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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8Dec/140

Coaching and the Attention Challenge by Melinda Sinclair

Posted by WABC

Attention matters

“A primary task of leadership is to direct attention. Leaders tell us where to focus our energies. But leaders need, too, to manage their own attention. Leaders who do this effectively can soar, those who do not will stumble. The reason is simple. “Your focus,” Yoda reminds us, “is your reality.” Daniel Goleman

What is our most valuable resource – the key resource that allows us to be an effective leader, to succeed in business, and to enjoy life?

Some would make the case that it is time. Others would say energy or expertise and experience, or our network of relationships.

There is no doubt that all of these are very important. Yet they all require that we’ve mastered the deployment of a fundamental mental resource: Our attention.

The ability to direct and manage our attention is at the root of everything we achieve. It determines the quality of the decisions we make, the quality of our relationships, our level of performance and enjoyment in life.

Our effectiveness as a leader also depends crucially on how well we’ve mastered the art of focusing and directing attention. Leaders need to know when and where to direct their attention, why and for how long, and how intensely. As Daniel Goleman argues in his new book Focus. The hidden driver of excellence (2013), the difference between soaring and stumbling as a leader lies in lies in effective attention management.

Quite simply: Mastering the art of directing our attention is the key to success in leadership, in business, and in life.

 

The attention challenge

"At the psychological level, the most basic resource involved is attention. Attention is the brain's capacity to process information, and to direct action. It is a limited resource, because we cannot process more than a few bits of information at any single moment, and thus we can only be aware of a tiny fraction of what is going on inside us or around us."    Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

And this is where we run into a challenge. Attention is a psychic resource - and for that reason limited. At any given time there are far more things that we could potentially pay attention to than we are able to. Hence, we are constantly noticing and knowing some aspects of our reality while being oblivious of others.

And we are all attention challenged in multiple ways. There is the distraction of being pulled in multiple directions by multiple, competing demands. There is the problem of focusing appropriately in the midst of vast streams of information coming at us at high speed. There is the spiraling down effect when our attention gets caught by bad news. There is the challenge of knowing when to focus in tightly and maybe risk missing important information – or when to focus wider and maybe risk getting lost in too much information and too much complexity.

Our attention challenges are exacerbated by the information rich, complex and fast changing world we live in. We’ve become “attention poor” amidst our information riches, to quote Herbert Simon.

In our world of constant change the heuristics from the past may not work at all, and it becomes extra important to have a valid current assessment of 'what is true now'. So we need to continually process new information in order to stay updated and grounded in our ever shifting reality. Add to this the complexity of the information and of the challenges we face, and it is no wonder that we often feel overwhelmed.

We can say that how we pay attention is "fateful" - for us as individuals and as organizations.
The problem is that very few of us - as individuals or organizations - are masters at the art of directing our attention.

 

Coaching as an attention structure

This brings us then to coaching. Coaching is often described as providing an accountability structure – a structure that supports clients to follow through on their commitments to themselves. It may be even more powerful to conceive of coaching as providing an attention structure – a structure to support clients in the mammoth task of effectively monitoring and managing the deployment of their attention.

The increasing focus on mindfulness practices is one expression of the awareness that attention mastery is key. However, in additional to classic mindfulness practices, there are several other ways that coaching could support leaders in dealing with their attention challenge. Here are just three related ideas.

  • Creating self-awareness of leaders is seen as an integral part of coaching. But shifting to the idea of coaching as providing attention support would mean focusing coaching not only on helping leaders become more of aware of the unique, personal content of their minds. It would also involve helping them develop a good basic understanding of key features of attention and how it works - for them and for those around them. This implies, of course, that we as coaches have a solid understanding of the relevant key features of attention.
  • Each client will have their own specific attention challenges and demands. A significant contribution of coaching is to help each client enhance their capability to monitor and manage their attention in ways that best serve their aspirations and their context. This goes beyond ensuring that clients understand the basics of attention. This involves actively collaborating with the client to help them develop customized attention monitoring and attention managing capability. Again, this requires us as coaches to engage in this mastery process ourselves.
  • As we swim in turbulent sea of information, we need to develop filters to help us sort, stream and process information. This is another concrete domain where coaches can support leaders to deal with the attention challenge. We can explore with leaders what filters and frames they are currently using and help them assess how well they are working. We can challenge them to either narrow or expand their filters. We can bring forward additional and frames for consideration, and work with our clients as they experiment with new filters and frames. And we can stay alert, along with them, when something totally new is emerging which requires new and fresh attention beyond the existing set of filters.

Every coaching conversation can be seen as essentially a mutual focusing of attention in ways that best serve the client. And we can conceive the process of coaching as supporting our clients to become more masterful at monitoring and managing their attention – their most vital mental resource. In our “attention challenged” world, this may be one of the best ways we can serve our clients.

 

Melinda Sinclair of PeopleDynamics Learning Group is a Chartered Business Coach™ practicing in Toronto, ON. Her work with leaders and teams focus on enhancing the conditions and skills required for high quality collaboration. In addition to her executive coaching and leadership development practice, she is also one of the lead faculty for the WABC Level 1 Accredited Business Coaching Advantage Program™.

www.peopledynamicslearning.com;

www.businesscoachingadvantage.com

 

 

 

 

 

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27Jan/140

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

Posted by John Baldoni

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.

Sources:

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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