Author: necoaching

Similarities between Coaching and Investing

by necoaching necoaching No Comments

insuranceI was recently researching the benefits of having a Whole Life Insurance Policy. For the uninformed this is like a life insurance plus an investment portfolio all wrapped up in one. The beauty of whole life insurance is that there is a payment when you actually die; the more typical life insurance policies expire when you turn 65. This all sounds very morbid but there is a point as it relates to coaching that I would like to elaborate on.

Firstly, on a very practical level, coaching is an investment both in terms of time, effort and money. You need to commit resources on a consistent basis in order to get a return. There is also a relationship to how much you put in and yes, just as with your money, there are trade offs in terms of redirecting some of your priorities.

Secondly, there’s the risk. What might coaching uncover about who you are, your purpose, your destiny? What actions will you be willing to take in pursuit of what matters most to you? How might it impact your family, the people you work with, your career or your business? With actions there are always consequences.

Thirdly, there’s the control. Unlike a financial investment, you have more control over YOU than anybody else. Coaching helps to create this self awareness and confidence, and the proof is the countless stories of how people have overcome enormous adversity in pursuit of a dream. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

And finally, there’s the return. With an investment portfolio, there are no guarantees but history would suggest that it you are in it for the long run, it will inevitably lead to a positive outcome. So it is with coaching, if you commit resources and are prepared to try new things, inevitably something positive will manifest.

Ironically the insurance policy alluded to above as “Whole Life” also pertains to coaching. Irrespective or what type you might receive, whether executive, career or wellness, there is no separation between personal and professional; they all intertwine. So in many respects what one is investing in is Whole Life Coaching.

Keys to “Non Profits” Success

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success 2With so many non profit organizations vying for limited financial resources, what separates all of these very worthy causes into those who flourish and those who flounder? In addition, with so many volunteers being involved, what are the fundamental requirements to ensuring these organizations sustain and succeed? There are four.

1. Leadership

Within a volunteer body, if there is not a strong leadership presence the whole thing falls apart rapidly. However the style and approach is critically important. The best analogy is a conductor of an orchestra. Alone, there is no music but with appropriate direction towards the musicians, amazing things can happen. And one of the primary responsibilities of any good leader is to clearly provide a sense of ….

2. Purpose

This is so often overlooked and speaks to the question of WHY. Why are we here, why do we help this organization, why do we work so hard? With purpose, intrinsic motivators such as fulfillment, satisfaction and other positive feelings prevail. Without it, people will offer a minimum in terms of their unique talents and may give rise to the possible minimization of the critical element of….

3. Engagement

People at a very basic level need to feel a sense of belonging; that their voices are heard and that their ideas are considered. When they do, they are enthusiastic about their experience, they feel it’s time being well spent and because of this engaging environment, they are far more likely to spring into…..

4. Action

Yes this is where the rubber meets the road. With action, “stuff” gets done, money is raised, donations are forthcoming, the needy are helped and most important the purpose gets fulfilled.

Although this is presented in the context of a non profit “volunteer” organization, quite frankly all of the above is very relevant in a “for profit” environment as well.

Top 10 Leadership Traits

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(in no particular order)

18559263_blogThere appears to be an infinite amount of books on the subject of leadership and despite this every year more new ones come out. However to a large degree this subject just gets re-hashed through a different set of lens and therefore continues to be compelling reading for those of us that are seeking the Leadership Utopia of Knowledge. For those who don’t care to read them all, below are what I believe to be essential leadership traits. Do these well and you are 90% of the way there.

Clear vision of the future
They have absolute clarity on where the business is heading even if unsure how and by when they will get there. They truly believe in the vision.

Big picture thinkers
They focus on what’s critical and allow others to manage the detail by clearly understanding the key drivers and associated success indicators. They do not micromanage.

Invest in their people
They see that a primary role for them is to ensure that people are performing at an optimum level. Talent management, from recruitment to retirement, is one of their top priorities.

Sufficient general business knowledge
They know enough about all disciplines to execute upon the vision even though their expertise maybe in sales, operations, finance or some other discipline.

Possess a quiet determination
They work through adversity and understand that this is a journey, not a destination. They expect challenges along the way and work through them with great resolve.

Demonstrate emotionally intelligent behavior.
They understand that working with people is emotional and involves doing the appropriate thing, at the appropriate time, with the appropriate people.

Have personal humility
They possess an uncanny ability to downplay their own contribution and are more driven by supporting other people’s growth and success. They genuinely care about others and less about their own ego.

Self driven towards success
They are on their own with few peers and many reports. It can be lonely but they have learned to adapt well to this environment through a personal inner drive to succeed. They are determined and self motivated.

Look after their personal health
In order to perform at their best, they see their physical well being as key to their being sharp and alert. They exercise regularly.

Have a stable personal life
They ensure time for family because one cannot detach personal and professional life; consequently family provides a reciprocal understanding for their work commitments. They make time for both.

