23Jan/150

The Importance of Role Models in Business Coaching by Daniel Tuma

Posted by WABC

Members of the Czechoslovakian Chamber of Business Coaches, WABC certified business coaches, often speak about the importance of role models and personal examples in business coaching, especially in applying coaching to leadership and management. In the following paragraphs I would like to present some of my ideas regarding this complex topic.

 

A role model, example or natural authority of big-name personalities accompany us throughout the life span. Intentionally or unintentionally, consciously or unconsciously, we tend to follow them. As developmental psychologists proved, parents are not the only role models that influence our behavior in later life. The so-called role models that we follow belong to our lives naturally. Well-known artists, successful entrepreneurs, show-business stars, sportsmen or influential authors become role models for almost every adolescent or teenager. We tend to follow models that attract our attention and reflect our dreams and goals. In puberty and adolescence, we dream about life and professional goals and compare them to the achievements of our heroes. Moreover, the culture we live in shapes our expectations, goals and life values. For those who identify with successful business people self-development becomes a central task.

 

Interestingly, when we asked a few young people, who are students of Made in Czechoslovakia coaching programs and who show a certain degree of business talent, who their role models were or which big-name personality they identified with, many of those young Czechs and Slovaks named our internationally famous models like Paulina Porizkova, Karolina Kurkova or Petra Nemcova or sportsmen such as Martina Navratilova, Ivan Lendl or Jaromir Jagr. As can be seen, young business–oriented people compare business success to the success of famous celebrities or respected sportsmen. Physical strength and beautiful looks are somehow synonymous with success. Greek kalokagathia, the ancient educational goal and outcome of successful socialization, is not only an example of beauty and physical strength, but also of mental health, wisdom and spiritual richness. Its essence is based on authenticity, individualistic critical thinking, multi-perspective and interdisciplinary education, skills development and ethical discipline. People with developed personality are not only intellectually attractive but also influence others in terms of ambition, hard work and creativity. For instance, the achievements of Vaclav Havel or Madeleine Albright, politicians who both have Czech origin, confirm my assumption that successful business people do not regularly compare themselves with others, but follow their values and go their own, unique way. Comparing ourselves with others and evaluating ourselves in relation to our peers or colleagues does not help our self-development. Constant thinking about what we have not achieved yet and what others have does not help either. Searching for what we do not know or what we are not capable of, skilled at or aware of does not serve anything. This does not motivate us. In contrast, successful business people are aware of the need for commitment to believing in their own way without comparing themselves with others. Competent business people commit to an idea that they will create and develop products or concepts that reflect their values and social welfare. If later they become business or leadership icons, it is because they fulfilled their commitment to becoming authentic and original personalities who are aware of the importance of fidelity.

 

Fidelity plays a crucial role in following any role models and dreams. The psychologist Erikson stated that fidelity is being developed and acquired in adolescence as a key life skill emerging from developmental conflict between identity and confusion. In this age we build a sense of complexity of life. Is it not interesting that it is the role model which plays a crucial role in this age? Role models shape ideas about the way to success and welfare. They show young people what can be achieved. They make them stay focused and committed. Therefore, having a role model is a very important part of personality development. Lack of role models means lack of examples, and meaningful and internalized goals.

 

Later, for instance, role models may play an important role in leading a team. A leader should somehow be a role model for his or her subordinates. In the context of business coaching, a role model may play an important role in establishing rapport between a client and his or her business coach. If a coach is not perceived by his client as an integrated and inspirational personality, the full success of change and reaching the stated goal cannot be achieved. It is not a question of inequality or disrespect. I am not saying that a business coach should be superior to his or her client. I am only suggesting that all of us probably want to be accompanied by smart people; we all need challenges and role models that inspire us and help us grow. That is why the importance of personality examples and role models in business coaching is inevitable. It gives meaning and purpose to our actions and behavior. For instance, when coaching a leader we should understand his or her role models and know the personalities he or she admires. Also, we should be able to offer our own example, which should be an example of integrated and holistic personality. Therefore, business coaches must work on themselves constantly and be aware of the fact that it is mainly their personality that makes the change for their client. Tomas Bata once said: “There is no financial crisis, there is only a crisis of morality” and: “To lead does not mean to control others, it means to overpower one’s own inner personality”.

 

Consequently, self-management, self-reflection and courage to accept ourselves are important business coaching competencies. A business coach must challenge his clients to have courage to take responsibility for choosing particular interpretations, giving meanings to his actions and decisions, including personality change or developing social responsiveness. In other words, being able to support others’ development requires being aware of one’s Self. A business coach may be considered as a role model that should inspire clients and teach them that the need for development (e.g. understanding one’s Self and personality) gives us freedom to make decisions, increases creativity and supports autonomy and inner stability.

