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“Don’t Drop the Ball” – Tales from a Woman in Leadership

Written by: Tiffany Patton, Executive Director, Girls on the Run of Middle Tennessee

Over the last 60 years our world has changed a lot, but our expectations of women, not so much! Most women I know work 40+ hours in really demanding jobs –  surgeons, IT managers, attorneys, nonprofit executives – and are still the primary persons responsible for their homes and families. This cuts across many layers and is something that applies to women who are partnered and women who are single, women with kids and women without. Single female friends are often the person responsible for their aging parents and their affairs and even their siblings. I recently told a friend that most people in my life are not aware of just how many balls I am juggling in the air. And while advice like “put yourself first” sounds easy enough, to me it sounds like dropping a ball. And when the ball drops no one will be there to pick it up. And while the ball could be held up by someone else in theory, I can’t afford to drop it and hope for the best. Those balls affect me too.

So what’s a woman to do? I am still figuring it out but here’s what I do know. If you are juggling that many balls, something has already dropped and most likely it’s the things that matter most to you. Maybe the first step to Superwoman, ball juggling recovery is admitting you have a problem. Step two – drop those balls. Let it get messy. Take a risk and put yourself, your health, your sanity and your desires first!

Becoming a Leadership Expert

Written by: Melanie Adams, Executive Director, Center for Executive Education at Belmont University

Next-level leadership often requires an internal shift that comes as a surprise for many of us, and rightly so.  In a leader’s evolution, typically effectiveness early on in one’s career centers on the standard, metrics-driven evaluation of job performance.  This means that as early-career leaders we are judged by how well we know the part of the business that we are managing, how effective we are at directing the workloads of our teams, how clearly we can articulate the needs of the business, which requires that we have a deep understanding of the business itself.  As leaders move into higher-level roles though, responsibilities begin to shift in focus and if we want to maintain our “effectiveness,” we have to align our skills and capacities with the new primary function of our roles: inspiring and leading others.  It is at this point that as leaders we step away from being subject-matter experts about the job functions within the business from which we came, and instead we must work to become the subject matter expert of leadership.

Leadership Starts at the Center… of Who You Are

So how do we make that shift, and become a leadership expert?  I believe that it requires being incredibly intentional about how time is spent as a leader, where we choose to focus our energy and what we allow to become a priority. It starts with you – with striving for self-awareness and with recognizing what is at the core of each of our unique styles and personalities.  From this place of self-knowledge, leaders begin to develop a personal leadership brand that truly fits, that builds confidence and feels empowering and centering.

Another step in becoming the subject matter expert on leading others is the process of seeking out new information and perspectives from other experts.  Our ability to stay in a learning or “growth” mindset is dependent on how often we engage with others who challenge our own points of view and bring new layers of context to the universal challenges of leadership: leading others through organizational change, stepping confidently and masterfully into difficult conversations, balancing the needs of the organization with the needs of the people that make up the organization and creating opportunities that will bring out the highest level of commitment and performance from those we lead.

Next-level leadership often requires an internal shift that comes as a surprise for many of us, and rightly so.  In a leader’s evolution, typically effectiveness early on in one’s career centers on the standard, metrics-driven evaluation of job performance.  This means that as early-career leaders we are judged by how well we know the part of the business that we are managing, how effective we are at directing the workloads of our teams, how clearly we can articulate the needs of the business, which requires that we have a deep understanding of the business itself.  As leaders move into higher-level roles though, responsibilities begin to shift in focus and if we want to maintain our “effectiveness,” we have to align our skills and capacities with the new primary function of our roles: inspiring and leading others.  It is at this point that as leaders we step away from being subject-matter experts about the job functions within the business from which we came, and instead we must work to become the subject matter expert of leadership.

Leadership Starts at the Center… of Who You Are

So how do we make that shift, and become a leadership expert?  I believe that it requires being incredibly intentional about how time is spent as a leader, where we choose to focus our energy and what we allow to become a priority. It starts with you – with striving for self-awareness and with recognizing what is at the core of each of our unique styles and personalities.  From this place of self-knowledge, leaders begin to develop a personal leadership brand that truly fits, that builds confidence and feels empowering and centering.

