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Executive Coaching Described

Breakthroughs in innovation come from new thought. Henry Flagler gave John D. Rockefeller invaluable insight that made Standard Oil possible which in 1879, produced 90 percent of the refined oil in the U.S. Tim Paterson made it possible with his Windows innovation to make Bill Gates one of the richest and influential men in history. Phil Mickelson and Fred Couples had Butch Harmon, Russell Wilson has Pete Carroll and Carl Smith, and Ford had Harry Levinson. Coaching is concerned with innovation, development and the facilitation of new thought.

As you see on the International Coach Federation web site, ( there are a number of different kinds of coaching within this field; business, internal, leadership, life vision and executive coaching to name a few. When selecting a coach it makes best sense that the coach be in compliance with the 11 core competencies the ICF has defined as best practice. The ICF is the coaching organization that is recognized

Coaching constitutes an ongoing conversation that empowers a person or team to fully live out their calling – in their life and profession. For a leader the chief outcome of executive coaching is to manifest high performing direct reports and then mobilize, lead and guide those people to a keen internal vision. For either the leader or the key person with few or no direct reports, coaching allows for enlightenment followed by action. The idea is for the participant through expert prompting to listen to the inner self in order to develop insight and understanding since most often they do have the answers. Then the participant can take specific action to reshape their life around that learning to, among other important things, facilitate a culture of high performance which is an essential role of an executive.

Coaching is for those executives who are in ascension, often referred to as "High Potentials". It is also for solid performers whom one would like to reward. Coaching is also for those in regression, who are successful in certain aspects of their job but struggle in others. The coaching relationship is expected to produce insights, greater personal awareness, changed behaviors, actions, and ultimately results that are satisfactory to the participant, their direct reports and the expectations set by the organization.

Much is expected of the participant in this coaching process. Self-evaluation, reasoning, imagination, making decisions about a new direction, courage to look at and own faults as well as courage to own successes all resulting in significant behavior change towards established goals. The point of this exercise is implementation of new insight and behavior in order to move to the next level. The focus of executive coaching is on the participant – their goals, their learning and their growth. The participant's accountability is a willingness to learn, change and grow.

Coaching is learning – rather than teaching. The Participant is the expert on their life. Coaching techniques such as active listening, open questions, encouragement, and best practices management training where needed and challenging the participant are used. The coach is supportive and assists in discovering insights, facilitates change and next steps.

Coaching is action. There are a number of models but often there are 10 or so one hour sessions, two weeks apart. In a session the participant determines 1-3 actions steps to take before the next session. Progress can be quick. The participant focuses on their life – not just their work. We all know that changing old habits and thought patterns are difficult but necessary for growth. The coach holds the participant accountable to the action steps.

Here are some important distinctions. Coaching is not therapy. Although many of the communication techniques are the same; like active listening, reflecting, use of questions, some advice giving, etc. Therapy focuses on the past to bring healing and unblock a person to move ahead. Coaching is future and action-oriented for healthy people who are fundamentally clear of psychological and emotional issues.

Coaching is not mentoring. Mentors are experts in a particular field who seek to pass on their expertise to a person. Mentors provide knowledge, advice, guidance, correction, and encouragement. They may use some coaching techniques, but mentors usually play the role of advisor and teacher to guide and impart knowledge and wisdom. While there will be mentoring moments, time with the participant will be largely around coaching.

In coaching the emphasis is not training though training does take place. Coaching is more focused on the participant's agenda within their scope as an executive. Coaches use adult learning principles of self-discovery and awareness to motivate change from within the participant.

Coaching is not authoritarian. Picture the tough sports coach who screams and then demands pushups for mistakes. That is not coaching. The coach may push beyond what might be thought reasonable, but should always be supportive. The Participant is in control. The responsibility to decide and act is theirs. Coaching is effective because it brings out the participant's best. Again, the participant can create their own answers if facilitated properly.

Here is an example a coaching best practice process.

1. Assessment. First of all the participant must assess if the coach is a good fit for them, it's their decision. From that point it is best for the participant to take a self-assessment. There are a number of these on the market. I use the Harrison Assessment ( as well as a multi-rater called the Leadership Impact Survey by Impact Achievement Group ( so the participant can receive feedback from their workplace as to their management/contribution acumen. As with a map, in order to get to point B one must assess where they are, that is: point A. Prescription before diagnosis is called malpractice. Assessments provide essential additional data used to flesh out what areas specifically the participant may want to develop in order to go to the next level as an executive and as a person.

