If Life Coaching is the Answer, What is The Question?

By Suzanne James  – Life Coach

The question I hear most often is, ‘Why does coaching work? I don’t get it. It is too simple.’ I hear this from clients, and people who are new to coaching. It seems that nothing happens except a bit of journaling and brainstorming in many sessions. It doesn’t look like the coach invests a lot of effort, but the results are measurable, and there is ample evidence to support the successful approaches to coaching.

This article is designed to help people understand the fundamentals of coaching. This brief introduction to coaching may help you determine if coaching is right for you, and help you find a coach.

Collective Wisdom
The relationship between the coach and coachee is unique. No other discipline creates a parallel interaction. Most other disciplines use the mentor and the disciple, the teacher and student, the doctor and patient. These all create a pyramid or a Vertical relationship. The relationship in the life coaching interaction is even different from sports coaching. There is a two tiered approach to this strategy.

In coaching the coach assumes a relationship position that respects the brilliance and self-preservation instincts. The coach allows the coachee the freedom to build their own development strategy. There may be things wrong in your life, things you want to change. There are also a lot of good things. Some people are not aware of their strengths, but given the freedom to develop them, they quickly learn that they are stronger and more proactive than they once believed.

The second tier is the collective community among many ‘good’ coaches. The strategies utilize the wisdom of thousands of masters, and incorporate new strategies and the successful techniques of multiple therapies. This is combined with ‘competencies’. A coach does not get accreditation merely by earning their degree. They must prove their skills and abilities.

Coaches have influence over the coachee. This means that they how the power to effect another person’s life through indirect means. They teach people problem solving skills, and help them take a new look at their lives. This role is taken seriously in the coaching circles. Unlike therapy or counseling where a person can graduate and then work for years, coaches are forced to continually be coached, learn, and improve. This alters the mindset of a coach. By continually being coached they are less aggressive and authoritative. They posses many of the same skills as their colleagues, but their approach is different.

This word is used to reflect the coaches’ goal of bringing out the possibilities in someone. It is a progress, a journey, to cause to grow and increase. It includes elaborating and highlighting. A farmer plants a small seed, and it grows into a big plant. But the farmer only planted the seed. The plant grew on its own with help from the farmer and weather. In the same way, coaches plant seeds and then watch that seed grow to make sure it doesn’t wither or fade.

In many therapies, the therapist will teach the patient a set technique, or coping skill. They may help the person become aware of something and help them learn to deal with it. Coaches start with the same concepts, but instead of teaching people What to do, they work with them and help them learn How to do it. This leaves the coachee stronger and able to manage their own problems, identify opportunities, and avoid bad relationships.

The skills learned in coaching will bleed over into other aspects of a person’s life, strengthening their entire being, and creating a balance and sense of wellness. This is because coaching creates a catalyst relationship that accelerates performance. This is done by creating a partnership where the coachee defines what needs to be done, when, and how much effort to invest. This mimics the support that should naturally come from friends and family.

The coach wants to help people let go of what they have been doing all their life, and try something different. Instead of healing — think evolution. Instead of coping — think mastery of a skill set that empowers you.

The Session
These two elements explain why it is easier to work with a coach than to change behaviors by reading books, or by the DIY method. The coach may only brainstorm and it may look like you did most of the work. But the coach is constantly seeding new thoughts and new skills. They are coaxing out new possibilities from within. They are establishing a healthy relationship that you can model in the future.

Coaching is a by-product of today’s society. It is the result of our busy lives. We no longer take time for ourselves. The coach is here to help people take time to improve their lives, but also to help them focus and get the most out of the time invested. And to help them develop the skills needed to succeed. This is why the coaching session may not always be invested on the goals. Reaching your goals is only half the battle. Developing a strong sense of self worth is needed to keep the momentum flowing — even after the coaching relationship ends.

The Results
The session is about the process, the journey. However, the entire coaching relationship has one focus, the results. The ultimate objective is emotional maturity, transformation from a lesser to a greater state, and a more fulfilling state of being or doing. To repeat this in non coach language, the goal is to create a sense of wellness and balance, to empower coachees and increase their inner strength, to give them the problem solving skills to succeed, and to help them change destructive behavior.