 

The better we know ourselves, the more we are able to understand others and help them. In a democratic system, business coaching should also contribute to building democracy and ethics. My own role model, a former president and renowned philosopher Vaclav Havel, once said: “Democracy allows those, who do not have good faith, to do almost everything, but ties the hands of those who have great respect for it”. I think that business coaches may help clients to work with tied hands but with deeper responsibility, respect and business commitment for the growth of democratic society and freedom.

 

 

Daniel Tuma, CBC

Business coach, psychologist and organizational counselor managing the Made in Czechoslovakia company, the first company in Central Europe with WABC accreditation for training program in business coaching.

Academic guarantor and author of many workshops,

trainings and coaching programs regarding business psychology, organizational psychology, emotional intelligence, socio-psycho pathology in the workplace and leading positions.

He is specialized in highly influential top-management assessment and in mediating conflicts on the highest business level.

 

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11Dec/140

Do You Love What You Do or Are You Living in New-Age Professional Hell? by Marshall Goldsmith

Posted by WABC

Do you love what you do or are you living in new-age professional hell? This may be the seminal question of our age.

In yesterday’s world, people worked 40 hours a week and took four weeks of vacation. This question was practically moot. If you didn’t like your job it was practically part-time anyway, the benefits were glorious, and it just wasn’t that bad.

I remember visiting the corporate headquarters of one of the world’s most successful companies at 5 p.m. sometime in the early 80s. There was almost no one there! You could fire a cannonball down the hall and not hit anyone. Those days are gone. It was much easier to find meaning and satisfaction in activities outside of work when we were under a lot less pressure and worked far fewer hours. Not only did people have more time, they weren’t as tired.

Today’s professional has much different experience. Almost all of the professionals I work with are busier today than they ever have been in their lives, working 60 to 80 hours a week. They feel under more pressure than ever. Cell phones, tablets, and laptops tether us to our work wherever we are whether we like it or not. Put it all together and you quickly realize – if you don’t love what you do, you are in the new-age of professional hell where you spend your days waiting for a pause in the steady flow of work so that you can take a break. Let me tell you, that day never comes!

 

Making the Move to Loving What You Do

Life is too short. It’s not worth it. In the new world, we don’t have to love everything that we do, but we need to find happiness and meaning in most of our professional work. One of my coaching clients, Vicky, has a mind that races at about 1,000 miles an hour. She’s extremely creative and entrepreneurial. Vicky was working as a division president in a large, somewhat conservative company. The people who hired her believed that they wanted someone who would “rock the boat” and “make waves.” Once they began to experience “waves” and “boat rocking,” though, they decided that this might not be such a great idea after all!

Although I was hired to help her fit in with the existing culture, it was just a bad match. She was becoming frustrated with her life and was frustrating many of the executives who were running the firm. Summing it up in one sentence, she groaned, “I feel like a racy Ferrari that’s being asked to act like a Ford pickup!”

As her coach, my advice was simple: “Leave.” She had beaten me to the punch, replying, “I just did!”

There was nothing wrong with Vicky. There was nothing wrong with her company. She just didn’t belong there. When she asked herself, “Do I love what I do?” her answer was a clear, “No, I am living in new-age professional hell!”

Vicky’s time off for reflection after leaving her job didn’t last long. She’s playing a key role in an entrepreneurial startup, she’s on two boards of nonprofits doing a lot of good things for her community, and most important, she’s having a lot of fun. She has successfully made the move from new-age professional hell to loving what she does. And, you can too!

Watch the video here:

Do You Love What You Do?

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1Dec/140

“Prepare to swim the English Channel and then drown in champaign.” by Scott Robinson

Posted by WABC

Are successful executives passionate about plastic injection molding, Styrofoam, or manufacturing paper? Not always. But successful executives are decidedly passionate about leadership, growing a business, profitability as well as creating opportunity and value.

Consider Pike Place Fish Market of Seattle. This small business decided to set a goal of being world-famous. Again, they are a fish market! When your job is to handle slimy, smelly, dead fish all day, how does a business become world famous? Rather than change what they did, they changed how they did it. They made it fun, one mundane task at a time. For example, when one person would call out an order, everybody else would yell it back. They physically came out from behind the counter to engage customers. They started throwing whole fish from the front display to behind the counter to another employee. Flying fish brought smiles, a lot of sold fish… and yes, world fame!

