Archives for the ‘Coach’s Log’ Category

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches – Habit 7: Flow Like a Stream

Tick Tock

Habit 7: Flow Like a Stream

A coach works with ease like running water. They are patient, pragmatic, and present. The effectiveness and efficiency with which they work inspires others to strive to achieve the same. To coach with ease is the result of years of conscious practice, perseverance, and a promise to be better.

Exercise: Pick a Tool

Pick a tool you’d like to improve in your use of. Set aside seven days. Identify improvement ideas, then implement them in those seven days. Measure and reflect, then repeat as desired.

I suggest short improvement time boxes such as seven days because the act of measuring progress in small increments and often not only keeps it in the forefront of your mind but it also encourages you to keep moving forward.

For more information, see: “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell in which he describes the “10,000-Hour Rule,” which states that the key to success in any field is through practice for approximately 10,000 hours.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches – Habit 6: Talk Less, Listen More

Exceptional Characters

Habit 6: Talk Less, Listen More

A coach listens more than they say. A coach postpones judgment on what they hear and lets others talk while they listen with care. To get to the heart of a problem or gain a deep understanding of a situation, a coach asks open questions, questions that cannot by answered by a mere “Yes” or “No.” Open questions begin with words like “What happened?”, “How would you do things differently?”, “Why do you think the same problem keeps recurring?”

Exercise: All Ears

Imagine all you can do is ask questions and listen. And, when asking questions is inappropriate, the only option is to listen.

What do you notice about the quality of conversations you have in comparison with your usual way of communicating? And what about the differences in the level of engagement you get from those you usually interact with?

My grandmother used to say, “There’s a reason why we have two ears and one mouth.” Help people answer their own questions and maybe they’ll help answer yours.

Give peer coaching a go with “The Yellow Brick Road—Fresh Insights Through Peer Coaching.”

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches – Habit 5: Pull not Push


Habit 5: Pull not Push

As the saying goes, “the teacher appears when the student is ready.” A coach waits and is always ready when someone asks for help. A coach creates and offers learning opportunities instead of thrusting their ideas, advice, and views onto others.

Exercise: Coaching Offer

Make yourself available by offering 20-30 minute coaching sessions over coffee for free. Advertise by word of mouth and poster or wiki page so people can contact you to arrange a session. Explain up front how the session serves two goals. The first is for you to assist the person asking for help. The second is for that person to give you feedback on your coaching so that you can improve. If no one takes you up on your offer, reflect on why that is, as this may provide a useful lesson in itself.

For more ideas on personal and team improvement, take a look at “The Dream Team Nightmare: Boost Team Productivity Using Agile Techniques”.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches – Habit 4: Think with Your Head and Feel with Your Heart

Agile Fairytales: The Yellow Brick Road

Habit 4: Think with Your Head and Feel with Your Heart

In solving problems, people typically favour one or the other, thinking or feeling. A coach balances thinking and feeling. They apply logical thinking as well as empathy when solving problems. A coach is both the Scarecrow and the Tin Man. A coach understands that change begins with the individual and that only you can change yourself for the better. They speak and act with understanding, compassion, and determination.

Exercise: Facts and Feelings

Think of a problem you’re trying to solve. On the left side of a sheet paper, write down up to seven facts about the problem. On the right side of the same sheet of paper, write down your feelings about the problem.
If you find it easier to come up with facts, it’s likely your preference is thinking over feeling. If you find it easier to describe how you feel about the problem, it’s likely you prefer to feel than think. Neither of these is good nor bad. It simply increases your self-awareness when it comes to achieving a thinking-feeling equilibrium.

For more information, see: What Type Am I? Discover Who You Really Are by Renee Baron, a book that examines the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, including the two preferences of thinking versus feeling.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches – Habit 3: Set a Sustainable Pace

Think Think Think

Habit 3: Set a Sustainable Pace

A coach works at a sustainable pace so they can think and act clearly at all times. A coach stays calm when others around them lose their heads. They know when to say “Yes” and when to say “No.” They know their physical, cognitive, social, and emotional limits and when those limits can be stretched without compromising their personal effectiveness and efficiency.

Exercise: Coach’s Log

Write a daily log to keep track of what you do as well as make you mindful of how the day has affected you. Consider recording the day’s activities, things that went well that day, things that went wrong and personal improvement actions. You can even rate the day out of 10, where 10 is “It’s been a fantastic day!” and 0 is “I wish I’d never got out of bed.” Begin the next day by reviewing the improvement actions and choose at least one to work on to keep you improving.

You’ll find more tools like this one in “The Dream Team Nightmare – Boost Team Productivity Using Agile Techniques“.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches – Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

The Story of Your Life

Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind

A coach knows they have to keep their eye on the goal to score. Question them and they will always know why they’re doing what they’re doing. They keep the end goal at the forefront of their mind so they don’t get lost in the minutiae. A coach works backwards from the goal to figure out the most effective and efficient way of getting from A to B.

Exercise: The 5 Whys for Goal Discovery

The 5 Whys is a popular Lean tool for discovering the root cause of problems. Start with a problem and ask why it exists. Repeat asking “Why?” to each subsequent answer. Ask “Why?” for a maximum of 5 times to discover the root cause of a problem.

In the context of goal discovery, ask “Why?” up to five times in the same way you do for root cause analysis to find out what the root or real goal is to understand why you’re doing what you’re doing.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches is a mini series of blog entries inspired by the style of Paul Coelho‘s “Manual of the Warrior of Light“.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Coaches – Habit 1: Lead by Example

Stuff in Your Head

Habit 1: Lead by Example

A coach doesn’t just talk the talk, they walk the walk. This means living by the values and principles they espouse as well as applying the tools and techniques they know to themselves and to their work. They know when they’ve failed to lead by example and always strive to get themselves back on track. A coach knows their limits and asks others for help. A coach appreciates when others stretch their knowledge, skills, and experience beyond their comfort zone because they know that’s where the real learning happens.

