The Golden Rule is Wrong

At some point in time you’ve, no doubt, learned the Golden Rule, or a version of it:

DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU.

Or, in other words,

TREAT OTHERS THE WAY YOU WISH TO BE TREATED.

Seems like reasonable advice, doesn’t it? Few of us would argue with the idea of “Don’t punch someone in the nose, if you don’t like being punched in the nose.” But, what if our relationships and our work-life are a little more nuanced than that?

Patrick’s TEDx Talk highlights some of those nuances, and the adverse effect we are having on our work lives, our careers, our companies and even our family lives, by living too rigidly to The Golden Rule. Perhaps most importantly, he also talks about what we can do about it and how it will change our workplaces for the better – whether you’re a junior employee starting your career, or a senior leader with thousands following your lead – we can all change our lives, and the lives around us, if we consider tweaking this “Golden Rule!”

Please take a few moments to watch the talk and let us know what you think by commenting below or on YouTube.

Patrick’s TEDx Talk:


 

thank-you-word-cloudThankful for a Special Honour:

Last week was an extra-special week for us at Padraig when Patrick received a wonderful honour. Ace Burpee, the much-loved media personality and community volunteer named Patrick to his 2015 list of the 100 Most Fascinating Manitobans.

Please check out the full list, Patrick is in the tremendous company of some extraordinary people.

 


Looking for a Speaker?
If you’re interested in having Patrick speak at your event or conference, please contact us toll-free at (855) 818-0600 x101 or by email at coach@padraig.ca or visit our website.


Adapting to Others
In his TEDx Talk, Patrick talks about adapting to others’ needs, by paying attention and observing their behaviour and their approach to issues. To explore this topic in more depth, and to learn about the assessments and workshops we have on this, please visit the programs on our website.


Executive Coaches and Leadership Coaches help leaders see things from a new angle and increase their own success. If you are interested in how a Coach can help you think bigger, see things differently and find new routes to even greater success, give us a call toll free at (855) 818-0600 x 101.

Your Career…Your Responsibility

Recently I was having coffee with a young man (well, young to me) whom I met a few years ago on a project. He sought me out to chat about my career and navigating the corporate ladder. Flattered though I was, I quickly turned the tables on him and, like any good coach, made the conversation about him and his aspirations.

I knew I’d hit a few nerves when we got up to leave, as he was a bit tongue-tied with swirling thoughts and ideas. I was happy to hit those nerves. That is what I do. That is part of the process in helping people become unstuck.

The details of our conversation shall stay between him and me. What I was reminded of as we talked are two concepts that are critical if you have aspirations to move ahead, manage and lead. They are the things so many young career-minded people don’t typically get:

  • the responsibility for your career is yours alone, and
  • the best leaders I know make it a priority to develop their personal and professional character

Let’s tackle the first concept. I can’t tell you the number of staff I’ve met who bemoan the fact they can’t seem to get ahead, and why isn’t the organization seeing their greatness and promoting them? I admit there were times early in my career that I thought that way. It didn’t take me long to figure out that no one was going to miraculously pluck me from a cast of thousands and give me my dream job. Moving ahead needs to be backed up with a strategic plan designed by and put into action by you.

The second concept is about investing in you. I don’t necessarily mean monetarily; this is about self-reflection, asking and receiving feedback, mentoring, coaching, reading, training and whatever else it takes to develop your self-knowledge. I call this your “practice”. This is about developing your private and public self-awareness. The private awareness is about knowing how you react internally to things, like the tight chest you might feel when you run into an old flame, or perhaps the pit in your stomach when you have to confront someone about their behaviour at work.

Public awareness is knowing how others see you and the effects – positive and negative – you may have on them. Having this self-awareness helps you navigate situations and adhere to social standards of behavior. This doesn’t mean trying to completely change yourself to fit the context; it means understanding how you show up in the world and your ability to adjust to the situation appropriately. If you think about a leader you know who is able to read a room and say the right thing at the right time, chances are their self-awareness is highly developed.

Your professional character also needs the ability to see things from multiple perspectives. It starts with lifting your head and developing organizational awareness. You’ve become an expert, or you have a bag full of relevant operational skills –it’s now time to learn about formal and informal structures, culture and climate, relationships and organizational issues. Understanding the bigger picture is critical and developing this part of your practice may be the single most important step toward the C-Suite.