2. Outcomes. Based upon assessments and conversation the participant and their boss decide what outcomes make best sense to pursue always with the focus on creating a work environment that facilitates insight and high performing direct reports. Sustained high performance necessitates a high trust culture.

3. Awareness. In order to grow, change and become more it is necessary to increase self-awareness and this is another key role of the coach; to facilitate awareness.

4. Action Plan. Faith without works is dead. Commitment to sustained action is necessary if any progress is to be made. This is a process and will be one of trial and error at times because the territory for the participant will often be new.

5. Delivery. Finally, through this process lasting change will be achieved. The hope is breakthrough and a new door opened such that the participant wins big as do others in the culture. The coach ought to report to the sponsor (boss) during and after the process as to progress while maintaining confidentiality.

6. Re-assess. Now it is time to re-assess, measure progress, reflect on lessons learned and consider any next steps.

Why use a coach? The reasons people want coaching are many and as unique as the person. Here are just 20 examples that motivate people to use a coach.

1. Making significant change
2. Career path planning
3. Developing the team and improving the culture
4. Dealing with problem employees
5. Having difficult conversations
6. Holding others accountable
7. Asserting self
8. Dealing with uncertainty
9. Making better decisions
10. Setting better goals and reaching them faster
11. Dealing with fear and gaining perspective
12. Facilitation of high performing direct reports
13. Getting organized 14. Having someone to talk to
15. Improving relationships on and off the job
16. Having peace of mind
17. Dealing with set backs
18. Being more influential and learning management best practices
19. Building collaboration
20. Simply being a better executive and leader

To bring this home, circle three that stands out to you. The coaching relationship is exciting, filled with little and big breakthroughs and allows for a life of continued success, joy and fulfillment.

Peter Dove is president of Shared Values Associates ( 425-822-8761. He focuses on installing the Shared Values Process® as well as management and leadership development training and assessments.

How to Build Trust in the Work Environment

In the ancient days of the Greek city state, a man was chosen to greet an approaching army intent on invasion and do his best to arrange for peace. This man was called a hero . Rob Lebow dreamed of bringing peace to the work environment so wrote a book; A Journey Into The Heroic Environment. This book is based on the answers of 17.1 million workers from around the world in response to this question: "What does it take for you to be excited about doing your best at your job?". Here are the answers Lebow found:


Nothing new but common sense is not common practice. Your organization delivers these 8 values now. The question is: to what degree does your organization deliver these 8 values? If you will focus on being world class at delivering these specific values, you will have a sustainable, world class organization that achieves world class results. See if this is confirmed in your own work experience. Have you ever had a boss that you did not like and didn't respect? What was productivity like? I bet it was low. Conversely, have you ever worked for a boss you respected and honored? My guess is that workers cared more, trust was higher and so was productivity. Let's take a real life example of just one of these values: Treat others with uncompromising truth.

People deserve the truth and when they haven't received it, they feel betrayed and disempowered. If people feel it is not safe to tell the uncompromising truth, they won't. Joe has body odor, always has and no one tells him. Joe needs the truth, instead others joke about him as they roll their eyes. Nobody tells Joe, does Joe know something's up? Yes. Does this cost you anything when people don't include Joe? Yes. Joe does his job but won't go the extra mile and freely share information because he doesn't feel like it and you will never know the cost.

Nancy is a gossip, loves to talk about other people. Nancy shares a juicy piece with Sue who is too polite to say anything though she feels uncomfortable. After all she has to work with Nancy all day every day. What's that costing you? Plenty. Nancy is killing trust in the organization. Trust is everything. Low trust low productivity, high trust high productivity and joy as well. Trust is the foundation.

Rita sees a memo and it has created some fear. She wants to tell you, her boss the uncompromising truth but won't for fear of what you might say or do. You're about to make a decision, need the feedback and don't get it. Results are only as good as the decisions. But Rita has to tell someone so she complains to her friend John and a rumor starts. Costly? Yes.