Another step in becoming the subject matter expert on leading others is the process of seeking out new information and perspectives from other experts.  Our ability to stay in a learning or “growth” mindset is dependent on how often we engage with others who challenge our own points of view and bring new layers of context to the universal challenges of leadership: leading others through organizational change, stepping confidently and masterfully into difficult conversations, balancing the needs of the organization with the needs of the people that make up the organization and creating opportunities that will bring out the highest level of commitment and performance from those we lead.

 

Hire the Right Person for the Job

Written by: Dorene Burkhalter, Leadership Consultant

“Why didn’t I catch this in the interview?” he shares with me.  “I thought he was the perfect candidate.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could turn an interview session into an interrogation in an effort to get to the candidate’s deepest-rooted “issues?”  Slap on a lie detector.  Call everyone they know and ask personal things.  Why not run a bunch of psychological tests on them; heck let’s even draw blood!  You know that enters into the realm of illegal, right?  Statistically, no matter how hard we try to find the perfect person to fill our open position, we’re likely to have a five percent error rate.  But, how can you do a better job hiring the right person and reduce your error rate to just five percent?

Industrial/Organizational Psychologists have studied this very topic for years and have proven methods to help you.  Here are some of the tactics to consider:

  1. As a manager, do you work with your recruiter to identify the minimal qualifications for the job and the questions your recruiter should ask when screening the candidate to decide if he or she is worthy of your leaderships’ interview time?
  2. How realistic are you when describing the organizational culture and job climate? Research has shown that painting a rosy picture of the organization increases voluntary turnover due to the candidate feeling lied to once they learn the actual culture and job climate.
  3. Have you identified with your recruiter the most cost effective tiers (or steps) the candidate will go through during the selection process to weed out the less desired candidates so you can spend more time interacting with the superior candidates?
  4. Did you know that 40% of a resume is false? It’s important for you to plan out probing questions regarding the resume prior to the interview.  For example, the resume may describe the person as having more responsibility than they actually possessed.  Asking the candidate to describe what they were responsible for should give you a more valid interpretation of their level of responsibility.
  5. During the interview, we tend to inquire more about skills than interpersonal attributes needed for the job. But believe me; you’ll want to fire a person for their lack of interpersonal abilities far more than for their level of expertise!  So make sure you identify interpersonal competencies that you want to assess during an interview.
  6. Use behavioral and situational interview questions to assess key job competencies. Past performance predicts future behavior.  A behavioral interview question usually begins with, “Give me an example from one of your past jobs…the most difficult customer you were able to satisfy, or the most creative solution you identified to solve a work-related problem, or how you juggled multiple priorities.
  7. Don’t send a candidate to be interviewed separately with several different people. The worst impression you can make with a candidate is to take up half or all of their vacation day meeting with different people who ask the same questions over and over again.  Conduct panel interviews.  The candidate will walk out with the impression that this organization has its act together!
  8. A hiring decision needs to be triangulated. That means three variables should be used to assist you in making an objective decision – historical data (resume and reference checks), the interview, and testing.  Don’t be afraid of applicant testing.  There are tools out there today that have been created just for assisting in hiring decisions, so they are well validated and reliable.  Just make sure you work with an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist to assist you in selecting the assessments that are right for the job.

One last yet very important item to retaining great hires is your onboarding.  And I mean beyond your organization/human resources onboarding program.  Managers need to have a 30-60-90 day plan which identifies proficiencies to be reached within 90 days and a development plan to help them accomplish those performance expectations.

 

Establishing the Foundation for Effective Teamwork

Establishing the Foundation for Effective Teamwork

How do you unite three global groups into one cohesive team and set them up for success?

Finding a sustainable solution to that question ranked at the top of Darci Kleindl’s task list when she accepted the role of general manager of sales enablement and sales excellence for the Microsoft Business Solutions (MBS) organization within the Dynamics division. With a global team of customer support managers, all of whom work with diverse clientele, and a team of leaders who drive worldwide standards for sales basics and external and internal readiness, Kleindl needed a way to understand her team while redefining their purpose and place in the company.

