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There are a lot of sources for advice on being successful — some good, some bad. But we know there are a few key things successful people do:

  • They identify what’s important to them personally (Wellbeing)
  • They set a direction for the business (Vision)
  • They deliver on key goals (Execution)
  • They focus their time and effort on those activities most critical for success (Productivity)

Our executive coaches call this success framework The Core Four. We’ve been helping motivated people apply these concepts for more than 20 years through executive coaching services, leadership development and resources such as our new Guide to Coaching Leadership.

But What About Your Team?

We often find that as people move beyond individual contributor roles into leadership and management positions, they don’t know how to help their people do these key things. It’s one thing to execute good prioritization personally; it takes an entirely different skill set to help your people achieve that discipline.

This is especially true for leaders who are less invested in their team members personally. If you don’t know what’s important to them, how will you help them focus their efforts toward what matters?

The problem is, many leaders aren’t even aware that they’re struggling in this area. In fact, 77% of leaders believe they do a good job engaging employees, yet 88% of employees feel their leaders don’t engage them enough, according to data from “The Mind of the Leader” by Jacqueline Carter and Rasmus Hougaard.

Clearly, there’s a gap here that needs to be bridged if we’re going to develop strong performers who are invested in the organization. We know engaged employees are better for team morale and for the bottom line, and that working in a healthy environment has positive benefits for these employees in their personal lives as well.

So, how do you make a difference with your team? Believe it

You can’t “phone in” engagement efforts. If you don’t really care about your team members’ successes beyond what they can do for you, don’t pretend you do. Employees will know if you aren’t really interested in helping them succeed, and any attempts to fake it will likely do more harm than good.

Now, this doesn’t mean it all has to come naturally; it means you have to really invest for it to pay off. Being a Coaching Leader is different from traditional, directive management. It’s about caring and listening and cheering on team members. It’s about seeking to understand the individual, not just crossing off a completed goal on a quarterly review.

But it’s also about tough conversations and accountability. It’s about holding yourself and your team to standards, and it’s about leading by example and doing what you say you will.

Do it

Historically, we’ve expected managers to do most of the talking — instructing, redirecting, and correcting their employees. A coaching leadership style requires less talking and more listening.

Asking good questions often allows an employee to arrive at the conclusion you had in mind. And if it doesn’t, it may very well open up a different and better path for that individual and the team.

As leaders, we have to be “in the moment” when talking with our team members, focusing completely on what they’re saying rather than planning what we want to say next. By listening carefully, asking good questions, and reading cues they’re sending, we can learn a great deal about each team member. And we can use that understanding to help move them forward in their careers and in life.

Feedback matters, too. Without it, team engagement is almost impossible to achieve.

Leaders who give the best feedback combine structured and unstructured feedback sessions to ensure that issues aren’t allowed to linger and fester — but they also call out a job well done immediately and usually publicly.

Focus

Remember the Core Four framework we touched on earlier? Here’s where it really comes into play.

Well-being

Employees who feel satisfied and fulfilled with their current lives and where their lives are going are a great deal more productive at work. This has real potential to boost both personal and team output by 20%, according to a study by O.C. Tanner Institute.

You can start supporting your employees’ well-being by building relationships with each person on your team.  

Vision

People need to know where the organization is going. But even more than that, they need to understand how their efforts are contributing to that goal. This should be a frequent, ongoing conversation. As new projects and tasks come up, it’s important for leaders to show how they tie back to the big picture.

Additionally, by helping your employees articulate their own vision and chart where they want to go in their careers, you can further build engagement and connection.

Execution

Team members need to clearly understand what’s expected of them and how to accomplish it. These conversations might be about identifying successful behaviors to repeat, knowing which tasks are most critical and which can be delayed, understanding what’s getting in the way of success and determining how you as a leader can remove those barriers to success.

Productivity

This is really about helping individuals figure out what gets in the way of accomplishments. This is where you help them focus on critical tasks, identify what’s draining their time and say “no” as needed to less important projects.

Build a Structure

If you care about growing and developing your people as a coaching leader, then don’t try to wing it.

