Posts Tagged ‘Executive coaching’

When Perfect Isn’t Perfect

January 30th, 2017 • by Laura Scott •

As a reformed perfectionist, I understand the appeal of perfection. Whether it’s the aesthetic appeal of a perfectly cut diamond or the yummy perfection of a beautifully decorated wedding cake, we all appreciate perfection on the occasions it shows up in our lives. We marvel because perfection is so rare and often beautiful.

While perfection is something we all appreciate, we get into trouble when we constantly strive for it. Striving for perfection is a surefire way to set yourself, or others, up for failure and disappointment. And, in most cases, perfection is not necessary, or even good.

Imagine coming into every meeting with the perfect solution. How boring would that be? How would that make your coworkers feel? Imagine if you could not leave your house until every hair was in place and your makeup flawless. How many hours of your life would be consumed with grooming? Who would be waiting, impatient and annoyed? Imagine if every report you presented would be thrown into a fire pit (without a digital copy to rework — horrors!) if it had just one typo or mistake. How would you feel as the author of that report? Yet so many of us strive to achieve perfection in everything we do, and feel disappointment when we can’t.

When I work with senior executive women and they say, “I am a bit of a perfectionist” they are often taken aback when I respond, “perfectionism is a block to success.” But it is true. Perfectionism is the enemy of progress, innovation, and productivity. And perfectionism—practiced as a solo sport—disengages others. Perfect people are just plain annoying.

When I was married I would tell my husband that he was “perfect in his imperfectness” and I believed that. In my thirties, I finally learned to believe that about myself and that new belief changed everything. I began to take delight in the beautiful imperfections that showed up in my world every day: my imperfect smile, the misshapen heirloom tomato, the driftwood on the beach, natural pearls, and the overdone cookies I gobbled down before the guests arrived. I found beauty or value in every one of these things. I understood that God made the perfect and the imperfect as a way to give us contrast and I learned that, like the rose blossom, perfection may be very temporary.

This new belief in the perfection of imperfection freed me from striving for the unattainable. My newfound appreciation for imperfection allowed me to be more creative, more collaborative, less rigid, and less stressed. Most importantly it allowed me to be more compassionate with myself and with others. I understood that we if we valued only that which was perfect we would risk devaluing prototypes, research, opinions, art, cuisine, wine, film, dancing, and our childhood teddy bears.

The reality is that if we expect perfection of ourselves, or others, we will live a life of disappointment. If we strive for perfection we will be crippled by the pressure to perform. If we constantly achieve perfection we will appear less human, and less approachable.

When I was vacationing in Turkey and admiring the beautiful handmade rugs, I was told that the weavers would intentionally weave in a “mistake”— an odd-colored piece of yarn or a break in the pattern — because “only Allah is perfect.” I didn’t spot the “mistake” until the rug merchant pointed it out to me. Step back from the rug, soften your gaze, and the intentional flaw disappears. So I challenge you to make imperfection an art form. Be perfect in your imperfectness.  Be that beautiful rug.

Empowering Questions for the Coach-Centric Leader

August 3rd, 2016 • by Laura Scott •

puzzle peicesWhen I do workshops on Coach-Centric Leadership, we spend a lot of time crafting empowering questions that leaders can use with their teams to empower, engage, and problem solve.

The most challenging thing about this is that sometimes the most empowering questions require that you “play dumb.” When I’m doing a 1:1 meeting with the client I will preface these questions by saying, “Permit me to ask a really dumb question…”

The magic of these “dumb” questions is that they challenge all the assumptions that we are making about what is “true” or possible, we challenge the status quo, and we gain valuable information that otherwise we wouldn’t have uncovered using more direct close-ended questions.

All the best empowering questions start with “What” or “How.” Questions that start with the word “Why” often will put people on the defensive and a person in defensive mode will typically retaliate, clam up, or start to finger point. None of which is good.

I invite you to think about how you can craft four or five open-ended questions starting with “What” or “How” you can have at the ready for those times when you really want to investigate the truth and co-create solutions with your team.

Here’s an example of three empowering questions that I like to use :

“What would be one baby step that you could make this week that would make you feel proud and accomplished and put you closer towards that goal?”

