July 24, 2019

Leadership Coaching for Abrasive Leaders: The Boss Whispering Institute

I posted a recent post by the name of Leadership Coaching is Not for Everyone.  I had a lot of responses to this post, and I wanted to make you all aware of The Boss Whispering Institute, brought to my attention by Laura Crawshaw, Ph.D., BCC, Founder of The Boss Whispering Institute, dedicated to research & training in the field of coaching abrasive leaders

The Boss Whispering Institute is the world’s first organization dedicated to research and training in the field of coaching abrasive leaders, including medical, legal, and academic professionals, and Laura mentioned on LinkedIn that she is happy to share the methods with everyone.  You can access it by going to their website www.bosswhispering.com, going to the Research & Publications page, scrolling down to Coaching-Related Publications, and clicking on “Coaching Abrasive Leaders: Using Action Research to Reduce Suffering and Increase Productivity in Organizations”, Crawshaw, L., International Journal of Coaching in Organizations, Autumn, 2010. This will allow you to download the PDF of the article.

I just want to remind everyone to re-read the article I posted.  I do want to emphasize that I said this:

Now then, I want to shift just a minute to the clients who are more than likely not going to respond well to coachingThis is not always the case, but I have seen these five scenarios dozens of times, and I have actually ended contracts with people who have exhibited these behaviors, because I can tell that the situation is just not getting better.

I want to emphasize that I did not say that leaders with certain behaviors could not be coached.  In my experience, people who get about six to eight weeks down the road in a coaching engagement and who are not shifting (in my experiences) will tell me upon questioning that “the company wanted this…not me”.  And, as we all know, a person has to want to change to truly change on the inside.

I applaud Laura and the Boss Whispering Institute for their work with being able to turn around the more challenging leader.  So, you can check out their work, or you can refer a more difficult client their way if you feel you cannot coach a leader who is just not shifting.

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Leadership Coaching Strategies to Stop Top Talent From Quitting

The Revolving Door of Top TalentDo you ever feel like your hiring process is just like a revolving door?  Top talent in…top talent out!

If so, you are not alone!

During the past ten years of offering leadership coaching and executive coaching services to companies, one of the biggest complaints I hear is about the revolving door of the hiring process.  One of two things usually come up in leadership conversations:

  1. Top talent comes, they stay for about six to nine months and then they leave
  2. The company “settles” for bodies rather than digging to find the top talent they need, so the department or project team now has some drag on their team

What I have found is this:  If employees feel disconnected from their work, bored or if the work is elementary and mind-numbing, employees will leave, regardless of the many tricks you try to lure them into staying.  So, here are a few suggestions to help you with this challenge:

  1.  Match the job to the employees talent and level of capability.  Humans actually want to be challenged.  They want to be stretched.  So, if the job is not challenging or could be done by someone with half of their experience, they may be going through the motions, but their heart and soul are not in the work.  Having said this, if the job is too hard, an employee can get very frustrated and just give up.  Striking the right balance is critical.
  2. Offer leadership coaching.  With leadership coaching, you can help your employees strike that “right” balance between being totally bored and disconnected and being way in over their heads.  By offering weekly leadership coaching to your employees, you can discuss what’s working and what is not, how to challenge them more and when and how to maybe back down just a bit.  This is also a great time to provide training to your employees if they feel they are in over their heads.  They may just need some additional training or a tiny question answered to get back moving again in the right direction
  3. Work on building trust.  It is not uncommon for people to simply not trust a boss, a co-worker or the company.  As a leader, one of your biggest jobs to do every day is to build those strong bonds of trust that employees need to feel safe and secure in the jobs they have been empowered to do.
  4. Talk with your employees about what inspires them and what outcomes they most value.  You may think that money inspires your employees, but in my experiences as a leadership coach, I have found that what matters more than money are the following:

The opportunity to be challenged, succeed and then be recognized for that success

The reward of extra free time to spend with friends and family

The feeling of doing a great, great job and bring proud of a finished product

So, if you are having a tough time keeping employees, start looking at both your hiring process and take the time to sit down (without judgment) and ask your employees why they are leaving.  Ask them what you could have offered that would have made them want to stay, and ask them if they felt the work they were doing was truly meaningful.  You may be surprised at the answers as they come forward.

