Executive Coaching is a Privilege

And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his own hometown.” – Luke 4:24

Let me explain the reason why this verse from the Bible has left an indelible mark on my life.

Executive Coaching is a PrivilegeJesus performed the least number of miracles in his own hometown. When he conducted meetings and the lame were healed, the blind saw, the deaf heard and the dead rose. The audience marveled at His abilities and did not doubt that He was the Son of God and that He is ‘extra-ordinary’. Then someone said, “Is he not the carpenter’s son?” Upon hearing this, they swiftly lowered Him from the extra-ordinary to the ordinary! The wonder turned to skepticism and the belief turned to doubt thereby hindering the manifestation of the miracles.

We are leadership coaches who are endowed with the responsibility to see the extra-ordinary in the ordinary and to see the super-natural in the natural. But so often we hold people imprisoned to the picture we have drawn of them and we are unable to lure them to the realm of possibilities.

I wonder if the Wright brothers would have created a functional airplane or if Edison would have persisted till the bulb emitted light if they had relied on the leading of such leadership coaches? The ability of a coach to look at a new day as a fresh canvas filled with opportunities and disconnected from the pictures of yesterday is what enables the coachees to connect to the infinite! The executive coaches that have the rare and uncanny ability for painting a fresh depiction in each encounter are the ones that enable the manifestation of the super-natural from the natural and the extra-ordinary from the ordinary.

“Visionaries see the “impossible” as the inevitable.” – Robin Sharma

Hence I say, “Executive Coaching is a privilege!”

4 Effective Ways To Manage Your Time

We’ve all done it plenty of times in our lives. The complaints usually all sound the same – “If only there was more than 24 hours in a day”, “Where did all the time go?”, “Why does time fly when you’re trying to get something done” and the endless list continues. What is it about time that is so elusive? Why does it always seem like it moves slowly just when we want it to fly and flies when we want it to move slowly? It almost seems like it has a mind of its own! But we’re the ones with the minds.

Time Management Training programs are especially crucial for companies where every man-hour made or lost is directly proportional to money made or lost. The more efficiently a company manages it’s time through resources, systems or personnel, the more cost effectively the company operates by saving on time wasted. Hence it is one of our key programs for Managerial Training and Leadership Training.

Time Management, it turns out, is not really one of the unsolved mysteries of the Earth or rocket science that is beyond our comprehension. It takes some organizing and some discipline, the two key ‘ingredients’ to successfully manage your time. Lets look at how those aspects interplay with each other:

Goal Setting

This is the first step to begin with. To-Do lists are generally not very efficient because they only keep getting longer and after a while can get overwhelming. It is also important to set not only the ‘type’ of goals to achieve but the ‘number’ of goals that need to be done as well. Setting a goal of 5 things to do in an hour maybe more efficient than 20 things to do in the same hour. The more realistic the goals, the more achievable they are. ‘How does one manage time more effectively’  is a great article that gives you many simple, yet effective, techniques.

Prioritising

This goes hand in hand with goal setting. Some people attempt to just get ‘chunks’ of work done without prioritizing them according to importance. Consequently sometimes these are the very same people who just never seem to have time to do the things that actually matter. Prioritizing the goals that need to be achieved is the best way to maximize the efficiency of the limited time available.

Scheduling

Next it is important to actually put these priorities down on a schedule or calendar. Especially within a business context, there are often numerous tasks that may sometimes require our attention at the same time and having our priorities scheduled will help in allocating them into available slots through the workday.

Discipline

This is the rivet that holds every other piece of the time management structure together. If this isn’t managed, everything else mentioned above falls flat on its face. Once the system of goal setting, prioritizing and scheduling is setup, it takes a lot of hard work through diligence and discipline to keep the system running smoothly. This is often the area where most people falter. If discipline is maintained within our time management skills, we will discover rather quickly that time need not be our foe but can actually be our friend.

Here is a fun, albeit effective, way to manage one’s time.

 

Soft Skills Training Modules – Our Contribution to Trainers

We at MMM Training Solutions made a conscious decision to sell soft skills training materials in order to help trainers enhance their careers. All our modules are experiential and contain a minimum of six activities, games, role-plays or business case studies, as the topic demands. We permit our logo to be removed and our material to be edited. We also do not insist on a per candidate payment, for the use of our training material. Once you buy it from us, you can use it for a lifetime without any renewal charges. The material then can be modified by you, to create your own customized soft skills training curriculum proposal. How much better does it get?