Without scheduled time for each employee, you’ll likely look up months down the road and realize that your good intentions for connecting amounted to very little. Without intentional, firm scheduling and commitment, the crisis of the day will frequently rob you of your connection opportunities, leaving you wondering how you fell so short of what you meant to accomplish.

Successful coaching leaders build their skills and relationships through intention, planning, and discipline. So if you want to succeed as a coaching leader, then you’ll need a structure, too.

You can find our proven structure and many other tips to build your coaching leadership skills in our new e-book, A Guide to Coaching Leadership. Download it today.

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Over the years, many clients have come to us saying they need help managing their time. They want to figure out how to fit it “all” in.

But we all have the same number of hours in a day, no matter how we manage them. So, rather than focusing on how clients manage their time, our executive coaches work with clients to understand and improve how they’re managing their priorities.

Making Your Life Count

Priority management is about spending your time on the things that really matter to you, to your company and to your team.

Instead of spending your time reactive, unfocused and unclear, you can live proactively, focused and with clarity. You can spend your time and energy on those things truly important in your personal and business life.

This might seem obvious; so why doesn’t everyone do it?

For one thing, people don’t always take the time to find out what’s actually important to them, so instead of focused effort, they spend time driven by circumstances rather than directed by purpose. If you don’t know how you want to spend your time, you’ll be buffeted by the crises of the day.

Know Your Worth

It’s easier to make good decisions about your time when you have a true understanding of your worth. This isn’t about what people think of you, or how your loved ones value you; it’s a dollars-and-cents figure that helps you understand what the company pays you. It allows you to determine whether your time is actually being spent well, or if you’re focusing on tasks better done by someone else.

Is that meeting you’re in one that really requires your attendance? Are the activities filling your calendar actually worthy of your time? If not, it’s time to make some tough decisions, because no one can fit it “all” in.

Track Your Time

Think you’re spending your time well? Try an experiment. Track your workday in 15-minute increments and review it after a week.

How many of those fifteen minutes were spent well? Are there clear patterns where you spent time that could have or should have been handled by someone else on your team?

This is where writing it all down really helps you clarify your efforts and time.

Remember Who’s in the Driver’s Seat

You are the one person who can make wise decisions about where you invest yourself. You can be intentional about creating a purpose-filled schedule for yourself, every day, every week, every month. This puts you back in the driver’s seat and gives you the freedom to say no to tasks that don’t further your goals or move the business forward.

Priority management provides benefits for you personally, but also for the organization and your team.

Providing clarity to your team, improving efficiency and profitability for the company and improving your personal effectiveness are just a few of the advantages you have the ability to bring about. Making wise decisions in this area can provide you a genuine sense of control and freedom.

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This is part of an ongoing series on the power of the outside perspective for mortgage leaders. Today’s post features Human Investing Co-Founder and Owner Pete Fisher, who spoke at our recent Masters’ Coach event in Santa Barbara.

When Pete Fisher went into financial services, the industry was dramatically different. Over the past 20 to 25 years, he’s seen many changes. As competition increased and margins shrunk, he knew the only way to survive was through a steady reinvention of the business.

Pete spoke at our recent Masters’ Coach event in Santa Barbara, sharing how the mortgage industry can learn from some similar shifts to stay competitive and relevant.

When an industry is undergoing rapid change, as the mortgage industry is currently, Pete’s advice is to look outside the industry for inspiration, as he did. He said he reads “a lot of bizarre stuff” in an effort to identify and execute disruptors.

Here are three key takeaways from Pete’s session:

1. How do you get people to change?

Quoting an article by Canadian public servant J.P. Connell, Pete says, “The goal of leading through change is ‘to make the status quo more dangerous than launching into the unknown.’

In his own business, he found that keeping his business model intact would quickly bankrupt his company as they lost out to bigger, cheaper firms. So he had to first sell his team on the danger and folly of staying the course, then lead them to and through the vision for the future.

