When do you most need a coach? John Mattone, in CEO Briefing Newsletter (Sept. 20, 2013), answers the question: when things are going well.
Many executives still think of coaching as a remedial tool, when things go wrong, the executive has to “fix” the problem by gaining insights into the factors contributing to the situation. While coaching can be very helpful at such times, think of all the time and energy lost by the person and the organization the leader influences by going down the wrong path and then having to correct the situation.
Much more productive is focusing on one’s blind spots before a poor decision or bad habits take effect. That’s why sports stars (e.g., Tiger Woods) use coaches at all times. Such coaching helps CEOs grow their good organizations into great ones, because they are focused on continuous improvement. Indeed, blind spots are less obvious when things are going well, making vigilance critical to success
It’s one of the major benefits reaped by Vistage CEOs (through Peer Advisory groups) and Executive Teams (through the new Vistage Inside program): continuous improvement of future challenges before serious problems occur in areas of strategy, culture, finance, M&A, etc., through 1-on-1 coaching as well as peer mentoring. It’s the reason D&B finds Vistage member companies outperform their competition; it’s why so many CEOs stay with Vistage for decades, even as they sell one company and start leading the next.
How are you using executive coaching? Share stories of how it has helped you stay at the forefront of growth, both personal and organizational.
Everyone negotiates. If you don’t think you do, use G. Richard Shell’s definition and you’ll see that you do: negotiation is an interactive communication process that may take place whenever we want something from someone else or another person wants something from us.”
Since many of our clients’ successful presentations lead to a negotiated deal, years ago, I decided to master the area, so, as their trusted advisor, I could be helpful until the deal was made. After helping a client who was late on a critical delivery negotiate a deal with a strategic Fortune company which was threatening a lawsuit, I began teaching it as part of a CUNY MBA program and workshops and keynotes offered to conference attendees. To stay on top of the area, I often read material by experts in the area.
This weekend, I was enjoying Shell’s “Bargaining for Advantage” and noticed that in his second edition, he offered his own Bargaining Styles Assessment Tool. Essentially, he concludes that we have five basic negotiating styles: Competing; Collaborating; Compromising; Avoiding; and Accommodating.
His tool is identifies your strongest bargaining style inclination and your weakest. While we can use any style in a specific situation, our preferences guide how we act. Since two critical important steps in negotiating is to (1) know yourself and (2) know the opposite party, knowledge of each’s style is part of what you want to know.
There is no “optimal” style for negotiators. The key is to understand how your style will work in a specific context and adjust accordingly. For instance, Donald Trump is well known and takes pride in being competitive; Larry King is well known and takes pride in being empathetic and easy to get along with. If the two were to negotiate against one another, both would be wise to think about their own and their counterpart’s bargaining style before making a move. Thus, Shell’s key advice is that you take a minute at the beginning of a bargaining session to size up your counterpart – by negotiating some smaller items – before getting to the main event.
What’s your style? How did knowing yours and observing counterpart’s style affected your success in negotiating? Share with us. If you’d like a copy of his Assessment tools, let me know and we’ll send you a copy.
“You need to focus.” How often have you heard that from someone who’s trying to help you better achieve your goals! Ask a person what’s his/her goal and, in today’s multitasking world, you’ll get a few goals. What’s the cost of trying to achieve too many goals at the same time? As I point out with a slide in our Presentation Excellence training program, when an archer tries to hit multiple targets at one time, it’s impossible to get a bulls-eye. Only by focusing on one, and only one goal, is it possible.
Daniel Goleman, best-selling author of “Emotional Intelligence”, just published “Focus, the Hidden Driver of Excellence” in which he observes that the primal task of leaders is to direct attention in one of these areas.
- Inner – self-awareness and seeing ourselves as others see us.
- Other – reading other people, understanding and empathizing with others
- Outer – making sense of the world around us, even with the fast pace of change.
In his book, he makes the case that the well-lived life demands we learn to focus on each area when relevant.
