24Jan/130

Achieving Your Desired Outcomes

On the Sunny Side
Achieving Your Desired Outcomes

By Dr. Sunny Stout Rostron

The focus of the coaching conversation is to help the client work toward achieving their desired outcomes. It is in this process, where coach and client reflect on the client's experience, that the potential for learning and action emerges. Business coaching has been defined in many different ways, but is essentially a one-on-one collaborative partnership designed to develop the client's performance and potential, personally and professionally, in alignment with the goals and values of the organization. Business coaching should be aligned strategically with the overall values and objectives of an organization.

However, an important question is raised for executives: if goals are to be motivationally achieved, are they also aligned with the individual's values, beliefs, and feelings? Often organizations merely pay lip service to organizational values, and don't necessarily create them as a synthesis of the core individual values that make up the culture of the organization. Ethical dilemmas can arise during the coaching process if the executive needs to make difficult choices that are incompatible with their own value system.

Goals, Motivation, and Performance

If you wish to help your clients improve their behavior and performance, it is useful to understand the psychology behind adult behavior, goals, and motivation. Alfred Adler, who worked with Sigmund Freud for ten years, reasoned that adult behavior is purposeful and goal-directed, and that life goals provide individual motivation. He focused on personal values, beliefs, attitudes, goals, and interests, and recommended that adults engage in the therapeutic process and reinvent their futures using techniques such as "acting as if," role-playing, and goal setting. All these tools are utilized and recognized by well-qualified business coaches worldwide.

Motivational theories primarily focus on the individual's needs and motivations. I have typically worked with coaching clients to help them understand more fully their intrinsic motivators (internal drivers such as values, beliefs, and feelings), and how to use extrinsic motivators (external drivers such as relationships, bonuses, environment, and titles) to motivate their teams. If an individual's goals are not in alignment with their own internal, intrinsic drivers, there will be difficulties for them in achieving those goals.

In an International Coach Federation study (ICF, 2008a), Campbell confirmed that coaches often assume clients are aware of their values, but within the confines of the study this appeared to be incorrect. The clients interviewed indicated they were not aware of their values, and that acquiring a process of awareness and reflection led them to become more aware of their emotions, their values, and the need to clarify their goals. Whitmore (2002) supports this and states that the goal of the coach is to build awareness, responsibility, and self-belief.

The coach's intervention and questions help the client to discover their own intrinsic drivers or motivators, and allow both coach and client to identify whether the client's personal, professional, and organizational goals are in alignment.

Adult and Experiential Learning

Adult learning theory has influenced coaching from the start: the goal of adult learning is to achieve a balance between work and personal life. In the same way, most business coach-client relationships involve an integration of personal and systems work. Personal work is intended to help the client develop the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual competence to achieve their desired goals; systems work may be found within a partnership, marriage, family, organizational team, or matrix structure.

Another powerful influence on goal-setting in coaching is experiential learning because it emphasizes a client's individual, subjective experience. In this process, coach and client probe the essence of an experience to understand its significance and to determine any learning that can be gained from it. The importance of experiential learning is that coach and client use the business coaching conversation to actively reconstruct the client's experience, with a focus on setting goals that are aligned with the client's intrinsic drivers, i.e., values, beliefs, and feelings.

Other considerations may be language, social class, gender, ethnic background, and the individual's style of learning. In learning from experience, it is useful to understand which barriers prevent the client from learning. Often it is a matter of developing self-reflective skills as much as self-management skills. What clients learn from their experience can transform their perceptions, their limiting and liberating assumptions, their way of interpreting the world - and their ability to achieve results.

Types of Goals

The coach is responsible for ensuring that goal-setting conversations get the best results. O'Neill (2000) differentiates between two kinds of client goals, business and personal, and links the coaching effort to a business result, highlighting and prioritizing the business areas that need attention. Business goals are about achieving external results; personal goals are what the leader has to do differently in the way they conduct themselves in order to get the business results they envision.

Yalom (1980) talks about two types of goals: content (what is to be accomplished) and process (how the coach wants to be in a session). However, he also describes the importance of setting concrete attainable goals - goals that the client has personally defined, and which increase their sense of responsibility for their own individual change.