Coaching only progresses as fast as the coachee can ‘get it.’ And it only focuses on the areas the coachee wants to focus on, at this particular moment. This is the secret to the success of coaching. To walk side by side with a coach until the coachee is strong enough, and is equipped with the tools needed to live a happier, more successful, healthier life.

The important thing to remember is that coaches are people too. It is important to find one with the mindset you want to develop. Make sure they feel like a friend and are open to your possibilities. This may require a few trial runs, but finding the right life coach is the first step to a better life.


About the Author:
Suzanne James has 10 years experience as an online life coach and using the telephone to facilitate her coaching strategy. She has vast experience helping clients reset their core values, make changes in their communication and relationship styles, and take back control of their lives. There is a wealth of information on her website: http://www.suzannejames.com

Delegate More Effectively

By Marshall Goldsmith –  Leading Executive Educator and Coach

When C-level executives are asked what change they could make to become a more effective leader, one of the most common answers is, “I need to delegate more!”

My caution to these executives is always the same: Don’t delegate more. Delegate more effectively.

Delegation is not a quality like “demonstrating integrity” or “complying with the law.” Honest, ethical and legal behavior is always appropriate — delegation isn’t. Inappropriate delegation can do more harm than good.

I saw an extreme example of the “empowerment is good” flaw in one of America’s largest companies. The CEO naively believed that his employees would always rise to the occasion and see the value of their learning through mistakes they made. He eventually promoted people to levels that were far beyond their capabilities. These people were not ready for the challenge. Perhaps they could learn from their mistakes when the mistakes cost thousands of dollars, but the company went bankrupt when the mistakes cost billions.

When feedback from direct reports indicates that a manager needs to delegate more effectively, the dissatisfaction could come from one of two causes: The direct reports may feel that their leader is micro-managing or getting overly involved with subordinates, or the direct reports may not feel micro-managed at all, but see their leader engaged in tasks that could be done effectively by someone at a lower level in the company.

To help leaders ensure effective delegation, my advice is simple:

Have each direct report list her or his key areas of responsibility. Schedule one-on-one sessions with each person. Review each area of responsibility and ask, “Are there cases where you believe that I get too involved and can let go more? Are there cases when I need to get more involved and give you some more help?” When leaders go through this exercise, they almost always find that in some cases, more delegation is wanted, and in others it is not. In fact, more help is needed.

Ask each direct report, “Do you ever see me working on tasks that someone at my level doesn’t need to do? Are there areas where I can help other people grow and develop, and give myself more time to focus on strategy and long-term planning?” Almost invariably, direct reports will come up with great suggestions. For example, for several of my C-level clients, team management has emerged as an area where letting go can both free up executive time and help develop direct reports. Too many top executives feel a need to schedule team meetings and then act as traffic cop during the meeting to ensure that the time schedules are met and that agendas are completed. This meeting management task can usually be delegated on a rotating basis to direct reports. This helps direct reports understand the agendas of the peer team members and allows them to develop their skills in building collaboration and reaching consensus.

In one example, a CEO was frequently traveling. He would not schedule any team meeting when he was on the road and was falling behind on some important projects. A team member suggested that he did not have to be present at every meeting and that the team could still get a lot done without him in the room. He was pleasantly surprised at the outcome. Decisions that involved cross-divisional cooperation were made effectively without involving him. Another advantage was that his direct reports were getting on-the-job training that could help them take on larger responsibilities in the future.

On the other side of the coin, a division president learned that his employees consistently wanted more direction on one key topic. The company was operating in a rapidly changing environment. His direct reports didn’t need to be told what to do or how to do it in terms of technical details. They needed to know how their work was fitting into the larger strategy of the corporation and how their efforts were aligned with their peers both in the division and across the company. By establishing regular bi-monthly check-in meetings with each person, the president was able to increase the effectiveness of the team and help them build better relationships across the company.

What are your next steps? When are you getting too involved? When do you need to get more involved?