As my young coffee guest walked away, I remembered how, when I was his age, I had an imaginary playbook that I would refer to as my road-map for moving ahead in my career. My playbook was rewritten many times as I navigated up various ladders. The most important thing I learned from it was that the only way to move ahead was by taking personal responsibility for my career and my personal and professional development.

If you were taking full responsibility for your career, how would you be doing things differently? How focused are you on your own development? What would it take for you create your practice?

Today’s Coach’s Questions Column was written by Eve Gaudet, Certified Executive Coach and Padraig Associate.

Not sure where to start with your own career plan? Contact Eve at eve.gaudet@padraig.ca or call Eve’s direct line at (855) 818-0600 x 105

Employee Engagement – What does that mean?!?

How many times have you heard the phrase, employee engagement?

“We want our employees to be engaged.”

We’ve all heard a manager or executive say it, we’ve likely heard it from Human Resources, and we’ve maybe even said it ourselves a few times.

Employee engagement is not only one of the key management buzzwords these days, it seems to have become the holy grail for team leaders and HR managers.

Is it possible to keep employee engagement from becoming just another business cliché?

I really like how www.EngageforSuccess.com defines employee engagement as, “a workplace approach designed to ensure that employees are committed to their organization’s goals and values, motivated to contribute to organizational success, and are able at the same time to enhance their own sense of well-being.”

The end goals include such things as reduced turnover, increased productivity, improved relationships and greater innovation.

In other words, employee engagement is about shaping attitudes and behaviours to achieve outcomes. That sounds great! But with so few workplaces scoring high on engagement in employee surveys and the numbers actually decreasing in North America†, what can we do to improve the situation?

Here are some tips our clients have found helpful:

Create opportunities for buy-in – when you’re getting ready to change something bring people together and ask for their input. More importantly, listen to their suggestions and viewpoints. Be open to challenges about your ideas and your processes. Dig a little deeper by asking curiosity-based questions to uncover what is risky about your ideas — and staff will buy-in when they see you listening to their input.

Let others solve problems – even better then bringing the group together to test your ideas is bringing them together to create the ideas. Be clear that many ideas may get passed over for now, but asking your team to help you brainstorm how to solve the problem, rather than just implementing your own solution leads to incredible engagement.

Hire for attitude – start building a culture of engagement by hiring the right people. Look for people who exemplify a positive attitude, strong character and who know why they want to work for you. (Hint: If it’s about the salary, they won’t be engaged).

Throw away the carrot and stick – Following up on our last point above, and our previous blog post, cash bonuses and good salary are a nice foundation for building a capable workforce, but they don’t get people engaged. In fact, they can backfire and the financial rewards simply become an expectation and will not drive passion.

Catch them in the act – Listen closely, walk around and ask questions when things go well and you’ll soon know who the unsung heroes are in your workplace. Thank them for their contributions, let them know you recognize them and tell them you appreciate them.

Cautionary tip: Before you jump to recognize your valued team members, remember that not everyone likes to be acknowledged publicly.

Try to get a sense of your team members and tailor your praise for them. If they appreciate recognition and look happy when acknowledged in team meetings, then use that technique.

If they look uncomfortable, embarrassed or overly modest with public praise, they are likely more appreciative when the praise is personal and provided privately.

Coach people – use curiosity-based questions to help people find their own solutions and implement their best work; try to reduce how often you direct them and increase how often you help them find their own way. The goal stays the same, but the path to it leads to much greater engagement.

Build relationships – take a moment every now and then to stop, let go of your fast pace, and ask individuals on your team, “what’s new?” and “how are you doing?” or “how was your weekend?” Show a genuine interest in your team members and you will not only develop trust, you’ll likely also get a better understanding of peoples’ opportunities and barriers.

Grow leaders – a great way to build engagement is to invest in strengthening leadership skills in every employee. A company of leaders is really what engagement is all about. Remember this all–too-true anecdote:

  • CFO asks CEO: “What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us?”
  • CEO: “What happens if we don’t, and they stay?”

Our Padraig coaching questions for you today are: How would a team of fully engaged staff improve your success? What are you prepared to tackle first? When are you going to start?

Care to share your thoughts on employee engagement? Have you had a great story to share? Why not share them with us and our readers in the comment box below!


† http://www.aon.com/attachments/human-capital-consulting/2013_Trends_Global_Engagement_Report.pdf

Motivation – Throwing Away the Carrots and Sticks

I’ve managed people most of my career, and I’ve worked in teams all my life. If you had asked me early in my leadership career what motivates someone at work I would have probably told you either having a good salary or maybe having a spiffy title. And of course who doesn’t think a big bonus is motivating?