Exercise: The Flaw Workout

No one’s perfect. Everyone has at least one flaw. Share one of your personal flaws with someone you’re coaching. Ask them for ideas on how you can address that flaw in order to improve yourself. Commit to actively improve regarding that particular flaw over a certain time period of your choice. After that time has passed, ask that other person to rate your behaviour before you tried to improve. Then ask them to rate your behaviour after a period of attempting to improve. Inquire about the person’s thinking behind the ratings to come up with more ideas for improving yourself.

When rating, I suggest using a range of 0-10 where “0” means “There’s plenty of room for improvement” and “10” means “What flaw? You’re already behaving perfectly!”

For more information, see: “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” by Marshall Goldsmith where he provides similar exercises for personal and professional development for highly successful individuals.

For more ideas on personal and team improvement, why not read “The Dream Team Nightmare” and go on an Agile Adventure?

Riddle Me This…

Q: What has a value, an expiry condition and if you choose to exercise it early you must know why?
A: A Real Option of course!

“Commitment”, the long awaited book on Real Options, is out!

Congratulations to Olav Maassen, Chris Matts and Chris Geary on their graphic novel. It’s a marvellous work of art, knowledge and storytelling! It’s great to see the theory explained in such an engaging, lucid, succinct and fun way.

The most impressive 2 things of all about the book (and there are so many), is the rate of information transmitted by the authors and the amount of information recalled by the reader long after they’ve reached the end of the tale.

“Commitment” is a great example of the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words”. Never have I read a book that gives the reader so much useful information at a glance and sticks in the mind and can be applied immediately.

So what’s reading “Commitment” worth to you? You can wait to borrow a friend’s copy or buy your own (it’s also available as a Kindle version). The quicker you learn about Real Options, the earlier you can apply it at work and at home, the better you’ll be at handling uncertainty to achieve better outcomes.

Happy decision making!

The Greatest Love of All

“A world without love is a deadly place” – Helen Fisher

Player’s Log – Day 15 of my 30 Day Challenge

It should come as no surprise when you live in a place like the UK and the weather lady candidly forecasts a second month of wind and rain. To be fair, the weather isn’t always dreary in the UK, but the seasonal weather seems to redefine itself year on year.

Nonetheless, as I make my way to work this morning, I’m acutely aware that the weather outside pretty much reflects how I’m feeling inside. They warned me this would happen but that hasn’t made it easier. Foretelling what has to come offers no consolation when you find yourself caught in the eye of the storm.

I’m referring to what the organisers of the 30 Day Challenge call the “midway slump”. It’s the precise moment when the euphoria of living your dream (Day 15 and counting…) collides with the tarmac of reality. The moment when hope gives way under a crescendo of self-doubt and criticism.

As part of the 30 Day Challenge, I’ve taken to sharing my project with others, telling certain people about the crazy challenge I’ve set myself as well as ask for help. I figured I might as well use the opportunity to develop my stoicism.

What would you say?

There are usually 3 kinds of responses.

The first is one of support and encouragement. “Sure! I’ll review your book. It would be an honour to.” This is mostly followed by detailed feedback and input.

The second is one of silence from thin lips followed by a slight nod of the head which I take as a cue to change topics.

The third is one of destructive criticism and even outright condemnation. “I wouldn’t waste my time doing that if I were you,” such people would tell me knowingly.

Believe in “WE”

So what is my takeaway from these responses?

That you have to share your dreams with others to find people who share your dreams. And when you find each other, support one another.

That it’s up to each and everyone one of us to discover what matters to us even when we’re surrounded by people who don’t care.

That if we’re in the business of nurturing people, why do so many of us choose to destroy dreams instead of help them flourish?

What words or acts of nurture will you choose to use today?

On Becoming a Manager

Free Will or Predestination?

One of the most memorable quotes I’ve ever come across in terms of organisations is one from Peter Drucker who observed that “Organisations form and deform people.” This quote terrified me at first because I realised immediately that that could become my fate (or it was already too late). This thought, in turn, reminded me of the lengthy university literature debates we had on “free will vs predestination” (based on my term in 18th century French literature).

Eventually, my mind came back with a reply in response to Drucker’s remark and it’s been one of my guiding principles as a coach ever since. Just as it takes two to tango, the flip side of Drucker’s coin is this: “People allow themselves to be formed and deformed.”

With great power comes great responsibility

Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate the importance of being passionate about what you do. This is especially important when it comes to managing people. It’s crucial that you care about people enough to create Win-Win situations because that’s your job as a manager.

Being a manager is about nurture not punishment. It’s about bringing the best out of people. It’s about learning to care for others as much as for yourself. You only have listen to the language a manager uses to identify which school of management they graduated from.

It’s also equally important to be sufficiently self-aware to know when you care too much. The danger of feeling too much could compromise your judgment and effectiveness.

The Power of Being Human

In the words of Uncle Ben of Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility”. All too often, we become so focused on personal gain that we forget our true purpose. Although we like to think ourselves brave and daring, we are secretly afraid of looking in the mirror our people hold up in front of us every time we interact with them.

The days of employing rudimentary techniques such as “carrot-and-stick” to create “successful” organisations are disappearing. How would you like to be treated like a donkey? When was the last time you read up on the latest people management techniques and applied them? How often do you ask your direct reports for open feedback? What improvement actions do you take and track to close the feedback loop? What do you do to become better today than you were yesterday every day?