Soft Skills Training Modules – Our Contribution to Trainers

This whole idea of selling training material was conceived from the overwhelming number of calls we received from trainers conducting soft skill training in Chennai and elsewhere, asking for help in the creation of training material.

“Give a man a fish, and you have fed him once. Teach him how to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime.” – Chinese axiom

The format of our training material is very simple yet powerful. We also sell various soft skills training modules that include role-plays, business case studies, and training games, individually, and cover an exhaustive list of soft skills. So as the trainer gets comfortable with creating his/her own training material, these training objects will come in handy in creating soft skills training curriculum proposals. This provides the assistance in second level of development of the capabilities of a soft skill trainer.

The numerous emails that we get from corporate trainers in Chennai and across the country that use our training materials are a testament to the impact that it has.

Recently I read an article in Business Insider paper that further authenticated the decision that we made. According to this article Patrick McConlogue, a 23-year old Manhattan-based programmer one day offers two options to Leo, a homeless man he sees on his way to work each day. The first option being, giving him $100 in cash the next day.And the second option, giving 3 Java script books along with a super cheap basic laptop the next day. If Leo chooses the second option, Patrick would offer to spend one-hour every week day teaching him to code.

Leo chose the second option and as per the article, for the last 4 weeks he has been learning from Patrick to code. They already are working on creating a new app related to Leo’s interest in global warming and climate change. Leo says he is happy Patrick gave him the second option because he is now able to do something about global warming and climate change that is close to his heart.

“Your big opportunity may be right where you are now.” – Napoleon Hill

Leadership – Asking the Tough Questions

Leadership – Asking the tough questions

Being a leadership coach I often have the privilege to be in the presence of future leaders. There is one question that I ask in every session, “Who is the leader that you emulate?” I get answers like, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and disappointingly………… Hitler. It happens session after session.

 

Regardless of how consistently it happens, it still saddens me to think that mankind can see something remarkable in a human like Hitler. It takes me a while to re-center myself but after I do, I ask a simple question, “Are you aware of how Hitler died?” There is a pregnant silence after which they say, “Suicide.”

 

Leadership is action, not position.” – Donald H. McGannon

 

After this awareness is created, the participants always reconsider their stance that Hitler is a leader to be emulated. I heave a sigh of relief; there is hope for mankind ………..

 

Being a leader is about asking the tough questions – it is not about providing the answers but it is about the asking the questions that stimulate thinking. It is about knowing that your opinions go through continuous change as you enhance your awareness and learning through your journey in life.

 

A leader’s role is to raise people’s aspirations for what they can become and to release their energies so they will try to get there. – David R. Gergen

 

Why Prioritization is not Prioritized when Managing Time?

Time Management and Prioritization are often topics of discussion in Performance Management and initiatives that are focused on enhancing productivity. But often productivity is unaffected.

Let us start with examining our process of doing To-Do Lists, Activity Logs and other time management tools. We start the day with listing out all the tasks that need to be handled during the day and keep some room to add new tasks that evolve as the day goes on. The focus is on completing as many tasks as possible.

Some people then have a process of prioritization that helps them to determine the order of the tasks. The parameters used vary for each person. However, the prioritized list of tasks does not seem to increase efficiency in people.

David Rock, in his book ‘Your Brain at Work’, has mentioned latest research on brain science that has finally revealed the answer to this conundrum.

 

David Rock states that in effective time management, there are 3 steps:

  1. Creating the list of tasks
  2. Putting them into buckets of Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 based on the complexity of the task
  3. Understanding ones energy levels during the day and performing the level of task based on the complexity

The last step is often overlooked. The Level 3 tasks often require the highest concentration and should be conducted when energy levels are high. This is because the Pre-Frontal Cortex (PFC) of our brain handles the complex tasks and requires a lot of physical energy to do the processing. Level 1 are routine tasks, which have been done before and are stored in our brain and just needs to be recalled. This requires the lowest energy. Hence, Level 1 should be done at times when our energy is at a low.

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” – Steven Covey

When we do not plan our tasks based on these principles, we tend to do the Level 1 tasks as we are able to complete it without too much effort and we are rewarded as we experience instant gratification. Planning our day using all 3 steps of time management gives you the highest likelihood of increased efficiency.