The solution is this: Make it OK within your group to tell the uncompromising truth. Get your people together and make a ground rule, a contract, an agreement between all that it is safe to tell the truth. Agree on guidelines as to what telling the truth means. What is OK and what is not OK behavior. When it's agreed, you are on your way to a heroic environment. When everyone in the organization knows it's safe to Treat Others With Uncompromising Truth, you have a shared value and trust is built . Over the years we have found these guidelines to be the most effective:

1. Am I discussing the issue with the other person within 24 hours?
2. Am I asking the other person for permission to communicate? "Is this a good time to talk?"
3. Am I approaching the other person in a non-threatening way?
4. Am I straight-taking without hurting the other person's feelings? Is my language simple, understandable, non-apologizing and non-personal?
5. Am I making a request of the other person and not a complaint? Is my request telling the other person how I would like it to be?

If you drive from your house to the grocery store with the emergency brake on, you can still get just have to press harder on the gas pedal. You can still get results working in an organization that does not have a heroic environment but it's like driving it with the brake on. The advice of this article is to focus on the eight values at every opportunity starting with the truth. Take the brake off, it will set you free.

Peter Dove is president of Shared Values Associates ( 425-822-8761. He focuses on installing the Shared Values Process® as well as management and leadership development training and assessments.

How to Ease Stress and Increase Results through Mentoring

Greek mythology tells us this one of many interesting stories, it goes like this. Mentor was a friend of Odysseus who placed him in charge of his young son, Telemachus, when Odysseus left for the Trojan War. Upon Odysseus' return he found Telemachus had grown into a strong and loyal man, very much devoted to his father. Today we use the term mentor to mean a father-like teacher, someone who takes great care in the instruction of others.

In my last article I talked about building trust in the work environment, mentoring unselfishly is another key to this outcome. The idea and recommendation I'm offering is to be willing to mentor and be open to mentoring from anyone in your workplace. This means that mentoring happens in all directions. In a mentoring workplace the head of your entire organization would be expected to teach and share with others down to the lowliest position and likewise that person has the right to mentor this most senior executive. What if knowledge, skill, experiences and ideas were shared on an ongoing basis throughout your workplace? What effect would this have? Creating a learning organization is a vital strategy for durable high performance and mentoring is central to that strategy.

Mentor Unselfishly

Guidelines for Giving

1. Have I received permission to mentor the person? (If you don't like the word mentoring, how about teaching?)
2. Am I sharing knowledge, skill and experience in a befriending way?
3. Am I putting the other person's interest before my own.

Guidelines for Receiving

1. Have I given permission to be mentored
2. Am I open and receptive to new ideas
3. Am I willing to be mentored by everyone in the organization

Start out simply by experimenting with this idea and these guidelines. Tell others what you are doing and why so they understand your intent. I think you will find that this will catch fire resulting in less stress and more joy and effectiveness.

Peter Dove is president of Shared Values Associates ( 425-822-8761. He focuses on installing the Shared Values Process® as well as management and leadership development training and assessments.

How to Get the Other Person to Listen

Have you ever felt the burn of frustration because the other person just will not listen to what you have to say? Has the following ever happened? You are speaking, wanting to make a point and the other person is shaking their head with eyes shut and just starting to mouth the first word of their reply as they hold up their palms in your face. There typically is not speaking and listening as Stephen Covey would say. There is speaking and preparing to speak. Maddening. What can you do? Perhaps this idea will help.

The key to influence is to first be willing to run the risk of being influenced by the other person. There is a distinction between debate and dialog. Debate is a contest. Dialogue is a free exchange of ideas, a conversation in which two or more take part. If you are in a debate over a point of view, you will never see the other person suddenly stop their rant in mid sentence, gaze downward, mouth slightly open, brow furrowed and then slap their forehead and say in a dazed sort of way, "You're right. I've never thought of it that way". People are usually more interested in being right than they are in being open and receptive. Try this. Make an agreement ahead of time with your friend, spouse or workmate that the two of you will strive to be receptive to new ideas using these guidelines as a checklist during the conversation. First, person A states their case and person B listens and at the same time follows these guidelines in their mind:

1. Do I listen to new ideas with an open mind, regardless of who is offering them?
2. Do I restate the other person's point of view to their satisfaction before offering mine?
3. Do I set aside personal bias and consider their idea using logic, common sense, imagination and courage?
4. Do I ask questions for the success of their idea instead of attacking it?