She decided to create a comprehensive leadership and team development program in order to enrich her work culture with trust, collaboration and accountability.  “I wanted to give my colleagues a picture of who they are, from their own understanding as well as from other people’s perspective,” states Kleindl.  She chose The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team™ to be the foundation of her program.  “It was critical for us to adopt a common language and framework that fit with other models and existing initiatives.  The Five Behaviors provides a comprehensive assessment of the team’s current state while providing clear guidance toward next steps.”

Based on the New York Times best-selling book by Patrick Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Lencioni maintains that the single most untapped competitive advantage is teamwork.  To gain this advantage, teams must:

  • Trust one another,
  • Engage in Conflict around ideas,
  • Commit to decisions,
  • Hold one another Accountable, and
  • Focus on achieving collective

The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team™ program, is an assessment-based learning experience that helps people discover what it takes to build a high-performing team.  Incorporating Lencioni’s five dimensions listed above, the assessment evaluates each participant’s perspective regarding the work team, plus assesses each participant’s personality characteristics.  The personality component of the assessment can be based on All Types, which is specifically designed for teams that currently use tools based on Carl Jung’s theory of psychological types, like the MBTI® instrument[1], as their preferred indicator of personality.  Or, the personality piece of the assessment can be based on the DiSC which assesses people’s tendencies of Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness.

To be a high-performing team in the competitive tech industry is not an easy feat, but with the Five Behaviors set as their foundation, Kleindl’s agile MBS group now has the common language and tools to continuously strengthen their teamwork.  The team’s progress on accountability has allowed them to understand their roles and expectations on an individual level as well as company-wide, which has increased their productivity and visibility as an organization.

The great benefit to this program is that it allows teams to connect their existing language and understanding of personality to The Five Behaviors™ model of trust, conflict, commitment, accountability and results.

Empowering Others Through Questions

Empowering Others through Questions

Professional Coaching Skills for Leaders

Written by: Delia O’Connor-Highfield, Consultant & Executive Coach

There is a time and place for everything. Managing, mentoring, consulting and counseling all have their place and are distinct from the field of professional coaching.  Professional coaching is both a mindset and a practice.  It is not limited to professional coaches who work one on one in longer-term engagements with leaders.  Coaching tools can be used “moment to moment” in the workplace, by most anyone.

Coaching is the translation of insight into meaningful action in order to realize potential.  (Cylient)

A coaching approach is inherently empowering.   Empowerment is the process of an individual enabling himself to take action and control work and decision-making in autonomous ways.  Empowerment comes from the individual.  Coaching allows the individual to self-direct their learning and action steps.   Here are a few suggestions for getting started:

Coaching Tips for Leaders at all Levels

  1. Coaching Focus:
  • On the person you are coaching (not the problem) in order to support their insights (not yours). Once insight is achieved, support them into taking new action steps.
  1. Coaching Mindset:
  • Listening: genuinely listening to the person with an open mind. Understanding the situation from their perspective and listening deeply so that you hear the heart of the situation.
  • Curiosity: asking questions with a curious mindset, continually exploring and learning. Not asking questions from an expert perspective or from having the ‘right’ answer.
  • Presence: You have to be present to effectively coach. Commit to putting everything aside (physically and mentally) for the moments you are in a coaching conversation.
  • Appreciative tone: Valuing, recognizing, and affirming what is already working, the best in others, their strengths, etc
  1. Coaching Practice:
  • Identify: Consider when a coaching approach is needed.  For example:
    • Something is not getting done or moving forward
    • Complaining or making excuses
    • Have a unique challenge
    • Readiness for new challenge or development
  • Questions: use questions that promote reflection and insight such as:
    • What does success look like?
    • What are you trying to accomplish?
    • What is holding you back?
    • What do you think matters most to the other person?
    • How can you be a positive influence in the situation
  • Continue asking insightful questions, or share an observation or even a personal story that supports the learning for the person you are coaching.
  • Taking Action: what action step is possible from the new awareness? Ask them: Based on this conversation, ‘what do you see as the next step for you to         take?’   Or if an action step is not evident, ask them ‘what do you need to reflect on or to learn that would bring more clarity?’The best way to learn is by doing it!  Join us at Belmont’s Center for Executive Education for one-day hands on application of coaching skills in the workplace by attending a Coaching in the Moment Workshop!