Ask yourself these tough questions. Then ask the people who are working with you. The answers may save your time and increase your team’s effectiveness.

Originally published in The Huffington Post.
Dr. Marshall Goldsmith has authored over 30 books including eWhat Got You Here Won’t Get You There – a New York Times best-seller, Wall Street Journal #1 business book and Harold Longman Award winner for Business Book of the Year. Succession: Are You Ready? is the newest edition to the Harvard Business ‘Memo to the CEO’ series. Marshall’s latest book is Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, and How to Get It Back When You Lose It.

Join Marshall at www.LeadingNews.org

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You’re A Mentor… Now What?

This guest post is by Dr. Patricia Wheeler of Leading News.

One of the top targets on my client Reynaldo’s development plan read: Provide effective feedback that helps others improve their performance. Reynaldo, a key global supply chain executive based in Latin America, was in the process of making performance management more robust and accountability-driven. Yet along with many of his peers, he was perceived as giving messages that were too soft and lacking any real-time follow-up.

My job was to help Reynaldo raise the bar on performance management. That meant helping him develop the discipline of giving messages in a clear and timely manner, articulating what his team (and their teams) were doing well, what had to change, and how to ensure that these important changes were, in fact, made. I’m happy to report that Reynaldo did a great job on this. In fact, he was so successful that a high potential leader asked him to be her mentor. He was thrilled, and accepted immediately. Then he called me and asked how he could do this well.

I’ve seen a lot of mentoring programs and relationships. Some are successful, others not so much. What makes the difference? I’ve come to believe that it’s not about whether mentoring takes place within a formal program or happens within an informal arrangement. I’ve seen both succeed and both fail. In my experience, the key criterion is making sure that you negotiate the relationship in a way that both parties benefit.

When Reynaldo asked me how he could be a successful mentor, I gave him the following checklist:

1. Agree on the process: It’s important to define the basic “ground rules” of the mentoring relationship. This is where so much of mentoring fails: we think we should know the rules already, but we don’t. Questions include the following.
– What does the mentee want from the experience?
– How did the mentee choose you specifically?
– How often will you meet?
– Who will initiate the meetings?
– How long will your mentoring agreement last (at least initially….you can always “re-up”)
– How will you create a “safe space” for candid dialogue?

2. Define the Direction: What is the end result you will aim toward? The process of self-reflection and identifying goals (which may change over time) is crucial. Questions and issues include the following.
– What are the mentee’s career goals?
– How do you help him/her identify opportunities and obstacles?
– What are the mentee’s strengths and gaps?
– Help them create a strategic career focus
– Remember: building trust takes time
– How will each of you measure success of this initiative?

3. Facilitate Exposure: One primary “deliverable” is the mentor’s connecting the mentee to others across the enterprise who are sources of influence and knowledge. Ask yourself:
– What connections does the mentee need to make in order to advance his/her goals?
– How could you facilitate these meetings?
– Will you participate in the conversation or only give the referral?
– What resources (books/articles) were helpful to you that may also add value to them?

4. Serve as a Champion: spread around your mentee’s good ideas and, when appropriate, become an active sponsor. Consider the following.
– How could the mentee contribute even more broadly and deeply to the organization?
– How/when might your mentee need your support and sponsorship?

5. Make it Mutual: many relationships fail because mentees worry about taking up too much of their mentor’s valuable time. So they are reluctant to engage fully in a relationship they perceive as one-way. Think about the following.
– What can you learn from your mentee?
– How will you consistently ask them for FeedForward about views from their level….and their generation?

The results are in: effective mentoring works, particularly as an assist to people moving into bigger and broader roles. And it works for mentors as well. For Reynaldo, mentoring sessions help him keep a pulse check on generational changes and perspectives. In this way, mentoring may be one of the best ways for executives to stay relevant as they move up the leadership pipeline.

Copyright 2011, Leading News


Dr. Patricia Wheeler is an executive and team coach who helps smart people become more effective leaders. As Managing Partner in The Levin Group LLC, she has spent 15 years consulting to organizations and coaching senior leaders and their teams. Her work helping executives succeed in new roles is featured in The AMA Handbook of Leadership. Join Patricia at www.LeadingNews.org

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Executive Transitions: The Importance of Relational Intelligence

This guest post is by Dr. Patricia Wheeler of Leading News.