How can you be passionate? Groom passion with the PASSION acronym:

Persistence. The words ‘Press On’ were coined by President Calvin Coolidge. His full statement is: “Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

Amplifying yourself. Amplifying is not a chest-puffing, braggadocios exercise. It is a thankful recognition for your gifts with a desire to share your gifts with others. For instance, when you appreciate others in their role as team members and affirm their talents and gifts, the echo of your affirmations amplifies your leadership skills in our push-me, pull-you mutual success.

Strategy. Thinking strategically allows you to sort through clutter, seek opportunity and a streamlined path to that opportunity. With eyes on your goal, you can find the best path toward achievement. Strategy asks the question: What if? Then strategy selects the appropriate option and strikes with action!

Stamina to keep going in spite of setbacks. Embrace the Japanese proverb: Fall down seven times, get up eight. Everyone hits the wall. It happens. What really matters is what you do afterwards. Whatever your re-center technique is, practice it. Be ready to use it. Having a plan in place to refocus will boost your confidence and overcome the setback faster.

Intelligence to make decisions that positively impact your goal. What good is a team of energized professionals who are ready to “go for it” but wallow instead in marginal pursuits because they are waiting for you to make a decision?  Indecision is a decision that carries a high price.   Do your homework ahead of time and be prepared to make needed decisions.

Objectivity.   Successful executives are open-eared to listen to others and open-minded to consider their ideas.  A good leader values objectivity to allow ideas to freely flow and be freely discussed like a gold miner pans through silt looking for a gold nugget.

Networking. Networking is about being genuine and authentic, building trust and relationships, and seeing how you can help others. Make your personal brand and communicate your passion. Passion attracts. Period.

Cultivate PASSION with your own goal. “Prepare to take a great leap forward. Prepare to swim the English Channel and then drown in champagne,” said Mad Men’s passionate but fictional Don Draper. Paraphrase the rest of his motivational pitch. “When I throw a fish (or fill in your own blank), the world will know I have arrived!”

If you need help rediscovering your passion in your executive role, please contact Scott Robinson at Robinson Resource Group, office 708-738-5040 or email Scott@RRGexec.com.

 

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25Oct/1310

Change is Easy, by Dr. Laurence S. Lyons

Turn to the change section in any management textbook and it will be sure to tell you one thing—major change is horrendously hard. However arduous you might think it will be to re-organize operations, introduce a new business model, or beef up global customer service, accepted wisdom will tell you to think again. Estimate the effort needed to bring about the desired change. Treble it. Then add some. You will find that making change happen in the real world will be much, much harder than you'd ever imagined.

If you, or one of your clients, have ever instigated major change, you will wisely nod your head in agreement with all those textbooks. There are well over a million excellent reasons why change is so very difficult and always takes far longer than expected. People have a natural resistance to change. They cannot be rushed through the laborious emotional processes which major change unavoidably requires. The Senior Management Team—often the instigators of change—will be thinking one or two steps ahead of their announced plans, which skews their perception about the speed at which change can take place towards the madly-optimistic. Change is difficult, it looks difficult, and it takes a long time.

Yet this need not be the case. There is some good news; there is another way. While coaching may not eliminate the amount of client reflection that is required when change comes along, it does offer a better and more enduring return from the investment in its efforts. We of course know that coaching almost always encourages dialog, and that early warning is particularly important for reducing risk in change situations. So a coaching context is generally beneficial during change. But coaching can go beyond simply setting a culture conducive to lubricating the change initiative. By helping the client find her authentic voice, a coach may encourage a leader to take a less reactive and more robust stance. To achieve this, the leader may probe and test the organization's ambition in an effort to interpret its intention in a way which finds a desirable role for her in the emerging scheme.

A Question of Coaching

Traditionally, major organizational change is the practical answer to a set of three strategic questions:

  • Where is the organization today?
  • Where do we want the organization to be tomorrow?
  • How does the organization get there?

Organizational change methodologies built on these three questions have undoubtedly stood the test of time. These are good questions. They are the right questions. The top team's answers to these three questions—together with the quality of change implementation they bring—will deliver to any organization the future it deserves.

Yet, however beneficial this approach may seem to be for the business, the coach may feel stymied by it. Having a client respond without challenge to the organization's perceived demands may leave residual feelings of weakness or inadequacy. Additionally, it may be frustrating to find that the textbooks dictate that there is nothing important for the business beyond the realm of strategy. Where, then, can the coach find a space in which each client can be empowered?

I propose a coaching question, the fourth question of strategy:

  • Where do I (the client) fit in the picture?

