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Posts Tagged ‘Leadership Development’

Leadership Development, a priority for organizations in tough economic times, gets a boost as Executive Coaching is seen to be delivering on its promise of improving Leadership Skills says new report from MindTram.

Whether your ERP systems were designed by Oracle or SAP; whether your trucks were built by Volvo or Isuzu; whether your tractors were made by Caterpillar or Komatsu; the true competitive difference for all companies is the people that moves the business forward. Recognizing this global organizations are increasingly turning to Executive Coaches to develop star talent.

The majority of the Executives that have received Coaching indicate that they are ‘extremely satisfied’ with the development and knowledge gained from Coaching. Indicating increased Leadership Skills, improved Self-Awareness and better life balance as the 3 areas where they gained the most benefits.

Human Resource Professional and Supervisors (CEO’s, etc) of the individuals being coached indicated a wide increase in skills development essential to an executives day-to-day tasks and acknowledged a high degree of satisfaction from the Coaching process.

The survey indicates that the vast majority of Coaching assignments are based on recommendations and therefore the value speaks for itself as providing a return on investment.

Furthermore the MindTram Executive Coach survey provides insight from Coaches as well as the Organizations recruiting the Coach, thereby offering opinions from buyers and suppliers of Coaching.

In these difficult economic times it would appear that Leadership Development and people skills are one area that organizations would seem to need more of.

Survey Information available for download at: http://www.mindtram.com

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I was brainstorming with a group of clients last week during a training seminar about why they ‘bought’ Coaching. Here’s a summary of the key points:

In the first instance we looked at what resonates with the buyer.

  • The perfect solution to a specific problem
  • A service that people want to buy without being coerced
  • An idea that people immediately understand has value to them, even
    if they have never heard of your company or its products and services

Thinking of those bullets we expanded onto the top 3 items they said they came to Coaching to solve:

  1. Leadership Development – improving interpersonal and team leadership skills.
  2. Self-awareness – becoming more aware of there shortcomings and understanding the origins and history of behavior at home and work and its impact on others.
  3. Life balance – balancing personal and professional roles more effectively

What they all agreed upon was that Coaching first and foremost helps leaders find their authentic self – by doing this they gain more credibility in the workplace and see an increase in productivity both from themselves and their direct reports.

Please contact me if you want to know more. (colin(dot)udelewis(at)mindtram(dot)com

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There’s a saying that goes your “IQ gets you hired but your personality ‘EQ’ gets you fired”. Whilst there is of course much truth in this I suggest an Employer can help Employees develop their EQ (Emotional Intelligence or EI) so that their IQ gets them hired and their EQ gets them promoted.

What is EI and why is it important? Confusion still abates about what is EI, in my coaching I define it as an intelligent system for the processing of emotional information. So EI cuts across the cognitive and emotional systems.

All good coaches use some form of EI in their work and ‘awaken’ the EI of their clients. I prefer to use the following 5 broad subtypes in explaining EI. Each of these components is broken into various subcomponents.

  • The first is intrapersonal intelligence, which is composed of emotional self-awareness, assertiveness, self-regard, self-actualization, and independence.
  • The second is interpersonal intelligence, which comprises empathy, interpersonal relationship, and social responsibility.
  • The third construct is adaptability, which divides into problem solving, reality testing, and flexibility.
  • Fourth is stress management, which comprises stress tolerance and impulse control.
  • The fifth contains measures of general mood, which is composed of happiness and optimism.

So if the above 5 traits do not convince you about the value of EI – what about this – – Emotion is the power that CONNECTS human beings to everything they CARE about! Emotions are among the primary determinants of behavior and achievement at work, impacting upon individual productivity, satisfaction, well being, and social climate.

Emotions are real-time indications of how well we think we are coping with day-to-day challenges and demands. EI provide us with invaluable information about ourselves, other people, and the various dynamic transactions that we share inside our organizations. This information filters through to us because our feelings reflect spontaneous emotional responses to the appraisals and interpretations we make of ongoing events in the workplace. By tapping into the rich information that emotions provide us with, we can often alter our thinking and behavior in such a way as to allow us to negotiate organizational challenges in a more adaptive (and indeed productive) manner.

One aspect of EI is Empathy (a subset of interpersonal skills). Empathy refers to the awareness of other’s feelings, needs, and concerns. At the individual level, empathy is a person’s ability to sense and understand other people’s feelings, concerns, and perspectives.

Empathy also implies taking active interest in other individuals’ concerns and feelings, and responding to other individuals’ unspoken feelings. In other words, when we are emotionally in tune, we can put aside our own personal agendas for some period, in order to be receptive to other people’s signals.

Empathy is essential as an emotional guidance system, piloting us in getting along at work, it is a meaningful predictor of quality performance in the job environment. According to scientific reserach individuals high in empathy are more capable of relating to other group members within a professional organization (Williams & Sternberg, 1988). In addition, the ability to empathize with others and relate to the feelings of others may play a role in the formulation of superior goals, plans, and strategies.