The rate of change has never been so intense as we have experienced over the past few years. Business is no longer “business as usual”. A recent Booz and Company report shows that companies across many industries and geographies are hitting the “reset button,” making changes to their portfolios, their business and operating models, their processes and infrastructure, all through a lens focused more closely on what truly creates value for their companies and their customers. Most companies acknowledge that their executive pipelines need to be more robust; indeed, this is seen as their Number One challenge as they move forward.

We’re seeing an upswing in the rate at which executives are moving into new roles; transitions take place as organizations merge or are acquired, reposition their business models, grow into different segments and geographies, and as the previous generation of senior leaders continues to retire. And we’ve been studying these trends since 2007, when our global coaching alliance Alexcel partnered with the Institute of Executive Development to study executive transitions: what makes them succeed, and what predictable obstacles leaders face as they move into more senior roles.

In our research, we examined how senior leaders (defined here as executives within the top five percent of their organization) best navigate these moves, whether they entered a new organization or were promoted internally, as well as how many of these senior leaders did not fulfill the promise of their positions. We gathered responses to an online survey from over 350 leaders and talent professionals across many organizations and geographies consisting of 18 multiple-choice questions plus over 50 in-depth interviews to gain additional insight.

So what did we find? In our second generation of research completed in December 2010, we found that the rate of failure at the top five percent of the organizations we surveyed continues to be unacceptably high. One in three leaders brought into these roles from other organizations were not successful in meeting organizational expectations by the two-year mark.

And the more disturbing finding is that we continue to hear that one in five leaders promoted from within to the top failed to meet their organization’s criteria for successful performance within two years. This means that twenty percent of leaders who were successful enough in their roles to earn a promotion or lateral move to a bigger and broader role did not succeed in their new role. They weren’t necessarily fired; companies tend not to dismiss many of these internally grown leaders; but their lack of success likely meant the end of the road for their upward mobility. And for the organization, it often means wasted time, energy and engagement as these leaders stumble.

So it’s still true, to paraphrase Marshall Goldsmith, that what gets you to one level won’t necessarily be sufficient at higher levels. Let’s take a closer look at our findings.

What derails leaders at the high potential and senior levels? Failure here is rarely about technical knowledge; it’s more about relational intelligence and cultural alignment. 73% of our survey participants listed interpersonal and leadership skills as a significant factor in executive underperformance. For one in three respondents, it was listed as the most important factor. So as individuals move into bigger and broader roles, keep in mind that relationships are an increasingly important factor in more senior roles.

If you’re thinking that this comes as no surprise, you are in good company. It’s a simple idea that we’ve all heard many times before. The truth is, however, that simple ideas are not so easy to execute. So many leaders know this, but neglect the daily discipline and practice of these relational competencies.

Remember that each move up the leadership pipeline increasingly forces leaders to get more done through others. So we always suggest that leaders practice daily actions to address this challenge. Actions include asking how others see you, developing conscious awareness of the culture, and learning to flex your leadership and communication style. In this way your good intentions have a greater probability of being perceived clearly by others, as it’s so clear that interpersonal behavior is the biggest differentiator of success at the senior level.

We suggest that you ask yourself and your team: what regular steps are you taking to increase your relational intelligence to prepare yourself to move into bigger and broader roles?

Copyright 2011, Leading News


Dr. Patricia Wheeler is an executive and team coach who helps smart people become more effective leaders. As Managing Partner in The Levin Group LLC, she has spent 15 years consulting to organizations and coaching senior leaders and their teams. Her work helping executives succeed in new roles is featured in The AMA Handbook of Leadership. Join Patricia at www.LeadingNews.org

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5 Keys to Regroup in the Face of Failure

This guest post is by Carolyn B. Ellis of Brilliance Mastery.

Failure and rejection are tough pills to swallow. But sometimes they prove to be the best medicine in the long term.

Let me explain.