2. Why EQ matters

When asked about his hiring priorities — emotional intelligence versus technical skills and education — he shared that while there are certain key corporate positions that must have certifications and degrees, for most of their roles they look first to people skills, then train for industry knowledge. All employees in his firm have at least a four-year degree and those with higher credentials or advanced degrees fill specialty roles.

By bringing in team members from less traditional backgrounds, his company has found employees who can empathize with and connect to clients on a meaningful level, allowing them to strengthen and refine their business model.

3. Sourcing clients differently

Identifying and signing clients looks quite different today. Prospective customers aren’t responding to your ad in the yellow pages; rather, they’re getting recommendations from friends, coworkers and social media.

By building institutional relationships, Pete’s firm has an “in” to their employee base — they’re identified as a trusted vendor for entire groups of employees instead of seeking out clients one by one. By doing this, his firm has identified a much narrower base whose needs they can meet well, which leads to referrals for similar clients.

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This month we welcomed Sue Weaver to our team of executive coaches.

Sue brings 25 years of experience in the mortgage industry and has been championing a coaching culture all along the way. If you’ve ever attended one of our Masters’ Coach events, you may recognize her as a familiar face.

We recently sat down with Sue to ask her about her background and life outside of work. We think you’ll enjoy getting to know her as we welcome her to the team.

Building Champions: How did you end up in the mortgage industry?

Sue Weaver: I found myself a single mom with three really young kids, and I had a banking background, so I went into mortgages because it offered me flexibility as well as real financial potential.

I love that the mortgage industry uses both the left and right sides of my brain. It’s about how to make someone’s financial goals work to get them in the right place and massage the numbers to get them into a home. But it’s also about connecting and building relationships with clients. I had clients I did loans for over and over and over.

I always really loved the connection and getting to know people’s stories, on top of the financial puzzle pieces. And since I knew the industry really well, as I got opportunities to move into leadership, I was able to really hone my craft.

I was able to actually stop doing loan origination and passed that part of the business on to my daughter, which was a great legacy gift for both of us. Then I got to work on the strategic part of the business, including managing P&L, cultivating teams, streamlining labor and helping managers learn how to recruit, retain and even have hard conversations they didn’t want to have.

BC: As you were developing your own mission and leadership perspective, what did you invest in? What was important to you?

SW: I got really involved in humanitarian missions in Central America and Africa for six to seven years. Most of that work was alongside a group here in Seattle called Agros, which is about eliminating hunger through land ownership.

We worked primarily along the Mexican-Guatemalan border in severely economically disadvantaged areas, many without running water. Agros uses agricultural training and microlending for land to help the partners rise out of poverty and gain the dignity of caring for their own families. They also learn how to market and sell their own crops, then invest that money back into the land.

BC: Tell us a little about you and your family.

SW: My kids and my husband are my favorite people on the planet, and I’m basically madly in love with every one of them. I almost feel sometimes like I’m going to burst right out when we’re all together.

My kids are grown. My husband Jackson and I have been married for 23 years, and we have a blended family. I have three kids, and my husband has two. My oldest son has two little boys, and they’re so delicious. Unfortunately, they live on the east coast. But we do a lot together as a family. Some of it is just visiting, but I’m also super passionate about travel, so there have been trips where all or some of them have been able to join us.

I also love cooking, and I have kind of a gourmet cheffing gene. That’s one of my favorite things—the family gathering around the kitchen while I cook for them, plus the conversation around the dinner table.

My favorite thing to cook is Italian, and I just love Anthony Bourdain’s work. He was certainly one of the greats. And one of my sons got this gene, so we send pictures of our food to each other. I’ve also picked up some really good cookbooks over the years. I love to cook northwestern style food, especially fish.

BC: What do you like to do in your spare time?

SW: My husband and I love to ride our bikes. We ride a lot and have for years. There are a lot of hills here, so we love to ride through the Snoqualmie Valley or up to the falls. Or the islands, like Bainbridge Island, the San Juan Islands. There are just a ton of places to ride here. And now we have trails behind our house in Kirkland, so we like to ride the trails.

We’re big walkers too. We power walk 5-6 miles 4 times a week.