If you are having any challenges with either hiring or keeping top talent, contact me today so that we can talk a bit about how to turn your specific situation around.

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5 Warning Signs that Your Arrogance is Tearing Your Team Apart

ArroganceArrogance is something that we often discuss in the world of leadership.  A little bit of arrogance can go a long way in the direction of success, but when overused, arrogance can tear your team apart.  The main reason?  As a leader, if arrogance is your leadership skill of choice, your team is more than likely feeling devalued, rejected and angry.  When I speak in private to team members about their arrogant leaders, they usually shrug and say “It is a waste of my oxygen to mention anything or bring new ideas to the table.  He always thinks he has the right and only answer”.

If you are an arrogant leader, these behaviors will be seen by others:

1. You think you have the only answer.

2. You always think you are right and that the rest of the world is wrong. And, your team hears this constantly.

3. You dismiss the ideas of others on your team.

4. You appear aloof and that you don’t really like other people.

5. You pull rank constantly and try to overpower other people.

6. You rarely share credit with others.

7. You don’t take feedback from others as an opportunity to learn or grow.  You think you are already masterful at everything.

Here are the signs that your arrogance is tearing your team apart:

1.  Team members don’t speak up during meetings or one on one discussions.  Why should they?  You know it all!

2.  Team members work in a robotic fashion.  They would never want to come up with an innovative idea, because you will more than likely squash any new ideas.

3.  When speaking with team members, they stumble through their words, get flushed and anxious, and they will always back down from their opinion.

4.  Team members quit, because they are living in fear.  They are afraid they will say the wrong thing, and you would rather be right than keep your top talent in place.

5.  Team members are talking about you behind your back.  You may not know it, but trust me…they are talking about you behind your back.  When a team is not aligned with their leader, and the team is talking about you behind your back, get ready for your productivity, teamwork and bottom line results to fall into a very dark hole.

If you are a leader who is living with arrogance, there are some steps you can take:

1.  Most people living with arrogance don’t know it, but you need to hear it if you are.  I highly recommend that you commit yourself to getting feedback from your team on an annual basis.  I suggest that you bring in a 3rd party who knows nothing about your company to ask about 10 questions of your team and the people who know you.  Then, it’s time to sit down and hear what your team has to say about you.

2.  Work on opening up your body.  This sounds odd, but most arrogant people have facial expressions that send the message they are not open to others.  They will look away, turn their back or pretend they are not listening.  Sit down with your team members, remove anything that is blocking you from your team, and really listen without all of the sighs and looks that you may usually send.

3.  Disclose your shortcomings to your team.  Most leaders believe that this will make them appear weak and incompetent to their team members.  The opposite is true.  When you open up to your team about your shortcomings, your world will change overnight.  You don’t have to drag every bone out of the closet, yet it is important to tell your team about some of the feedback you have received and your plan of action.  Then, you must act on your plan.  Your actions will speak so much more loudly than words.

4. Be a coach…not a know it all.  In today’s business world, true leaders are becoming great coaches.  With coaching, you will be collaborating with your team on a way to “win”.  (Dave Buck’s Coach to Win and Play to Win methods are really great for this purpose).  With coaching, you are not telling people what to do…you are pulling their strengths to the surface and then coaching them on how to leverage those strengths so that they become stronger and better at what they do.

5.  Drop the cocky attitude and listen.  People who are over the top on arrogance are cocky.  This intimidates others.  You can be confident and come across as approachable, but not if your goal is to be cocky.  There is a very fine line between being confident and being arrogant.  If you are arrogant, you are probably very smart and talented, and you don’t need to throw that all over people.  Just observe yourself for one week in listening and curiosity mode and do your best to bite your tongue.  Watch the responses as you open up, listen and become more curious.  Your team will shift if you practice listening and being curious.  It just works!

 

Leadership Coaching Question of the Week: Are You Truly Leading or Just Trying to Look Busy?

