It’s Showtime! One Key to Continual Motivation by Marshall Goldsmith

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When to Zip Your Lip, Leading with Presence. By John Baldoni

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By John Baldoni

Has this ever happened to you? You visit your physician for an annual checkup and he notes that your weight is up, then talks about how much he is exercising and how much less he weighs than you. Or, you come off a bad relationship and your physician says that he, too, is single and dating can be tough on people of a certain age.

Both examples are true and were reported as part of a study on physician self-disclosure published in the Archives of Internal Medicine; its findings were also reported in the New York Times. In the first instance, the doctor is playing one-upmanship; in the second, he may be getting a bit too personal. Both instances underscore a central fact: a physician's personal disclosure does not build, and may even hinder, patient rapport.

It is not only physicians who wrestle with this issue; anyone who works with people in a development capacity, be it an executive coach or a manager, faces a similar dilemma. Counselors and therapists are trained to establish barriers with their clients, but managers are not. This may be why some managers reveal nothing of themselves and end up coming across as cold fish, while other, overly voluble managers may reveal so much about their personal lives that they actually drive people away.

If you work with others, what do you disclose? There may be no textbook answer, but comfort levels for those who reveal as well as for those who receive must be established. Here are some guidelines:

1. Be discreet. Some people will tell you about their marital history at the drop of a hat; others will not even reveal that they are married. For some, talking about family is an ice-breaker; for others, it's a turnoff. Read people before you reveal yourself. You will pick up cues from their own conversation. If they focus solely on work, roll with it. If they like to mix in facts about family, friends, and whatever, either follow their lead or draw your own boundaries.

2. Reveal for learning. Reveal information about yourself that casts light on what you have learned. For example, it is appropriate for seasoned managers to reveal mistakes they have made at work in an attempt to help an employee understand that most mistakes are not career-enders. Talk about what you learned from the mistake and how it enabled you to meet subsequent challenges.

3. Avoid "alpha dog" behavior. Avoid revealing information about yourself that makes you look superior. For example, if an employee is struggling with a problem, there is no need to chime in about how you've tackled tougher problems, but then offer no assistance. That behavior is a put down that emphasizes how good you think you are and how inferior you perceive others to be. It turns people off as well as away from your management. What's more, no one likes a braggart!

On the other hand, we like to see some personality from our senior leaders. Senior leaders who talk to folks on the factory floor or in line at the cafeteria become popular figures within the company. Communing with the ranks helps to build trust and create followership, both vital attributes in running an enterprise larger than two people.

Bottom line, when personal revelations become too personal, or are used to pull rank or put another person down, they do more harm than good. Such behaviors reinforce domination over others, and when you are trying to establish trust, the heavy hand does little to get people to commit to your vision, mission, and values. But a little small talk never hurt anyone.


Gina Kolata, "Study Says Chatty Doctors Forget Patients," New York Times, June 26, 2007.

Susan H. McDaniel et al, "Physician Self-Disclosure in Primary Care Visits: Enough about You, What about Me?" Archives of Internal Medicine, 2007, 167, 12, June 25, 1321-1326.

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

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Success story A&S BMW Motorcycles

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By Gary Henson

The Business / The Organization: Randy Felice is the owner of A&S BMW Motorcycles, the largest BMW Motorcycle dealership in the world. With humble beginnings, A&S began as a salvage motorcycle store in 1968. In 1988 they became a BMW motorcycle dealership. By 1998 they finalized the contract to provide BMW motorcycles to the California Highway Patrol and began to grow rapidly.

The Partnership: As the son of the original founder of A&S Cycles, Randy has worked in the business all of his life. When his parents retired in 2003, he began registering his leadership team in management classes. On the last day of one of Randy's courses, the leader recommended getting a business coach.

Although Gary Henson, president of BusinessCoach.com, had spoken previously to Randy several times about business coaching, Randy admits not really understanding the value that coaching could have for him and A&S BMW. The timing was right; Gary made a routine follow-up call soon after Randy's discussion with the management course leader. Randy said, "I chose Coach Gary because he was committed to being my coach. I could tell that he would be committed to the success of my business like it was his own."

The Challenge: Randy's priority in hiring a business coach was to cut business expenses. Even with his degree in business, Randy also knew that he needed help learning to be an effective manager. As the partnership developed, Gary and Randy found that these additional issues needed addressing:

  • The company had no clear vision or mission
  • The company had no stated core values
  • Employees didn't know the strategic direction of the company
  • Employees had no clear goals or commitments
  • Randy was uncomfortable leading staff meetings
  • He didn't know how to become an effective leader or see the clear value of leadership
  • He didn't know how to develop a team culture

The Approach: At the beginning of the coaching partnership, Gary asked Randy to clarify three things:"What do you want? What are you committed to? Who's going to hold you accountable?"  When the foundation of trust and accountability was established, Randy began to take the following steps with Gary's help:

  • Established all-company staff meetings to build shared vision, values and goals and foster communication
  • Established managers as leaders of their individual departments
  • Implemented performance- and commitment-based systems for the company
  • Developed a monthly managers' budgeting and training meeting
  • Utilized profile assessments to ensure that employee characteristics were in alignment with critical need areas
  • Replaced underperforming employees with highly effective team leaders
  • Added new product lines that were complementary to A&S BMW's retail environment, such as Vespa, Kymco and Rokon Powersports

The Value Delivered: Once A&S BMW developed and implemented the shared vision, mission statement, commitments and goals, the impact on the bottom line was striking:

  • An 18% increase in profits from retail operations. This was despite a 5.9% decrease in sales as BMW Motorcycles discontinued many of its models to prepare for new models.
  • A 12% decrease in employee expenses, including insurance, worker's compensation, etc. Randy states, "Once we got everyone going in the same direction, we could get more done with fewer people."