BC: If you were to pick one subject to study for your whole life, what would it be? What do you never get tired of learning?

SW: I am a constant student of inner growth, which really is about a faith connection for me. It deepens my relationship with God and also who I am personally so that I can pour out in a way that doesn’t let my own stuff get in the way. I want to unravel what needs to be unraveled in my own life so that I can be the light that I was created to be.

I also want to stay really up to date with what’s happening in the market so that I can be a good student of strategies best suited to help people explore. I want to have a bag of tricks to help people create and develop new skills, tactics and strategies.

So I read a lot of current articles and good books, but also I learn a lot from just talking to different people. I have to be a student of “what is my value-add” so that I can help people achieve their goals.

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We want you to see yourself as more than a manager.

As a leader, you can be a career and life improver. You can be a Coaching Leader.

What is a Coaching Leader?

What separates a Coaching Leader from a manager? Plenty.

A Coaching Leader is caring. They care for and value everyone in their organizations, not just those they need to care about.

A Coaching Leader listens more than they speak. They know that listening is how we value and care for each other.

A Coaching Leader is patient. They invest the time needed to guide a teammate so he can discover the best solution instead of just telling him what to do.

A Coaching Leader is discerning. They can read between the lines. They look beyond just the words people are using and consider how outside pressures impact performance. They don’t just know what questions to ask but when to ask them. As a result, they can dig a little deeper and get to the root of performance or behavior issues, without making employees feel threatened.

A Coaching Leader is accountable. They hold the responsibility of coaching people to improve—and then ensuring they succeed.

A Coaching Leader is self-disciplined. Coaching leaders are disciplined, with healthy habits and positive routines. As a result, they encourage employees to shed bad habits and develop routines that lead to success.

A Coaching Leader is vision-oriented. Coaching Leaders see and believe in the vision of the organization—and they can help their employees see who they need to become in order to achieve it.

A Coaching Leader is trustworthy. Their actions match their words They hold information in confidence. And they demonstrate that they are for those they lead.

What Our Executive Coaches Say About Coaching Leadership

“A Coaching Leader is someone who develops people.” – Bill Hart

“A Coaching Leader has skin in the game. He or she is willing and able to roll up their sleeves and make things happen.” – Dick Savidge

“Coaching leadership is all about asking questions more than making statements or giving directions. Coaching leaders allow their people to create their own path to success.” – Adam Brantley

“A Coaching Leader is dedicated to the development of people and uses regular one-on-one meetings to maximize the potential of the people they’re leading.” – Dan Foster

How to Become a Coaching Leader

Want to learn more about Coaching leadership? We’ve created an e-book to guide you through the process of coaching and developing your people. In this Guide to Coaching Leadership e-book, you’ll discover:

  • What employees need to be fully engaged at work
  • Key characteristics and commitments of a Coaching Leader
  • How to become a more effective communicator
  • Tips for giving powerful feedback
  • Practical systems to consistently coach and develop your people

If you’re ready to take charge of employee engagement and drive better results in your team and organization, get your Guide to Coaching Leadership today.

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Do you ever get so busy with day-to-day work that you forget to look up and think about your strategy?

It happens to most of us, partly because we get distracted by the day-to-day but also because it’s just plain hard. Finding a starting point can be daunting.

We want you to meet your goals and experience unmitigated success personally and professionally. So, we’ve created three tools to help you identify where you want to go and figure out how to get there.

The evidence is clear that you’re much more likely to meet your goals when you write them down. So these tools are designed to help you develop clear, written plans to boost your business and live the life you want.

Three Tools for Mortgage Producers Life Plan Guide

Are you where you want to be in life? If you died today, would you have accomplished what you meant to?

We all can get off course and end up somewhere other than where we meant to go; that’s human nature. But human nature has the potential to limit the impact we have and keep us from being who we want to be.

As you work your way through this Life Plan Guide, you’ll identify your purpose and determine what you want to accomplish in life — both personally and professionally.

By thinking critically about your circle of influence, you can figure out what’s most important to you and take steps to impact the world in the way you want. Approaching your days with intention enables you to live the life you really want and leave the legacy you desire.