Empathic ability is particularly important when the problems to be solved
require reconciliation of conflicting opinions in a manner that is acceptable
to diverse people working within an organization.

So if thought of as the equivalent of a ‘‘social radar,’’ empathy is crucial for success in the business world. We know it is important to listen empathically to the customer’s point of view and to see reality from their perspective.

Furthermore, empathy is a critical component of conflict resolution and negotiation skills. The best negotiators can sense which points matter
most to the other party and gracefully concede them, while pressing for
concessions in points that do not carry such emotional relevance to the other party.

I am often asked can EI be learned and the short answer is YES. People can be trained on the ability to accurately read the subtle social cues and
signals given by others. In so doing, these individuals can accurately determine the emotions being expressed by their colleagues and learn to understand the perspective taken by others with whom they interact.

So as you can see EI and empathy in particular is a crucial skill – indeed I would go as far as to venture that people skills are the one skill that we must all learn for all aspects of our lives.


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This post is a primer for the coaching we do with Leadership and Self-Awareness.

Put simply a Leader can not be an Authentic Leader without self-awareness. The top three coaching objectives that Leaders ask us for at the start of an assignment are:

  1. Leadership – developing interpersonal and team leadership skills.
  2. Self-awareness – becoming more aware of my shortcomings and growth opportunities as a leader, and understanding the origins and history of my behavior in work and its impact on others.
  3. Life development – balancing personal and professional roles more effectively.

Self-aware people are honest about themselves with themselves and with others. They also understand their values and goals. When you are self-aware you know where you are headed and why.

Because the decisions of self-aware people interrelate with their personal values and convictions they find their lives more energizing. To quote Leonardo da Vinci: “One can have no smaller or greater mastery than mastery of oneself.”

Working on self-awareness requires that you take responsibility for your part of the difficulties you face. Understanding that only you are responsible for your life and actions, the choices and decisions you make are yours alone, you can not hold anyone else accountable for your choices. How you choose to react in situations or lead your life is yours and yours alone.

To help you start developing your self awareness consider keeping a learning journal, just try it for 30 days and write honest observations on the following:

  • Thought patterns – your self-talk patterns, what are you saying in your mind?
  • Emotional patterns – what are your usual feelings?
  • Behavior patterns – your usual actions – how you behave in different situations, write down the situation, your actions and others response As you keep your notes reflect on them, how was your mood, were your actions appropriate, did you cause distress to others or yourself.

In his book, How Life Imitates Chess, the Chess Grandmaster Garry Kasparov wrote “The key to success – it’s not enough to work hard and to study hard into the night. You must also become intimately aware of the methods you use to reach your decisions. Self-awareness is essential to being able to combine your knowledge, experience and talent to reach your peak performance”

Lack of self-awareness and the ability to control our own emotions may be the biggest obstacle to increased personal and professional competence in relationships and life satisfaction. You cannot manage yourself adequately if you ignore what you need to do to change. Ignoring your feelings does not make them go away; it just helps them to surface again when you least expect it. James Allen wrote this aphorism, “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he,” and “A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts”.

When you become self-aware you can learn to overcome the dysfunctional thought patterns that make up your negative thoughts – you become a more authentic leader, someone that people willingly follow and trust.

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There’s a Zen story of a frog that was swimming happily in a river, minding his own business. Suddenly, he heard a voice calling out to him. Swimming toward the sound, the frog saw a scorpion standing on the riverbank. The scorpion said, “I need to get across the river. Please give me a ride.” The frog was skeptical. “I know your type,” he said. “Scorpions sting. How do I know you won’t kill me if I try to help you?” The scorpion said, “Why would I do that? If I kill you, I’ll die too, because I can’t swim.” This made sense to the frog, and he agreed to take the scorpion across the river. The scorpion crawled on to the frog’s back and the frog slid into the water. But halfway across the river, the frog suddenly felt a sharp sting in his back and, out of the corner of his eye, saw the scorpion remove his stinger. “You fool!” the frog croaked. “Now we’ll both die! Why on earth did you do that?” “I couldn’t help myself,” the scorpion admitted. “It’s my character.”

Just like the scorpion a person’s character (or as some like to call it ‘personality’) determines motivation and ambition and dictates the way a person relates to his or her internal and external world. It colors the nature and quality of one’s relationships with others and influences the way each person pursues his or her goals in life. Personality shapes ideals, values, beliefs, patterns of information-processing, and leadership style. It also affects a person’s moral compass—that amalgam of moral, ethical, and motivational principles that guides an individual through life.

Can a person change? I had always understood that a person could not change just like a leopard could not change its spots. I have since found that claim to be totally false – a person can indeed change, but the person has to want to change!

Yet I am constantly confounded by people’s lack of will power to change!