Developing Entrepreneurs in Nashville

Written by: Elizabeth Gortmaker, Director of Entrepreneurship, Belmont University

Entrepreneurs, by nature, are creative. They are the thinkers, the doers, the drivers of new development. They imagine what is possible and then make it happen. Today, we have more students around the world studying entrepreneurship than ever before. It is an exciting time to celebrate and support these students and their ideas. At Belmont University, we seek to foster and encourage that creativity in our students.

Belmont University’s Center for Entrepreneurship offers a hands-on approach to help students hit the ground running. One of the many ways we do this is through our student-run business program which gives student entrepreneurs an opportunity to run a retail space on campus. This program provides students the opportunity to manage all aspects of a retail business – from developing the business plan to hiring new staff, managing inventory, and promoting the business through marketing campaigns. The students gain tremendous experience by working in the store and seeing their ideas come to life.

Our newest student-run business, House Of (www.HouseOfNashville.com), opened its doors in April 2016 and has since become something much bigger than we could have imagined.

Nashville has the third largest concentration of independent designers behind New York and Los Angeles. You see it all around you, from fashion designers, to graphic artists and jewelry makers. This vast creative community has been steadily growing in Nashville without much of a support system. That is, until the Nashville Fashion Alliance was formed in 2015. Today, the NFA provides valuable resources to over 200 designers. Their mission is “to incubate and accelerate emerging fashion brands through four primary pillars of work: Advocacy, Education, Shared Resources and Economic Development.”

Around the same time the NFA was forming, students from one of our on-campus businesses were experiencing challenges with their current business model. Their store, Feedback Clothing Co., had thrived for 5 years as it sold inexpensive clothing to college age girls. But as online shopping became more popular, Feedback needed to differentiate itself and evolve to continue to provide value to the customer.

We began talking with the Nashville Fashion Alliance with the hopes of carrying a few local designers and engaging in the Nashville fashion community. Six months later, we had a completely new business plan and began revamping the space. In those six months, our students had developed a business model that would provide a new retail experience, support the Nashville Fashion Alliance, and become a tremendous resource for the local design community.

House Of exclusively carries local designers and features clothing for men and women, home goods, accessories, and apothecary goods. Each staff member is matched with a local designer and helps support the designer’s business needs. House Of is an exciting learning environment for the students as it provides a retail location for up-and-coming designers. These designers are then able to sell unique merchandise to the Nashville community. It is a full circle of support that fosters creativity for all parties involved.

We worked with Fort Houston to build out the custom interior so that everything in the store is local, even down to the shelves. Ryan Schemmel (a Belmont alum) founded Fort Houston with Josh Cooper in 2011. Fort Houston is a maker space that features a wood shop, metal shop, 3D printer, and various other resources for local makers. Ryan and Josh were supportive of the House Of concept and worked with the students to design a custom space that was flexible, unique, and served the needs of the store. House Of’s mission is all about supporting local talent, so it only made sense to work with local makers who could design and build the shelves, clothing rods, and furniture. The end product is a beautifully designed space that showcases the expertise of Fort Houston.

Nashville is a wonderfully vibrant city. I’ve seen it change dramatically over the past decade, but the one thing that remains constant is the thriving creative community that drives so much of what makes Nashville special. At Belmont University, we are equipping our entrepreneurial students to become the movers and shakers in our city. Our approach encourages creativity while also grounding them in a strong business education. By bringing together our students, the NFA, Fort Houston, and numerous local designers, we’ve built a new retail experience in our city.

House Of has become a home for new local designers, and we know it will continue to support and enhance Nashville’s wonderful creative community.

 

Managing a Generational Workforce

For the first time in history five generations occupy the workplace The Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, and Generation Z. The combination of individuals whose age span 50 years can be powerful as see in the Ann Hathaway Robert di Nero movie The Intern. The movie showcases Robert di Nero’s character, a member of the Silent Generation becomes an intern for Ann Hathaway’s character, a member of Generation Y. The mixing of these two generations initially proves challenging because of differences such as work style, and communication, eventually the differences are leveraged for success.

