Leaders as Coaches

By Jeff Wolf

Time to read: 2 minutes

Coaching plays a crucial role in keeping people engaged and committed. It brings out the best in them and helps remove obstacles to their success. Coaching is not about telling people what to do or how to do it; rather, you help people discover their own paths by encouraging and questioning. Help eliminate their roadblocks by asking questions like: With which past projects did you struggle? What steps will you take to achieve your goals? What excuses are you making? What’s holding you back? What have you tried since the last time we talked? Open-ended questions make people think through obstacles. And coaching shows that you care and are willing to share yourself with them.

Use coaching to enhance the capabilities and performance of leaders, high potential employees, and top producers. When leaders coach, people become more confident and motivated, which leads to higher performance and productivity. Leaders build relationships of trust when they support people to be all that they can be.

Organizations with a strong coaching culture develop higher engagement and performance. A coach asks: What are my people’s strengths? What are their goals, their ambitions, their technical and managerial limits? At what do they excel? What are their weaknesses, their potential, their limitations, their directions? A coach works one-on-one with key employees to stop bad habits and start positive ones. Participants can discuss what’s working, and not working, in confidence, and the coach holds them accountable and supplies support.

Coaching increases productivity, builds teamwork, motivates employees to elevate performance levels and helps them overcome obstacles to success. A great leader spends time working with individuals to see the blocks in their performances. A successful leader and effective coach are one in the same. People do not and will not change until they see the need to. A good coach listens to people to find ways to break down the barriers that keep them from reaching their full potential. They work with their people to outline a plan of action that clearly states the goals for improvement and accountability. Coaching helps people learn, grow, and change. It provides a powerful structure through which people can focus on specific outcomes, become more effective, and stay on track.

THREE SKILLS OF EFFECTIVE COACHING

Coaching requires you to master three skills: questioning that leads to understanding, structuring jobs correctly, providing positive reinforcement. Let me explain:

Effective questioning opens the door to understanding what‘s on people‘s minds. When you‘re coaching somebody, ask open-ended questions that cannot be answered with a yes or no. You want the person you’re coaching to think about the answer. However, managers need to ask the right questions….questions that help employees realize their strengths, their failings, their needs and how they can best contribute to their organizations, and by extension to their abilities. Great coaches know the answers even when employees don’t.

Armed with that knowledge, great coaches structure jobs and work environments that allow each individual to flourish. They provide resources and training. They continually monitor progress and provide feedback, knowing when to encourage but also when to be brutally honest.

Praise and recognition for a job well done is often the positive reinforcement that works wonders. Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of their employees. If people believe in themselves it’s amazing what they can accomplish, so give them well-deserved praise.

In closing: Coaching opens lines of communication to create a comfortable environment where performance issues can be discussed freely and without defensiveness. Leaders who are effective coaches have more successful teams, higher morale and, in most cases, better bottom-line results. The benefits of coaching include: improved trust and morale, improved performance, skill development, innovation, productivity, confidence, motivation, better customer service, higher retention of key people, less stress, and applied potential.

LOOKING FOR A FRESH PERSPECTIVE?

Jeff Wolf is the author of the international best-seller Seven Disciplines of a Leader.

A dynamic speaker and highly requested executive coach he was named one of the country’s top 100 thought leaders for his accomplishments in leadership development and managerial effectiveness.

Contact Jeff today for your coaching needs or to speak at your next meeting or conference.

If you want your leaders to be great coaches, his program, Be a Great Coach, is now available at your location.

Jeff may be reached at 858-638-8260 – jeff@wolfmotivation.comwww.wolfmotivation.com

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Identifying High-Potential New Leaders

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By Jeff Wolf

How do you identify high-potential new leaders? Leaders must be proficient in both hard and soft skills. For years, organizations looked at only hard skills or technical knowledge, such as expertise in strategy or finance. They viewed these hard skills as the most important characteristics of high-potential leaders. However, the soft skills (people or interpersonal skills) are key for the next generation of leaders.

Look for these soft skills:

  • effective communication
  • coaching ability
  • listening skills
  • teambuilding capability
  • facility for building relationships with their staffs and teams and with cross-functional areas to achieve goals and get work done
  • a sense of inquisitiveness
  • a willingness to improve
  • trustworthiness
  • a tendency to ask a lot of questions
  • an understanding of how their actions have an effect not only on themselves, but also on others

Leadership is difficult and demanding because leaders must help drive results, inspire, guide people and teams, and make tough decisions. Clearly, not everyone has the desire to lead, so the first question appears to be:

  • Does the person want to be a leader?
  • What are his goals and aspirations?
  • Does she see the big picture versus having a silo mentality?
  • Does he have the ability to strategically navigate complicated issues?
  • What types of real-life experiences does she have?
  • Is he honest and ethical?

Leaders need to be positive and have a great attitude because they can either impart or sap energy. A leader’s upbeat attitude becomes contagious, lifting the morale of those around her. You can always teach skills, but you cannot always teach people how to be positive; they either have a great attitude or they don’t.

