Thursday, September 3, 2009

Executive Coaching and/or SME-ness

Over in the Q&A section of LinkedIn, Trisha asked,
"Must a Coach have more expert knowledge than a Coachee?"
Here's how I answered:

The seemingly obvious answer is "of course" – and being more of a Subject Matter Expert (SME) than your coachee definitely *does* help ... if the goal is to stimulate a coachee's learning through the transfer information alone.

But if the goal is to stimulate a coachee's learning through his/her own discovery and realizations, then a coach's subject matter expertise is far less important than the coach's ability to stimulate and facilitate a deeper conversation with the coachee about his/her beliefs, assumptions, sticking points, strengths, and possible Next Steps.

That said, "Time is (ALWAYS) of the essence" in the business world. So, in my opinions, a coach that can use his/her “SME-ness” to help jumpstart a coachee's learning and discovery is likely to find his/her coachee demonstrating greater confidence, savvy, poise, interpersonal influence, organizational impact, and executive presence, etc., far more readily … providing sufficient room is maintained for the coachee to connect the dots and discover his/her own insights and answers.

In my opinion, though, the *ultimate* answer has less to do with any particular coach’s subject matter expertise, or coaching acumen, as it does with the coachee’s *readiness* to be coached. As such, it’s essential that the coach be able to establish and maintain a deep, meaningful, relationship with a coachee quickly and effectively so to sustain and leverage that readiness.

Regrettably, many SMEs simply have no clue how to do this.


(Note: Several other LinkedIn responses to Trisha's questions have been posted in the comments section, as well.)

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Commitment versus Compliance

Over at LinkedIn, a fellow named Jesse posed an interesting question: "How do you get commitment from followers?"

My response:

I think an important distinction needs to be added to this thread -- "Commitment" versus "Compliance".

You already know that in a crisis management situation (your blog indicates you're a crisis management "tiger") success has very *little* to do with a follower "agreeing to do something" (commitment) -- but EVERYTHING to do him/her actually "fulfilling official requirements" (compliance).

I, therefore, submit that if a leader successfully resolves enough crises (through others' complying with their specific, meaningful, and appropriate, "official", requests), followers will almost *automatically* become increasingly loyal and committed to that leader. (Which really just means that these followers will more-readily comply with what the leader requests from them, next time.)

Non-crisis situations, if such things still exist (!!), work in much the same way -- success flows *less* from people being "committed" to achieving certain ends than from them intentionally "complying" with what, needs to be achieved. Again, if a leader successfully enables enough of those needed outcomes to occur, followers will routinely start exhibiting more loyalty and commitment to that leader (by complying that much more readily to their requests, moving forward).

Just for laughs, let's put it even more provocatively -- I assert that compliance (and all the good, value-added, stuff that employees can, and do, bring to an assignment) does not result *from* commitment; rather, commitment is a byproduct *of* compliance … after that compliance results in the successful completion of intended outcomes, of course.

Following this view, leaders do not need to seek the "commitment" of others -- they just need to get crystal clear on the business imperative of their assignments, what probably needs to be accomplished, and who probably needs to accomplish it, in order to increase the probability of actually achieving those ends … because if they
*can* increase the probability of achieving those ends, followers will naturally, readily, and increasingly -- and self-servingly, I might add -- commit to those leaders in the future, without additional inducement.

Helpful?!What are your thoughts on this?

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Growing More Go-To People

When something particularly urgent, important, or high-profile comes up, many (most?) bosses rely only on a few of their direct reports as true go-to people - the one's they know they can count on to get the job done right.

Imagine, though, what it'd be like if you could count on your entire staff as go-to people? Imagine what all you could get done if that was the case!

Here are the rules of the game:
  1. Identify the overlap between what each direct report likes to do and what s/he is good at doing -- the veritable "sweet spot".
  2. Talk with each of them about the importance of nurturing and growing their "sweet spot" as a routine, ongoing, and necessary part of their job.
  3. For any task-at-hand, guesstimate its "success probability", if delegated to each of your direct reports, using a simple High/Medium/Low rating. (Note: If you've completed step #1, this should take all of 90-seconds!)
  4. Delegate to an H only if you have more than one to choose from. Otherwise, choose an M or L, making sure they understand that the assignment is twofold: (1) to successfully complete the task-at-hand; and (2) to permanently expand their "sweet spot".
  5. Monitor progress to minimize any "gotchas".

You see, the real problem is not your staff's abilities -- it's your willingness to insure that they grow their abilities.

This go-to game makes that apparent because the game does not allow you to delegate an assignment to an H if you only have one to choose from. It's, therefore, incumbent upon YOU to nurture and grow your go-to people more purposefully than you might otherwise.

What this game also makes apparent is that it's not all that difficult to "frame" an assignment in terms of an individual's sweet spot, regardless of who that individual is. That's a very powerful competency to have.

If you stick with it, you'll soon have far more options, when delegating, than just a chosen few. And that's the whole point.