Developmental Goal-setting

If the client is to learn how to learn, they need to cultivate self-awareness through reflection on their experience, values, intrinsic drivers, the impact of these on others, the environment, and their own future goals. This process is often implicit in the coaching relationship through the process of questions and actions that develop critical reflection and practice. As a coach, you will be asking questions to help clients reflect, review, and gain useable knowledge from their experience. A useful structure for your work with business executives is along the continuum of a development pipeline developed by David Peterson (2009). Your questions and challenges in your coaching sessions can help your clients reflect in five areas:

  1. Insight: How are you continually developing insight into areas where you need to develop?
  2. Motivation: What are your levels of motivation based on the time and energy you're willing to invest in yourself?
  3. Capabilities: What are your leadership capabilities; what skills, knowledge, and competencies do you still need to develop?
  4. Real-world practice: How are you continually applying your new skills at work?
  5. Accountability: How are you creating, defining, and taking accountability?

Business coaching places great emphasis on clarifying and achieving goals. Often within the complexity of the organizational environment, the client's overarching goals may be set by a more senior power; where that senior individual may have different worldviews, paradigms, and limiting or empowering assumptions. It is crucial that the client have a "living sense" of what their goal may be. In other words, goals must be aligned with the values of the individual as much as with those of the organization if they are to be achieved.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (June Issue 2010, Volume 6, Issue 2). Copyright © 2013 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

References

Griffiths, K. E, and Campbell, M. A. (2008). Regulating the Regulators: Paving the Way for International, Evidence-Based Coaching Standards. International Journal of Evidence-Based Coaching and Mentoring6(1):19-31.

International Coach Federation (ICF). (2008a). Core Competencies. Lexington, KY: ICF. Webpage: http://www.coachfederation.org/research-education/icf-credentials/core-competencies/

International Coach Federation (ICF). (2008b). ICF Code of Ethics. Lexington, KY: ICF. Webpage: http://www.coachfederation.org/about-icf/ethics-%26-regulation/icf-code-of-ethics/

O'Neill, M. B. (2000). Coaching with Backbone and Heart: A Systems Approach to Engaging Leaders with Their Challenges. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Peterson, D. (2009). Executive Coaching, A Critical Review and Recommendation for Advancing the Practice (in S. Zedeck (Ed.) Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Washington DC: American Psychological Association.

Stout Rostron, S. (2009). Business Coaching International, Transforming Individuals and Organizations. London: Karnac.

Whitmore, J. (2002). Coaching for Performance: Growing People, Performance and Purpose. London: Nicholas Brealey.

Yalom, I. D. (1980). Existential Psychotherapy. New York: Basic Books.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (June Issue 2010, Volume 6, Issue 2). Copyright © 2013 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

Dr. Sunny Stout Rostron, DProf, MA is an executive coach and consultant with a wide range of experience in leadership and management development, business strategy and executive coaching. The author of six books, including Business Coaching Wisdom and Practice: Unlocking the Secrets of Business Coaching(2009), Sunny is Director of the Manthano Institute of Learning (Pty) Ltd and founding president of COMENSA (Coaches and Mentors of South Africa). More about Sunny in the WABC Coach Directory. Contact Sunny.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.
17Jan/130

Coaching Great Leaders: The Building Blocks of Mojo

Posted by Marshall Goldsmith

By Marshall Goldsmith

The pursuit of happiness and meaning is short when we realize that they can be found when we achieve two straightforward goals: loving what we do and showing it. I call this Mojo and all of the successful people I know have it. It is apparent when the positive feelings toward what we are doing come from inside us and are evident for others to see. In other words, there's no gap between the positive way we perceive ourselves-what we are doing-and how we are perceived by others.

Four vital ingredients need to be combined in order for you to have great Mojo.

1.      Identity: Who do you think you are?

This question is more subtle than it sounds. It's amazing to me how often I ask people this question and their first response is, "Well, I think I'm perceived as someone who..." I stop them immediately, saying, "I didn't ask you to analyze how you think other people see you. I want to know who you think you are. Taking everyone else in the world out of the equation, including the opinions of your spouse, your family, and your closest friends, how do you perceive yourself?" What follows is often a long period of silence as they struggle to get their self-image into focus. After people think for a while, I can generally extract a straight answer. Without a firm handle on our identity, we may never be able to understand why we gain-or lose-our Mojo.

2.      Achievement: What have you done lately?

These are the accomplishments that have meaning and impact. If you're a salesperson, this might be landing a big account. If you're a creative type, it could be coming up with a breakthrough idea. But this too is a more subtle question than it sounds-because we often underrate or overrate our achievements based on how easy or hard they were to pull off.

