The Secret of Exceptional Coaching

I have spent the better part of the last 19 years teaching mid-to-senior-level leaders how to more effectively coach for performance. My clients have included thousands of successful men and women in some of the world’s best organizations. These talented professionals have advanced degrees, upwards of 40 years’ of leadership and management experience, and sometimes even advanced coaching certifications. Many consider themselves to be highly skilled at coaching. Some are, most are not. It is not that all of these exceptional men and women do not understand what great coaching entails. Having asked thousands of leaders in many parts of the world to tell me about their own personal best coach—someone who had a profound and significant impact on them becoming the person and professional they are today—I know they understand it well. Some tell me about their mother or father, a grade school math teacher or football coach, a first boss, or, better still, their current supervisor (although I hear this less frequently than I should). When I ask them to tell me about the character of their own best coach, the relationship they shared, and if there is something that this coach did or said that they still [...]

By |2020-03-06T01:55:16-08:00March 5th, 2020|Leadership, Leadership Coaching, Leading Culture, Self-Mastery|

The CEO Magazine – Up Your Mental Game For Your Strongest Business Year Ever

This article first appeared in The CEO Magazine 2019. Up your mental game for your strongest business year ever When stress builds it becomes harder to relax and enjoy your downtime. It’s time to take back control of your thought processes so you can raise your mental game. A number of clients have recently shared that last year turned out to one of the hardest. Whether their situation involved a merger, an acquisition, a significant restructure, a new (and much bigger) job, and/or a significant family illness or loss, it seems that many today feel that life is becoming more challenging and complex, and that fulfillment and success are more elusive than ever before which impacts your mental game. I feel so anxious on Sundays. Why did I spend my entire weekend ruminating over that conversation? Why do I struggle so much in being present at home? I am not sure I am having fun anymore. During the course of a single day, we each handle countless relationships and tasks, and then judge ourselves ad nauseam. We might feel grateful for a special moment we enjoyed with our partner, be excited we won the big deal, and feel on top [...]

By |2020-02-06T13:09:02-08:00February 6th, 2020|Leadership, Self-Mastery|

FORBES – Become A Better Communicator: One Simple Change That Changes Everything

As published in Forbes.  Listen to others speak, and one of the first things you will notice is how often people use words like “we,” “you,” “one” or “they” when they are really talking about themselves. For example: We are getting frustrated … You try to connect with millennials, but … If one hasn’t bought into the idea, then … They might not trust him … One of the smallest and most powerful changes we can make to significantly improve our communication is to replace these four words with “I”: I am getting frustrated … I try to connect with millennials, but … I have not bought into the idea, so … I don’t trust him … This one simple change changes everything, and it has a big payoff. When I speak from my own experience, my listener(s) experience me as more authentic, transparent and, often, trustworthy, all qualities we seek and expect from those we work with and through. Using “I” creates more trust because it actually is a more honest way to communicate. When I use the word “I,” I no longer get to hide behind vague identities like “one.” Instead, I immediately take ownership and accountability by [...]

By |2020-01-29T12:01:48-08:00January 29th, 2020|Leadership, Leadership Communication, Leading Culture, Self-Mastery|

Keynote At Pebble Beach: The Inner Game of Executive Leadership

This past November we gave a keynote to 40 CEOs of some of the largest credit unions in the United States. The #1 and #2 “Best Places to work” in the entire nation were among them. The event was held at the beautiful, world-class Pebble Beach. What we shared with our audience, we will now share with you. You are a success. You have reached the pinnacle of success. You are a C-suite/executive-level leader of a value-based organization that serves thousands, no doubt positively impacting many more people in the communities and businesses in which you operate. Well done! It is extremely important to your future leadership impact and success that you really accept this acknowledgement. Why? Because what you do inside of yourself you will do with others out there. If we cannot acknowledge, validate, and champion ourselves, we simply can never do this well for others. In your role, it is imperative that you easily and frequently acknowledge, validate, and champion those in your care. Nothing could matter more than you feeling good. And by good we mean whole, loved, enough; valued, seen, recognized; alive, excited, inspired… Why? Simply because your life matters. Because you feeling good will [...]

By |2020-01-29T11:44:15-08:00December 1st, 2019|Leadership, Self-Mastery|

FORBES: The Thrill of Seeking Mastery

As published in Forbes. Photo credit: Lori Ann Hansen Photography As a senior leadership coach, I am a human behaviorist, an avid reader and a life-long student. I know that working on myself is a critical requirement for effectively helping others. I would like to tell you that this work has always come naturally and easily to me and that I have been a willing and eager student of myself, but that would be an outright lie. Only a decade ago, I recall telling my professors, who had strongly encouraged me to visit the on-staff counselor, that although I was certain that kind of professional help was needed by my classmates, I myself did not require it. I am sure they struggled to keep a straight face. The irony now is not lost on me. Here I was completing my master’s degree so I could advance leaders by having them look at themselves and how they interact, react and impact others, while I was unwilling to do the same. Worse, I actually believed I had no personal work to do. Now, that is the definition of arrogance. Today, I still struggle to master myself in terms of my inner thoughts and [...]