The well-focused leader balances an “inner” focus on his company’s culture and strategy, with an “other” focus on the competitive landscape, and an “outer” focus on the larger realities that shape the environment.
A given strategy makes choices about what to ignore and what matters: market share or profit, current competitors or potential new entrants, and which new technologies must receive attention.
One of the ways you can help people focus on their priorities in a given setting, is to help them eliminate distractions. Today, through social and traditional media, and our own daily interactions, we are bombarded by issues that present themselves but aren’t really worthy of focus. So, identifying what is a distraction and then eliminating it from contention, increases the ability to focus on true priorities, and narrow the focus at any given time, so a bulls-eye is achievable.
What common distractions get in your way? How do you narrow your focus to the absolute priorities? Share your secrets of success!
While writing the e-book Present to Win the RFP (click on it to get a copy), I was thinking of some basic presentation tips that apply to anyone. Thought I’d share some here.
- Start with an attention grabbing opening, because the judgment/decision to may more attention takes placing within the first minute.
- The purpose of the presentation is to give something of value to the audience. Therefore, by focusing on whether they are getting it, you’ll be less self-conscious and experience less anxiety than if you focus on how you’re delivering the message.
- You’re best able to project a leader presence physically being comfortable when presenting, since that allows you to project your confidence.
- To engage the audience in your presentation, rather than always making statements, introduce topics with questions that force the prospect to try to answer but cannot do so fully. The knowledge gap creates suspense and encourages the prospect to listen to gather the facts needed to discover the full answer
- To keep the prospect’s attention, make sure each section of the presentation answers the question “what’s in it for me?”
- Your impact increases when you focus on benefits rather than features.
- For maximal impact, show how action avoids pain and loss, rather than simply generate gains.
- Use stories as the vehicle to deliver your key points; since childhood, we’re wired to listen longer to captivating stories knowing the end usually justifies the wait.
- Use visual metaphors – paint pictures – to keep prospect’s attention.
- Use powerful pauses to allow people reflect on what they just heard and to allow you to assess where your audience is; rattling on with no breaks leads to less comprehension.
Give your audience easy acronyms to remember a set of issues. Ex: Craig Valentine says in his book World Class Speaking that people are motivated by 4 key benefits that form the acronym EDGE: Esteem, Do more, Gain more and Enjoy more.
Change. People and companies recognize the need for change, but it isn’t easy. Why? Inertia; resistance against change in order to protect the status quo. Thus, the key to change is overcoming the resistances.
Several years ago, The Arbinger Institute published “Leadership and Self-Deception”, a book focused on this problem by asking this question: How can people simultaneously (1) create their own problems (2) be unable to see that they are creating their own problems and yet (3) resist any attempts to help them stop creating those problems?
They answer the question, using the metaphor that leaders are “in the box”. Imagine someone asks you to do something, we have a choice – to follow through on their request or not. However, all too often the decision isn’t rational and we unleash a series of thoughts, feelings and behaviors to justify ourselves; in doing so, we start deceiving ourselves that our actions are right and others are to blame. For instance, we may inflate our own virtue as well as others’ faults; we inflate the value of the things we choose to do instead, and blame the other people for not having taken care of the issue themselves. Because this generates a cycle in which we create a world-view in which we justify other actions we take that support the initial decision, and as we continue to betray ourselves, we are now “in the box”. By focusing on blame, we destroy the opportunity to stay focused on the goal of producing the desired results.
How do you end this cycle? Individual and cultural change occurs only by getting “outside the box” – where we stop blaming others, and recognize their view of the situation, and then work toward solving it. In other words, rather than demand that others change, the key is for us to change our perceptions and the feelings that they generate, in order to take a different course of action.
This is the key to leadership coaching: helping leaders see when they are deceiving themselves by blaming others, and possibly assuming the position of a victim of circumstances. Instead, by taking the broader perspective, the leader can recognize how he/she is contributing to the problem and needs to make changes in his/her behaviors, first. As Eldridge Cleaver once said, “you can’t be part of the solution if you’re part of the problem.”
Have you had such experiences? How has coaching helped you “get out of the box”?