We live in a fast-moving, success-driven, “quick fix” oriented society. Encountering disappointment, under performance or outright failure it is something that can feel like a punch to the gut.

Perhaps you launched what you thought was an awesome program, but didn’t get the sign-ups you wanted. You booked the room for your workshop and only 2 people besides your mom showed up.

Maybe you did “all the right things” by your children, but one of them ends up hanging out with the wrong crowd and getting into trouble anyway.

Or you’ve just found yourself in the most amazing relationship, only to discover your partner has cold feet about taking things to the next level of connection.

In every sphere of life there will be moments where our conviction to stand confidently in our brilliance and stay true to our heart will be tested. If we’re not careful, the Gremlin I call “The Pushover” can show up to derail you.

The Pushover wants you to run for the hills and take cover in the safety of your normal routines. The Pushover takes the wind out of your sails to deter you from stepping boldly into a new ventures, relationships or experiences.

But having a strong Brilliance Backbone ™ means your Conviction vertebra is healthy and flexible so you can regroup after a setback. You are willing to stand your ground. It’s what helps you bring life to ideas or plans that fly in the face of conventional wisdom or criticism from naysayers.

To keep that Conviction part of your Brilliance Backbone ™ in strong working order, you need to regroup and do it quickly. Here are 5 keys to help you regroup from failure and turn setbacks into solid success.

Key #1 – Breathe
Dealing with failure or rejection feels like a threat to our safety at some level. So our good old “flight or fight” response gets triggered. With all that adrenalin rushing through our body it’s hard to think clearly about anything!

Taking some deep belly breaths for even just a minute will help short-circuit your reactivity that comes when our reptilian brain gets triggered. Deep breathing allows you to access your prefrontal cortex that governs your decision-making capabilities.

Key #2 – Regroup
The Chinese have a proverb – “Fall down seven times, get up eight.” When things don’t go as you’d planned, the ability to pick yourself up and keep on going is key.

Rather than see failure or disappointment as a sign from the Universe to stop altogether, view it as an opportunity to gather the additional wisdom and resilience you need to move more powerfully into lasting success. Choose to regroup, rather than stay stuck and gripe.

Key #3 – Pan Back and Get the Big Picture
You worked so hard, had such great intentions and yet you still got rejected. Sometimes the sting of failure feels so personal because the Pushover tends to lose sight of the big picture.

Imagine you’re the director of this movie called “Your Life” and it’s time to “Pan back” the cameras to get the wide-angle shot. Choosing to see the bigger picture helps you remember your vision, your Brilliant WHY. Connecting to who you’re meant to serve, or the love and truth you want to have in your life, can help get you ready and motivated to get back in the game.

Key #4 – The W-W-W Formula
Now that you’ve got the bigger perspective, it’s time to use the W-W-W Formula.

Objectively assess the following questions:
W – What worked?
W – What didn’t work?
W – What would you do differently the next time?

Engage your brilliant brain into answering these questions and just watch how quickly your Pushover gets crowded out of your awareness. These answers invoke rich, straight-forward insights and data points that will help you make needed course corrections.

Key #5 – Give Yourself Permission to Fail
Failure is a necessary ingredient of our brilliance and success. Let’s give up the need for perfectionism and the myth of instant success. What if Mother Nature had decided that evolution and natural selection weren’t such good ideas? Our world would be robbed of so much beauty and diversity if Mother Nature was a perfectionist, unwilling to experiment and evolve along the way.

Give yourself permission to fail. Make it your intention to fail quickly and often. That way you can gather up so much wisdom and polishing to take with you so you can step forward in greater strength and brilliance the next time.

** To comment on this article or to read comments about this article, go here.



As an internationally acclaimed business coach, author and media personality, Carolyn Ellis, the SelfGrowth.com Official Guide to Entrepreneurs, has helped thousands of women reclaim their financial future and radically transform their lives.

Through her company, Brilliance Mastery, Carolyn has the privilege of helping brilliant women and conscious entrepreneurs reconstruct and realign their businesses in order to present their great work more clearly, powerfully and profitably to the world.

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