Download the Life Plan Guide.

Loan Officer Business Plan

This Loan Officer Business Plan worksheet equips you to identify your business goals and work backward to define actionable steps designed to get you there.

By taking the guesswork out of the numbers, you can set clear, attainable targets to grow your business to the level you want.

The simple format provides a clear path to your income goals and helps you figure out the breakdown of business and practices that will get you there. You can use this plan to anticipate and overcome complicating factors that might arise and to identify areas to target for improvement.

Download the Loan Officer Business Plan worksheet.

Growing Your Referral Business E-Book

Referrals are the lifeblood of business and hands-down the most cost-effective way to grow your income.

Gone are the days of choosing businesses from the Yellow Pages. People are increasingly looking to friends and social media for recommendations on where they should spend their money.

But if you’re just waiting for referrals to come your way, you’re missing the mark. You need to be strategic and intentional when asking for referrals to maximize your results.

By understanding and applying the “Law of Reciprocity,” you can quickly increase your referral business and drive revenue. This Growing Your Referral Business e-book will provide the jump start you need to grow your business through word of mouth.

Download the Growing Your Referral Business e-book.

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In many great vision documents, we see what author Jim Collins calls “big, hairy, audacious goals.”

These are what we call Mount Everest goals, aggressive targets that are so big and so far out, that accomplishing them is going to require your team to stretch and work harder and smarter than they have ever worked before.

Usually, these goals cannot be accomplished in a single year but require more long-term planning. To achieve these future realities of greatness, your team must unite in an uncommon manner, and your teammates must contribute in uncommon ways.

A Mount Everest goal might sound like this: “We will have number-one market share in all the markets we serve within five years.” If your market share is currently number 54, that’s clearly a Mount Everest goal. At our company, one of our Mount Everest goals calls for us to own a coach retreat center in an ideal location, perhaps somewhere in central Oregon.

How big is “Mount Everest”? In our experience, most leaders don’t make their goals big enough. Most of the time, outsiders will respond to a good Mount Everest goal with objections, such as, “You’re not going to do a hundred million dollars a year,” or “You’re not going to write that many units,” or “You’re not going to touch that many people.”

Know this: If you get this kind of skeptical response, you probably did something right.

A good Mount Everest goal tends to make people doubt that it can be done — especially those who don’t know your heart.

Resources to Strengthen Your Vision for 2019 and Beyond

Do you have Mount Everest goals for yourself? For your team? Or perhaps it’s time to explore what it means to have a clear and compelling Business Vision. Here are some resources to get you headed in the right direction:

How to Identify Your Business Vision and Why it Matters: Most leaders don’t naturally connect their work to some greater meaning. But as a leader, you have to make that connection for yourself and your people. A written Business Vision is a critical piece in leading a team or company.

Need Business Vision? Identify Your Convictions First: When an organization lacks common convictions, you’ll see it in many areas: engagement surveys are poor, morale is low or there’s a general lack of team health. Here’s how to identify the core convictions that will guide your team or organization forward.

How Business Vision Can Help You Reach Your Goals: Do you struggle with business planning or implementation? Do initiatives in your organization frequently start and then stop? Have you noticed continued changes in direction? Do you struggle with your team failing to buy into ideas? Is turnover the norm in your culture? If problems like these hound you, it’s probably not that you developed bad business plans or that you’re a poor leader or manager. More often than not, the struggle reflects a failure to effectively clarify your company vision.

Unify Your Team Using the Vision Communication Tool: Use this tool and process to map out how you’ll launch your vision and make it a part of your regular business rhythms.

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This is part of an ongoing series on the power of the outside perspective for mortgage leaders. Today’s post features real estate agent Kenny Klaus, who spoke at our recent Masters’ Coach event in Santa Barbara.

Before Kenny Klaus was a real estate agent, he worked for 13 years delivering packages for FedEx. And during his tenure, he discovered that the better you know your route, the better you know your clients — and the better you can serve them.

