Executive coaching

The real meaning of CEO – Chief Emotion Officer

Posted by on Jun 13, 2014 in Executive coaching, Leadership Development, Leadership practices | 0 comments

The Summer 2014 issue of Harvard Business Review OnPoint features a selection of their best articles on “Emotional Intelligence: The Essential Ingredient to Success.” Given that this issue is on news stands now, this is a good time to remind ourselves that emotional intelligence is the pathway to success in relationships and results.   We typically think of the CEO as Chief Executive Officer. “Executive”, used in this case as an adjective meaning “having the power to put plans, actions, or laws into effect.” What is the source of power that ignites people to positive action? Because as we’ve seen in more case studies than Harvard Business Review could cover in a year’s worth of issues, not all people in positions of power are able to achieve positive results or impact through the plans they enact or the actions they take.   What is the source of power that connects people’s strengths to business purpose, inspires them to choose excellence, and sees them living out core values? Time and again we see the evidence, in our businesses, communities, and in the research that emotional intelligence is the source of that positive power. Be Chief Emotion Officer first and you have the presence that powers engagement, action, resilience, and collaboration to achieve what matters most. To be effective with execution, we must first be effective with emotion. The good news is that emotional intelligence is a practice that anyone with a brain can develop. Hmmm, that line sounds sarcastic doesn’t it? Really though, our brains have the ability to develop and grow in emotional intelligence. As an executive coach working with individuals and teams, I find that when we get started most people believe their emotional intelligence is fixed. What we discover is that individually and collectively, everyone can grow and develop their emotional intelligence. Whether you choose to engage a coach or not, this is a practice that’s worth every leader and aspiring leader’s attention. One of the excerpts in this issue of HBR OnPoint is Primal Leadership: the Hidden Driver of Great Performance by Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee. McKee is co-founder of the Teleos Leadership Insitute with Frances Johnston. Between them they have co-authored 2 other great books on Emotional Intelligence, Renewal, and Sustaining One’s Self, Relationships, and Effectiveness over time. I recommend these books to people I work with and mentor: Resonant Leadership: Renewing Yourself and Connecting with Others Through Mindfulness, Hope, and Compassion and Becoming a Resonant Leader:Develop Your Emotional Intelligence Renew Your Relationships, Sustain Your...

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Questions: the ultimate creative tool for leaders

Posted by on May 2, 2014 in Appreciative Inquiry, Executive coaching, Leadership Development, Leadership practices, Team Building, Transforming conflict and adversity | 0 comments

Questions: the ultimate creative tool for leaders

“I’m not creative, haven’t got a creative bone in my body” said a business leader participating in a session I was leading. Then he turned and asked the group a question that started a most creative conversation. It was like witnessing a group of kids with a fresh set of finger-paints. This leader’s question opened a creative space his colleagues couldn’t fill fast enough with insights, adding color and details to each other’s ideas, alternately jumping in with excitement and pausing to see what was taking shape before adding more. When we hear “creative” we often think paintbrushes or clay. Certainly artistic endeavors are forms of creative expression but all creativity is not limited to making art. Effective leaders use questions as their preferred creative tool. Their questions evoke, stimulate, and engage. The key is to choose creative over destructive questions. Questions that move people in the direction of possibility versus impossibility.  Imagine questions that invite people to turn to each other to create, instead of turning on each other in blame or fear. Try this exercise. Read the question below and envision the thoughts and feelings this question would bring about: What do we do if this thing goes south? When we ask people to envision things going wrong, they feel the emotions associated with or at least the fear of things going wrong. Those images and emotions create a downward energy spiral in which imagination, empowerment, and confidence shut down. Read the next two questions and envision the thoughts and feelings these questions would create: What if we were on the other side of this challenge looking back at ourselves with pride about what we did and how we did it? How can we bring out the best in ourselves as we figure this thing out? When people envision themselves responding successfully, they free up positive energy and mental capacity to innovate, collaborate, and act. Most importantly, these questions help build relationships because people are invited to turn to each other. And that matters because relationships among people are the pathway to creating the results we need most for our...

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Don’t break bad habits, appreciate them instead.

Posted by on Mar 4, 2014 in Executive coaching, Leadership Development, Slider, Transforming conflict and adversity | 0 comments

Don’t break bad habits, appreciate them instead.