To effectively lead people, I thought you needed carrots and sticks in the right balance for motivation to work. Somehow in my gut I knew that it was too simplistic, and soon my own experience managing people started to disprove that theory.

My anecdotal experience and observations about trying to motivate with financial rewards, promotions and titles: Rewards became an expectation for baseline performance instead of improving performance! I’ve lost count of the number of times I have heard people complain about their bonus payments.

Now, some of you may have read a book called Drive, The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. The author Daniel Pink, a bit of a leadership guru, has helped me see what really motivates people.

In his book Pink talks about the evolution of motivation from survival instincts, to the carrot and stick methodology, to what he calls Motivation 3.0. This latest notion replaces carrots and sticks with values and purpose.

What I found most interesting is how convincing Pink is in proving that the carrot and stick approach to motivation doesn’t work, especially in work that is complex, requires creativity or involves problem solving. Pink demonstrates that these traditional short-term motivators actually reduce creativity, and foster very short-term thinking at the expense of long-term results.

What really motivates people?

Pink argues:

  • Autonomy – the desire to direct your own life;
  • Mastery – the urge to get better and better at something that matters; and
  • Purpose – to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.

Since I left the world of government and big corporations to start my own business working with talented leaders to help them reach greater success, I’ve had a chance to further test this theory. By diving in with my clients, exploring with them what really gets them going and works with staff I’ve come to believe that Pink has it right.

Don’t take my word for it — give this a try: Grab a sheet of paper and make two columns. Label the first one “What I Liked” and the second one “How I Felt.” The first thing I’m going to ask you to do is to think of a leader you liked. Go ahead and close your eyes for just a moment and think about that great leader, the one you really admired.

This leader could be a mentor in your business, a former boss, or maybe even a teacher or professor who once taught you. Now take a minute to jot down in the first column what you liked about this leader. Now, in the next column, take a moment to write how they made you feel. Go ahead, take a moment and reflect on what you’ve written before you continue.

Okay, now let’s think of the opposite. On the back of your sheet of paper again put two columns, only this time label them “What I Didn’t Like” and “How I Felt.”

Think back to a time where you’ve had a leader in your life – again could be a former employer, manager, professor or even a colleague. The kind of person no matter what they were paid, it was too much.

Think of someone you wanted to help find a new job – in a competing firm! In the first column jot down what you didn’t like about this person. Take a moment to be very descriptive.

Now think about how it felt to be around this person. Try to remember how you felt inside, and record these feelings in the second column.

Now, when you look at those lists you know in your heart what great leadership is. For the good leader you’ve likely written down things like “inspiring,” “really challenged me” or “helped me find my way.”

Maybe you mentioned “respect” or that this leader “gave good feedback.” Chances are you didn’t write “paid me well” or “gave big bonuses.”

In the case of your example of “that other guy” you may have written things like “made me feel small,” “criticized,” “didn’t help,” or even “they were a bully.”

When I’ve done this exercise with clients I’ve had many respond with “I was bored working for him,” “she micromanaged me” or they said the leader was a “perfectionist.”

There are two key points to consider when we look at the lists under our two types of leaders: We know in our hearts what great leadership looks like and we get a sense of the motivators we need to provide to be a good leader.

An effective leader motivates by building relationships. How does a good leader build relationships? Not with carrots and sticks, but by one conversation at a time.

Our coaching question for you today is: How can you change the motivators for your team, to inspire them — and you — to greatness?

Care to share your thoughts on motivating your team? Have you had a great experience with motivating a team? Why not share them with us and our readers in the comment box below!

2014

Are You Preparing for an Even Better Year?

Have you ever been looking forward to grabbing a coffee with a friend only to end up listening to him or her complain about work? Or, maybe you’ve been the one dominating the conversation with work issues?

How did the conversation go? Did it help either of you, or did it just feel better for a while without changing anything?

Sometimes it’s great to just vent a little with a friend, get a few things off the chest. Maybe you weren’t even complaining; maybe you were just musing about “how great it would be if….” Often though, a coffee chat with a friend doesn’t solve the problem. It feels better for a bit, but eventually reality is still there.

At this time of year many of us make resolutions — we’re going to hit the gym, we’re going to eat a little better, drink a little less, find a little more time for ourselves or we’re going to tackle those challenges that are holding us back at work. Unfortunately, often sometime in January many of us succumb to habit and go back to our old ways.

