“I am not a teacher, but an awakener.”
~ Robert Frost ~
Dana’s staff is constantly asking her what they need to do to get promoted. Her four direct reports are especially anxious to move ahead in the company. Neither the company nor Dana herself has a definitive mentoring program. She realizes that she needs to make some drastic changes in mentoring her staff in order to help them grow and be offered the opportunities they deserve.
In the absence of a formal corporate mentoring program, Dana takes steps to develop a mentoring program of her own. She meets with her direct reports and together they develop a simple two-part strategy. First, Dana will make new, high profile projects available to all who want them and encourage them to volunteer. Second, she will raise awareness of staff members’ accomplishments by proactively messaging not only her boss and peers but those C-level employees above them.
The four staff members left the meeting with their own personal action steps, and they also knew exactly what Dana planned to do to help them. She coached them on self-promotion techniques, such as copying the boss’s boss on project-related emails and planning appropriate times to speak up in meetings when projects they worked on were being discussed.
The group agreed on a one-month, three-month, and six-month review of the program. By the end of the first month, new projects were put on the table and Dana’s direct reports enthusiastically volunteered for their own projects. In addition, they took on some related lower level projects so they could begin to coach and mentor their own subordinates.
Dana scheduled regular one-on-ones with each of her direct reports and also put together a schedule of informal communications with her boss and other C-level managers to keep them informed about what her staff was doing.
At the three-month milestone, Dana noticed that a high level of enthusiasm had developed among her entire staff. Not only was the day-to-day work being accomplished more efficiently, they were excited about the opportunity to work on new initiatives, and some had even volunteered for cross-training in other departments.
After six months, Dana made a list of the tangible benefits that had resulted from the mentoring program, not only for her staff, but also for herself and the company as a whole. This is what she told her boss:
Benefits to the mentees:
- Opportunity to take control of their own learning and career advancement.
- A chance to develop valuable contacts in other parts of the company.
- Significant improvement in their productivity and enthusiasm.
Benefits to herself as the mentor:
- She had greatly enhanced her coaching and listening skills by working more closely with her direct reports.
- She had gained notice and respect of higher-ups in the organization.
- She felt validated and rewarded by passing on the value of her experience to those coming along behind her.
Benefits to the company:
- Productivity had greatly improved across the entire work group.
- Employees who were previously perceived as being “stuck” at their current level were re-energized.
- Cross-functional teams were developed as Dana’s people spent time in other departments.
Many companies have formal mentoring programs that are of great benefit to their employees. In the absence of such a program, a single individual such as Dana can develop their own, providing significant benefits to the employees involved, the manager, and the company.
Do your people need a mentor? This week list five different ways you could start a mentoring program in your own department.
Talkback: Have you been a successful mentor? Or have you been mentored by someone who made a difference in your career? Share your story here.
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“If somebody is gracious enough to give me a second chance, I won’t need a third.”
~ Pete Rose ~
Kimberly, a free-lance marketing consultant, landed an assignment to temporarily replace Jennifer, the VP of marketing at a large financial institution for six to twelve months. Jennifer was taking a leave due to complications from a high-risk pregnancy.
Because of her medical condition, she had very little time to brief Kimberly, but as she was leaving she informed Kimberly that she had just fired Jerry, a young IT guy—and the only IT guy in the department.
A couple of days later Jerry emailed Kimberly and asked if they could meet off-site for coffee. By this time, Kimberly had heard a little of the backstory on Jerry, the principle fact being that he was the son of the company’s CEO! Kimberly was a little intrigued by this political hot potato, so she agreed to meet him. Here are the facts as Jerry presented them to Kimberly:
- Jerry’s former boss had indeed felt pressured to take him on because of his father’s status, although his father never asked for that favor.
- Jerry’s boss did not respect his expertise in IT and did not accept any of his recommendations for moving key projects forward, even though Jerry felt he had come up with good solutions.
- Other people in the department put him down in order to appear to agree with his boss, so he felt he had no peer support.
Jerry asked Kimberly to give him a second chance.
Kimberly admired Jerry’s initiative in telling her his story. She agreed to look at his proposal for completing the department’s major project, a revamp of the internal employee intranet. After reviewing his proposal, Kimberly felt he was on the right track so she went to her boss, Larry, and told him she wanted to rehire Jerry on a temporary basis to follow through on the intranet project. When Jerry completed that project, Kimberly and Larry would meet and reevaluate the situation. Larry agreed.