Now, the tables are turned and it is person B's time to state their case as person A follows the guidelines. The conversation now becomes a dialogue and can add value, community and effectiveness instead of a debate that no one ever wins

This process takes practice and commitment. This approach is something that most people are not taught. The conditioning surrounding debate is a hard comfort zone to crack and overcome but the alternative is defeat and bad blood.

I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts.

Peter Dove is president of Shared Values Associates ( 425-822-8761. He focuses on installing the Shared Values Process® as well as management and leadership development training and assessments.

How to Motivate Your People

Much has been written about how to motivate people. The thought seems to be that there exists some sort of magic that if you could only access you could zap a new power into people. Sorry, but no. There are various kinds of motivation. Coercive motivation for example can be quite effective. As Colonel Nathan Jessep, played by Jack Nicholson, said in the 1992 movie; A Few Good Men, "You can make a horse sit up and deal cards, it's just a matter of voltage". Later in the movie he famously exclaimed, "You can't handle the Truth". The truth is this: people are only motivated by what they value. Yes, that might be they value money or saving their skin but people remain motivated exclusively by what they value.

You can coerce people into doing what you want. Threats, punishment and the rest of the "stick" methods are often used. Restrictive motivation is another stick method and something of a cousin to coercive motivation. You can restrict liberty, freedom, access to information, things, people or opportunity as punishment unless people do what is wanted.

On the more positive side one can motivate by way of incentive or quid pro quo. Do this and I'll give you that. It really is sort of based on a bribe paradigm and the carrot end of the carrot vs. the stick approach as just described. Offering a carrot or brandishing a stick will indeed get people to do things but it is something difficult to sustain and as Kohn demonstrates in his book; Punished By Rewards, does not work very well. People resist the stick and there are more of them than there are of you. Carrots become carrot cake then steak and carrots then an entitlement to steak, carrots, peas, potatoes and fine wine. Fine wine is expensive. Isn't there a better way, a third way? Yes there is. You see, you cannot really motivate people; all you can do is to understand their motives and then align your behavior in such a way as to deliver what they want on a win-win basis. This is sustainable. Again, people are only motivated by what they value.

The typical manager thinks they have only these two kinds of power available to them. The carrot and the stick are accessible because of their position. Do this or that because I'm the boss and I have a certain amount of authority over you. The boss uses either the stick or the carrot and over time it becomes a comfort zone. For example, most any automobile dealership uses and has used for many decades these coercive, restrictive or incentive methods to persuade sales people to sell cars. This does not make these dealers good or bad, it just makes them typical of how business is done in America.

Referent power is based on a third idea and the greatest of things; love. I will do for you not because I feel a threat either explicit or implied. I will not do for you because of some reward. I behave, work at my best and carry a certain winning attitude because I respect and want to serve… you. I do what I do because I want you, my boss to be proud of me. I execute my duties with care because I like the people I work with and want to contribute and not let them down. I behave as I do because what we do together has meaning. Can you see how referent power is the greatest of these three kinds? The trick of course is how to deliberately create this values based referent power in a workplace…your workplace. There is not enough space here to describe what all goes into building a shared values work environment, however, here are three things you can do now.

1. Make it safe. Create a workplace where it is safe to tell the boss and co-workers the uncompromising truth without fear of repercussion.
2. Give credit where credit is due. This is the easiest thing to do and you can start now. Most people are not told they are appreciated and why
3. Make expectations clear. Unclear specific expectations of one's job is enormously de-motivating. Tell your people what is expected, by when, what a finished job looks like, what the failure and success paths are, what the resources are and then coach them on their way

There are a number of other values that must be shared in the workplace in order to arrive at a credible referent power base or what we call a Heroic Environment. However, if the reader will focus on these three areas, much can be accomplished. I wish you all the best on your journey.

Peter Dove is president of Shared Values Associates ( 425-822-8761. He focuses on installing the Shared Values Process® as well as management and leadership development training and assessments.