If you’ve decided this New Year’s your going to tackle a work or career challenge, a coach can help you solve the problem or achieve the win that you’ve been looking for. A coach will help you figure out how you’re going to do things differently this year, and get you through that danger period when most of us fall back on old habits — and you won’t have to burden your friends over coffee!

Whether you want to score a promotion, reengage a team, find your inspiration again, increase sales or launch a new product, a coach will help you get it done.

So, how do you choose the right coach for you?

At Padraig we recommend you talk to several coaches, to get a sense of their approach and personality. First though, you should ensure they are a certified coach. There are, regrettably many people who call themselves a coach who have neither the academic training, nor the certification. At Padraig all of our coaches have masters level education specifically in executive coaching, and all are certified by the International Coach Federation (ICF). Whether you work with us, or anyone else, we strongly encourage you to only work with a certified coach.

As you talk with a few certified coaches, we suggest you start by thinking about the kind of coach you want. Ask yourself whether you want a coach who will help you:

  • Brainstorm strategies;
  • Support, encourage and validate yourself;
  • Gain insight into who you are and your potential;
  • Paint a vision of what you can accomplish (and then get there);
  • Remain accountable to yourself, checking in on your goals;
  • Explore and remove blocks to your success; Identify or design action steps;
  • Work through self-improvement programs together;
  • Take 360˚ Assessments (what your peers and staff see), or
  • Something else?

Remember it’s OK to have more than one of these goals but it’s not OK to keep them to yourself! Share what you want with your prospective coach, and you’ll more likely find the right coach for you.

Next, ask your chosen few coaches about their experience. Have they had their own leadership experience? Have they worked with leaders at your level before? At Padraig some of our team have great experience working with senior level C-suite executives (and Deputy Ministers or Assistant Deputy Ministers in government) while others have tremendous experience working with new leaders who are starting their first role as a leader of people.

Ask a few more questions of the coaches:

  • Do they have a strong confidentiality policy?
  • Do they have other coaches who mentor them?
  • Do they have their own coach? (IE. Do they practice their own approach?)
  • Do they occasionally have their coaching audited to ensure they are doing their best?
  • Are they results oriented? Do they insist on identifying goals before beginning and then measuring progress against those goals?

You might also want to discuss whether the coach has experience in your field but we offer a caution on this one! Consider whether a coach without experience in your specific field might be a better thinking partner for you than someone who has “grown up in” your field. For example, we currently have numerous clients in the healthcare sector and several of our coaches are trained in “LEADS” (a leadership program that was created in Canada and has been implemented in healthcare organizations across the country), yet only one of our coaches has actually worked in healthcare. A number of our individual healthcare clients chose us specifically because we are able to bring a fresh perspective to their thinking, we can challenge them with different points of view and help them become more creative in their problem solving.

Next, be sure to ask for references. Good coaches will have current and previous clients who will be willing to share their experience with you so you can choose the right coach for you. Ask the references whether the coach digs in deep and gets to the root of struggles and challenges. Is the coach naturally talented in encouraging ideas and deeper thinking, or do they follow a scripted approach?

Ask about prices. Obviously, you want to be sure you can afford your coach. You should expect to pay $300 to $500 per hour (or $600 to $1000 per month) for a good leadership coach or executive coach. Many coaches will bill by the hour, some will bill by the month or by the contract. You should expect to see many times return on your investment.

Padraig Coaching & Consulting Inc. provides Executive Coaching and Leadership Coaching on a retainer basis, we do not charge by the hour. That means we don’t charge for each meeting but rather we charge a flat fee for a fixed period of time (for example a 6 month, 9 month or 12 month contract). During that time we will meet with you in person or by phone or videoconference for one-to-one coaching sessions once every two weeks, on average. If an extra session is required, that’s no problem — we don’t add to your billing — it’s all part of our retainer. In addition, you may contact your coach at any time during the retainer period, to ask follow up questions, seek “laser-focused coaching” for a few minutes by phone for a new issue, or to simply engage around a challenge. Again, it’s all included in our flat fee. We will often leave clients with questions to ponder between sessions, sometimes we might recommend a reading or a challenge. It’s all included in our fee. We don’t bill you for time here and time there. Our goal is to ensure you have the full support you need from your coach, with certainty up front on the cost.