So when Klaus was building his real estate career, he designed what he calls his “realtor route.” He made friends with everybody and every business in the area; he learned about the houses, the schools, the principals, even the football coaches. Equipped with this firsthand knowledge of his community, he launched a monthly newsletter to help keep the folks in his “realtor route” in the know (and thus stay top-of-mind for when it came time for one of them to buy or sell a home).

Today, Klaus is a certified residential specialist, a certified distressed property specialist, an accredited buyer rep and a certified local market expert in Phoenix. His career began with one subdivision of 1,700 homes and has now grown to approximately 35,000 homes with dedicated agent routes.

He’s known for being a guy who can recognize shifts, who has a knack for getting ahead of industry disruptors and who’s “always looking where the puck is going next.”

We invited Klaus to share his insights at our recent Masters’ Coach event in Santa Barbara. Here are some key takeaways from his question-and-answer session with Executive Coach Todd Bookspan.

Don’t Let Tech Come Between You and Your Clients

“Right now our industry is pivoting hard right with technology,” Klaus says. Too many in the industry are allowing technology to get in the way of serving their clients.

Instead, we should look at technology as an opportunity to deliver great experiences and relationships. If we aren’t creating an experience that our clients can’t help but tell their friends about — or worse, if we’re delivering a service that a robot could do — we’re going to be in big trouble.

It’s up to every individual; tech is either going to control you or you’re going to use tech as a tool to stay in better relationship. A good rule of thumb is: use tech to automate the reminder for the touch, but not the client touch itself.

Guide Your Clients Through the Journey

It’s easy to forget that for some clients it’s been two, seven, maybe even ten years since they’ve bought a new house. Avoid the pitfalls of letting automation make your job easier. Anybody can email a loan application link, but what counts is how you guide your clients through the process.

Klaus says every client conversation should end with, “And here’s what’s next.” We should always be leading our clients through the process.

Learn from Disruptors

Zillow’s iBuyer Program is a hot industry disruptor right now. Zillow found a pain point in the real estate transaction: clients didn’t like having to get their house ready to go to market. These clients said, “If I can have a buyer who will just buy it in the condition it’s in for a reasonable price, I’m going to sell.”

At first, Klaus says, it seemed like this model would never work — how could it scale? One year later, it’s in about 20 cities across the country.

Rather than getting intimidated by this grab in the market, Klaus says we have to look honestly at what’s disrupting the status quo. What’s Zillow’s iBuyer Program teaching us? That the consumer wants this; that what the consumer ultimately wants is ease.

So, how will you respond when something starts challenging your status quo?

Get There First

Don’t let a good market lull you into thinking it’s time to get comfortable. When you do that, you let other people influence your clients, Klaus says. That’s your job!

Instead, get to the clients first to tell them the value of their home and what’s happening in the market. Rather than reacting, aim to lead the conversation.

Focus on Client “After-Care”

We can’t let price be the only differentiator between us and the competition. Klaus isn’t too concerned about Zillow or Quicken because he has “foot soldiers” — real people on the ground meeting with other people, developing relationships.

Right now, Klaus says he’s focusing on “after-care” — serving clients long after they’ve bought a home. If a client buys a house that needs repairs, his team offers to keep that home maintained and serviced. He has a program in the works for annual inspections as well. This way, when the homeowner decides it’s time to sell, they’ll have a house version of Carfax where it’s shown the history of the property, when the air conditioning has been serviced, etc. That’s how Klaus is innovating and taking his client service to the next level.

He says when people know you care about them at a deeper level, they’ll stay in relationship with you and will be more apt to send referrals. After all, if Klaus’s team can take care of 500 people at that level, that’s a built-in sales team.

What’s Your Takeaway?

After reading these ideas, do you feel inspired to find ways to disrupt the mortgage industry? How are you using tech in 2019 to connect and build relationships?

What do you think we could do differently in the mortgage industry to take clients out of circulation and turn them into raving fans?

Want to learn more about the mortgage industry’s premier coaching program, The Masters’ Coach? Visit the website.