Kimberly brought Jerry back into the department with little fanfare and no explanation, other than that the team needed his help on this critical project, which was lagging way behind schedule. In the meantime, Kimberly expected Jerry to meet with her twice weekly —once for project updates, and once for employee coaching sessions to improving his communication skills and reframing his mindset that “everybody resents me because I’m the boss’s son.”
Kimberly started including Jerry in formal and informal department meetings as part of his employee coaching and having him report to the team on the progress of his project. She also paired him up with a couple of new-hires who needed some IT training. When the project was complete, they staged a big roll-out announcement, a department party to celebrate, and Kimberly made sure Jerry got a lot of kudos.
Based on Jerry’s initial success, Kimberly quickly found another project for him to work on and he continued to blossom. When the Jennifer returned from her maternity leave, she told Kimberly that she didn’t even recognize Jerry as the same person. And she decided to keep him on permanently.
Here’s the takeaway: problem employees can sometimes be saved with good coaching and a willingness to undergo an attitude adjustment.
Take a look at your team. What problem employees might have potential if you provided good guidance and employee coaching? Schedule some meetings with them this week.
Talkback: Have you given a problem employee a second chance? What were your results? Share your story here.
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“The real art of communication is not only to say the right thing at the right time, but also to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”
~ Unknown ~
Josh is a sales executive at a medium-size software company. He’s always made his numbers and hit his quotas. As he advanced in the organization, his responsibility and the number of people he manages have increased. Josh’s career goal is to become VP of sales within the next year.
He’s always known how to get results, but his fatal flaw is that he has no idea how to manage his people. The bigger his team grew, the more his abrasive and combative style got in his way. Word got back to HR that he was a bully, a hard-ass, blunt, and intimidating. Ultimately, this information was documented and he was laid off.
However, his boss’s boss saw potential in Josh. He liked the work he did and could see he really wanted to learn and grow, to get past his weakness in managing people. The boss knew that, if given the right tools and support, Josh could be extremely valuable to the organization.
When a position opened up, Josh was hired back. This time he was provided with employee training in the form of an executive coach, management training, mentoring and sponsorship. Here are the initial actions his coach took as he helped Josh design a game plan for success.
- He appealed to Josh’s self-interest. The coach asked Josh one critical question: “Given how your co-workers perceive you, what do think will happen to your goal of becoming sales VP if you don’t do anything?’ Following Josh’s answer the coach replied, “So persuade me that there are advantages for you to make some changes in your attitude and behavior, if sales VP is what you really want?”
- He helped Josh see reality. Using his last 360 before he was terminated, his coach painted a clear picture of how he was perceived by others during his employee training. Abrasive people are prone to blame others for their bad behavior, since they often see themselves as superior and all-knowing. Josh soon understood that, in order for the situation to change, he must change. He started by planning his communication in meetings and one-on-ones in advance, which helped him avoid the sarcastic, off-the-cuff remarks that had alienated his co-workers in the past.
- He played to Josh’s competitive nature. The final question was, “So do you really think you can do this? Can you really change to the point where others perceive you differently?” Josh took that as a challenge. “Of course I can,” he replied.
It’s now been over seven years since Josh was hired back and he’s received performance reviews and thorough 360s. This sales executive is now a VP with a highly motivated and loyal team and he’s never been accused of being abrasive or combative during the whole seven years.
Do you need to change the way people perceive you at work? Write down three relationship issues that you think might be getting in the way of your career goals and start developing your plan to change.
Talkback: Have you turned around a difficult situation or relationship at work? How did you do it? Share your story here.
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“The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.”
~ Epictetus ~
When Connor walks into a room, all eyes turn toward him. He commands a presence that is unmistakable. He projects confidence, and people instinctively trust him. He speaks with authority.
Connor has executive presence.
As I describe the traits that Connor and other successful leaders possess, ask yourself: Where do I stand? What do I do well? What needs improvement?
If you have executive presence, you have an aura or magnetism or charisma that draws others to you. You’re a compelling force inside your organization or work group. When you speak, people listen, feel inspired and uplifted. You convey confidence, are respected as an authority, know how to create impact, provide value and know how to get noticed.
Think about your peers, your bosses, other executive leaders, famous people and your friends. Who has EP? Who doesn’t? Executive presence is your secret to your success. Exploit your potential. Your own greatness. It all comes from executive presence.