Observe firsthand how potential leaders work with others and how other people view them. When they stand up to speak in front of a group, do they exude confidence, present articulate, clear messages, and carry themselves well? They should also have good judgment skills in three discrete areas:

  1. People. Can they make sound judgments about people, such as anticipating the need for key personnel changes and aligning people to make the right call?
  2. Strategy. Are they flexible and adaptable? Can they make changes when a current strategy isn’t working?
  3. Grace Under Pressure. When they’re in crisis situations, do they remain calm, focus on their goals, think clearly, and develop new alternative strategies? When they make a mistake, do they admit it, let others know about it, and move forward, or do they try to hide it? By admitting mistakes, they serve as role models, communicating that it’s okay to fail and make a mistake.

Lastly, employ a series of tests and assessments to further measure their hard and soft skills.

LOOKING FOR A FRESH PERSPECTIVE TO IDENTIFY AND GROW YOUR LEADERS?

Jeff Wolf is the author of the international best-seller Seven Disciplines of a Leader.
A dynamic speaker and highly requested executive coach, he was named one of the country’s top 100 thought leaders for his accomplishments in leadership development and managerial effectiveness. He may be reached at 858-638-8260 or jeff@wolfmotivation.com

Attract the Best People

By Jeff Wolf

shutterstock_369899390Top employers are facing a perfect storm in the fight for talent. Unemployment is at its lowest rate since 2009 and job openings have increased by 73 percent. At the same time, Baby Boomers are rapidly retiring and new college graduates are significantly lacking the skills businesses are seeking. And if that isn’t enough, at least one third of the existing workforce is ready to quit. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Make your life easier, and make your company more successful. Smart leaders don’t recruit the best people, they attract them. Why? Because it makes their lives easier and their companies more successful. How do they do it? They have a clear purpose for existing (PFE), and they live it and tell the world about it… And the best people come to them.

The success of attraction is based on two principles. The first is a basic tenet of life: Like attracts like. In any animal or human culture, subgroups are composed of individuals with similar characteristics. A leader who defines his/her company’s PFE is saying, in essence, “We are zebras. If you, too, are a zebra, come join us.”

The second principle is that the best and the brightest people seek more than just a paycheck from a job; they seek fulfillment of their own PFE. They seek companies whose PFE supports their own. In certain industries, labor shortages will likely occur again later this year. The repercussions will be felt in lost opportunity costs as companies can’t find qualified talent to serve their customers or to fill open positions. Total costs to replace a skilled manager can exceed 150 percent of the person’s salary. With over 50 percent of salaried people planning on moving as jobs become available, this cost will be substantial for many companies. Thus, the opportunity to attract the best people, as well as keeping the right people, becomes more relevant.

Take Three Key Steps

To attract the best candidates, follow three key steps.

  • Clarify your PFE. What is your PFE? Why was the organization formed? What unique function does it serve? Make sure your PFE is deeply imbedded in the culture, codified in writing, clearly articulated, and widely distributed. An example of a PFE that is clear and impactful is that of Merck & Co., a global pharmaceutical company. Its PFE is as follows: “Our business is preserving and improving human life. All our actions must be measured by our success in achieving this goal.”
  • Tell the world your PFE. When you have a clear PFE, articulate it. Place it conspicuously in all your marketing materials, internal documents, websites, and communications with buyers, suppliers, customers, placement offices, and partners. Make sure that when people hear the name of your company, they know what your PFE is. Your PFE will have an impact on the people who interact with you. Those who have a personal PFE that is similar to yours and who can fulfill their PFE by helping you fulfill your PFE will be attracted to you.
  • Fulfill your PFE. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you are saying.” To attract the best people, you must live up to your PFE. Exhibiting actions incongruent with the PFE will damage your credibility and decrease the attraction. For organizations that live the PFE they create, every action makes the attraction that much stronger for potential candidates.

By following these three steps, you approach hiring in a new way. Creating awareness about your PFE and then interviewing people attracted to the company will become the norm. Once you start taking these three steps, if you have to work hard to recruit someone, you are likely trying to get the wrong person. Make your life easier, and make your company more successful. Don’t recruit the best people….attract them.

LOOKING FOR A FRESH PERSPECTIVE?

Jeff Wolf is the author of the international best-seller Seven Disciplines of a Leader and founder and president of Wolf Management Consultants, LLC.

A dynamic speaker and highly requested executive coach, he was named one of the country’s top 100 thought leaders for his accomplishments in leadership development and managerial effectiveness.

He may be reached at 858-638-8260 or jeff@wolfmotivation.com

Using The Billboard Effect To Develop and Obtain Employee Buy-In On The Leader’s Vision

by Jeff Wolf

Time to Read: 2 minutes

Warren Bennis, acclaimed scholar, author and advisor to corporation presidents said “Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” Well expressed, but it’s easier said than done. What’s needed are practical steps to develop a communicable vision coupled with practical steps to achieve employee buy in.

Notice that I emphasized the word practical, because unless the leader’s vision is easy to understand, believable and clearly stated, even the most imaginative vision will become just another page in the employee manual gathering dust.