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In my years of coaching, I’ve observed that extraordinary leaders are fueled by conviction, courage and passion. They hold deep convictions about helping others to improve and have mastered the skills and disciplines needed to help others reach peak levels of performance.

Such leaders recognize that to achieve the extraordinary, they must embrace the idea of becoming a coaching leader — to do so means having the courage to risk entering the uncomfortable.

Exceptional leaders are also driven by great passion. They’re willing to spend a few hours helping an employee write out his own eulogy as an exercise in self-assessment, challenging him to answer questions such as, “Who do you want to become?”

Convictions Are Non-Negotiable for Coaching Leaders

For coaching leaders, everything they do flows out of a deep conviction that people are worth developing. They see their job as an opportunity, and maybe even a responsibility, to help others discover and fully experience what is possible for them.

Do you have this conviction? I’m not asking merely if it sounds like a great idea, or if you value the concept. A conviction goes deeper than a mere value (even a “core value”). A conviction is non-negotiable. You may commit to a value, but you’ll sacrifice for a conviction. When problems arise, you may ponder the cost of a value, but you’ll ante up for a conviction no matter what the cost.

Do you believe that you have something of significant value to offer your key team members? That because of your choice to become a coaching leader, your teammates will grow both professionally and personally? That you really try to walk your talk and are qualified to coach others in a proactive and holistic way?

If you don’t believe these things, then I doubt whether many people will feel inspired to follow your leadership. Few will work hard to make your professional dreams come true. But if you do, then you and your teammates can experience exciting new heights.

The Octane of Courage

Early in my sales career, I gauged the caliber of a prospect I was calling by how I felt. If I felt too relaxed and not at all nervous, I knew I was calling the wrong prospect. Why? Chances were, the person represented only a small opportunity.

On the other hand, I knew I had enjoyed a good day when I finished my meetings with sweaty palms. That meant I had placed myself in situations definitely out of my comfort zone — and probably had been calling on prospects who represented much larger opportunities.

That same kind of gauge works well for leaders who choose to coach their people in life. Such coaching requires that we stretch beyond our comfort zone, and that takes real courage. Why? Some of these conversations will make your palms sweat. Some will take a long time, and you must make sure you have the time and the courage to go there.

You don’t need to have all the answers, of course, but you do have to be willing to work through the situation, to follow up, to confront behaviors that do not line up with stated convictions, and to encourage at all times.

The fact is, helping people to succeed after 5 p.m. is risky.

This is where many begin to hear ugly voices: “You can’t help him! You are blowing it here in your own life, you hypocrite. You’re not living up to your own standard, so who are you to ask him to do it?” I recognize those voices; I have heard them all in the past twenty years.

When your palms begin to sweat, you have two options.

The first is to sneak back to the comfortable, to return to what’s easy — namely, your skills or knowledge. The second option is to dive in and to risk helping. Sure, it may feel deeply uncomfortable for you. Certainly, there’s a chance that your own actions will come into question. But is that a bad thing?

With leadership comes responsibility. Our team members will allow us to be a part of who they are only to the extent that we have earned their trust and respect. The level of character, care and discipline they see in us will determine the level of coaching they will invite and accept from us.

Sold Out and Passionate

I had the good fortune of knowing two leaders of a national mortgage-banking firm headquartered in Colorado. For these leaders, helping their employees to perform at peak levels from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. wasn’t enough. They set out to build a coaching culture and created a company of a few hundred teammates who are sold out and passionate about what they do.

These coaching leaders offer life planning to every employee and have committed to walking every member of their team through the process personally. They do this fully realizing that helping teammates grow in areas outside of work can be both risky and messy.

They spend time with each employee to explore important topics such as, “What do you want to experience in your life? What are the three to five things you need to do so that you can accumulate net worth in all areas of your life?”

It’s not just a one-time conversation. These leaders follow up from time to time to see how the teammate is doing, understanding that as the employer, they have a direct impact on the teammate’s professional and financial well-being.

Do you see how unique this is? How countercultural? Most businesses don’t generally do this — yet it’s precisely how this company has built an incredibly attractive culture. Year after year, this company gets very high scores on employee satisfaction surveys. They’re surrounded by high-energy, balanced professionals who work and live at masterful levels.