The great thing I find about this additional question is that it is also strategic—but this time squarely in the interest of the client. To get to work on this new question, simply take the original three questions and change the word 'organization' to 'client.' Your discussions will produce an initial draft of a personal strategy. Importantly, it has now been made explicit. It will be almost impossible for the client to answer these questions without bringing to the surface a much deeper one: Who am I?

Asking this fourth question puts what could have been an important hidden issue right on the table. With all that done, it's now time to explore common futures. Ask this: Within the proposed organizational change, is there any gap between the client's career and the organization's ambition which needs further exploration?

Playing with Fire

Just in case you might have any qualms about asking this extra question in a live coaching session, remember that the ethical justification for doing so is compelling. At worst, it will quickly emerge that your client is the best person for meeting the new organizational challenges. In that case, your conversation only took a moment and you've squeezed out risk to both your client and the organization. Rest happy that your client is in exactly the right job, fired up with opportunity and enthusiasm, and that the organization is well resourced for its future. This represents a fine return on the investment of a few seconds' coaching time. Celebrate!

What if your client is uncertain about the method of change implementation, or even holds serious reservations about some of the assumptions in the change plan? Here is another great coaching opportunity! You encourage the client to go into research mode, which means setting up conversations with colleagues outside the coaching room. Perhaps it simply turns out that some detail or interpretation needs clarifying, and once that has been done all is then well. Great outcome. Or, maybe it emerges from business discussions that it is necessary to modify some part of the original change program. It could be that a major piece of the change plan eventually gets jettisoned or replaced. Having your client set this research in motion doesn't mean that all risks will evaporate, but it does mean that you and your client have done your level best in addressing all inherent, and foreseeable, risks. You did good work. In the real world, it often doesn't get better than this. Celebrate!

What if it should become clear that there is no fit for your client in the organization's future, and no hope of re-negotiating the change plan? It is difficult to see how you wouldn't want to celebrate even more than before! I expect to hear the champagne corks flying. You have just identified an extremely significant and dangerous risk, and are already on your way to avoiding a predictable disaster. Remember: If it ain't going to work, then it ain't going to work. Get started on the exit strategy today. Better to spot and avoid the dead end right here and now in the coaching room than to leave it festering unnoticed until it grows into the full-blown catastrophe of a failed implementation. Working the mismatch issue now will prevent serious organizational embarrassment and disruption in the future, and it may even save a career.

Principled coaching begets principled leadership. The principled way can at first seem frightening, but is often the best for both client and organization. Business coaches are often asked, "What is it that coaches actually do?" That question offers no quick and simple answer. But one element of coaching is crystal clear: Coaches encourage their clients to walk the talk by living their values and by being authentic. One route to that goal starts with a major change announcement and the fourth question of strategy.

I freely admit that the search for those core personal values can often involve the client in a long and tortuous inner struggle. Often a situation of impending major organizational change will be the only device able to prompt such consistent and deep reflection. Finding the limits of Self can be hard. But the reward for the client is enormous: Authenticity. Authenticity is the foundation of principled leadership. Because the principled leader knows herself, she has no cause to worry about change.

She is to be found anywhere in an organization, not only at its top and not only among the management elite. She feels no need to take a long and protracted journey to some unwanted organizational destination. She is self-secure. Organizational change may present her with a fantastic opportunity to grow her leadership skills and get closer to her personal ambition. If so, she and her organization will reap huge rewards, which multiply as each feeds on the success of the other. But if, after researching all possible alternatives, she still cannot find herself within the emerging picture, she will simply start work on the construction of another picture. It will be her picture, in which, for the time being at least, she can clearly see herself, and which she is prepared to share with the world. Organizations hold no monopoly on change.

Is it not the quest of business coaches to create such leaders? Leaders who are at home with themselves? Change is a gale which extinguishes the candle or spreads the bush fire; its effect depends entirely on the material it meets. Who said the flame must always die? Authentic leaders are prepared for change; for them, being true to self presents no difficulty at all. Change? What is change? Change is easy.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (Spring Issue 2007, Volume 3, Issue 1). Copyright © 2012 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

Laurence S. Lyons, PhD, founding director of The Metacorp Group, has extensive experience in coaching senior teams during major change. A member of the WABC International Advisory Committee, Larry is a scheduled panelist at the WABC 10th Anniversary International Conference. His most recently published book, co-edited with Marshall Goldsmith, is the second edition of Coaching for Leadership: The Practice of Leadership Coaching from the World's Greatest Coaches (Pfeiffer, 2005). Read more about Larry in the WABC Coach Directory. Larry can be reached by email at lslyons@lslyons.com.

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