“What are the unknowables that are getting in the way of us moving forward?”

“How might we craft a solution where everybody wins?”

As a coach who has worked with many of the top leaders in a variety of industries, I likely have an answer to all of these questions, but they are flawed, because they are my answers and not my clients.

It’s my job as a coach to empower my clients to craft their own solutions based on their skills, knowledge, and values. The only way I can do that is to shut up and ask the empowering question. And in doing so I learn so much more about my client and what is possible for them and their organizations. The same holds true for the leader. If we can set aside what we know and be curious, we can challenge all of the assumptions, we can exploit the wisdom in the room, and engage and empower others as solution partners.

What Do Coaches Do?

April 5th, 2016 • by Laura Scott • 2 Comments

what do coaches do graphic
At a recent Central Florida chapter meeting of the International Coaches Federation, our table topic question was, “How do you clearly and succinctly describe what you do, so that others fully understand what coaching is?”

The coaches in the room were a diverse group of life or wellness coaches, executive and leadership coaches, business coaches, and career coaches and the responses to this question were similarly diverse, as each type of coach serves their clients in different ways. Here’s a summary of the responses to the question “What do coaches do?”
In general, coaches can help us:
• connect the dots
• be our authentic selves
• take us from good to great
• create a personal brand
• come to the right table
• discover what we really want in life
• find the answers from within ourselves
• get us from where we are, to where we want to be
• be more accountable to ourselves and others
• formulate goals aligned with values
• play nice in the sandbox

The second question we addressed was “What are the most significant barriers that we, as individual coaches, face in educating the general public about the profession of coaching?”

We agreed that the biggest barrier was a lack of education around what coaching really is. A number of coaches recalled clients who had confused psychotherapy or counseling with coaching. Some clients ask for a coach but they really want a consultant — someone to tell them what to do.

Also, in some corporate environments, coaching is perceived as punitive; the perception being that if you’re assigned a coach this is your last chance to clean up your act before they show you the door. However the reality is quite the opposite as the majority of companies utilize coaching to develop their high potential leaders to ready them for the next level of leadership, and to help supervisors and executives develop customized professional leadership plans and to help them achieve their developmental goals.

In my personal experience as an executive coach, I find my clients truly value the confidential space that the professional coach creates and honors. They also appreciate an objective sounding board and the empowering questions that lead them to greater insights into what they really want to achieve, and why. The goal is often to help the client achieve intrinsic motivation vs. external motivation, so that the energy for change or develop comes from the clients’ genuine desire for continuous improvement and well-being.

If you engage with a coach and they start telling you what you need to do, move on. That person is not a coach. The ICF definition coaching is: Partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.

Through extensive training, certified coaches are trained to listen, to observe and to customize their approach to individual client needs. Unlike most other forms of personal development, coaches seek to elicit solutions and strategies from the client.

The underlying belief is that the client is whole, naturally creative and resourceful.

Accessing your “Mad Genius”

March 10th, 2016 • by Laura Scott •

science labRecently, I was on the phone, doing a debrief on an Energy Leadership assessment and asked the respondent how she was expressing her Level 6 energy–the energy of genius thinking and the creative flow state. She responded, “I know intuitively what to do and say, like I am psychic. I am using my intuition but I know I am right.”

After our call, I reflected on what she had said and recalled the times when I was able to totally trust my intuition and access my “mad genius.” You likely have had this experience: You are alone with your thoughts, perhaps on a walk, or in the shower, or leaning back in your chair with your eyes closed, puzzling out a problem, and BAM! a flash of insight comes to you, or a ridiculously perfect idea, and a smile plays on your lips and you feel an immediate need to act or decide, Damn the naysayers!

In this state you feel joy and synergy. You may be getting goose bumps, a tingling sensation, or feeling like there’s butterflies in your stomach. But strangely, NO FEAR!

There is no wrong decision at Level Six because the journey is more important than the destination; everything is happening for a reason; you are accessing wisdom you never even knew you had. You are giddy with excitement!

If this state is something you can only dream about, allow me to make some suggestions on how you might access this level six energy and tap into the mad genius state.