FORBES: More Humanity. Not Less.

As published in Forbes. Every true act of leadership has only one purpose: to make life better. As such, leadership is rooted in our humanity. It is curious then that so often we hide ourselves within a professional mask of what we think we ought to do and be, only to lose connection, both with ourselves and the people we are meant to serve. When we approach leadership, human “resources,” recruiting, coaching and professional development via mechanical methods, we generally miss the mark entirely. There are a lot of good leaders today. However, too often they lack the one quality that would make them truly great: their humanity. You see, being human is hard. Perhaps the hardest thing we ever do. After all, we seek leadership positions to fulfill our desire for power, control and authority. Yet to be human is to be weak and vulnerable, something most of us fight against our entire lives (and why we love superheroes, as they allow us, if only briefly, to escape our very limited human form). We don’t really understand the power of our humanity until life forces us to our knees, generally through challenging events like job loss, divorce, aging, illness [...]

By |2017-12-20T09:45:13-08:00December 20th, 2017|Leadership, Leadership Communication, Self-Mastery|

FORBES: Leading in Relationships. The Subtle Work of Self-Mastery

As published in Forbes. Several years ago I was asked to design a session that could build upon the skills of my peers: world-class speakers, senior facilitators, coaches, and business development professionals. The meeting would be held in New York, at the incredible Mohonk Mountain Retreat, and new colleagues from the Middle East and South America would be there. For weeks I labored over what I could impart that had the greatest potential to assist each person, given they all held slightly different roles. One of the ideas I shared that day is what I call the “horse and dog analogy.” It is a concept I now know to be relevant to all professionals, regardless of field, title or position. Thus, it is one I will share with you. When I was younger, I used to think that if I were an animal I would be a horse. Horses are sensitive creatures. As prey animals, they constantly read their environment. If you approach a horse with fear, the horse will mirror you and become fearful. However, if you enter a corral and think kind thoughts, the horse will come to you. Horses match emotion for emotion. Being highly sensitive, this [...]

By |2017-12-18T12:27:24-08:00August 18th, 2017|Leadership, Self-Mastery|

FORBES: What Really Defines Leadership in Today’s World?

As published in Forbes. Lately, I have been thinking about what makes a leader in today’s world. Are we leaders simply because others report to us, or because we are responsible for an area of the business? Are we leaders because we have a future vision that no one else seems to be able to see just yet? Or is the answer that we are only leaders when others are following? After all, how can we call ourselves leaders if, when we turn around, no one is following us or the initiatives we need them to support? After much contemplation, I propose that a leader today is someone who sparks in us a desire to help. In our networked, matrixed, dotted-lined, ever-changing organizational structures, a leader today must be a follower tomorrow, and vice versa. Therefore, we are not leaders simply because of our titles or responsibilities, nor are we leaders because we have a vision for the future. What makes us leaders is our ability to connect with others in a way that makes them want to help us. I once received an email from a new colleague in Asia. This colleague needed information she hoped I could provide. [...]

Presence: Where Do You Think You’re Going?

In The Road Less Traveled, author M. Scott Peck makes the claim that life is difficult. On the surface, I agree. Being a spiritual entity in a heavy, physical body on this dark, dense, material plane is definitely no picnic. Our bodies never look how we want them to look, they rarely function as we hope, they break down often, and, eventually, they fail each and every one of us. This is one thing we know for certain. So it is that each of us is trapped in a limiting form and bound by time. Of course, life is difficult! What an inherently frustrating experience this is. I know I am so much more than I can show you in this physical form and in the short amount of time I have. I suspect you feel the same. This is why many of us cannot accept the present moment. It is also why so many of us focus our time and energy solely on getting to what we believe will be a better place. We are working to make our image of ourselves a reality. “This is not yet me,” we all unconsciously say. We are simultaneously inspired and envious [...]

By |2017-12-18T12:18:27-08:00March 18th, 2017|Leadership, Leadership Communication, Self-Mastery|

Right Here & Now: The use of immediacy in coaching

“I just think we got off on the wrong foot,” he said. Mark* was the senior vice-president of a multinational technology company and this was the reason he gave me as to why he had called the sponsor asking if he could work with another coach. When I heard this, I responded calmly: “Look Mark, I am more than happy for you to work with another coach. In fact, I will facilitate an introduction immediately following our call. However, before I do that, let’s look at what occurred in our brief relationship, as I suspect an important learning opportunity exists right here. You game?” I knew that what my client was trying to do was escape me. Simply providing him with another coach would have been easy, but adult development and changes in behavior do not come through easy actions. Although I could sense his skepticism, I give Mark full credit for being open to further discussion. I was able to share with him the key moments I believed had affected our relationship, the kinds of behaviors I suspected were limiting his success with others. I began: “Yes, we did get off on the wrong foot. And isn’t this something [...]