3.      Reputation: Who do other people think you are?

What do other people think you've done lately? Unlike the questions about identity and achievement, there's no subtlety here. While identity and achievement are definitions that you develop for yourself, your reputation is a scoreboard kept by others. It's your coworkers, customers, friends (and sometimes strangers who've never met you) grabbing the right to grade your performance-and report their opinions to the rest of the world. Although you can't take total control of your reputation, there's a lot you can do to maintain or improve it, which can in turn have an enormous impact on your Mojo.

4.      Acceptance: What can you change, and what is beyond your control?

On the surface, acceptance-that is, being realistic about what we cannot change in our lives and accommodating ourselves to those facts-should be the easiest thing to do. It's certainly easier than creating an identity from scratch or rebuilding a reputation. After all, how hard is it to resign yourself to the reality of a situation?

You assess it, take a deep breath (perhaps releasing a tiny sigh of regret), and accept it. And yet acceptance is often one of our greatest challenges. Rather than accept that their manager has authority over their work, some employees constantly fight with their bosses (a strategy that rarely ends well). Rather than deal with the disappointment of getting passed over for a promotion, they'll whine that "it's not fair" to anyone who'll listen (a strategy that rarely enhances their image among their peers). Rather than take a business setback in stride, they'll hunt for scapegoats, laying blame on everyone but themselves (a strategy that rarely teaches them how to avoid future setbacks). When Mojo fades, the initial cause is often failure to accept what is-and get on with life.

By understanding the impact and interaction of identity, achievement, reputation, and acceptance, we can begin to alter our own Mojo-both at work and at home.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (June Issue 2010, Volume 6, Issue 2). Copyright © 2013 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

Marshall Goldsmith, MBA, PhD, is a world authority on helping successful leaders achieve positive, lasting behavioral change. His executive coaching expertise has been highlighted in Forbes, Fast Company, and Business Week. He is the WSJ and NYT best-selling author of What Got You Here Won't Get You There(Hyperion, 2007). His most recent book is Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, and How to Get It Back If You Lose It. Learn more about Marshall in the WABC Coach Directory. Contact Marshall.
If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.
25Oct/120

Sustainability—The Impossible Dream

Posted by WABC

By Jeffrey L. Balash

All of us are attempting to fight one of the key laws of nature in both our business and personal lives: its life cycle. This process of birthing, growing, maturing, and dying applies to everything in the universe-including our own sun. So when our leaders, in both business and government, refer to "sustainability," they are to be applauded for attempting to lengthen the life cycle. However, they still can't repeal this essential law of nature. This note explores the reasons why these life cycles occur as well as some brief thoughts about how to extend them.1

1. Inability to Persevere in Doing Things That We Don't Want to Do

We all talk about staying in shape and watching our weight to enjoy and to extend a healthy lifespan. However, obesity is epidemic in America. As a Hall of Fame tennis player explained to me: "I've trained hard for 20 years. I'm done and going to enjoy life." This world-class athlete had become obese and completely out of shape.

Similarly, as corporations grow and become successful, complacency sets in. The culture changes from the quick, lean culture of the initial employees to a much larger group who are attracted because the firm is a successful enterprise that offers potential for wealth and security and an "easy" job with an "entitlement" to all of the associated benefits.

So the "tough stuff" of watching costs, changing the business model to preserve market leadership, and being "paranoid", in the words of Andy Grove, are no longer done—or acceptable.

Potential solutions: The CEO and his/her team need to concentrate on maintaining the culture of the company through A) hiring only those people who will adapt to the culture and embrace it, and B) structuring the proper incentives to motivate employees to maintain that culture. They must recognize that employees who excelled at a particular position may not have the skills to operate optimally in that same position as the company grows and matures.

2. Inability to Recognize That the Game Has Changed

Andy Grove also observed that he was the last to know things as the CEO. Because senior management and government leaders are typically far removed from the "front lines," it's difficult for them to identify critical changes as early as possible. Similarly, many employees aren't creative thinkers. They merely carry out orders. Those who sound the early warning alarm are frequently "shot" as messengers of bad news.

Potential Solutions: Structure a fairly flat organization where information can flow to the top quickly. Establish a separate email address for each member of the senior management team that is different from his/her primary email address, so that rank-and-file employees can send emails directly and allow the sender to screen his/her email address, if desired. In this way, the sender will know that no reprisals will occur. An intranet employee chat room, once again allowing for anonymity, will let employees interact quickly on line so that new ideas can be exchanged and issues can come to the surface quickly. It will also allow the senior management team to learn how the company and themselves are viewed by employees.