“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.” – Steven Covey

Make the decision to prioritize your tasks based on both the complexity of your task as well as the energy levels needed to handle the task. More importantly, make the decision to follow what you have decided. This will take you a significantly higher level of functioning.

The Time Management Training conducted by MMM Training Solutions has been repetitively described as ‘life changing’ because it is based on the principles of brain science.

 

Leadership Traits of The Legendary Leader William Wallace

Leadership is one of the most admirable traits in the long history of mankind. Almost every nation and era has seen the rise (and sometimes fall) of great leaders; men and women who changed history for the better, who made a dent in the universe, who irreversibly had a lasting impact on all mankind. In the great nation of Scotland, lived the 11th century legend of William Wallace, who though being an ordinary landowner at one time went on to become one of the leading persons in the revolutionary Wars of Scotland. Wallace’s remarkable tenure in the War was portrayed magnificently by Mel Gibson in the 1995 Academy Award winning movie, ‘Braveheart’. Although a historical depiction, the movie is full of enduring illustrations in leadership skills. For our purposes however, we will look at one of my most favourite scenes that exemplifies this.

Before an intimidating array of English forces, stand the Scottish army, weary, low-spirited and reluctant to fight the English for fear of loss and death. Wallace rides from atop the hill, blue war paint streaked across his face, with his eye on the English forces on the horizon. He faces the battered Scots and begins talking to them. Several features of his leadership skills emerge from this breathtaking dialogue which leadership can incorporate even today:

“If this is your army, why do you go?”

Wallace asks the forces what their purpose is amidst their identity as an army. This is a crucial first step in helping people see the bigger picture – who are they? What are they here for? What drives them? Before focusing on the objective at hand, he gets to the heart of their personhood. Leaders must first learn to get to the hearts of the people they lead.

“I see my countrymen as an army…here in defiance against tyranny”

To the bickering and skepticism of the Scots, Wallace reminds them of the significance of why they are really here. People, including employees within a company, can easily be intimidated or skeptical of the task ahead of them. It is then when leaders must remind them to stand strong, face down the challenges that stare them in the face and stand for something bigger than their fears. It is when the odds are against them that true leaders find the strength within themselves to lift everyone else up.

“They may take our lives but they will never take our freedom!”

Wallace reminds the Scots of what is on the line here – not their comforts, happiness or even their lives but their legacy, their destiny, their freedom. Leaders must always be ready to remind their followers of those things that are bigger than them or their challenges. There is more at stake than just a job, a paycheque or profits. There is integrity, effort and excellence. And when the day is long gone and the problems are far behind, one can rest in the fact that they gave it their all, for the greater good.

Leadership Training Program focus on developing such intangible qualities that help their managers and leaders, not only achieve their goals and targets, but strive to empower everyone around them to reach greater heights as well. Here is an article on 10 qualities of superior leaders: 10 Qualities of Superior Leaders   

For more information on Leadership Training Programs refer to this article : Is Intuition an Important Leadership Trait?

 

 

Effective Leadership & Power of Choice – Voting

As India votes in the Lok Sabha Elections 2014, here are some important lessons about the way we as leaders can choose to view critical life situations.

An incident that happened today reminded me of a key principle that should be a part of every Leadership Training Program. I was on my way to exercise my right to vote for the Lok Sabha elections this morning, I met the Garbage Collector of our colony. He was earlier than usual. My neighbor asked him “Why so early today?” He replied. “Well, I have to go and cast my vote. So, I am finishing my responsibilities as early as I can so that I can go and vote.”

It made me proud to hear this. Around me today democracy is alive. It is displayed by empowered people exercising their right to vote. From neighbours to friends to colleagues and even domestic help. Almost everyone I have met today seemed thrilled to vote.

This reminded me of the amazing ‘Power of Choice’. While circumstances are often not in our control, we can choose our responses to them.

With a vote, we have the power to choose our future leaders.  Similarly, we have the power to choose our responses in a given situation. We may get criticized. We have the power to choose to let it bog us down or learn from it. We will face challenges. We have the choice of letting it deter us, or turning them into opportunities for growth. We will have situations that cause anger. We have the power to choose between ‘being angry’ and ‘channeling that anger’ into productive energy.

One of the most amazing gifts that we have is that we can choose our mindset in any given situation. An interesting example of this happened very recently in a training session I conducted. The session was being held on a Saturday, which was normally a ‘day off’ for the participants. Their collective energy was very low, at the start of the session. Most of them wore a look on their face that said ‘I would rather be somewhere else’. I knew I had to do something different.