Pumpkins and The Uncompromising Truth

Have you ever been in a situation where you see behavior within the company that's not right and something really ought to be said…but by whom? While homicide is extremely rare in corporate culture, people have been killed for telling the uncompromising truth since the time of Christ and before. What happened to the last guy who told the boss which cow ate what cabbage? In the work place it is usually perceived as unsafe to speak out, but what is the alternative?

There comes an opportunity for all of us - a moment of truth – to take a stand and say it, most of the time it is the little things. She didn't bring back the stapler…again. He needs a breath freshener. She shouldn't have taken that tone in front of us all. He needs to think more about us and less about himself. Sometimes it is the big things. Rather than tell the uncompromising truth David Duncan of Arthur Anderson shredded documents for Enron. John Manville, Inc. knew about the lung crunching of Asbestos in the 1930's yet said nothing. David Myers knew about the fraud of reclassifying expenses at WorldCom in 2002. More recently, GM knew about the faulty ignition switches for at least 10 years but senior managers in the know said nothing and people died as a result. Mary Barra, now CEO has stepped up to the plate and doing what she can to make things right.

The funny thing about the people who perpetrated the lies is that generally speaking they were honest people. David Duncan graduated high school with honors, was a church going family man. David Myers also graduated with honors, was a family man with a conscience and was deeply disturbed about his misdeeds to the point of attempted suicide. Why do good people do cowardly, dishonest things that harm others?

There is an interesting story year ago told by a dear, late friend and author, Lou Tice. He was at the Washington State Fair, an institution here in Western Washington held every September. It seems that in the Most Unusual Vegetable category the blue ribbon was awarded for a pumpkin that looked not a little but exactly like a jug. When the judges asked how the farmer managed to grow such a squash he answered, "That was easy. I just planted a pumpkin seed inside of a jug, let it grow, broke the jug when the pumpkin couldn't get any bigger and brought it to the fair." The corporate culture you work in is the jug and you are the pumpkin. The jug is the context and people, both good and bad tend to conform to the corporate context just like Duncan and Myers. Guess what the context was like among the senior team at Enron and WorldCom…arrogant and dishonest. So, heretofore honest upright people tend towards conforming to that jug. It happens all the time.

The good news is jugs are not good or bad and you get to make the jug. How? The answer is through shared values and one of those values is telling the uncompromising truth. People deserve the truth and when they haven't received it, they feel betrayed and disempowered. An important teacher of mine, the late Stephen Covey said, "Unexpressed feelings are buried alive and come back later in ugly ways." As you read this article, picture a conversation with your workgroup about getting into agreement using these suggested guidelines. We've been using them successfully with companies for over twenty years, maybe they will work for you as well.

Treat Others With Uncompromising Truth *

1. Am I discussing the issue with the other person within 24 hours?
Yes No

2. Am I asking the other person for permission to communicate? " Is this a good time to talk?"
Yes No

3. Am I approaching the other person in a non-threatening way
Yes No

4. Am I straight talking without intending to hurt the other person's feelings? Is my language simple, understandable, non-apologizing and non-personal
Yes No

5. Am I making a request of the other person and not a complaint? Is my request telling the other person how I would like it to be
Yes No

Proactively creating the work environment context means dedicating a conversation(s) among your workmates to gain agreement about behavior up front. There is much power in agreement. Create a covenant, a sort of contract, a meeting of the minds beforehand. Then, when a situation arises which I personally guarantee it will, you and everyone else in your work environment are prepared. You have a way to go, a principle centered method of how we are going to be with each other. When the moment of truth or the TransAction arises tell the other person what you are doing. This reminder helps both of you get through a difficult conversation.

Please keep in mind that this covenant you are creating with your people is a process and a long conversation. It requires courage, character, patience and resolve. It's risky and not something all of you will agree to as evinced by behavior. Nor will you accomplish this mutual understanding by next Tuesday or even next month but you may by next year. You will find this or any other guideline difficult to establish because the uncompromising truth will be tested perhaps daily, but testing is the only way it gets stronger. One thing is sure; you can't build the jug you want without the truth. Though difficult to imbue, once this value has been institutionalized it is very hard to kill off and know this…the truth will set you free.

* Lasting Change by Rob Lebow, pp 64-69

Peter Dove is president of Shared Values Associates ( 425-822-8761. He focuses on installing the Shared Values Process® as well as management and leadership development training and assessments.


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