3. Inability to Change Strategy Tactics Even Though the Change Has Been Recognized

Professor Clayton Christiansen of Harvard Business School has done exhaustive research in this area and in the area described above.2 Organizations are typically a prisoner of their own business models. To effect the necessary change is painful, requiring the adoption of an entirely new paradigm, which may entail reengineering, retraining, and restructuring (including layoffs). Most firms don't have the will to do this.

Potential Solutions: Accept the fact that "you need to do it to yourself-or it will be done to you." A company can either be a victim (as in the Big Three automakers) or a survivor (as IBM has expanded its business into the services area instead of continuing to concentrate primarily on hardware manufacturing). This not only demands a tough "look in the mirror" on a periodic basis and the will to do what has to be done; it also requires significantly different management talents and styles to maximize the profits of declining businesses. (These can remain high for a long period, if appropriately operated). These talents and styles are different than those operating in growth businesses or mature businesses. A company needs to have all three types of managers on its "pitching staff" (e.g., starter, middle relief, and closer) and to establish the appropriate incentives for each group.

4. Loss of Flexibility and Nimbleness as the Bureaucracy Grows

As a firm achieves ever greater success, it grows larger, less nimble, and more bureaucratic. Rules and procedures tend to be inflexible rather than adaptive. The behemoth can't move as quickly as the fox. When Intel switched from DRAM (dynamic random access memory) as its principal product to microprocessors, it took a year for Gordon Moore and Andy Grove to gain managerial acceptance of the new strategy.

Possible solutions: Organize the company to operate in smaller units, allowing it to be more nimble in its responses to challenges and change, as well as to attract and retain entrepreneurial managers. Delegate decision making downward, so that the decision chain is shortened and response time is improved. An interesting example is Johnson and Johnson, which permits its key managers to run their businesses on their own, except that they must get all significant capital expenditures approved by the CFO.

This note is brief of necessity. It can't possibly address all of the issues and potential solutions. I also don't have a monopoly on knowledge. Therefore, I would encourage comments, suggestions, and criticisms by the reader, which is how I learn and adapt to the changing environment as well.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (June Issue 2010, Volume 6, Issue 1). Copyright © 2012 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.


1 For a very thoughtful discussion of how our human "health span" can be maximized, please consider: Younger Next Year: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy Until You're 80 and Beyond by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge and the successor book: Younger Next Year for Women: Live Strong, Fit, and Sexy - Until You're 80 and Beyond by Chris Crowley, Henry S. Lodge, and Gail Sheehy (both, Workman, 2007). The strategies and tactics articulated in these books can frequently be mapped into business situations.

2 Christensen, Clayton M. The Innovator's Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business. Collins Business Essentials: 2003 (1997).

 Jeffrey L. Balash has created over $4 billion in value across five continents in different industries as an investment banker, strategist, operating executive, and investor. His experience includes seven startups. Contact Jeffrey.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.
2Aug/120

Coaching Great Leaders, by Marshall Goldsmith

Posted by Marshall Goldsmith

Feed It Forward

I have observed more than 50,000 leaders from around the world as they participated in a fascinating experiential exercise in which I ask participants to play two roles.

In one role, they provide FeedForward: They give another participant suggestions and, as much as they can, help with a specific issue. In the second role, they accept FeedForward: They listen to suggestions from another participant and learn as much as they can.

Step by Step

The exercise typically lasts 10-15 minutes, and the average participant has six or seven such sessions in that time. Participants are asked to

  • Pick one behavior they would like to change. Change in this behavior should make a significant, positive difference in their lives.
  • Describe this behavior to randomly selected fellow participants in one-on-one dialogues. It can be done quite simply, e.g., "I want to be a better listener."
  • Ask for FeedForward that might help them achieve a positive change in their behavior. If participants have worked together in the past, they are not allowed to give any feedback about the past. They are only allowed to give ideas for the future.
  • Listen attentively to the suggestions and take notes. Participants are not allowed to comment on the suggestions in any way, nor are they allowed to critique the suggestions, even to make positive statements, e.g., "That's a good idea."
  • Thank the other participants for their suggestions.
  • Ask fellow participants what they would like to change about themselves.
  • Provide FeedForward—two suggestions for helping the other person change.
  • Say, "You are welcome," when thanked for the suggestions. (The entire process of both giving and receiving FeedForward usually takes about two minutes.)
  • Find another participant and keep repeating the process until the exercise is stopped.