Let’s first define “billboard effect” and how it translates into developing a workable vision that achieves employee buy-in. A billboard is the visual image of the leader’s vision. In few but meaningful words it paints a picture of what the company and its people stand for and what it wants to achieve. It is future oriented and describes where the company expects to be tomorrow and from there onward.

Next, let’s examine steps in developing the vision, then steps in getting the organization’s people to buy into that vision.

Developing The Vision

  • Highly effective leaders have big ideas. Small ideas are okay, but they’re not transformative. Big ideas help companies and employees face the challenges of tomorrow. This is no better expressed than Robert Kennedy quoting George Bernard Shaw: “Some men see things as they are and say, ‘Why?’ I dream of things that never were, and say, ‘Why not?’ “Companies with leaders who have the imagination and drive to adopt big ideas are the Apples and Googles and Ubers of tomorrow. Those big ideas are nurtured by leaders who make astute observations of their companies and their industries, and then reflect and decide what visions need to be in place to handle tomorrow’s problems and opportunities.
  • Reflection is the stimulus that leads to big ideas, but leaders know that clear and careful expression of their visions must be committed to writing. The process of writing clarifies visions such that they can be robustly expressed in words that command the organization’s attention.
  • With the visions now distinctly articulated, leaders can construct and post billboards throughout the organization and express their visions during talks with members of the organization. These billboards, reduced to clear maxims, concisely reflect those visions. For example, “Our company will take whatever measures needed to assure that product quality satisfies our customers . . . or we will return their money without question.” That is both clear and unambiguous. And it sets the stage for transformation of the organization to achieve that vision.
  • Leaders should be prepared to tweak, modify, even change vision statements when those visions aren’t producing expected When it comes to visions nothing is set in stone. The mark of a highly effective leader is the willingness to forgo ego and do what is right for the organization. The best of leaders prepare alternate plans.

Buying Into The Vision

  • I would argue that the very first prerequisite for employee buy in is to simply listen to what employees think and say about their jobs and the company’s direction. Keeping an open ear is crucial. And don’t get distracted by their complaints. Remember that engaged employees, those who really care about the company, expose many of the organization’s problems and lost opportunities through complaints. This is a great chance for leaders to make positive changes based on worthwhile employee suggestions.
  • I would become suspicious if employees don’t gripe. That means their voices are being throttled, and that is the absolute worst situation of all.
  • Employees need positive reinforcement. They won’t buy into a faulty vision, one that is not productive. That implies going beyond the stage of encouraging them to speak freely. It means measuring how successful the company’s vision is working. Take the quality example mentioned before. How are employees (or managers for that matter) going to know how successful their efforts are without measureable feedback? That means providing them with yardsticks of performance. It entails, in this example, weekly or monthly reports on rejects, scrap, customer complaints and customer returns, with as much data as possible reflecting individual employee performance.
  • Additionally, to combat what I call “vision tedium,” employees need to know how effective the company has been pursuing its vision long-term. Quarterly and annual postings will tell the tale along with periodic meetings with employee groups.
  • Leaders should put in place a follow-up procedure (possibly an annual review) because employee buy in of vision is not a one-time event. Constant follow-up is required to assure that employees remain engaged, informed and responsive to emerging problems. One of the difficulties of either a mature or growing organization is that leaders stop emphasizing company priorities and changes in priorities. They may delegate vision just as they delegate tasks, but the two are not equal. Vision remains both the prerogative and responsibility of organization leaders.

Now is the time to enhance the leadership skills of the leaders in your organization.

Contact us today for more information about our Leadership Development Program or to have Jeff Wolf coach your leaders and high potential leaders.

If you are having a meeting, conference or convention, bestselling author Jeff Wolf is available to speak about leadership and a variety of topics.

Contact Jeff directly at: jeff@wolfmotivation.com or 858-638-8260

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Wolf Management Consultants
www.wolfmotivation.com

Seven Disciplines of a Leader Becomes an International Best-Seller

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According to Wiley publisher, Richard Narramore, “This book has the potential to become a standard text on leadership for organizations around the world.”

When Richard made that statement a year ago I never imagined that would happen and last week it did. Seven Disciplines of a Leader became an international best seller hitting the bestseller list in Australia, Canada, UK, Germany and the US.

I’m thankful, honored and humbled by this achievement in my quest to help people, teams and organizations achieve maximum effectiveness.

For those of you who bought the book and enhanced your leadership skills – thank you from the bottom of my heart.

For those of you who have not yet read the book and you want to enhance your leadership skills or want to become a leader the book is available on Amazon.

Wolf in the Workplace is read in 136 countries and to all of you, I appreciate your support and we now have a Leadership Development Program based on the book.

I’m also available to speak at your next meeting, conference or convention. Click here to learn more.

For more information, please contact Mike Adams at madams@wolfmotivation.com or call me personally at 858-638-8260.

Thank You for Your Support! – Jeff Wolf, President, Wolf Management Consultants