How much time and energy have you spent trying to break bad habits? Perhaps you, or someone you know, are like many of my new clients. A bad habit or two have been identified and now solutions are being sought to break the habit. Since previous attempts made on her or his own have not resulted in the desired change, new clients often come to me saying “I need to stop …” You would think this is where we’d focus in our work together: what is the bad habit and what discipline can be put in place to break it? Like the good old-fashioned “swear jar” in which the person trying to break a swearing habit places $1 in a jar every time she utters a profanity. After years of focusing on bad habits and the rigors required to break them, I have discovered this rarely works for sustained success. Many of us can behaviorally “hold our breath” and pause a bad habit for a period of time but focusing on what we do not want will eventually lead us right back to what we are trying so hard to reject. Instead of focusing on the bad habit and how to break it, focus on the good habit that will replace the bad one. – If I no longer do “x” what am I doing instead?  – What will I do instead that is helpful, healthful, aligned with my values, or directing me toward my goals? Once we are clear about the good habit, what it looks, sounds, and feels like, then we ask: What strengths, talents, experiences, and knowledge do I already have to enact this good habit? Through this discovery, which is based on Appreciative Inquiry, here is what we find. Most of us have a core of strengths, talent, knowledge, previous successes, or valuable experiences already going for us that we can tap into to build good habits. By defining the good habit we want and discovering what we already have at our disposal as we get started – even if it is just the knowledge of what the good habit looks like when practiced by others – we unleash the powerful combination of positive energy and constructive action to build a beneficial new habit. This means we do not undertake the desired change empty-handed but rather with an inventory of useful talents, assets, and knowledge to be activated, repurposed, or leveraged in support of the new habit. Turns out that turning our goals into good habits is the best path to achieving them. This Forbes.com article, “The Surprising Activity That Helps You Reach Your Goals” by authors Senia Maymin, Ph.d and Margaret H. Greenberg details the results of a study on what most helps people achieve goals: “visualizing good habits, good outcomes, or both” This study revealed that envisioning good habits made the greatest positive difference to goal achievement. People often challenge this approach with the concern that strengths-based approaches mean ignoring what is not working. Working from strengths somehow means we brush aside or deny that something may somewhere be wrong. This is not at all the case. Instead we shift the way we view what is not working. We recognize that what is not working, what frustrates or challenges us are useful as guideposts to point us toward what we need and want. This is especially important in the case of what we label as bad habits. These habits are actually choices we are making to meet one of our enduring human needs. Instead of berating or shaming ourselves over a bad habit, we...

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What you and Tom Hanks have in common

Posted by on Oct 31, 2013 in Executive coaching, Leadership Development, Team Building, Transforming conflict and adversity | 0 comments

What you and Tom Hanks have in common

The actor Tom Hanks loves stories of survival, ingenuity, and triumph. We are drawn to his portrayals of real life and fictional characters because he is so relatable in the face of extraordinary odds and extreme adversity. From the real-life Apollo 13 to the fictional Castaway, Hanks enlivens stories that are both inspirational and instructional. You might be thinking, “Inspirational sure, but instructional? No way am I going to perform dental work on myself with an ice skate!” (If you haven’t already seen Castaway, sorry for the spoiler.) Castaway and Apollo 13 are entertainment blockbusters – and instruct us in a practice called Appreciative Inquiry (AI) – that equips people to bring about extraordinary results from even the most difficult circumstances. Imagine being stranded in a space module 200,000 miles from earth, the oxygen supply is dwindling and there is no apparent way to get home. That’s the situation in which the Apollo 13 astronauts found themselves. Remember that iconic line, “Houston, we have a problem.” It’s the line everyone associates with Apollo 13, but it’s not the line that turned the mission into one of our most treasured stories of triumph against all odds. Rather, it was the instruction at mission control that engineers should collect only things that were already on board the module, and using only those resources, innovate a solution. And innovate they did. They instructed the astronauts to build an oxygen filter from a tube sock, duct tape, and a binder cover, among other things. In the practice of Appreciative Inquiry we call this ‘Discovery” – the search for what we already have going for us. It is the first step when faced with any difficult reality. Many leaders meet adversity by asking “What’s our next step?” or “Whose fault is this?” In reality we are best served by asking ‘Where are we” (that’s defining reality) followed by asking ‘What do we have going for us?” Once we know exactly where we are and what we have at our disposal, we can create and chart the way forward. The next time you find yourself stranded on a desert island or faced with a drastic cut in resources while needing to deliver the same level of service and quality, don’t ask “What do we do now” instead begin with “What do we have going for us?” Clients I have worked with over the years have been amazed at the depth of strengths, skills, resources, and values they actually have at their disposal. Strengths that can be repurposed (like the skates in Castaway) or reused (like the tube socks in Apollo 13) This may not be rocket science. Yet the reality for many companies and in many people’s careers is they get stuck, face challenges, and make mistakes. Too often the focus is on the problem or what is wrong with them and how to fix it. What if instead we asked, “what is right” and “how can we engage what is right to build future successes? What do you and Tom Hanks have in common? You love a good story about triumph in the face of adversity and challenge. Beginning with discovery of what you already have at your disposal is the first step in writing such a story for your organization. Photo by John Shearer | Wire Image...

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