Finally, ask for a short introduction to their coaching style. At Padraig we are happy to provide a complimentary 30 minute coaching session by phone to prospective clients. You won’t necessarily solve the world’s problems in half an hour, but you will get a good sense of the coach’s focus and their ability to help you zero-in on your goals and challenges.

So, what’s the coach’s question for today — the last day of 2013? We have two of them and they’re simply this — what do you want to achieve in 2014? And, what are you willing to do to get it?

Executive Coaches and Leadership Coaches help leaders see things from a new angle and increase their own success. If you are interested in how a Coach can help you think bigger, see things differently and find new routes to even greater success, give us a call toll free at (855) 818-0600. All six of our internationally certified executive coaches are happy to take inquiries and we offer a 30 minute complimentary, no obligation coaching session by telephone, if you want to try it out.

Click here to schedule your complimentary session.

Care to share your resolutions for 2014? Do you have some good questions to ask a prospective coach that have helped you select the best coach for you? Why not share them with us and our readers by commenting below!

Is perfection preventing progress?

Have you ever avoided doing something, because you figured you wouldn’t be good at it? Is perfection preventing progress?

For many years my mantra was “If I’m going to look bad doing it, I’m not going to do it.” That seemed to serve me well — I had a successful career, people admired my abilities and my confidence.

Unfortunately it also made me seem intimidating (people rarely saw me mess-up) and it made me uptight and it prevented me from finding joy in new things (which is one solid reason why I still have never tried downhill skiing)!

It seemed like a good mantra at the time, after all who wants to be seen doing something badly? It has only been in the last few years that I’ve come to realize the answer to that seemingly rhetorical question is — “people who accomplish great things.”

You may be familiar with Brené Brown — she was, until relatively recently, an unknown Ph.D. at the University of Houston studying shame and vulnerability. She is an engaging speaker who put herself out there, just a little bit, and gave a local TEDx talk in Houston about those two topics – vulnerability and shame.

She explained that her years of research had shown her very clearly that those who allow themselves to be vulnerable, those who don’t allow shame to hold them back are those same people who live whole heartedly.

They are the people who achieve things they didn’t know they could achieve, because they allowed themselves to try.

I’m paraphrasing here but essentially they didn’t seek perfection, they simply sought to try. They went for it. It was only after learning her own message, and coming to terms with it, that Brown shared her message in a tiny, regional, TEDx talk. That talk has become the fourth most watched Ted Talk of all time with nearly 12,000,000 views. That’s right twelve million.

If you haven’t seen it, I encourage you to check it out (the link is at the bottom of this message).

The reason I’m telling you this is because I suspect I’m not alone in allowing my desire for perfection to prevent me from achieving things. Sure, I increasingly try new things.

Some things I try are pretty big things – I started a business after 20 years as a public servant and one year ago today I incorporated that business and engaged five exceptional coaches to join me on this journey.

And some things I try are relatively small things – I respond to government proposals when that little voice inside my head tells me I’m not as good as the big guys, I walk into giant rooms at conferences and networking events, alone, and start meeting people.

But, there are still days where

Perfection Prevents Progress.

It took me six months of talking about it, before I hit “send” on the first of these blog e-mails. I was frozen, thinking, “what if people don’t appreciate what I have to say?”

I’ve spent the last four months “thinking about” a webinar series I’m planning to launch – but not quite doing it – because I worry it won’t be perfect, because I balk at allowing myself to be vulnerable and try something new.

You’ve probably heard someone ask, “If you could succeed at anything, what would you try?” I think that question is a cop-out. If I knew I would succeed, I would try everything! The question should be “even if you weren’t sure of success, what would you be willing to try?”

So our coaching questions for today are: “what are you putting off that could be worth trying, even if you might not succeed? What is preventing you from trying it?” and “What would it take to let go of your vulnerability and dive into it?”

Here’s the link to Brené’s TedTalk: CLICK HERE

At Padraig we use engaging, curiosity based questions in all of our coached programs.

If some of this resonated for you, I would LOVE to hear about it. Please share a few comments below.

Are your conversations Typical, or Courageous?

What is a Courageous Conversation?

We’re about to launch a series of workshops at Padraig that help our clients have Courageous Conversations. The idea is to help people have conversations that are open and honest, that solve disputes and challenges, that help us work better together, even when we have different perspectives or beliefs.