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Developing Your Leadership Development Plan

Welcome to 2009. Here's wishing it's the best one yet for you - at work and in life! From a work standpoint, what's developing with respect to your leadership development efforts? What are your plans with respect to what I like to call the five Key Domains of Leadership?
GottaGettaCoach! Key Leadership Domains
Key Leadership Domain #1 - Managing UP the Chain. Establishing and maintaining - and growing - your relationship with your boss and others above you in the organization, is an essential component of being properly recognized (and rewarded) for your results. Too, it helps determine how much of your boss' value-added flows back down to you. That said, take a moment to list out 3-5 new things you can try to meaningfully improve how you manage UP the chain and commit to putting at least one of them in play this week.

Key Leadership Domain #2 - Managing DOWN the Chain. Effectively leading A-caliber players is one thing, but more likely than not, your leadership success will ultimately be determined by how you lead your B- and C-caliber staff. Getting people to consistently over-achieve is a definite leadership competency. That said, take a moment to list out 3-5 new things you can try to meaningfully improve how you manage DOWN the chain and commit to putting at least one of them in play this week.

Key Leadership Domain #3 - Managing ACROSS the Chain. Leading without formal authority is another essential competency in business. Without an ability to influence your peers and get them to willingly follow your lead, you significantly limit your organizational impact. That said, take a moment to list out 3-5 new things you can try to meaningfully improve how you manage ACROSS the chain and commit to putting at least one of them in play this week.

Key Leadership Domain #4 - Managing OUTSIDE the Chain. Vendor personnel, contract employees, consultants, industry contacts and connections ... valuable resources, all. That said, take a moment to list out 3-5 new things you can try to meaningfully improve how you manage OUTSIDE the chain and commit to putting at least one of them in play this week.

Key Leadership Domain #5 - Managing YOURSELF. Although isolated here for simplicity sake, your ability to make meaningful improvements in any of the aforementioned domains is contingent upon your ability to manage yourself ... and the gap between your self-perceptions and how others - up, down, across, and outside the chain - perceive you. That said, take a moment to list out 3-5 new things you can meaningfully try to improve how you manage YOURSELF and commit to putting at least one of them in play this week.

Effective leadership development best happens when it's more than just an ad hoc effort. Taking a few moments you take here, in January, to develop your leadership development plan will likely yield considerably better results than by just winging it.

So what are some things you're likely to list out - and focus on - this year? Who can you encourage to work on this exercise, as well?

(For more on the five Key Leadership Domains, see:

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Friday, April 11, 2008

An SEO - that is, Leadership - Audit and Upgrade

How does SEO (search engine optimization) connect with you becoming a better leader?

Whether you know anything about getting better website rankings on Google, or not, let's take a closer look courtesy of Website Magazine, and author Dante A. Monteverde, as to commonalities between improving organic search engine placements and leadership excellence:

  • SEO Resolution: "Resolve to complete an SEO audit of your website." The idea here is that there are all sorts of things behind the scenes on a website (like meta tags, alt tags, keyword phrases, and h1, h2, and h3 tags, as example) that can affect search engine rankings. so too with your leadership style.

GGCI Leadership Corollary: "Resolve to complete an audit of your leadership infrastructure." That is, look behind the scenes at what helps you lead how you lead. How effectively do you keep track of (and hold others accountable for) the things you delegate?

How effectively do you keep track of (and honor) the commitments you make? How sufficiently do you prepare for difficult conversations? What tone and mood do you bring to work each day? Objectively audit such leadership infrastructure elements and upgrade, as necessary.

  • SEO Resolution: "Resolve to update your content." In website parlance, this refers to adding new materials to your website so that it's interesting enough for people come back to it to see what's new and what else they can learn from it. GottaGettaBlog! is an example of one way to do that.

GGCI Leadership Corollary: "Resolve to further your leadership discussions." What new aspects of leadership are you learning and sharing with your staff, colleagues, upper management, and vendor contacts, about leadership? What subtleties of human performance and motivation are you studying?

What questions do you have about effectively leading people that you can incorporate into your conversations with others? Objectively audit your leadership conversations and upgrade, as necessary.

  • SEO Resolution: "Resolve to obtain new incoming links." One of the ways that Google and the other search engines determine where a site should be placed on its rankings is by how many other sites have hyperlinks to that site. The basic idea is that as more and more sites refer to another site in its own content, the value of that other site is continually enhanced. (No wonder they call it link love!!)

GGCI Leadership Corollary: "Resolve to help others say good things about you." It's long been know that the more that people say good things about you - especially if they're people from other departments - the better raises and bonuses you'll likely get. (See More Needed Than Good Work, a blog posting I did on this topic almost four years ago!)

People who do this effectively are called network entrepreneurs as they recognize the value derived from building their personal and professional contacts and connections with an entrepreneurial zeal.

The thing to remember is that people can't say good things about you - even if they want to - if they don't know what good things you've been up to. Objectively audit how good of a network entrepreneur you are and upgrade, as necessary.

The article goes on to identify other key SEO Resolutions, as well, but I think you get the point:

It's probably a good time to audit - and upgrade - your Leadership Style, as necessary, yes?!

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Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Mentoring - category archives

Follow this link to the GottaGettaBlog! archives for more postings from Barry Zweibel on the topic of: Mentoring.