Generations are cohorts of individuals born during a 15-20 year span and have experienced similar events during their formative years that shape general beliefs and values. Events such as the civil rights movement, the assignation of MKL and JFK, the Challenger explosion, Columbine, 9/11, the 2008 economic downturn, and technological advances impact all individuals, yet to individuals in their formative years is impact is foundational.

By 2020 Generation Y or often called the Millennial Generation will comprise fifty percent of the US workplace. Much generational discussion today centers around differing work style, communication style and value structure of the Millennials.  The Baby Boomers constructed the environments many of us work in today such as work days, work weeks, vacation policies, and compensation structures. When Generation X entered the workforce the workplace remained mostly unchanged. Individuals could “request” modifications such as flex time, work sharing schedules or family time off, yet the sheer lack of numbers from this generation impacted only sporadic change.

Generation Y is unwilling to work in an environment that won’t adapt to its needs. Baby Boomers and Generation Y are essentially the same size –74.9 million versus 75.4 million respectively. Generation Y’s size threatens organizational structures with demanding work style differences. Millennials garner power behind its large numbers and its relationship to work is completely different than the generations before. Organizations all over are looking for a magic solution to get “them” to adhere to current work environments. Instead, managers must realize them– not the Millennials who must change. Millennials will not conform to the work/life balance of their parents who were Baby Boomers. They demand different work environments, different compensation structures, and different opportunities. Individuals from this generation are less interested in health care, vacations spaced six months apart or lifelong employment. Millennials can stay on their parents’ healthcare plans until age 26, adventure vacations require several weeks of vacation, and 3-5 years is the planned tenure with any one company.

Millennials seek a work/life balance on their terms not one set by their parents, they want options when it comes to compensation packages, they crave community both in and out of the workplace, and are unaccustomed to consequences. They are curious to understand the “why” of their work. They are driven to understand the purpose of their work in relation to the bigger picture. Managers who understand Millennials will be rewarded with a creative, excited and unique workforce. Managing a multi-generational workforce presents challenges yet once clearly understood, the differences can be leveraged for great outcomes

5 Steps for a Successful Business Development Event

Written by: Kimberly Bean – Owner/Partner, KBT Creative Support Services

Plan/Research/Study/Prepare/Execute

In preparing and planning for an event with the purpose of generating more business there are several important factors to consider.  As an event coordinator, you are a project manager from inception to completion of the entire production.  A good plan begins with a comprehensive list of needs, expectations and priorities.  If you do not have a clear vision, it is unlikely the event will yield the outcomes desired.  Communication is indispensable with goals and achievements clearly defined.

Research is a vital component in order to connect with your desired audience.  In the world of event planning, you are only as good as your last event.  Potential clients are often attendees and have witnessed your work firsthand, others have heard from colleagues.  Reputation and attention to detail are absolutes in this business.  You must also be a fierce advocate for your clients, while practicing transparency and understanding suppliers – it can be challenging to maintain good relationships in tough situations, but integrity speaks volumes of your character and work ethic.  Word travels quickly within the meeting planning industry and the business community, your work is distinctive and unique.

It is essential to know your audience and what makes them tick.  Often, it isn’t the most sumptuous of details that are appreciated; it is a mix of creativity, design and genuine hospitality.  When a client knows an event manager has their back and acts on their behalf in a sincere manner, trust is gained.  Expertise is proven by relationships formed along the way and a strong business partnership is developed when goals are achieved, events are successful – which makes the client look good, communication is consistent with good or bad news and budgets are respected.  Records must be maintained and easily accessible and sometimes you must work smarter and harder, however a seamless event (at least from the outside looking in) is the desired outcome, which translates into more business and a legitimate reputation in the event industry.

There are more tools and opportunities available today than ever before to prepare and educate:  event apps, online forums, associations, webinars, books, networking events, volunteering with seasoned professionals and certification courses are all means in which an event manager can learn the latest trends in the industry and tailor a special occasion specifically for a client.  An event manager must be upbeat with the ability to work with many personalities and recognize talent and proficiency in others.  Schedules, agendas, spreadsheets, budgets, risk management, expenditures, vendor quality, employee procurement, processes involved in venue selection, food and beverage management are key in managing and executing an event and growing your business.  You must lead by example and remain positive in the most difficult of circumstances – that is when you shine, confidence is gained and accounts are awarded!