I said “We have a choice. We can choose to brood about all the things we would rather be doing today. Or, we can acknowledge that we are here for learning and choose to make this a day where we enjoy ourselves and the process of learning that we have been given the opportunity to embark on.” Immediately, I saw a smile on all their faces. They had recognized that there is an opportunity for choice in the situation. I then asked, “Who is ready to take this learning journey with me today?” Everyone sat upright and put their hands up. There was an immediate shift in energy in the room and the rest of the session went well.

This is something that we focus on in Leadership development programs. This could also be an interesting talking point for Leadership training in India.

The power to choose is a blessing. India fought for its freedom to allow for its citizens to have the freedom of choice. Martin Luther King fought for equal voting rights for Americans from varied ethnic backgrounds. This power is not to be taken lightly. It comes with responsibility. Research the candidates, read the political party’s manifesto and then cast your vote. When making a choice to vote, make it an informed choice. Let us make a choice to have Effective Leadership.

“Every election is determined by the people who show up.” – Larry J. Sabato

Top 5 Most Important Soft Skills Training for Companies

Top 5 Most Important Soft Skills Training for Companies
In an ideal world, every identified soft skills training need for companies, ought to be given equal priority. But with increasingly lean budgets allocated for training due to the economic challenges, a far cry from what the yester years offered, organizations across industries, barring few, are trying to bring down the number of soft skills training programs to be conducted in the coming financial year.

While, bringing down the number of programs may help cutting costs, leaving out key soft skills & behavioral training programs from the training calendar can be defeating the whole purpose of employee development. (To learn more about creating an effective training calendar please visit: STRATEGIES FOR CREATING AN EFFECTIVE TRAINING CALENDAR)

So, what are the top 5 Behavioural / Soft Skills Training Programs for corporate employees?

If you look at each training need objectively, it would be a near impossible task to pick the top 5. Having a broader perspective helps. Ask yourself what are those key behavioral skills that go a long way in ensuring employee productivity? My list is as follows (not necessarily in the order of priority)

Communication is a complex activity. Communication is considered effective only if the receiver comprehends the message in the way it was intended by the sender. The effectiveness of communication depends on usage of words, body language, tone of voice, sender’s and receiver’s perception of the topic of communication and the communication history between the sender and receiver. To address these complexities in communication and to ensure all employees work in cohesion towards achieving organizational objectives it is imperative that Communication Skills Training is part of your training calendar.

Most organizations have highly skilled employees and yet the desired business results are seldom achieved. The reason for this is that, these skilled employees either prefer working in silos or find it difficult to align personal goals to common goals of the team. Interpersonal effectiveness, ability to resolve conflict, ability to challenge and inspire fellow team members are few of the benefits of Team Building Training. In a nutshell, team building programs ensures synergy in team and propels them to achieve more.

Today’s business scenario has become extremely competitive. From an individual’s perspective, it is important that he or she has the necessary skill to present an idea or a plan effectively. This can help progress one’s career. Leaders with better presentation skill seem to enjoy more success and better followership. From an organization’s perspective, it is a known fact that, more often than not, it is not the superior product that sells but a superior presentation. That is the reason why many organizations across the globe spend huge amounts of money on Presentations Skills Training.

A team without a leader is like an army without a general. You are sure to expect chaos in such a situation. But even with Leaders on board, the changing times and the dynamic business climate necessitates Leaders to evolve. Also, Leadership Skill is not a skill limited to managers alone. Even individual contributors need to undergo Leadership Training program to develop the ability to influence stake holders.

Time is a valuable resource. We all acknowledge and know that time is money. Therefore, effective use of time results in higher employee productivity and business profits. Regular Time Management Training interventions to reinforce time management skills ensures employees remain productive.

Chances are, most of your employees have already undergone programs on these skill sets in the previous years. However, these are skills that can never be mastered with a one-time training. If these soft skills training programs are conducted on a yearly basis by effective soft skills trainers, the organization is bound to benefit exponentially.

Intuitive Selling: The Secret behind Sales Success

Intuitive selling: The Secret behind Sales SuccessToo many organizations spend millions on sales training programs that does not give the desired outcome. When sales training does not meet the end objectives, the organization fixes the blame on the quality of trainer and the trainer fixes the blame on the quality of delegates who were trained. An honest introspection will bring both parties to concede that the training program’s failure was the result of poor choice of content.