Randy says, "so much has changed that it's difficult to cover it all, but what's important to know is, Gary made a promise to transform our business and he has kept that promise. I would have never believed that my life could have changed to this degree, not in a million years." Randy further states, "Anyone who hasn't taken on coaching is only half running a business."

Today, a year and a half into the business coaching relationship with BusinessCoach.com, A&S BMW is a different place to work, and now, a different place to play.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (Premier Issue 2005, Volume 1, Issue 1). Copyright © 2013 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.


Gary B. Henson, founder and president of BusinessCoach.com, specializes in business coaching as a strategic/change management tool leading to improved customer/employee satisfaction and overall increased corporate performance. Gary Henson and Randy Felice have recently partnered to write a book called The Fearless Leader. Learn more about Gary and BusinessCoach.com in the WABC Coach Directory. He may be reached by email, at: coaching@businesscoach.com.

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From Small to Dazzling: VSM Marketing Support Services

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By Jean-Pierre Fortin

The Business/The Organization

VSM is a corporation offering telemarketing services in the information technology domain across North America. Founded in 1993, VSM is one of the leaders in the province of Quebec in this business area, and is positioning itself in the North American market by offering a wide array of marketing services to its information technology clients, including client prospecting and qualification, targeted client databases, business intelligence and profiling, turnkey marketing seminars, and more.

VSM and its leaders have worked to leverage their clients' strengths as they work with customers. They have reached an exceptional level of client satisfaction, and VSM is recognized as an expert in the marketing of information technology.

The Partnership

The president of VSM, Alain Boudreau, had led the company through its initial small business stage and growth. Over time, because of their specialization, VSM created a large demand for their services and high performance. In 2001, Alain hired a new partner who would take over the day-to-day operations of the company.

In November 2001, Alain contacted Jean-Pierre Fortin, executive coach and the founder of Coaching de gestion inc. Alain saw Jean-Pierre, an experienced coach and previous executive, as the right person to coach him and his partner as they worked to take the company to the next stage in their growth. Jean-Pierre, a coach since 1998, had been an executive for over 25 years, and also knew well what it meant to be an entrepreneur facing growth.

The Challenge

Alain's main desired result from the coaching partnership was to effectively navigate the dazzling growth his company was facing. With the assistance of a coach, he needed to:

  • Help his partner quickly engage himself in the right direction
  • Overcome the loneliness that results from being the top link in the decision-making process
  • Shift from a day-to-day operations focus to a more strategic approach in leading the company
  • Modify the company's business model in order to develop a profitable client base
  • Restructure the accounting system to better understand the costs associated with each contract
  • Identify and eliminate non-profitable clients

The Approach

Jean-Pierre related easily to the challenges his client faced, because he felt that he was facing similar challenges in his coaching business. He saw the opportunity to not only support Alain but to also apply the result of the coaching. Jean-Pierre and Alain easily understood each other and established good communication. Concurrently, Jean-Pierre hired a coach located in California to enable him to step back and ensure the success of his own business so that he could more effectively coach Alain through this period of growth.

Jean-Pierre used a coaching strategy that focused on what was most important for Alain: sustained sales growth, higher operations efficiency, and improved profitability. The strategy for the business included:

  • Making a clear distinction between revenue and benefits to eliminate non-profitable sales;
  • Delegating more while emphasizing responsibilities and competencies rather than tasks;
  • Developing a client base with repeat business rather than "one-shot deals";
  • Raising the awareness and diligence of project managers to control the evolution of contract costs.

Rather than pointing to solutions to the complex situations that Alain faced, Jean-Pierre helped him work intensely to discover his own solutions. Over the period of a year, the sessions moved from weekly to as needed and upon client request. The relationship has continued, and Alain continues to turn to his coach to get clarity when facing a complex decision.

The Value Delivered

Over time, the strategies that VSM executive Alain Boudreau and coach Jean-Pierre Fortin implemented have increased the sales growth of the business and led to increased profitability and a higher efficiency in operations.

Through coaching, Alain became aware of the distinction between the different types of costs (direct, general, marketing, etc.) and their implication in profitability. He began to realize that these costs were too high with respect to the estimates they were providing to clients. The coaching led to some interesting results: while sales growth was not significant due to the elimination of non-profitable clients, the profits from the consolidated client base grew by approximately 9.7%.

The intangible results of the coaching partnership were just as powerful. Jean-Pierre felt as a coach that he better understood the rite of passage of a small business to a medium-sized business. The trust built between coach and client and the empowerment and awareness the client experienced will allow Alain Boudreau to continue to lead VSM to even greater growth.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (Fall Issue 2005, Volume 1, Issue 3). Copyright © 2013 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.


Jean-Pierre Fortin, MCC, CEC, CRHA, CA, works with company directors, executives, managers and entrepreneurs primarily in French-speaking Canada and Europe. In 1997, he founded Coaching de gestion inc., a coaching school for leaders within organizations as well as for professional coaches. Read more about Jean-Pierre in the WABC Coach Directory. Jean-Pierre may be reached by email at fortinjp2@coaching.qc.ca.

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