During my relationship with this company, I’ve had the honor of speaking at four of their leadership retreats, and I saw the changes for myself. This group of coaching leaders wants to help their team members succeed in all of life, including after 5 p.m.

What Keeps You Going as a Leader?

Convictions. Courage. Passion. Do these things fuel you as a leader?

Are you on a path to creating a team or organization that is life-changing for every team member? If not, I invite you to start by exploring your personal and professional convictions. Especially if you desire to create a culture that positively impacts those around you.

Our Life Plan Guide is the perfect place to start. In fact, it’s where we start with all of our clients — helping identify your core purpose and plan and effectively unlocking the natural leadership talents that rest inside you.

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If you’ve ever attended an industry conference and heard a motivational speaker, then you know how those speakers have a certain way of getting us inspired.

They’re dynamic — they get us focused and they get us excited. We walk out saying, “That’s fantastic! I’m going to change going forward!” But then back at the office, within 48 hours, the tyranny of the urgent takes over, and we’re right back where we were before.

Something similar happens when we read a business book or listen to an inspiring podcast. We might be motivated to change, but there’s great difficulty in implementing fundamental change; it takes more than 45 minutes of attention.

Change must be implemented over a long period of time so that it can become part of who you naturally are.

Fundamental vs. Tactical Change in Leadership

For leaders, not all change is fundamental or impacts the core of who a leader is. Sometimes tactical change is called for. This occurs when a leader decides that leading or behaving in a slightly different manner will be more effective in this situation and at this time. This is the kind of change a leader enters into consciously, saying, “In this instance, I will change my approach or my leadership style to accomplish this goal.” Tactical change is intentional, short-term and situational.

Fundamental change, however, is a shift in perspective. It’s a shift in how a leader looks at leadership and their role as a leader. This is the type of change that impacts the way a leader leads going forward. There are a few common reasons that leaders might consider a fundamental change:

  • They’re not getting the results they’re seeking
  • They do not feel effective
  • They don’t sense that their team is developing in the ways they’d hoped
  • There’s friction in their relationships with their spouse, children or extended family
  • They sense that they’re being reactive rather than proactive in their leadership style
Helpful Principles for Implementing Fundamental Change

Behavioral change is heavy lifting. It’s difficult, it takes time and it takes repetition. It also requires the right mindset. When working with my clients, they typically go through a process of exploring, examining and evaluating how they lead, what worked, what didn’t work, etc.

Here are a few key principles of that process:

  1. In order for leaders to identify the right type of fundamental change that’s required, they must accept the belief that self-leadership always precedes team leadership.
  2. They must recognize that leaders do not “turn on” their work life at 7 a.m. when they arrive in the office and then turn it off when they leave to go home. As a leader, work and home life are inextricably intertwined, each affecting the other.
  3. They must accept that change can be painful.
  4. They must recognize that change involves loss at some level.

When my clients have an “ah-ha” moment that inspires them to consider fundamental change, it’s important that we’re clear about the difficulties in adapting long-term change. This is usually when I remind them of what Eric Shinseki is fond of saying, “If you don’t like change, you are going to like irrelevance even less.”

As an executive coach, my role is to walk alongside leaders through all sorts of change, including the kind that introduces uncomfortable and difficult internal transformation. Because we operate in a confidential relationship, it creates a space for leaders to evaluate and adopt behavioral changes in a non-punitive environment. The change is entirely their choice. I serve as a guide, someone who holds up a mirror to their personal and professional goals and helps them stay on track.

Resources for Exploring Fundamental Change

If you find yourself in a place where things seem to keep falling short of your expectations, you’re not alone. Operating from a place of leadership is for those who have the long-term vision and long-term stamina to see those visions through. If you’re sensing that perhaps there’s a fundamental change you need to explore, consider downloading our Life Plan Tool. Even if your strife is coming from a place inside your business, I believe this is the best starting place to refocus on the core values that affect you as a leader — in work and in life.

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