10 Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills

As a coach, most of the people within my coaching circles are good communicators.  They’re often able to communicate very complex issues in simple enough terms that non-technical people can understand them.  So, what gets in the way of using our good communication skills?

Poor communication relates mainly to a reluctance to speak up, a failure to recognize that we have information that could benefit others, talking too much and very limited time.  Multiple factors matter when looking to improve your ability to communicate.  A few of these factors include: the ability to actively listen, using the correct tone of voice, and having the correct body language.  Paying attention is just one part of this.

Here are a few tactical tips on how to become a better communicator. Continue reading 10 Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills

4 Ways to Successfully Build a Network

Executive Leadership Coaching 4 Ways to Successfully Build a NetworkWe all have a network.  It includes everyone we interact with or know.  But what some of us don’t have is an active network.  We may believe that building a network is all about having people we can reach out to whenever we need something, which feels a little selfish.  Effective networkers, however, maintain a network so that they can be of service to others as well.  This give and take is key to maintaining optimal networking relationships.

Imagine an electrical grid, with lines of connection branching out in all directions and you in the middle.  You can see that the lines connect us to others and run both ways.  When the grid is turned on, it is powerful and carries energy in all directions.  If it isn’t turned on- activated- it serves no useful purpose.  Just like an electrical grid, a network needs to be maintained.  If we wait to call upon our network for too long, it may be in a state of disrepair that renders it less useful- in both directions.

I’ve built my network by keeping in touch with people I like and respect, not everyone I’ve met.  This has allowed me to feel genuine and more importantly it has provided me with the opportunity to work almost exclusively with people I like and hold in high regard.  This is one of the great blessings of my life. Continue reading 4 Ways to Successfully Build a Network

4 Ways Toward Acceptance and Detachment From Outcomes

Executive Leadership Coaching 4 ways Towards Acceptance and Detachment from OutcomesAcceptance and detaching from outcomes are concepts that may require some of us to change our thinking.  I have shared these concepts with my coaching clients over the years.  There were a couple of occasions in which I was convinced they were going to call security on me but thankfully they did not.

I understand their hesitation.  Imagine sitting with an executive or a member of leadership who is being hounded by their boss, the Board of Directors and/or stakeholders to drive results.

From there, can you imagine suggesting to your boss that they consider accepting things as they are in the moment and detaching from outcomes? This is not an easy thing to do because It is not how we have been trained to think.   However, refusing to accept current reality and trying to control something we can’t control leads only to disappointment and frustration.  An effective leader must think and act differently.

Acceptance is not the same as resignation, which often sounds kind of like, “screw it, nothing we can do here.” Acceptance is about facing reality and not getting mad because it isn’t what we want it to be.  It’s simply understanding of what is happening in a given moment.  This doesn’t mean that we can’t change it and that it doesn’t mean it won’t change on its own.  Good leaders know how to live in the moment.

Detaching from outcomes is a more bitter pill to swallow for most leaders.  We like to think we can make things happen, but it is easier said than done.  This is known in my coach training world as self-efficacy- the power to influence and manage the trajectory of our lives.  We can, and we do.  We just can’t plan the ending.  We can only accept things as the way they are in the moment, and then act towards changing them.  If we are focused on the end game, we will not be paying full attention to the steps we need to take to get there. Continue reading 4 Ways Toward Acceptance and Detachment From Outcomes

Jack:- Just Lucky?

Executive Leadership Coaching - Jack- Just Lucky?Jack was heading up a division of a large firm.  His division made and sold a vast array of products, so there was lot to keep track of.  Jack was the total package.  Smart, well-presented and very approachable.  He was also extremely driven and susceptible to becoming distracted.  When I met with Jack for our coaching sessions, we would sit at a table in his office.  When he felt that the session was over he would simply get up and move to his desk.  On one of these occasions I asked him, “Are we done?” Then I told him that he reminded me of my saintly grandmother.  He raised an eyebrow.  I explained, “When I spoke to my grandmother on the phone she would never say good-bye.  She just hung up when she was done with the conversation.  The first couple of times this happened I found myself still on the phone repeating, “Gram? Gram?”

I wanted to find out if this distractibility was a function of the demands of Jack’s work environment or something that showed up in the rest of his life as well.  I asked if I could get some feedback from his wife.  He was happy to allow me do so.  Jack’s wife Jennifer, was a pleasure to speak with, bright and insightful.  She knew Jack in a way that few others did.  She did allow as to how Jack was a little distractible from time to time particularly when he was under a lot of stress.  What was more interesting to me however, was her comment on how Jack saw himself.  She told me, “He thinks he’s just lucky.” You mean lucky to be where he is in his career?” I asked.  She said, “Yes”.  I said, “Nobody is that lucky.  He has worked like a fiend for 15 years.  That’s how he has gotten to be so lucky.” Jack’s wife said, “I tell him that all the time.” Jack was lucky.  He was lucky to be blessed with intelligence, high energy and a very strong work ethic.  He was a living example of perhaps the most important leadership competency.  He knew how to steward and develop his talent and abilities, then use them in the service of others. Continue reading Jack:- Just Lucky?

Chas:- Matching Energy

Executive Leadership Coaching - Chas-Matching EnergyI had been working with Chas all day.  We spent most of that time in a meeting with his main customer and a couple of Chas’s direct reports. Chas was in his element.  He was totally tuned into what the customer wanted and agile enough to be able to figure a way to get it for him without ever having to give away the farm.  It was a treat to watch this master at work.  Chas is without a doubt the best client relationship builder at his level in his entire huge company.  His clients adore him.  So do his bosses, who are at the very top of the food chain.  On our way to dinner that night, Chas told me he was expecting a call from A.J., a VP of Finance.  Chas had run afoul of A.J.  by making a deal with one of his customers without understanding that he was not in alignment with a certain finance process. Chas wasn’t looking forward to this chat.

Just as we pulled up to the restaurant, the call came in.  Since Chas’s car was equipped with Blue Tooth, I was able to hear both sides of the conversation.  I could barely hear A.J.  He spoke just above a whisper.  However, I had no trouble hearing Chas and not just because I was sitting next to him, He is extremely passionate as a rule.  On this occasion he was also a bit excited and perhaps nervous, thinking he was going to get chewed out.  The conversation didn’t go that way at all.  After A.J.  politely explained the protocol Chas had failed to observe, he went on to compliment Chas on the wonderful relationships he had built with the customer.  Chas informed him that it was all about the trust he had created with them.  But he did so at a decibel level that gave me the mental image of A.  J’s hair being blown of his head.  I didn’t know until later that A.J actually had no hair on his head. Continue reading Chas:- Matching Energy