Tis the Season

Written by: Leslie Lenser, Chief Human Resources Officer, Belmont University

The holiday season is here and our thoughts are turning to festive gatherings with family and friends, good food, and, face it – time away from work.  During the coming weeks you may find it challenging to keep employees engaged and motivated.  You can fight this seasonal tendency toward distraction or better yet – embrace it!  Why not seize the season and create holiday memories with your team?

In their latest book The Power of Moments (Simon & Schuster) brothers Chip and Dan Heath, business school professors at Stanford and Duke, respectively, take on the task of how to foster memorable moments in life and at work.  They define these as the moments that bring meaning to our lives, the moments we remember when we look back.  Think that is a tall order for work?  Whether your team is located in one office or spread across the country you can start small by inviting them through email or at a staff meeting to share family holiday memories and traditions.  Listen for themes and look for ways to incorporate those same great feelings into your work environment.

Other suggestions to get employees engaged, motivated and connected to their work family while creating those special “moments” include:

  • Planning festive yet simple parties, pot-luck meals and other team events;
  • Participating in some harmless competition – ugly Christmas sweaters, Christmas cookie bake off, etc.;
  • Sending personal Christmas cards with an individualized message to each employee (or as a surprise twist – send it addressed to the employee’s family thanking them for sharing their family member with your organization);
  • Planning a Dirty Santa or White Elephant Gift exchange –you are sure to create laughs and a one of a kind “gift” that may just keep giving year after year;
  • Scheduling a team charity work day serving meals to the homeless, adopting and shopping for a needy family, etc.

Unfortunately the holidays can also be a stressful time so keep things simple.  The last thing we as leaders should do is add stress to the season.  Help stave off stress by:

  • Preparing ahead for employee time off so you’ll be less likely to “interrupt” with e-mails, texts, or calls;
  • Setting delay delivery on e-mail messages you send to employees who are on vacation. (This is for that employee who has trouble unplugging);
  • Keeping performance expectations realistic. There are many competing priorities this time of year both personal and professional.  Ensure the professional items are relevant and deadlines are appropriate;
  • Celebrating wins and mourning misses – preparing and sharing a year in review that highlights what you have accomplished as a team helps bring closure and allows your team to shine together. It also creates a nice format to put losses behind you and set the stage to start the New Year strong.

Whether you start a Secret Santa gift exchange, provide for a needy family, or wear your ugly Christmas sweater, creating your own team traditions will energize your team, enhance employee engagement and make lasting memories that extend beyond your latest deadline or work project.

Breaking Free From the Imagined Pressures of Being a Good Coach for Others

Written by: Melanie Adams, Executive Director, Center for Executive Education at Belmont University

Of all the pressures- both real and imagined- that I have experienced as a leader, by far the most daunting of them all has been the responsibility to effectively coach others.  A couple of things have contributed to this:  for one, I always felt somewhat hampered by the internal struggle to find the confidence needed to step fully into this role for someone else.  In my mind, coaching always meant that whomever was serving as a “coach” needed to have clear solutions, clear paths forward, and clear advice to offer to others.  And who has that?!  Along with this, I also felt stress due to external struggles to find 1) what I thought were adequate blocks of time to coach others well and 2) a formal, memorize-able process for conducting all of my coaching sessions.  Again, who has time to devote to finding, learning, and regularly using such a formal process while also balancing all the other responsibilities of a working leader?

After years of trying to uphold a standard that I thought necessary in order to do this vital part of any leader’s role, I began to recognize that even though I thought I was failing to be a coach, I actually was engaging with ease and success in several activities that I now know to be coaching activities:

  • I was providing support and encouragement to my peers, colleagues, and team members
  • I was creating learning opportunities through shared tasks
  • I was regularly engaging in “talking things out” with others through collective brainstorming when someone on the team was dealing with a challenge

When the realization hit me a few years ago that coaching was something different than what I imagined, I had a big change in perspective about what it means to be a good coach for others.  Then I was able to fully and confidently step into the role of coach in my daily life.  Daily- Yes, you read that right. Coaching others should be a daily process, one that does not feel formal or have a distinctive, replicated process to it each time.  It is found in those everyday occurrences of working with others.  As we teach in our Coaching in the Moment ™ workshop, coaching opportunities are around us every day, we just have to be intentional about turning those opportunities into conversations.