In my early days as a sales professional I went about trying every, so called, tricks of the trade that the sales gurus suggested for sales success. Very soon I realized sales success does not depend on sales gimmicks. All it did was to project myself as someone who was desperate for a sale.

Sadly many sales training workshops are like the thousands of ‘selling skill’ books in the market. These are rich with anecdotes and inspirational quotes but rarely tells you the secret behind sales success. In fact I have come across hundreds of books with the title “The Art of Selling….” If selling is an art, is it practical to train sales people in a day or two and expect them to produce results? Then there are books that are titled “The science behind sales…” If selling were just science or just skill, wouldn’t the most experienced sales people automatically be the most successful ones? But we all know such claims are far from the truth.

To begin with the components and structure of sales training modules cannot be the same for B2B sales, B2C sales, channel sales and retail sales. The truth about selling is to believe and accept that the situation presented by every customer is unique. How you get to the essence of the situation, which is unique, can be a skill learnt. However, how you provide solutions for the unique situation that is presented, may be an art. Therefore sales success simply depends on the ability to offer effective solutions to customer situations

Until recently I have been searching for a concrete answer to the question why some sale people are able to offer better solutions than others. An article written by William Duggan on ‘strategy+business’ magazine, threw light on a new paradigm. According to this article, idea-generation happens when new information combines with similar information stored in our ‘intelligent memory.

When you have new information, the brain takes the new information to the memory bank and searches for information that are similar. The existing information that is most similar to the new information is now combined. This combination is nothing but a thought or an idea. And the ability to search for similar information and combine with new information is called intuition. A clear mind is all it requires to be intuitive.

This means that when a new situation is described by the customer the sales person needs to let intuition take over. When you allow intuition to take over, the brain takes the new information and searches your intelligent memory for existing informations that are similar. Once the match is found the brain combines the new information with the existing information. The resultant combination is what we refer to as a solution to the customer’s situation. The human brain has the ability to conduct this complex activity within fractions of a second. This shows why some sales people are able to give better solutions and are more successful. 

Sales Training programs that focus on intuitive selling are bound to give better results than your conventional sales training programs. MMM Training solutions offers sales training programs  that equips sales people to offer effective solutions to customer and thus improve their performance and that of their organization.

Getting the Right People On-board

The word “interview” makes many jittery. Often, it conjures up images of grim-faced adults in paneled rooms waiting to extract information to be used in favor of, or against those they interview.
Allow me to carry you through this scenario. An automobile showroom had placed an ad in the papers seeking applications from candidates to work for them. Peter, an ambitious young man, saw the ad and responded to it immediately. His excitement was unbridled when he was given an appointment to meet with the manager of the showroom the next day. Peter entered the portals of the showroom with dreams of a blazing future. His impressive presence caused the salesman in the showroom to mistake him for a potential customer. They went through the rigmarole of trying to impress him and it took a while before they realized that he had come to their showroom hoping to be hired. In a fraction of a second their expressions changed, attitudes transformed and there was a flurry of exasperated activity before an interview was finally made possible.

It was clear that Peter’s interviewer was ill prepared for the interview. He had not studied Peter’s resume and the questions were not targeted to assess his capability in the area of automobile sales. The interview did not last longer than 10 minutes. The manager was impressed with Peter’s presence and communication capabilities and offered immediately offered him the position. However, Peter turned it down, as he was discouraged with the lack of professionalism he had encountered. The showroom lost an excellent candidate because of the lack of readiness of the interviewer.

Every well-meaning interviewer has to know how to interview efficiently in order to identify the ideal candidate for the task at hand. This can actually be equivalent to scrambling for the ‘proverbial needle’ in a human pile. That is why interviewing skills for managers are very important.

Preparation is key to developing good interviewing skills and techniques. 

There are 3 critical steps involved in preparation:

  • Ensure that you match the candidates competencies with the competencies required for the position
  • Ensure that you create questions that will help you to elicit the information about these competencies
  • Ensure that you sell the position to the candidate by mentioning, subtly, the prospects that this opportunity has to offer

Judging by the number of programs that MMM Training Solutions conducts in Interviewing Skills Training for Managers, we can say that the efficacy is desired by corporates. The training focuses on writing relevant Job Descriptions, developing the skills needed to prepare for the interview and asking powerful questions to gain a deeper understanding of the skills and potential in the candidate