Sheryl Sandberg suggests that women switch our gaze from external “glass ceilings” to internal “sticky floors.” What can be accomplished when the ascent up the ladder is with full confidence that the top is where we belong? I was recently preparing my remarks as the keynote for a professional women’s mentoring program and an analogy struck me that made me laugh out loud. “Don’t ask for permission or knock politely at the men’s room door. Go on in.” Oh my! Years of a behavior that has been a source of embarrassment to my friends and that mortifies my kids is an exact analogy for my professional outlook. When there is a line for the women’s room and appropriate privacy in the men’s room I do not discriminate. I enter the men’s room. Why be restricted and slowed down by social convention?
Coaching is leaving the stigma of “remedial.” Elite athletes engage a coach, so do the finest business leaders. View powerful stats in Stanford University/The Miles Group survey based on a survey of More than 200 CEOs, board directors, and senior executives of North American public and private companies.
Often coaching involves leading a client to act on something that they already know. In principle executives know that mentoring their team is a good thing. One of the most far reaching attributes of “leadership” is the ability to develop leaders. This is supported by stats from a Stanford University/The Miles Group survey released this month, which asked 200 CEOs, board directors, and other senior executives questions about how they receive and view leadership advice. The top two areas board directors say their CEOs need to work on are “mentoring skills/developing internal talent” and “sharing leadership/delegation skills.”
A session with your executive coach can be the right place to vent a workplace frustration. The relationship is confidential and there is no risk of compounding or magnifying an issue by sharing it with the wrong party. As a coach I welcome honesty and candor but am very careful to quickly turn a conversation from whining to analysis which leads to action. These are the questions I ask:
1. Is it possible for you to change the situation, the problem?
2. If yes, this leads to a discussion and an action plan.
3. If no, the next question: Is it possible for you to adapt to this thing that you cannot change?
4. If yes, that leads to a discussion and an action plan.
5. If no, then it leads to a discussion and a different action plan that involves moving themselves to a new environment.
A client acknowledged that it was time to take the same advice that he had recently given someone in his organization: “DON’T WHINE ABOUT WHAT YOU WANT, GATHER DATA AND USE IT TO SUPPORT DECISIONS AND DIRECTION YOU ADVOCATE.”
WHAT WILL YOU CLEAR AND WHAT WILL YOU PLANT? We choose our paths and we leave a trail. Coaching encourages being intentional about choices that determine direction. The alternative can look like putting one foot in front of the other day after day without considering a turn to left or right, never climbing a tree for a better view, never going off-road with an axe to clear a new way, never noticing an open field that invites running or dancing or resting. A dear friend recently shared the news that her headstrong idealist daughter was leaving the nest a year earlier than planned to spend her high school senior year abroad on an exchange program that she had independently arranged. I mused….what would this amazing young woman clear and what would she plant in the life path she follows? My friend loved the analogy that I penned so sincerely – and it inspires me to ask my followers the same.
In 1984 an MBA professor made a lasting and life impacting impression. Dr Lynn Robinson went on to publish “Coming Out of our Psychic Closet” in 1994. A decade earlier in the hallowed halls of University of South Alabama Dr. Robinson lamented that business decision making too often misses the “gut” component. We are conditioned to ignore this as invalidated data.
A year ago I provided career coaching to an executive with impressive Fortune 100 experience who was ready to embrace something new. He accepted an offer that was well below what he should have commanded in the marketplace because he was excited about the opportunity with a small ramp-up and liked the company culture.
I got this email from him last week; “I was just thinking about you upon the occasion of my one year anniversary. Things couldn’t be better. I just got a great review and a massive salary increase. I am truly appreciated by the team in ways I never was before. I love the company from the ‘feel’ to the obvious, demonstrated skill and integrity of the executive team. I am having a blast.”
My client made a decision that didn’t add up on paper; he had the confidence to risk following his gut. It paid off, as so often does.
My style is to use coaching as a vehicle for encouragement and motivation…….rightfully, it should be viewed by the employee being coached as a perk. But, my style does not sacrifice making candid observations and recommendations when I see the potential for improvement. When I do my job well I build trust as the “encourager” so that the tough messages are received productively. Everyone wins, valued employee and organization.
GALA Newsletter – Personal Brand: Know It, Own It, Use It
Shelly Orr Priebe, Founder & CEO, Priebe & Associates
Executive coach Shelly Orr Priebe discusses strategies for developing a personal brand and how that can enhance your company’s brand.
What is your brand…..Not your company’s brand, but YOUR brand? Everyone has one, but few professionals are intentional with the development, ownership, and constructive use of their individual brand. A strategic approach to personal brand leverages the hard work that successful and ambitious “HIPOs” (High Potentials) put into charting their career paths. Your brand should also create results for your company. Whether to clients or suppliers, you represent your organization and your brand matters.
One key leadership quality is decisivness. Few great leaders always always get it right. If they do, chances are good they are not be assuming a appropriate level of risk that helps an organization stretch and grow. But good leaders can be counted for clear direction. Different decision making styles vary. They may chart on continuums from intuitive to analytical, from deliberate to spontaneous. Different styles work for different leader profiles. What does not work is ambiguous vaccilation. Indecision can paralyze an organization.
In many coaching engagements the scope of work includes focus on “executive demeanor.” Making decisions and communicating them clearly is one component. I advocate this regularly. So, it is with admitted irony that on a recent visit for a pedicure I spent more time than I will admit wavering on the momentuous decision of what color to paint my toenails. Should I leave the comfort zone of the safe color I always chose and venture out for a youthful shade of blue? Would it be too radical a departure from my professional personae? My ever patient nail technician finally looked me in the eye and stated evenly and authoritatively, “It is just a color.”
How often do you waste your time (and the time of others) on decisions that are insignificant in the big picture and easily reversible? To blog or not to blog on the new and improved website for Priebe & Associates? I’m moving forward, being decisive, choosing blue.