The Keys to Effective Employee Engagement

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internal coachingEmployee engagement is the collective level of intellectual and emotional commitment employees have toward their work and organization. More and more organizations are embracing this as a means to understanding how they measure up from an engagement perspective. Consequently many different types of tools and surveys are now being accessed to help create some objectivity as to how people feel about their work.

Once these surveys are undertaken and organizations wish to elevate their engagement score, three areas where significant developmental opportunities exist are:

Emotionally Intelligent Leaders
Do qualities such as being responsive, empowering, resilient, expansive, empathetic, authentic and present best describe people worth following? Emotionally intelligent leaders clearly understand that their approach is less about them and more about, through these qualities, supporting and coaching the people who make it happen. This very much compares to what Jim Collins in “Good to Great” described as Level 5 Leaders; those having Personal Humility and Professional Resolve.

Highly Motivated Employees
Employee motivation is influenced by a number of factors namely your job role, your boss, the team you associate with and the organization (and culture) you are part of. Based on these criteria, it is important to ensure that the motivational need of the individual compares favorably to what is available to them; there is a fit. By focusing on developing these areas, employees are provided with a greater sense of belonging and desire to make a more meaningful contribution.

Adopting a Coaching Approach
The very essence of coaching involves supporting other people’s success. The skills are rooted in connecting through listening, questioning, acknowledging and validating and genuinely supporting the other person. However there is also a clear focus on action but one that can be agreed upon, acted on and recognized when complete. Coaching is used to provide people with the resources, knowledge and skills to make positive decisions/actions that can advance the individual and their organization.


The 5 Questions For Every Business

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For anybody familiar with the Toyota Manufacturing System, Lean Manufacturing, or Kaizen Events, the “5 Whys” is a pretty familiar tool. It is used as a diagnostic for digging deep into what might be the root cause of a particular problem. The rationale behind this is that the more you dig the greater the understanding and therefore the more likely a successful outcome. So let’s extend this even further and challenge us as to another variation of the 5 Whys as it might pertain to a business. The following are the five critical “why” related questions, the answer to which should help uncover your true business proposition.

  • Why do you do it? People are drawn to what the Leader’s underlying motive is and whether there is absolute belief in what you offer.
  • Why should I choose you? Customers buy on emotion and justify based on fact. So as much as we espouse the features and benefits of what you sell, what is the true emotional carrot that influences customers to buy from you?
  • Why do people work for you? Is your Staff engaged and happy in what they do? The benefits in terms of efficiency, turnover, innovation, etc, are huge. Remember sustainable success is a function of happiness.
  • Why are you better? What is the one characteristic about your business that sets you apart from Competitors? Is it a unique technology, marketing strategy, charismatic leader or something else? What is your key differentiator?
  • Why would I invest in you? Shareholders would be very interested in the answer to the first 4 Whys. What is it about your product, customer base, team or something else that would inspire somebody take the risk and invest in your venture?

Try it out – the honest answers you come up with will either be confirming, or perhaps a sign of an area that needs more work.


Purpose & Personal Energy

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question-2Once clearly understood, a purpose can have quite a profound impact on moving people. It speaks to reason, it can answer the question “why” and, most importantly it very often is the real impetus behind meaningful change.

Dan Pink, in his book “To Sell Is Human”, refers to a variety of studies conducted whereby individuals who were aligned with a clearer sense of purpose out performed those who did not. He also claims that where there is a personalization attached to a purpose, it motivates people to action in a much speedier and effective manner.

Organizations, as we know, spend considerable time gaining clarity around purpose in what becomes known as their Mission Statement. However it often fails because it is typically an all encompassing set of words that most cannot relate to and more specifically, it’s not personalized. Therefore to be more effective, leaders should consider fragmenting their Mission Statement in a manner that employees can relate to. Then they are more likely to rally behind and spring into action.

Purpose can manifest in many ways. Asking why 5 times, conducting root cause analysis, asking empowering questions, providing insightful listening are all tools used to establish this key and fundamental element in the process of change.

Similarly as coaches working with individual clients, a key part of the coaching process is to establish the purpose. This very often involves a series of questions that help peel back the layers of the onion to get to the core of what really matters. Once this is established, then a different level of engagement and enthusiasm ensues; the source of personal energy. It is at this point that responsibility emerges and effective action can take place.

There are no Mistakes

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mistakesJames Joyce once wrote, “A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery”; he was speaking about William Shakespeare. Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work”. What does all this mean? Are mistakes simply an essential part of how we develop, both personally and professionally? In fact, one could even say that most mistakes are positive!

As human beings, despite our best intentions, we make “mistakes” all the time. As Peter Buffet in his book Life Is What You Make Of It, he points that we makes mistakes when impatient and indecisive, with foolish acts and foolish failures to act, when overly ambitious and not ambitious enough. There is no prescription for this and each situation is unique to every individual. Yes we can learn from others but you will never know exactly what works for you unless you try it.

Obviously, a certain amount of caution can be exercised but doing nothing can also be considered a mistake; a Catch 22 if you will! This applies to every single aspect of your life whether it has to do with family, career, health, money, relationships, etc. So what might be some options to mange these “essential mistakes”?

