Business & Leadership
The secrets of good coaching
“Our business in life is not to get ahead of others but to get ahead of ourselves - to break our own records, to outstrip our yesterdays by our today, to do our work with more force than ever before.”
- Stewart B. Johnson, British artist
We are all creatures of habit. We walk along, doing the same things day after day, unconsciously repeating the many behaviours we have adapted to fit our lifestyles. These walking habits become liabilities for self-growth, for becoming better performers, and for enjoying the rewards of achievement and success in our work environments.
Habits are hard to change. Our brains are wired to minimize interference with what seems to be working for us. We are conserving energy and minimally using only those parts of our brain that are needed to maintain the status quo.
We are also not able to use our inner eye to notice our lack of spark, nor our inner voice to tell us that change is needed for the better. We sometimes are unaware that we are inattentive or unfocused on the important elements of our jobs. We get distracted.
This is especially notable in the operation of machinery or in other areas of safety. We need an outside observer and outside listener – as well as teacher and confidante – to show us the way to change. We need a coach.
The good coach learns what we like to do
The good coach knows what we need to develop and how to go about it. He or she sees our behaviour and compares it with the ideal. This evaluation creates a benchmark against which our growth will be compared.
One of the best tools for creating this benchmark is a behaviour analytical tool based on neuroscience called PRISM, which provides an online, interactive questionnaire assessing the inventory of innate preferences and adapted behaviours we have learned on the job.
Neuroscience tells us that the topography and neuron pathways of our brains indicate our intellectual and emotional strengths and weaknesses. PRISM is used to create a map of those behaviour indicators.
If there is a big difference between the activities we like to do and the activities we are asked to do, there will be an equally big amount of dissatisfaction and probably ineffectiveness which can be corrected with good coaching, using the behaviour information uncovered with PRISM.
The good coach looks for energy levels
Using PRISM, the coach studies the energy levels being exerted for preferred behaviours because those behaviours are the ones that make the employee happiest and most productive. The coach also looks at how the employee has adapted his or her behaviours to fit the requirements of the current job. If the energy level expended is too low, there is room for improvement through coaching.
But it is also true that the energy level shown might be too high, meaning the employee is over-managing, over-coordinating, or over-executing, probably at the expense of efficiencies in other activities. An example of this behaviour is often called “micro-managing” in which a manager is overly concerned with too many details of a project rather than delegating more responsibility to his team. This condition of “wasted energy” can also be corrected through coaching based on PRISM information.
Individual coaching leads to job satisfaction
Once the employee preferences are identified, it may become immediately clear which other positions within the company would be ideal for this particular person and his or her personality and set of skills. If it is possible to transfer the employee to that other position, the coach will explore that with the employee and company management.
If, on the other hand, the company has higher level positions available, perhaps in senior operational levels or in management, it would benefit from identifying the best candidates to be promoted to those positions. A coach can use PRISM to work with individuals who show the potential behavioural strengths to fill those positions.
If a person likes what he or she is doing, but is having some difficulties doing it well, coaching can help here, too, by improving self-awareness and establishing a plan of activity which will close the gap between current and ideal behaviours.
Team benefits include better project outcomes
Teams comprise individuals with different responsibilities. The team leader provides the goal and general direction, and team members interact with each other to cooperatively move the project forward. Each team member contributes to the ideal solution being sought. And each team member demonstrates his or her own personal talent and thought process.
The abilities to interact, offer suggestions, accept ideas from others, be cooperative and supportive, be goal-oriented, and make final decisions are all traits which can be measured and strengthened through coaching. Helping each team member grow ultimately helps the team become more effective. And matching the team leader personality to the team composition further improves this effectiveness.
Good coaching benefits the company most of all
With good coaching done using PRISM analysis, a company benefits in many ways: making employees happier, more attentive, effective, and responsible; facilitating the creation of stronger teams; helping managers become better evaluators and decision-makers; creating channels for promotions and succession-planning.
The good coach needs good tools to work with and a good understanding of the person being coached. PRISM is a great way to assess the individual’s centres of brain activity – the realistic, idealistic, processing and decisive strengths which make that person truly unique. In measuring the energies being expended in all job-related functions, PRISM provides a guide to the realization of individual potential.
The realization of potential is what coaching is all about.
On "REAL" Leadership:
Your organization can be a high-performing, vibrant team of contributors, individually and collectively engaged in a mutual quest for reaching and surpassing all goals placed before them. You and they can enjoy a culture of organizational success on a scale never before achieved in your company.
This success will be realized through a transcendence from old habits and unconscious behaviors to a new openness and state of being at choice to do better.
Transcendence requires leadership wisdom, real leaders who care about humanity, are self-less and working for the greater good. Real leaders are fully conscious of the need to let go of egos while caring for others and inspiring them to share their ideas and skills and be all that they can be.
Real leaders need R.E.A.L. tools for developing this consciousness, this awareness, and this leadership wisdom to guide others toward transcendence.
This book is a backpack of R.E.A.L. tools, ready for you to take along on your journey to discovery and transformation.
Using these tools, you will change your own life, as well as mold your teams into powerful, willing forces for accomplishment and growth.
You will unleash their creativity, excite their passions, free their imaginations, raise their energy levels, encourage sharing, instill confidence, and enable them to reach their full potential.
Wise leaders build companies that can make a difference in the world. The world needs wise leaders, wise decisions, concern for others and for the future of humanity. We have our individual beliefs and dreams.
