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Coaching is a very difficult profession that requires coaches not only to build a reputation in their niche, it also requires that they demonstrate the very highest principals when coaching others

Coaching is a very difficult profession that requires coaches not only to build a reputation in their niche, it also requires that they demonstrate the very highest principals when coaching others. The key attributes and skills demonstrated by the best coaches lie in helping individuals build relationships and to become leaders in their chosen field.

Building Relationships

Unlike many other jobs, coaches have to have an absolute mastery of relationship-building skills. Good relationships which are a complex set of interactions, often between very different types of people can maximize the effectiveness of good communication. And coaches realize that as they begin working to enhance the lives of others, it all begins and end with good relationships.

Relationships are built over time, and good coaches understand that the process is a series of interactions with an individual that will develop trust, respect and mutual understanding.  Relationships, like leadership, are not a “top/down” process. For many years, our culture has stressed this top/down hierarchical organization. At work we are used to having an authoritarian boss; at home there has often been a sole breadwinner and decision maker.

This type of relationship is counterproductive in the modern environment and has become out-dated. Modern research into effective relationships at home and at work is based around an understanding of mutual respect and bridge building. The process is often studied in terms of business dynamics, but it is also being applied to other types of relationship.

The Qualities of Leadership

A coach is essentially a leader. Again leadership is often a very misunderstood concept. Modern studies of leadership denounce the traditional method of authoritarian leadership …  pointing out that it often stifles personal and group growth the very thing that personal coaching attempts to increase. As such a coach must understand leadership in its modern form.

Leadership is often seen as a “bottom/up” process that relies on a person being able to engender a vision in the mind of others, and to motivate them to invest their time and energy in realizing this vision. And good leaders will have a variety of motivational techniques that emphasize the importance of the individual contributions made by their peers. Coaches always strive t engender the “can do” attitude in individuals?who often shift the burden of learning and development squarely onto the shoulders of others.

A coach is a facilitator, and gives others the necessary skills for self-achievement. A great mind exercise is to think about a sports coach. The position of coach is not about being able to run the fastest, nor is it about being able to complete passes: All successful coaches?in any field? enable others to achieve their goals by providing the necessary tools, training, and motivation.

It is mid afternoon

It is mid afternoon. You are sitting at your desk trying to pull together this important proposal for your boss. It is due the day after tomorrow. As you wrestle with how to incorporate a complex spreadsheet from the finance department, you wonder when your quality analyst will bring in those last two key pieces of production information. Then there is still your own summary piece to write. But what will you write? The recommendations just aren’t coming from your brain.

We have all been there. You hit a point when it feels like you are trudging through quicksand. Everything is difficult. Your energy and enthusiasm for the task is dropping rapidly. It’s no longer any fun. You begin to question your own ability to do this work. You just want it off your plate-done!

How do we typically respond in a situation like this? When we finally stop procrastinating, we typically just grit our teeth, hunker down and try harder to focus on the detailed steps and problems, one-by painful-one. All the while we talk to ourselves, allowing our silent critic to castigate us for our incompetence or inviting our-reluctant-cheerleader self to give us a pep talk… “Go get ’em. You can do this. No sweat, piece of cake.” Instead of focusing on our work, our thought dwell on ourselves and how we are (not) performing.

Of course, this is not a productive state-of-mind to be in. In fact, it is the polar opposite of what researcher Michael
Csikzentmihalyi calls the “flow” state. Flow is an optimal performance mental mode where you forget about yourself and merge with your activity. You feel challenged yet in control. It is a timeless state-you don’t notice the clock. People often experience it in sports, at play or when truly engaged by work. Above all, flow is a productive place to be.

There is a way to climb out when you are mired in a “mental valley.” Try it out yourself and coach your employees to do the same.

You must get in touch with two images. First, consciously remind yourself what the goal of your activity is and picture how you will feel when it is done. In the opening scenario, your goal is the finished report. You could decide to replace your self-defeating, negative thoughts with images of handing it over to your boss and how great and proud you feel doing it.

Secondly, remind yourself why you are in this line of work in the first place. This gets you back in touch with your overall purpose and with the real meaning behind your efforts. Again, in the opening scenario, you would tell yourself why this report is important and how it will contribute to the organization and positively affect people.

When you raise your gaze above the sometimes draining details of your job, you will rekindle your energy and begin feeling creative, confident and motivated. Best of all, you will get the job done and achieve the results you are seeking.

Introduction

Introduction 

Leadership tips are available anywhere.  There are books, seminars, posters to put on the wall.  I’ll try not to repeat the most common ones.  In this article we deal with ego. 

Everyone has an ego.  If you are in a leadership position, even of your own making, then you probably have a substantial ego.  It’s not a bad thing.  A strong ego is at the heart of your self confidence.  It’s what helps you make and defend decisions, and fight off your competition.  Your ego is a critical part of who you are as a leader.  It can also work against you. 

Leadership Tip in Story Form 

Recruited to a new job in a new location, I inherited an IT organization of around 100 people.  Their reputation was that they were hard working but ineffective.  There were quality issues with systems, and projects almost never delivered on time or on budget. 

So there I am, in week two or three on the job, sitting in a meeting with 8 managers from different departments.  The group is reviewing outstanding issues on a specific project and figuring out how to address them.  Everything is being handled smoothly, and the group quickly reaches consensus — a schedule slip is required. 