1) Suspend judgment and just ask “What if…?”

2) Breathe into the “What if?” question and wait for a moment

3) Imagine one perfect scenario and then another, and another

4) Smile and open your palms as if you are getting ready to accept a gift of precious gems or gold coins

5) Acknowledge that there are no mistakes

6) Invite the mad genius into your world and collaborate with him, and play and laugh

Intentional Leadership

August 20th, 2015 • by Laura Scott •

railroad tracksThat didn’t go as planned…”

I was speaking to a colleague about how leaders come to feel the gap between where they are and where they want to be in terms of leadership.

They can usually point to one or two incidents when they were not at their best or things got a bit out of control and the outcome was short of what they hoped.

Self-aware leaders will take some responsibility for the less-than-ideal outcome. They will reflect on what happened and perhaps identify the point when the train started to go off the rails. They said something or did something, people reacted in unexpected ways, the morale or the mood shifted, and suddenly a well-planned engagement or meeting took a turn for the worse.

The reflection is important. That’s how adults learn and grow. But the next step is harder. How do you repair the damage? How do you ensure that it doesn’t happen again?

Repairing the damage may be as simple as a public apology. I know, it’s harder than it sounds. How do you ensure it doesn’t happen again? You can’t. We are human. We make mistakes. But we can make less of them if we are self aware and intentional and strategic about how we show up as leaders.

How do you do that?

It starts with a personal leadership inventory. An inventory that includes your vision of an ideal leadership style that reflects your values and personality and then identifies the blocks to achieving that ideal more consistently. That means having a greater degree of awareness around:
-Your triggers and hot buttons
-Your values and how you typically express them
-The quality of the energy you bring to a space
-The most effective way to earn trust in your organization

This awareness exposes where we might be vulnerable, how we can stand strong and be authentic as leaders, and it informs our choices around how we respond and how we engage positively.

It won’t guarantee that we will never again go off the rails but it will ensure that there is an engaged and conscious decision-maker at the wheel when things don’t go exactly as planned.

Learn how to craft your personal Leadership Inventory by joining us at the Emerging Leaders Development Seminar at the University of Tampa  Saturday October 10, 2015. The public is welcome!

http://www.eventbrite.com/e/emerging-leaders-development-seminar-oct-10-tickets-18153006130

Are you Cirquing it?

June 25th, 2014 • by Laura Scott •

CirqueClick to see the Amazing video!

I always marvel when I see top performers. They bring something that sets them apart from the rest. Beyond experience, knowledge, and conditioning, they express what it means to be in the flow.

Flow is a state that can only be experienced when you stay in the moment and are fully present. The masterful gymnasts and acrobats featured in this video aren’t thinking about their to-do lists, judging the fashion sense of the attendees, or worrying about their tax bill. If they were they couldn’t do what they do.

What is occupying your mind right now that is blocking your ability to flow?

Just asking….

How to Become a Friendlier Person by Dale Carnegie

September 17th, 2012 • by Laura Scott •

Dale Carnegie 1888-1955Dale Carnegie was born in 1888 and passed away in 1995. Yet many decades after his death we still look to his good advice to help us build relationships and manage stress and worry.

I’ve always said if you want a friend, be a friend. I don’t know who to attribute this saying to, but it might well have been Dale Carnegie because in the pocket-sized Golden Book (which is given to everyone who goes through the Dale Carnegie training) one of the main principles that is listed is: Become a Friendlier Person.

You might think you’re a friendly person, but you won’t meet the Dale Carnegie standard of friendly unless you consistently practice these nine habits:

1. Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.
2. Give honest, sincere appreciation.
3. Arouse in the other person an eager want.
4. Become genuinely interested other people.
5. Smile.
6. Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
7. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
8. Talk in terms of the other person’s interests.
9. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

These nine habits when adopted as a way of being can make a huge impact in your ability to make friends and nurture relationships. It will also serve you in other ways, particularly when people feel comfortable enough with you to share information that they may not share with others. And if you can be trusted with that information you will have built a relationship for life.

Friendlier is better, not just in your personal life but in your business life too.