We have common experiences and feelings. The desire to share with others is what makes us human. As a leader in your own organization, you can realize true achievement by simply acknowledging and supporting the humanness you see. Treating people as people first, and as workers second, is building an organization on shared values. That is as strong a foundation as you can have.
My recommendation is to use the tools in the backpack. Learn to be a conscious leader and learn to identify consciousness – or lack thereof – in your organization. Wherever you see trouble lurking, try to discern whether the individuals are being honest, transparent, caring for each other, and trusting or are they showing that they have self-interest and private agendas. Discern whether they are acting out of fear, habits, or bias.
Only REAL leaders can know if they are being honest with themselves. Only REAL leaders can sense whether others are being honest with themselves. There are visible signs of dysfunction in many organizations – and there are also subtler signs that may not be so visible. Individuals, teams, and entire organizations can be asleep, unconscious, unaware, uninspired, unhappy, and unproductive.
Only REAL leaders can wake themselves and their company to wisdom.
Written for Susan Robertson's book REAL Leadership: Waken to Wisdom
Article for a furniture designer
The rise of one-of-a-kind culture
We are a social culture. We share everything. We laugh together, cry together, live, love, and play together. But in the midst of all this sharing, we also crave our own space. We want to be seen as individuals. We want to be a little different than everyone else. We want to be noticed.
This desire for uniqueness has sparked the growth on the Internet, especially sites like YouTube, Facebook and Pinterest where we can see “never-before-seen” videos and photos of all kinds of people doing all kinds of things in unique ways.
We see twins born holding hands. We see a cat saving a boy from an attacking dog. We see a boy photographing a bluebird sitting majestically in a field of flowers. We all seem to have this ongoing need for “new perspectives” in our society.
The next-big-thing movement has spread into all areas of culture. We can’t get enough of Spiderman or Twilight or Hunger Games. Movie sequels abound, each trying to out-do, or out-draw, its predecessor. Godzilla wasn’t big enough. We need him in 3D. The Special Effects studios want to show us things we haven’t seen before – new worlds, new planets, new fantasies.
We all want to see something new, different, or unique
Our society has spawned instant communications and given rise to millions of personal cellphones throughout the world, so now there is a far greater chance than ever before that someone, somewhere will capture on video something new and different that will spark our interest, our admiration, or our outrage. We are all drawn to that one-of-a-kind.
This Is also true of the things we own. We want unique clothes and jewelry, maybe a car that will park itself. We get tired of the same old furniture. We want that unusual accent piece that no one else has.
Our homes reflect who we are
That’s the business I began many years ago – to create one-of-a-kind furniture for those people who want something truly different in their homes, something that speaks to their individual personalities. I invite you to check out our accents and accessories at . And after you find what’s right for you, tell your friends to bring their cellphones. They’ll want a picture for their “wall.”
Blog article on business management
Getting ahead: follow the signs
"If you come to a fork in the road, take it."
- Yogi Berra.
Maybe you should not take that fork. Maybe you're on the wrong road. Maybe you should backtrack and take a long look at what is working and not working for you. What got you on to this wrong highway? And what’s the best way to get back on track?
Just follow the signs.
Steep road ahead
You might be thinking about expanding the business – adding more sales people, more office locations, or maybe adding inventory. Have you weighed the possible advantages against all the costs you will incur? Some are obvious, Some are not.
Hiring more sales people could bring in more sales – if they are good – but that could also lead to more training expense and possibly more turnover. Are you ready for that?
Expansion may lock you into building and equipment leases which could get burdensome if sales take a dip or the economy weakens. Think through all the positive and negative scenarios before taking the plunge.
Although I never quite understood that sign, it does remind me to think about my profit margins. When you consider your profits, do you also consider whether or not you can improve the margins before you consider expanding?
The Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) is a great measurement tool to keep in mind. That number should remain steady or go down if you are managing the business the right way.
Lane change ahead
Maybe you are thinking of changing one sales avenue to another, or adding a different avenue. How does this affect your current revenue stream? Are you really adding another way to get income or are you just moving it from one lane to another?
If you create a website for customers to buy your product, will they just do that instead of calling you? Will you lose an opportunity to upsell them, and will you lose a chance to show personal interest in them? Your sales strategies should move you ahead, not just to another lane.
No trucks allowed
If you do expand, can you support the expansion? Is your infrastructure strong enough? Do you have the inventory to support the higher demand? Do you have the customer service capability if needed? Can you invest in a new store until it turns a profit?
There are many things to consider when expanding or building the business. Before doing so, you need to make sure your foundation is strong and that you have no weaknesses.
If the business is not fundamentally sound, a new e-commerce strategy or a digital marketing program is not going to fix it, and may actually make it worse.
Too often, ailing businesses think that there is a magic pill that will fix all the problems. There isn't – it takes the pulling of multiple levers to get a business back on track. Increasing sales is just one element and can often lead to other issues.
It is important to get the business running properly and to ensure you have the capability to deliver the increase in a new sales channel. It is also important to make sure that a past sales decrease is not due to factors other than a slow economy:
Sometimes it is better to slow down and take a closer look at what might be negatively affecting your business before going ahead with expansion.
Is there a new competitor on the block? What is he doing differently from you that is taking business away from you? This might affect your strategies going forward.
How about the design of you product? Are there any flaws that customers complain about or lead to recalls or returns? This is costing you money.
Have buying trends changed recently? Are you keeping up with the changes in society?
Does everyone know you? Is your brand popular? Are you a preferred brand or just another product in the mix?
Before going full speed, maybe you need to throttle-down a little bit, maybe even stop for a minute and look under the hood. A little business maintenance can get you farther than you ever imagined.