In the world of leadership coaching (often known as executive coaching), it is quite interesting to watch top decision makers in today’s world.  Many of our “busy leaders”  have a tendency to go on and on  about all that they are doing…running here and there, putting out fires and living in reaction mode.  As an executive coach, when I dig deeper, I often find out that what they are really spinning around about are the tiny details which truly should be reserved for someone on his team.  During a coaching session, when I ask leaders how they spend their day, here are some of the most common “distractions” I hear about.

1.  Checking email 8-10 times per day.  The mother of all leadership sins!

Solution: Check email once in the morning at 9:00 a.m. (your time zone) and again at 4:30 p.m.  If you are concerned about missing someone, simply enter an auto-responder into your email program which says “Thank you for your email.  I usually check email at 9:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.  If this is an emergency, you may call me at 555-555-5555 (put your telephone number in the blank).

2.  Writing other people about typos on an email,  website, a document or about subjects that are really not urgent.

Is this really your job, and did someone ask you to proofread their materials?  Probably not.  This job is usually reserved for a proofreader or an assistant in the marketing department.  As someone who types really fast, I do my best to double check my typos and my mistakes, but I don’t invest hours each day on proofreading.  If I want something proofread, I send it to someone at Roundtable Companies.  I don’t comb every blog post, because it squelches my creativity, and I am someone who does send out typos (not on purpose) on occasion by email.  If I make a mistake, I do my best to apologize for the inconvenience and correct my mistake.  As a leader, if part of your job is to notify people about their typos, then go for it.  But, I have found more often than not that this is never the job of a CEO.  This is usually a job handled by the marketing or PR arm of the company.  As a CEO, it is not your job to be the “internet police” and invest the majority of your day telling people that they have a typo on a page on their website or in an email.

3. Watching Hulu.com, You Tube, spending hours on Facebook or getting distracted by an article that leads you to another article and then to another article.

This revolving door can honestly suck hours out of your day…sending jokes to your friends, watching videos online, reading blogs and articles that have nothing to do with your business or getting on video chat with friends.  Set aside 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon to peruse two websites which are relevant to your business or target market.  The week-ends can be reserved for looking at funny dog and cat pictures and videos on You Tube or .for video chat with friends and family.

Are Your Constant Meetings Sending Your Company To An Early Death?

4.  Calling meetings on a daily basis that last for 1-3 hours.

I don’t want to say much about this other than this:  Read the book Death by Meeting by Patrick Lencioni.

5. Fixing broken technology.

I am just amazed at how many business owners and CEOs (who know very little about technology) who try to fix old, worn out, broken computers, servers and back up systems.  Hey…here’s a novel thought…maybe it’s time to regroup and replace your technology with state of the art systems.  If your computer is sluggish or if your phone continues to rattle with static, it’s time for an upgrade.  If your technological devices are not working, you may be investing precious hours fixing broken equipment that is only going to break again.  And…by all means, add an IT person to your team or outsource this job to someone who can fix your tech problems in a snap!

As a business owner, your job is to not only work in the business but on the business (famous quote by Michael Gerber).  Working on the business does not include fixing your broken 1990 computer.  For a true business owner or leader, working on the business includes (but is not limited to) the following (these are not in order of importance.  These are in alphabetical order).  It is up to you to decide what is most important and to rank these according to importance for your company:

  • Addressing tough conversations (and not avoiding them)
  • Addressing your own self development (it does not matter how high up you are in your organization or how powerful you think you might be…we all need to grow if we want to stay competitive in today’s world)
  • Being a masterful coach
  • Being a positive role model and ambassador for your company
  • Being the first to bridge the gap across generations in your company
  • Decision making when the decision moves to the top
  • Delegating to others
  • Developing boss/team/employee relationships
  • Developing command and public speaking skills
  • Driving innovation
  • Improving efficiency and time management
  • Inspiring teams and people
  • Listening without interrupting
  • Managing resources wisely
  • Meeting with Centers of Influence
  • Stepping up and standing for the use of state of the art technology and then delegating the use of technology to your Director of Information Technology
  • Strategic planning
  • Strengthening your communication skills so that everyone in your company is “on board” and know exactly what to do
  • Thinking time to clear out the junk and the cobwebs
  • Upholding the values and ethics of the company
  • Visioning
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