Along the way, I have also created my own list of Coaching Do’s and Don’ts, based on my own experiences as well as insights that I have gained from working with other leaders.  Most of these are internal in nature- they have to do with the mindset and intentions of the coach.  There are also a couple that fall into the external or communication process of coaching because, while effective coaching does not require a rigorous process to follow, I believe that there are some fundamental best practices that should become part of a coach’s communication process when developing others.

Coaching Don’ts:

  • DON’T enter into a coaching conversation if you are pressed for time. Although being an effective coach does not require big chunks of your time, if something else is competing for that moment during the day, your ability to remain focused and available to the person you are coaching will be diminished and that will have an effect on the outcome.
  • DON’T try to coach when your intent and care for an individual aren’t truly present. The model for effective coaching that I use and that we teach in our CEE programs is only really useful when you have genuine care for the other person’s success.  If this key ingredient is missing, it is best not to try to be a coach for that person.
  • DON’T start into the coaching conversation by giving answers or suggestions for what to do next. Though it comes from a good place of really wanting to be helpful, if your role as a coach is to really help someone along their own path of development, the best thing you can do as a coach is NOT give an answer or solution.  Instead, be a source of support as the person you are coaching works to develop his or her own new insight in how to move forward.

 

Coaching Do’s:

  • DO consider how the person you are coaching experiences you in the conversation. I have found that the best coaches I have ever had are rather humble in nature.  They don’t show up with a noticeable ego and they don’t spend time touting their own experiences and achievements- even if they have had them in spades and have legitimate reason to brag.  Instead, they express a quiet sort of humility, which further shows who they are really there for: the other person, not themselves.  Which leads me to my next point…
  • DO remember that coaching is about their story, not yours. Keep the focus on how you can best support the person you are coaching, and keep the sharing of your own similar experiences to a minimum.
  • Finally, DO start with questions. Questions are the most powerful of all communication tools we have available to us.  When we have the ability to inquire first as to the position, perspective or ponderings of others, we get to see more than just our own perspective from the very beginning of the conversation.  As a coach, this helps us to consider supporting in ways that work best for the other person.

 

Coaching is not about having all the answers- in fact, a good friend of mine- who happens to work with top leaders all over the country as an executive coach- says that it actually works better if you DON’T have all the answers.  That way, you aren’t inclined to guide the person to an already determined outcome and you aren’t tempted to be the “problem- solver” for them.  Instead, you can show up in full support of the person you are coaching, and let the care and concern you have for his or her personal progress, development and success be the guiding force in those coaching moments.

 

Happy Coaching!

8 Tips for Millennials Managing Gen Xers and Baby Boomers

Written by: Bobbie Jo Jenkins, Sr. Manager of Programs & Marketing

Multiple generations within the workplace is a common topic today, specifically regarding Millennials and the best practices to manage and engage them. There are multiple books and articles with tips and tools for the leader of a Millennial, but very few that assist the current Millennial manager.

Based on the Pew Research Center analysis of monthly 1994 and 2017 Current Population Surveys (http://www.pewresearch.org/facttank/2018/04/11/millennials-largest-generation-us-labor-force/), Millennials became the largest generation (35%) in the workforce in 2016 and are no longer the youngest. The Post-Millennial (aka Gen Z) is now 5% of the work population and the percentage of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers currently in the workforce is at its lowest. Millennials are being promoted and charged with leading two generations that are older and have more experience and a new generation that is just stepping in to the workforce.

In leadership courses at the Center for Executive Education, we discuss how in the early stages of a career it is required that professionals be a subject matter expert on a specific topic; however, as an individual is promoted the need to become a subject matter expert of people is a necessity. Each individual is unique and managers should learn the communication styles of team members to be effective, but each generation shares a background that can lead to common workplace needs and tendencies within the group. Below are a few tips for the new Millennial manager that is leading the Gen X and Baby Boomer generations.