  • Do some analysis – assess the “pros and cons” to gain a deeper insight of what might be involved
  • Speak to others – identify those you know, like or trust who might have some experience and are prepared to offer their advice
  • Hire a coach – seek out an objective, professional confidante who will challenge but also support you along the way
  • Be courageous and just do it – maybe walk before your run and you can always adjust your setting along the way.

All of this revolves around being an active player in your life and being less concerned about the judgments of others. Perhaps there are no mistakes!

Conveying a Message

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20201098_blogThe art of communication is often regarded as quite elusive and something that very few people have mastered. In fact, it is well known to inspire more fear as speaking in public is right up there with the thoughts of death. Often the question is asked whether it’s something you are born with as a natural extension of who you are or, can it be actually learned?

Within the art of conveying a message, yes it’s an art and can be learned, there are a few important elements to be aware of. The first is the pretty widely accepted Mehrabian’s 7% – 38% – 55% rule. This basically says that when you speak, your words only convey 7% of the message, while 38% is attributed to tone and 55% to body language. Often times we get so hung up on what we wish to say, we forget all about how we say it and that makes up an astounding 93%.

Therefore mastering body language becomes an opportunity, should you wish to improve the effectiveness of your message and according to Mark Bowden, in his book Winning Body Language, the positioning of your hands is key. He suggests about various positioning “Planes” which you can think of relative to the alignment of your arms / hands. By imagining you are standing in front of a group, these can be described as follows:

  • Grotesque Plane – hands straight down by your side and consequently your body somewhat slouched. This suggests insecurity, lack of confidence and perhaps not a lot of belief in the message you are conveying.
  • Truth Plane – your hands are placed at your navel with body more upright. This suggests confidence and believability in the message being conveyed.
  • Passion Plane – this is where your hands are expressive and at chest level. Assuming you have secured the integrity of the message (truth plane), this allows you to inspire people though demonstration of your passion.

Both the Truth and Passion planes require that you stand upright which also maximizes your breathing capacity, which is critical to controlling your physical and emotional state. Consequently, it is important to consider in advance what it is your wish your audience to really hear (beyond the words) and then use the appropriate body language to go along with this.

The Power of Civility

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What does it take to make a relationship work? Or perhaps more importantly, what is typically at the heart of a relationship breaking down. When you meet somebody for the first time common courtesy (for the most part) and benefit of the doubt puts the relationship somewhere on an even keel. Then depending on the subsequent course of action and behavior, it either goes up or goes down. One of the key behavioral drivers to this is the degree of civility, or perhaps lack thereof.

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, authors Porath and Pearson suggested that the price of incivility (rudeness or lack of respect) is hurting morale and ultimately the bottom line. They go as far as to suggest that “leaders at work can counter rudeness by monitoring their own action and fostering civility in others.” Common sense and life experiences would suggest a general nodding agreement with this sentiment.

There are a variety of strategies that can be employed consciously to ensure civility.

1. Respect – everybody deserve this no matter who the other person is and irrespective of where they fall in the diversity spectrum.
2. Self Awareness – watch yourself and solicit feedback to make sure that how you show up is consistent with your intentions.
3. Vulnerable – put yourself out there and do not fear moving outside your comfort zone
4. Optimism – see the good first, seek the opportunities and make choices accordingly. Where you focus (optimism) is where you typically tend to go.
5. Compromise – make agreement the main focus; by understanding differing points of view it will help move towards a decision that is for the larger good.

All of these behaviors also lead to reciprocity. You will find the more civil you are, the more civil others will be with you. As Gandhi so eloquently said, “be the change you want to see.” It starts with you.

New Year’s Wish List

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listI was recently asked by my own coach, as we ponder a new year, to identify my 100 Desires; anything I would like to do, to be, to taste, to go, to have or to experience. Whatever came to mind was written down with little or no judgment. Interestingly the exercise turned out to be much more difficult than I thought it would be. The first 30 or so were easy but then it got steadily more difficult and by 45, I was done. I put it aside for a few days and came back to it and added another 5. The more I reflected on this exercise, the more I thought there was a catch or perhaps I was missing something.

So, in a creative moment of genius, I decided to view this exercise from the perspective of what would the people who I care most about say. I thought of my wife, my kids, friends, clients, work colleagues and before I knew it the ideas were flowing again. As I began to think in terms of what other people might ask of me, the exercise became quite liberating. I made it to 75.

While still challenged with how I might get up to that magical 100, I realized that in serving others I was very much in service of myself. Quite often people set goals that overlook the opportunity in helping or providing for others. As research from people like Shawn Aker will testify, true happiness is garnered from selfless acts of kindness. This latter piece of the exercise certainly got me more energized.

So as you reflect on what 2016 might hold in store for you, think about your Wish List, your desires. More importantly, be sure to consider what the stakeholders in your life might want of you; it may very well be what you want of yourself.