Today I share one of the concepts of those courageous conversations — focus on interests, not positions. In the classic book on negotiating “Getting to Yes,” the authors Fisher and Ury describe the difference in a position and an interest with two sisters fighting over the last orange. I’m going to use two chefs only because I found a photo to match!

So the story goes like this – two chefs are each preparing one course of a multi-course meal for a visiting dignitary.

Professional reputations are on the line and everything must be perfect. The chefs each reach for the last orange. The first chef says to the second chef “I need that orange for the duck I’m preparing as the main course!”

The second chef says “I need that orange for the amazing dessert I will be presenting!”

These positions are intractable – each chef needs the last orange.

In a “typical” conversation they might agree to cut the orange in half and each would be dissatisfied with the result – and likely resentful of the other. This could be the start of an ongoing grudge with the first chef presenting a less than perfect duck and the second presenting a less than perfect cake.

Now then, had the chefs had a courageous conversation they could have asked questions about their positions, to get to know each others’ interests.

They could have easily asked “why do you need the full orange for your recipe?”

Had they explored a question or two they might have learned that the first chef intended to juice the orange so that he could use the juice to make a wonderful sauce…and that the second chef needed a full orange worth of grated rind, to flavour her famous cake. In other words, they each needed the full orange but only for a key part of it — they could have both succeeded.

Their interests were different – one was interested in juice, one was interested in rind, but their positions – “I need the orange” were intractable. Moving beyond positions and attempting to define interests is a fundamental concept in many negotiations.

Asking questions to better understand the other person’s interests is a fundamental concept of coaching. We combine them in Courageous Conversations.

At Padraig we use engaging, curiosity based questions in all of our coached programs.

So our Coach’s Questions for you today — What conversations are you having that are stifled by positions where you might be able to look past positions and explore interests?  What would it take for you to try?

If you try a few courageous conversations, I would LOVE to hear how things went for you. Please share a few comments below.

Are you listening with the intent to respond?

What kind of listener are you?

Have you ever been having a debate with a colleague, perhaps even a heated debate around a boardroom table and you could just tell they weren’t listening to you? They were too busy deciding how they were going to respond when you stopped talking.

I’ve been there. No, no, I mean I’ve been that guy who isn’t listening.

Sure, I’ve been the frustrated debater on the other side too, but there surely have been times when I was desperate for a colleague to stop talking so I could refute their point and make my own point. I knew I was right and was impatient.

On more than one of those occasions, though, I happened to hear something they said that stopped me. Something that made me think, “Uh oh, I think they might be right” or “My point may be irrelevant.” So all of a sudden I had to start listening to what they were saying. I had to start considering their point of view, along with my own.

I’ve also done this when staff have come to me to describe a problem or challenge and I’ve been eager to jump in and answer them…to solve the problem for them.

Stephen R. Covey, the late management guru and the guy who launched the “7 Habits” series of books and seminars, once famously said: “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

In the last few years, I’ve been working on listening more and replying less. Of course as an Executive Coach I now spend a lot of my time listening, encouraging clients to think-out-loud while I provide an ear to listen and a sounding board for them to bounce ideas.

Have you ever been in that situation when you were listening with the intent to reply? What about when your staff are telling you about a problem. Have you wanted to jump in and respond before they even finished telling you what was wrong?

What might happen if you did the opposite? What if you listened with every bit of intention and presence you could muster. You focused solely on what the other person is saying. What if you took it a little step further and purposely didn’t respond to them right away once they stopped talking. What if you let their question or comment hang in the air . . . lingering a little while in silence.

Susan Scott, creator of a marvelous program called “Fierce Conversations” refers to this approach in a conversation as “letting the silence do the heavy lifting.” We often do this in coaching to allow the client time to process what they have just said, to listen to themselves, in fact. Often it is during this silent heavy lifting that the client answers their own questions, considers their own ideas and solves their own challenges.

Are you letting silence do the heavy lifting and listening with the intent to understand, or do you tend to listen with the intent to reply?

If you do more of the latter, I would encourage you to try it another way. See if it works for you. Maybe it won’t, we all have different styles, but based on what I’ve seen in my own life and now with clients, I’d encourage you to give it a go.

If you do, I would LOVE to hear how things went for you. Please share a few comments below.

When is “good enough,” Good Enough?

I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist. I beat myself up when I don’t do things as well as I would like, and frankly there have been times where I’ve treated others around me that same way when things weren’t perfect.

I’ve done a lot of work on that, and occasionally my own executive coach and I continue to work on it!

