spare for self and others.

     

    Commodotised or Differentiated?

    If you say you coach, you coach. Actually, it can become a bit commoditised. You’re at risk of getting locked into corporate coaching panels and day rates aligned as the ‘same as’ the services of so many others. What differentiates you?

    Don’t get me wrong; this can be great, right, perfect for where you’re at. But even saying you’re an ‘executive coach’ still puts you with the others. 

    What if you had skills, knowledge and IP that wasn’t being tapped? That there was work, impact, influence, change or money 'left on the table’ or there were people you weren’t helping but could?

     

    More than...

    So what else could you do with those skills that don't involve the often labour intensive one-on-one sessions of coaching?

    There are other ways through which you can deliver your coaching prowess.

    The first most obvious is to take that knowledge and deliver it to a group, not 1 on 1.

    A group. Anything bigger than two people. Now you’re in facilitator mode.

    Not coach, but facilitator. Helping make the group’s work easier, not just an individual’s.

     

    (Hello: If you don’t like groups and you’d rather coach one-on-one, carry on. But if you’re thinking ‘hang on… maybe there’s something in this, I tried it a few times and…’ read on)

     

    As a facilitator, you’re asking questions, eliciting information, using models and processes and your wonderful capabilities to guide or help a group reach its potential.

    Not just one person at a time.

    The leverage and impact you have here is significant. Massive. More getting done, in less time, for more people. The power of the group is all powerful. The synergy (yes, synergy, a corny word but that’s what happens in a group - a mini explosion of euphoria as they bounce off each other and build a wonderful bubbling of possibility and insight) of the group is like... wow!

    Yes you still see individuals in the room. You can see their challenges, barriers and sticking points but you can see it as it affects the group, as well as the individual.

     

    Helping them with leverage

    Increasingly, businesses and organisations are needing facilitators who will help teams and groups make breakthroughs and progress and get clarity and do awesome work. Not just coach individuals.

    You can carry on being all one-on-one but it’s gonna take so long to get around to see and work with everyone. And many businesses just won’t take the time for everyone who needs it to have their on-on-one transformational journey. It's not leveraged enough; it's not productive enough and it's too pricey. Bottom line is not a good enough return on investment.

    How can you help a business leverage their people and their time AND bring your expertise as a coach?

    It’s to use your skills as a facilitator. To coach a group. To facilitate.

     

    Oh, and relax....

    And you can relax… you still have your coaching abilities to offer when individuals need your guidance and expertise. You don’t need to stop this or remove it or delete it. It's because you are more than a coach.

     

    So hey, don't label yourself just as a coach or only as a coach. It’s limiting your expertise and reducing their leverage. Plus it means there are teams and groups and businesses and organisations out there who could be benefiting from your great skills ... but they are having to wait in line until it’s their one-on-one time. 

    Wednesday
    May152013

    Solo Operator : Diversify or Die

    I'm mentoring some sole business owners through a 10 week program in selling your expertise and at the core of it are a few key principles. 

    The principles are almost paradoxes, or ironies or those things that are true one moment and then untrue the next.

    While they need to focus and target their efforts to serve a specific market, I'm also encouraging them to diversify or die. 

    Of these business owners, one is a coach, one is a facilitator, another is a trainer. 

    I'm encouraging the coach to stop being 'just a coach', start offering what they know through other modes of delivery, like writing and speaking and training. They know so much, they're so talented, but they're running out of puff. There are only so many people they can coach in a day and only so much a corporate client will pay them once they're on the corporate coaching panel. 

    For the facilitator, a similiar thing is happening. They love working with community organisations but they're finding that despite some briliant positioning, they're running out of clients that have the cash to spend on a great facilitator. They're doing 'mates rates' and 'cheap days' and they're working very hard, for little return once they take out expenses. So it's time to diversify or die. They know great stuff - they can train others, mentor up and coming facilitators and speak on community engagement and change processes. 

    The trainer is just plain tired. Full days of contract training, on their feet talking, thinking, walking, listening. All day, every day. They're not able to earn much more per day than the 'going rate' and they too need to diversify or die. They have brilliant skills and knowledge. They could be speaking on the topics they know about, mentoring leaders, or shifting into the facliitation space, given they work well with groups. 

    The working world of today demands people with flexibility, insight and agility. You can't be everything to everyone - that dilutes your offer - but you will need to be able to deliver more than just one track, to survive when you're a solo operator. 

    I think the expert model of selling your expertise through a number of modes is a winner. Just this week I've facilitated, presented, coached, trained and consulted. And it's only Wednesday. I love the diversity not just for the changing scenes, but for the longevity and flexibility it provides in the long run.

    Diversify, definitely. 

    Thursday
    Apr252013

    Commercial - with Care

    A colleague of mine is struggling financially at the moment. 

    She works in her own business and is often very busy... her weeks are filled with lots of meetings, workshops, consulting and providing advice and help to clients. She cares so very much about helping people and organisations through change, conflict and communication.

    In short, she's doing what I'd call 'important work'. And she cares so very, very much. 

    A big focus of her work is with community and not for profit organisations. But she also offers coaching advice to well-salaried executives. 

    Money-wise, on the 'commercial' side of the balance sheet, she is doing it tough. To shift the whole money mindset thing, Peter Cook's "The Money Workshop" would be ideal for her!

    But I'm seeing an even bigger picture here and that is this model of Commercial With Care. I think every business, every practice, every entrepreneur has this model literally in front of them when they're working on their important work. 

    The two axes are about commercialism and care. When people are care-less and they're not taking a commercial approach to their work, they'll be struggling for years. They're not doing good work and they're not earning a living from it. They serve no one.

    If still they care-less but have a strong commercial focus, they make the big bucks but there's a trail of injured souls lying on the roads behind them. Ruthless, self-serving and self-centred - it's not a pretty picture.

    Shift up to where people really do give a hoot about others, and you'll see they're so very, very care-full. They give and serve and do important work. But if they're not commercial, they'll struggle. In a sense, they will over-serve; they keep giving without due return. Whether this is their own mindset at work, the way an industry has evolved or the way a market is, it's a disappointing situation. Such great work - but not appropriately remunerated.

    The goal is to get to the position of being able to serve all. You do great work, you are care-full and you realise that when you commercialise your thinking and your services, you'll be able to serve yourself as well as the people you care about. These people can be family, friends, clients, colleagues, volunteers, organisations, causes, charities.

    You won't be able to serve anyone if you don't take a commercial approach to the brilliant stuff you know. You can have both. You can be commercial and do wonderful, care-full work.

    Don't apologise for the great work you do. And certainly don't decide it's discountable before you've even put it 'out there'.

    You end up serving no one - least of all yourself. And if you're not serving yourself, you'll never be able to do important work for others.