You can cultivate executive presence through training and practice. You’ll know you’re making progress when you:
1. See the Big Picture.
You’re a strategic, “big picture” thinker who doesn’t become mired down in tactics. You think “outside the cubical” and take a whole company perspective when solving problems or seeking new opportunities. You’re able to communicate in financial terms to show your worth where it matters most – the company’s bottom line.
2. Are Willing to Take Risks.
You capitalize on ambiguity and change. Leaders are revealed and careers are made for those able to navigate stormy seas. You challenge yourself and stretch your capabilities. You’re able to conquer self-doubt and break through self-imposed limitations by seeking out opportunities to move beyond your comfort zone.
3. Develop Strong Interpersonal Skills.
You build confidence, trust and credibility by speaking clearly and persuasively. You think and act more like a leader than a manager. As a leader, you’ll inspire and motivate others by advocating what’s best for the organization, not just your work group. And, when you’re successful, you’re willing to share the limelight with others.
4. Focus on the Things that Matter Most.
You improve your productivity, influence and reputation for high-level achievement when you focus on the things that matter most. Not only will you be a peak performer, you’ll maintain a healthy balance in your life.
5. Constantly Seek to Improve Yourself.
You find personal fulfillment and professional success by capitalizing on your strengths and minimizing your mistakes. You encourage feedback to demonstrate your passion for self-development and desire to contribute to your company’s success. You increase your growth potential by investing in the most important asset you possess – yourself.
Developing your executive presence may seem like a daunting task. There is a lot of work involved, but it’s the kind of work that will have far-reaching, long-lasting benefits. You will become more motivated, you’ll learn how recognize and promote your own value and you’ll develop a meaningful and effective career plan. These are all things you can accomplish on your way to becoming a better leader.
If executive presence is something you need to work on, consider taking advantage of Joel’s executive presence coaching services, and start developing traits that will make you stand out in any leadership role.
Talkback: Do you know someone whose presence makes them stand out? What about you? Is this an area you need to work on?
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“Using coaching instead of sending executives and managers to seminars two or three times a year can be more beneficial to ongoing career development, not to mention less expensive…”
~ PC Week ~
Client Fahad Asks: There are so many programs out there claiming to develop leadership in people. It’s hard to know which are effective and which are money-stealers. Isn’t there one tool that can do it all? Can’t it be simple?
Coach Joel Answers: Great question, Fahad.
When you’re looking for a tool, you want something simple, effective, and right for the job. You want best value and precise results. We all know what happens when we try to use the wrong tool for the job. It can ruin things.
To answer your question, there is something that works for developing leadership in people. It works in all cases. Like the Swiss army knife, it holds all the implements needed to solve the problem at hand.
Let’s discuss how leadership coaching can be your tool of choice.
1. Simple. Rather than buying dozens of books or manuals, courses or online lessons, choose one qualified coach. It simplifies the decision making process.
You don’t have to spend hours figuring out the trade-offs between programs. With a coach that understands your business and your succession management, you have the best possible tool.
2. Effective. Rather than programs that give a blanket approach, your coach offers leadership development keyed directly to the individual. The give-and-take feedback allows for optimum growth. People can solve their concerns, increase their skill levels, and be prepared to rise to the top.
3. Best Value. Leadership coaches can address the issues faster and more directly than any program or training series. Instead of wasting money on generic training that only is partially effective, use 100% of your funds on meaningful achievement.
Coaches can focus on the specific areas that need improvement and bring fast results.
4. Precision Results. The shot-gun effect of most training programs may leave some of your potential leaders still searching for answers to their problems. It may be they just have a few questions that could be simply addressed. But those questions are unique to them.
When you have a live coach and the give-and-take feedback, these concerns can be addressed quickly bringing instant results. Rather than taking a course to accomplish the job, a coach may build the leadership of your people very quickly.
5. Right for the Job. Because every individual is unique, the tool to help them needs to be individualized. To insure your leadership development is exactly fitted for your people, you need a leadership coach. They will adapt and fit the needs and goals of both your employees and the management.
They can offer specialized and unique training that exactly fits the needs of your rising stars. They understand the value of company culture and can work directly with management to formulate training that gives maximum results.
Fahad, you ask a good question. Rather than waste time and energy on expensive training courses, focus on individual coaching to give you effective, precise results. You’ll find that as you develop a relationship with that leadership coach he or she will be able to give you stronger leaders who are immediately effective.
If you’re seeking to develop great leaders and want a leadership coach who can give powerful, prompt results, contact Joel.
Talkback: How have you found leadership coaching effective for you or your company?
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