What prompted me to start writing about it today is a quote from a textbook I once studied while becoming an executive coach. James Flaherty wrote in Coaching: Evoking Excellence in Others:

The mood of organizations is, for the most part, shaped by the willingness of superiors to be satisfied.

That struck me as quite profound and incredibly accurate. What do you think? Have you known organizations with positive, upbeat, “can-do” moods? Perhaps you’re working in one now, or you volunteer somewhere like that.

Maybe you’re even leading that kind of organization. If you’ve witnessed it, I would encourage you to think about the leader — were they willing to be satisfied? Seems like an odd question but when you think about it, I suspect it has some logic to it.

Some of us have probably worked, at one time or another, in the other kind of organization — one where the mood was awkward, angry, or unhappy, challenging in-a-bad-way. Was the leader willing to be satisfied?

Now I’m not suggesting that sometimes we don’t need to strive for perfection.

When I’m traveling, for example, I like to think the pilot flying my plane, or the people at Boeing who built it, are aiming for perfection. But, how often is perfection necessary? When can we allow ourselves to be satisfied?

In his book, Flaherty also proposed “in our society and current culture, dissatisfaction is sometimes seen as a sign of sophistication or an unwillingness to compromise high standards.”

I’m sure that conjures up images for most of us — maybe someone you know, maybe you from time to time?

I’ve certainly had moments like that — unwilling to “compromise my standards” while pushing myself and others beyond our ability.

So I guess what I am asking is this…

When is good enough, good enough? How do you communicate that to your team? And what will it take for your colleagues to believe you? for your team to believe you? for you to believe you?

What if Your Team Members Were Volunteers?

In our last Coach’s Questions blog we talked about “Changing Other People” and that changing how we react to other people sometimes changes how they interact with us.

It’s the classic, if not ironic, reality that to change others we must change ourselves.

This time I’m proposing we take it a bit further — changing how we relate to our entire team – could it strengthen the whole team? Could it improve our corporate culture?

Imagine for a moment that your team (your staff, or your peers) are all unpaid volunteers.

They are doing what they do because they truly believe in the organization and its mission.

The hours they put in, whether longer than most, or shorter than some, are an unpaid labour of devotion. They aren’t here for the money.

Maybe they’re here to learn from you, or they’re here to build up some experience in your industry so that they can be really good at their role. And they chose to gain that experience, and contribute what they can contribute, to you and your organization.

Do you think that would that change how you interact with your team?

I’ve tried it, (and some of our clients have tried it), and here’s what I found: I had a little more patience with people who were trying to do their best but maybe weren’t yet meeting my perfectionist tendencies.

I had a bit more interest in sharing my own experience. I was less possessive of information and knowledge, and more willing to share it with those who wanted to learn.

I was a bit more engaged in learning what makes them tick. 

To emphasize what is perhaps obvious — they hadn’t changed, but I had consciously changed my mindset and it made work more enjoyable for me. I ended each day feeling that I had contributed more. I felt the workplace had become even more positive and engaging.

Regular readers of The Coach’s Questions probably won’t be surprised to hear that changes occurred in reverse, as well. Staff who had frustrated me before seemed to become stronger contributors, colleagues and I began to see eye-to-eye on problems that had challenged us previously.

As usual, it wasn’t a panacea. There were still challenges, there were still days I forgot to engage everyone as a loyal volunteer and there were days where my most diligent efforts were lost on others.

But overall, it moved me in a direction I was happy about, and it moved our organization the same way.

Coach’s Questions

What might change, for you and your team, if you tried this approach? Are there any significant risks?  I would leave you with this — are the potential gains greater than the risks? and is it worth trying? If you do, let me know how it works for you.

If you’re willing to share — please leave a comment or two below.

As I looked back on my own experience I realized that many of the traits I associated with volunteers were already a part of our team. I just needed to remind myself of that fact, and to bring that knowledge to work with me each day.

Taking a few moments to think about it, and then a few moments throughout the day to ensure I was implementing it strengthened me, and my team.

This has been a small example of how coaching helps leaders see things from a new angle and increase their own success.

One-on-one coaching and team coaching is focused on YOU.

Today’s topic may not address your obstacles or challenges, but working directly with a coach will allow you to work on what you want to work on, to make strides where you want to succeed.

If you are interested in how an Executive Coach and provocative questions can help you think bigger, see things differently and find new routes to even greater success, give us a call – toll free (855) 818-0600 x 101.