For example what if a doctor said you had to make tough choices in the way you think and act – or your time would end soon? Would you change? Well the scientifically studied odds are nine to one – only a 10% probability that you will change your lifestyle with a life or death situation – to me that is just shear ignorance and a waste. Dr Edward Miller, dean of the medical school and CEO of John Hopkins University indicates that in the United States alone about 600,000 people have bypasses every year, and about 1.3 million people have angioplasties (at a total cost of about US$ 30 billion).

According to Dr Miller approximately 50 percent of the bypass grafts clog up in a few years, and the angioplasties in a few months! According to Dr Miller the way to decrease the number of patients returning for repeat surgery is a simple change to a healthier lifestyle, but as the numbers indicate that change is rare. “If you look at people after coronary-artery bypass grafting two years later, 90% of them have not changed their lifestyle”, says Miller “and that has been studied over and over again. Even though they know they have a bad disease and they know they should change their lifestyle, for whatever reason, they don’t”. This is how Dr Peter Ubel put it in his book Free Market Madness. “I witnessed dozens of patients, their voice boxes removed because of throat cancer, who, despite having a chance of avoiding a cancer recurrence, still insisted on smoking through their tracheotomies.

This is a good time to introduce the word ‘Karma’. In Sanskrit, the word literally means “act, or action” but has the deeper meaning denoting the entire cycle of cause and effect. Put another way – are you planting any seeds right now you’d rather not see harvest? We must become very aware of the seeds we’re planting. And, of course, plant the seeds that we look forward to seeing blossom. The best way to understand and maximize the use of karmic law is to become consciously aware of the choices we make in every moment, those choices can be little lies that bloom into big problems.

What thought or habit pattern do you have in your life right now that you KNOW is not bearing the fruit you want to see?

Now is a good time to change it!

In his book “The Power of Intention” Dr. Wayne Dyer said “True nobility isn’t about being better than someone else. It’s about being better than you used to be.”

So what’s your answer – would you change? Do you have the willpower the determination to change something – then start now.

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Every day I put an Executive Coach Tip of the Day on my Twitter feed. Here’s the list from last week:

  1. An authentic leader is consistent and not a sort of chameleon, changing colors for certain groups
  2. Realise there is never a Right Way to do a Wrong Thing.
  3. A leader is only as successful as their team, hinder their growth and you hinder your own.
  4. Behind every managerial decision or action are assumptions about human nature and human behavior.
  5. No leader achieves anything of true, lasting value alone. Therefore, building great teams ought to be your highest priority.

If you truly follow these practices I am sure you will start to see major changes and boost your potential. Follow me at Twitter.

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A couple of years ago I worked on a major global project assisting a client with a change program. The outcome of the program was very dependent upon the climate created by the leaders at the head office and in each business unit. The climate of any company is a much unappreciated but essential ingredient towards high performance.

One way to understand what leaders do in the context of organising the climate is to compare successful companies with unsuccessful ones. The unsuccessful ones might well be called “disorganisations.”

They are:

Divided. Factions and divisions fragment the organisation and sap its resources.

Confused. Each person has a different understanding of what’s going on. There is a lot of gossip, but not very much information.

Passive. Most “members” do very little; one or two people do most of the work.

Reactive. They are always trying to respond to some unanticipated new development.

Inactive. Prone to drifting. There is little purposefulness to meetings, actions, or decisions, and things drift from one meeting to the next.

Successful organisations, on the other hand have,

Unity– In successful organisations, people are united. They have learned to manage their differences well enough that they can unite to accomplish the purposes for which the organisation formed. Differences are openly debated, discussed, and resolved.

Shared understanding. There is a widely shared understanding of what’s going on, what the challenges are, what the program is, and why the current course of action was adopted.

Participate. Lots of people in the organisation are active; they not only go to meetings but also get the work of the organisation done.

Take initiative. Rather than reacting to whatever happens in their environment, they are proactive, and act upon their environment.

Act. People do the work they must to make things happen.

Share a sense of purpose. There is purposefulness about meetings, actions, and decisions and sense of forward momentum as work gets done.

It is the quality of the work leaders do within them that makes groups and their culture work. A good leader steers the group away from the bad characteristics of the “disorganisation” and toward the characteristics of a good organization.

Leaders turn division into solidarity by building, maintaining, and developing relationships among those who form the organisation.

Leaders turn confusion into understanding by facilitating interpretation of what is going on with the work of the organisation. They turn passivity into participation by inspiring people to commit to the action required if the group’s goals are to be accomplished, and they turn reaction into initiative by strategizing—thinking through how the organization can use its resources to achieve its goals.

Inaction becomes action when leaders mobilize people to turn their resources into the specific actions that will lead to the achievement of their goals, and drift becomes shared purpose when leaders accept responsibility for overseeing the group and challenge others to accept their responsibility as well.

Where is your organisation?

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