Category Archives: Coaching

Get Behind This to Motivate Your Team

My first full-time job was with an education company. I oversaw both the instructional services that the kids in our program received as well as the business aspects of marketing to the community.

Quality

Since it was a membership program, we grew concerned when kids failed to show up for their after-school lessons. When a child missed lessons for a few days in a row, we reached out to their parents by phone.

Missed lessons were often a beginning sign of a bigger issue: the child struggling with the curriculum, the family having budgetary concerns, or simply a lack of commitment with the program. Either way, difficult conversations often emerged during these calls. So, I did what any reasonable person would do when they don’t want to do something.

The Communication Funnel

The communication funnel is a concept I regularly discuss with coaching clients, most of whom are senior leaders in constant contact with their direct reports and/or managing virtual teams.

We prioritize immediacy and convenience in our communication, so we start with the fastest and easiest channels at our disposal–text, chat or email. But these channels lack bandwidth, so they’re poorly-suited to conveying nuance and complexity.

How To Navigate When You’re Flying Blind

Bonni and I have started checking out local preschools for our son to attend next year. It’s a blessing and a curse that there are tons of options in our immediate vicinity.

Flying Blind

Like most parents, we’ve spent time researching and visiting schools in preparation for where we’ll send our kids. After a few weeks of this, I found myself with more questions than I had before we started.

Fortunately, an old friend of Bonni’s is a preschool director and offered to share some of her wisdom with us. We had dinner recently and she asked us lots of questions and then shared her experiences.

My Favorite Piece of Advice…

W.C. Fields

…comes from the wonderfully cantankerous early 20th century actor W.C. Fields:

I don’t have to attend every argument I’m invited to.

We’re so quick to assume that if someone has an issue or a dispute or wants to pick a fight with us for some reason that we’re obligated to reciprocate. “We’ve been invited to an argument,” we say to ourselves, “and it would be rude to decline.”

We would do well to reconsider that logic.

Do This To Be The Leader People Remember

Awhile back, I was having a chat with a client that I’ve always liked and respected. We got to talking about her career trajectory and she was telling me about the best manager she’d ever had.

Give attention

Her first manager was someone who was kind, consistent, and most importantly, made time to coach her to be a more effective professional.

She mentioned being particularly impressed with the time he spent a few times a year to meet personally and provide her with some coaching. She was even more grateful for it now, since she had since worked for several other people in the industry and realized how rare it was for a manager to provide the kind of personal attention he did.

Don’t Start Your Presentation Like This

Earlier this summer, I attended a rather formal event with several speakers slated. As the program began, there was a slight pause, followed by the first speaker suddenly running up on stage.

Presentation Apology

He apologized profusely for being out of sorts and made some mention of trouble with his microphone. He explained that he was normally much more prepared, much more organized, and always timely.

The apology and stumbling took half a minute before he got underway with the program. It was a bit uncomfortable to watch and an odd start to a formal event.

Ignoring Bandits and Building Resilience

Seven Samurai

In “Bouncing Back,” a profoundly thought-provoking book that draws upon concepts from philosophy, psychology and neuroscience to promote resilience and well being, therapist Linda Graham relates the following story from Buddhist tradition:

A master monk is meditating in a temple with other monks. Suddenly a fierce bandit storms into the temple, threatening to kill everybody. The other monks flee, but the master monk remains, calmly meditating. Enraged, the bandit shouts, “Don’t you understand? I could run you through with my sword and not bat an eye!” The monk calmly replies, “Don’t you understand? I could be run through by your sword and not bat an eye.” [p 229]

I see a connection here with my recent HBR post, which emphasizes the importance of ignoring the unimportant in order to focus our time and attention on those people and issues that truly matter. We often approach this process as an intellectual task of prioritization, but it’s a fundamentally emotional experience. The choice to ignore certain people and issues in favor of others stirs up a complex range of emotions–particularly anxiety, fear and guilt–that can be difficult to manage and can easily cause us to make decisions that aren’t in our best interests.