This was one consensus that was achieved far too quickly for me.  I spoke up (loudly) and told the group the schedule slips had to stop.  I told them their reputation with client organizations was in the toilet, and it was time for this behavior to change or we would have to change the makeup of the management team.  I told them I didn’t relocate my family to be part of a group of losers. 

Dead Silence 

Yes, the room was very quiet for just a minute.  Then one of the managers spoke up, rather forcefully.  And all she said was, and I quote, “Don’t you ever talk to us like that”. 

Whoa, didn’t see that coming.  Moreover, I didn’t like it one bit.  I could feel the blood boiling and my face getting red.  Here I was, the new sheriff in town, and I’d just laid down the law.   

Now sports fans, a quick check of the scoreboard.  There are zero people jumping to my side of this conflict.  One brave (or stupid) manager strongly challenging my authority, and seven other people saying nothing but watching very closely to see how this game is going to end. 

My gut, fueled by my ego, told me to fire that woman on the spot, or at least toss her out of the meeting and tell the rest of the group that anyone who wanted to join her was free to go.  Somehow, somewhere I got enough common sense (something not always compatible with big egos) to declare a ten minute break. 

Everyone left the room but me, and I’m sure there were some interesting conversations that went on as folks strolled down the hall.  I had some decisions to make, fast. 

Separating Ego from What’s Really Important 

When everyone came back into the room, I think I shocked them all.  I thanked the rebellious manager for her feedback, and apologized for my behavior.  Then I quickly made clear the difference between my behavior and my position. 

The group needed to understand that the easy action of slipping the schedule should not be easy, and could no longer be an easy decision as we went forward.  How I made that point to them was wrong, but the point I made was non-negotiable.  I intended to challenge them, every day if I had to, but I promised to do so with respect, and I apologized for having been disrespectful before the break. 

That was tough.  Inside, I really was still angry at that manager who spoke out.  I didn’t know yet whether this team of people really could change their behavior and turn the organization’s performance around.   I thought my original gut instincts were more right than wrong.   

I wouldn’t hear the term ego sacrifice until a year or two after this incident, but boy did I sacrifice my ego that day.  And it hurt my pride.  Here’s the thing, though.  The hurt healed, pretty quickly.  And from that day forward, eight managers saw me differently. 

When you sacrifice your ego, you don’t wimp out.  You separate your own pride from the situation.   I didn’t yield on the importance of sticking to committed project schedules.  Starting right then schedule slips were treated as a very big deal, and there were less of them.  At the same time, I established an implicit value of mutual respect that would govern many future discussions and issues. 

What would have happened without the ego sacrifice?  It’s hard to say precisely, but the one thing that’s certain is that mutual respect as a shared value would not have taken root that day.  Regardless what might have happened to that specific project, I have no doubt that some of the improvements that group made in the following months and years would not have happened.  And my ego would have been to blame.

One of the most asked questions i receive from business owners and managers is “what are some things i can do to motivate my people

One of the most asked questions I receive from business owners and managers is “What are some things I can do to motivate my people?”  The truth is, regardless of what techniques a company may use, if they don’t fix these 5 things, employees will never perform at their best.

Not Knowing How to Properly Perform Their Job

Anyone who has been part of the interviewing process has eventually come to this realization:  People don’t look like their resumes. Yes, I said it.  People aren’t as qualified as they seem on their resumes. Where should the blame fall in this competitive job market where resumes are examined under a microscope?  It doesn’t matter.  The problem is we hire these people thinking they have certain skill-set and a certain level of experience.  Then, after they are hired they are treading water trying to figure out how to survive.  And for most, their companies do not have an adequate training curriculum for new employees to really learn their jobs.  So what do these new employees do?  They “fake it till they make it”. And all the while, performance is suffering.

Poor Performance Is Tolerated In Other Employees

Regardless of whether we believe it to be right or wrong, people are dramatically affected by how other employees are treated and by the expectations placed on them. If there are a few employees who have bad attitudes, or perform at a lower level and it is tolerated, it is very difficult for the other employees (who see this going on) to accept being called to a higher expectation.  They may assume that the boss doesn’t know, or more likely, they will assume the boss is playing favorites, and it kills both morale and motivation.  Honestly, I see this one all of the time and it frustrates me every time.  I hear all sorts of reasons why it’s not addressed in some employee.  But regardless of the reason given, performance will eventually fall.  If enthusiasm is contagious, so is lethargy.

They Don’t Know They Are Not Doing A Good Job

In today’s workforce, there is often a great lack of feedback given to those whose performance is lacking.  Whether it is because the manager is busy or just a conflict avoider, many workers today receive no feedback when they complete a task or when their performance falls below expectations.  When there is no feedback, there is no reason to change performance.

They Feel They Are Underpaid

It’s amazing that with the seemingly endless resources online in which one can look up salary information that more employers don’t know what the average salary is for a position.  I guarantee that the employees working do and if they feel they are being underpaid, there is going to be a problem.  If employees feel underpaid, it’s very unlikely they are giving 100%.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that overpaying will motivate someone to do more (pro sports should teach us that), but underpaying is a sure way to keep people from being fully motivated if they stay in the first place.

They Get No Recognition For A Job Well Done

Doing your best and nobody saying anything is almost as good as a slap in the face.  Yet it is one of the most common problems I see in the workforce today.   There is nothing like someone giving their all, going above and beyond the call of duty, and then no one saying, “good job”, “we appreciate your effort”.  Adding insult to injury is when  the boss says, “Why would I thank them to do what I already pay them to do?”  With that going on, what is the likelihood of them going above and beyond again?  The only possible reward is when they get demoted to a higher position.

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