When the exercise is over, I ask the participants to complete the following sentence, "This exercise was...," with the one word that best describes their reaction to the experience. The words selected are almost always positive, such as "great," "energizing," "useful" or "helpful." One of the most common words used is "fun."

What is the last word most of us think of to describe the experience of receiving feedback, coaching and developmental ideas? Fun!

Reasons to Try FeedForward

I ask participants why this exercise is fun and helpful as opposed to painful, embarrassing or uncomfortable. Their answers offer a great explanation of why FeedForward can often be more useful than feedback as a developmental tool:

  1. We can change the future. We can't change the past. FeedForward helps people envision and focus on a positive future, not a failed past. Race-car drivers are taught to look at the road ahead, not at the wall. By giving people ideas on how they can be even more successful, we can increase their chances of achieving this success in the future.
  2. FeedForward can come from people whom we have never even met. It does not require personal experience. One very common positive reaction to the exercise is that participants are amazed by how much they can learn from people they don't know. For example, if you want to be a better listener, almost any fellow human can give you ideas. They don't have to know you.
  3. Face it! Most of us hate getting negative feedback, and we don't like to give it. I have reviewed summary 360-degree feedback reports for more than 50 companies. The items "provides developmental feedback in a timely manner" and "encourages and accepts constructive criticism" almost always score near the bottom on coworker satisfaction with leaders. Traditional training does not seem to make a great deal of difference. If leaders got better at providing feedback every time the performance appraisal forms were "improved," most would be perfect by now!
  4. FeedForward can cover almost all of the same material as feedback. Imagine you have just made a terrible presentation in front of the executive committee. Your manager is in the room. Rather than make you relive this humiliating experience by detailing what went wrong, your manager might help you by offering suggestions for future presentations. These suggestions can be very specific and still delivered in a positive way—without making you feel even more humiliated.
  5. FeedForward tends to be much faster and more efficient than feedback. An excellent technique for giving ideas to successful people is to say: "Here is an idea for the future. Please accept it in the positive spirit in which it is offered. If you can use it, great! If not, just ignore it." With this approach, almost no time is wasted judging the quality of the ideas or trying to refute the suggestions. This kind of debate is usually negative, wastes time, and is often counterproductive. By eliminating judgment of the ideas, the process becomes much more positive for the sender as well as the receiver.
  6. FeedForward can be a useful tool with managers, peers and team members. Rightly or wrongly, feedback is associated with judgment. This can lead to very negative—even career-limiting—consequences when given to managers or peers. FeedForward does not imply superiority of judgment. It is more focused on being a helpful colleague than an expert. As such, it can be easier to hear from a person who isn't in a position of power or authority.
  7. People tend to listen more attentively to FeedForward than feedback. One participant in the FeedForward exercise noted: "I think that I listened more effectively in this exercise than I ever have in my life!" When asked why, he said, "Normally, when others are speaking, I am so busy composing a reply that will make sure that I sound smart that I am not fully listening to what the other person is saying. In FeedForward, the only reply that I am allowed to make is ‘thank you.' Since I don't have to worry about composing a clever reply, I can focus all of my energy on listening to the other person!"

When to Use FeedForward

The intent of this article is not to imply that leaders should never give feedback or that performance appraisals should be abandoned. The intent is to show how FeedForward can often be preferable to feedback in day-to-day interactions. Aside from its effectiveness and efficiency, FeedForward can make life a lot more enjoyable. When I ask managers how they felt the last time they received feedback, the most common responses are negative. When managers are asked how they felt after receiving FeedForward, they reply that FeedForward was not only useful, it was also fun.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (June Issue 2009, Volume 5, Issue 2). Copyright © 2012 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

(This column has been modified from "Try FeedForward Instead of Feedback" inCoaching for Leadership, M. Goldsmith and L. Lyons, eds. Jossey Bass, 2005.)

Marshall Goldsmith, MBA, PhD, is a world authority on helping successful leaders achieve positive, lasting behavioral change. His executive coaching expertise has been highlighted in Forbes, Fast Company and Business Week. He is the WSJ and NYT best-selling author of What Got You Here Won't Get You There (Hyperion, 2007) and  Succession: Are You Ready? Learn more about Marshall in the WABC Coach Directory. Contact Marshall.
If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.