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!”

Authenticity – A Leadership Essential

Authenticity - A Leadership Essential
“Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Nelson Mandela’s life is perfect story of authenticity………..

Mandela spent the best years of his life in prison. When he was released from prison he rose to the highest level becoming the President of the country. What a wonderful opportunity to take revenge on the people who imprisoned him because he demanded equality! But instead of taking revenge he displayed forgiveness and the first act of his presidency was to support the ‘all white’ rugby team to win in the world cup. This win was a much needed morale booster for the country. Color did not matter to Mandela; people mattered.

This is a powerful example of the power of authenticity as Mandela did what he expected others to do if they needed to leave the past behind and move forward as a nation.Being an Executive Coach I am constantly challenging myself in this area.

Recently I ran a leadership training session with a co-facilitator, Maria (this is a fictitious name). One of the topics that we were training on was ‘Conducting Performance Appraisals’ – as a leader how can you give empowering feedback to your team about their performance.

In this article I would like to reflect upon a short incident that happened during the session. I want to say upfront that I do not want to insinuate that I am perfect. It so happens that in this one incident the spotlight is on the other trainer.

We were working with a group of 60 people. Prior to the start of the session we talked about how each of us would like to run our sessions. One of the requests I had was that when I am facilitating I would not like to be interrupted by the other facilitator. The lead facilitator should hold the major space and the supporting facilitator only comes in if there is something very important. We both agreed to honor this expectation.

Maria opened the session and I played the agreed role of the supporting facilitator. In the next session I was the lead facilitator. I was winding down my interaction when Maria stepped in and took over the session. We then announced a 15 minute break. As the participants were leaving Maria turned to me and said, “I think the way you handled the session stifled the sharing and the energy in the group.” I felt that someone had knocked the wind out of my sail. All my excitement and exhilaration suddenly vanished.

Maria was oblivious of the impact that her words had on me. She continued to get ready for the next session and put up the power point slide titled ‘Proactive Language vs Reactive Language’. I could not help notice the irony in the situation – she was going to train the leaders on the importance of using Proactive Language (and avoiding Reactive Language), while giving feedback, when she had just used Reactive Language to me.

I took a few minutes to gather my thoughts and then, pointing to the slide, I told Maria, “I wished you had used proactive rather than reactive language”. I also informed her that I did not feel that she kept her commitment of giving me the space as the lead facilitator.

She was very upset with me and said that she felt stifled if she did not speak whenever she felt the need to. A couple of days later she informed the co-coordinator of the network that she did not work with me anymore as my style was not comfortable for her. I was devastated. I hoped that we could have worked it out. We are leadership trainers who encourage people to climb mountains and not go around them.

The word authenticity came to mind…………….

As a leadership coach Maria is training leaders to treat each member of their team based on their individual style and needs. However, she has decided not to work with me because my style caused her discomfort.

As a leadership coach Maria is training leaders to give feedback by asking questions and intently listening so that the situation can be understood from all perspectives. In other words, the feedback should be based on facts rather than feelings. This makes it proactive and not reactive. Was her feedback to me reactive?

“Means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

The critical question for me is, “Can we be effective as a trainer in an area where we have not mastered ourselves?” I agree that we are all on a journey of continuous improvement but does walking away indicate that we feel that we have reached the destination or we are not interested in continuing our difficulty journey?

Thoughts and Destiny – Is there a connection?

Thoughts and Destiny – Is there a connection?MMM Training Solutions specializes in soft skills training and personality development courses. We strongly advocate that your thoughts drive your destiny. Most people are skeptical when we hear our stance but this quote from Gandhi gives more clarity than we can explain:

“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Hence the focus of our personality development courses encourages you to first create self-awareness and identify areas of development. Often as leaders we expect others to change while we do not indulge in any self-enhancement. We advocate that the best leaders are the ones that can role model the behavior that they want to see in others.

Henry Kissinger put it very aptly when he said, “The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.” This crusade requires the leaders to be willing to explore uncharted territories and be confident to handle the challenges that erupt on the way. It requires the leaders to have the skills that are required to influence and gently persuade the team to choose these paths of growth and development. Hence our leadership programs often have a combination of soft skills training and personality development courses.

This is a story of a mother who took her son to a well-known sadhu because he was addicted to sweets. When the sadhu heard the problem he asked the mother to bring her son a week later for a healing session. The perplexed mother did as she was asked. A week later, before her son went in for the session, she asked the sadhu the reason for the week’s delay. The sadhu said that he loved sweets himself and sometimes tended to overindulge. He knew that he could not authentically advice the boy when his weakness loomed large. So during this week he gave up sweets and went through the whole experience of giving up something he loved. “Now I feel competent to advice your son,” concluded the sadhu. The astonished mother was left speechless by the authenticity displayed by the sadhu.

Leadership is about not only helping others to reach a higher destiny but one striving always to do the same. When one comes from a space of humility, we realize that we all are in a process of continuous change. This will help us to be more tolerant to the weaknesses of others. This revelation is what our training programs strive to inculcate.

Managing Versus Leading

Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” – Peter F. Drucker

The Executive Training and Managerial Training conducted by MMM focuses on transforming managers into leaders. Often the words managers and leaders are used synonymously but there is a world of difference between the two. Henry Kissinger put it very aptly when he said, “The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.” This seamless movement requires the leaders to be willing to explore unexplored territories and be comfortable with the uncertainties encountered on the way. It requires for the leaders to be able to ask questions and enable their team members to discover the answers that surprise them with the results as people are more amenable to being led rather than being driven.

The only real training for leadership is leadership.” – A. Jay

The focus of our Executive Training and Managerial Training programs is on helping the managers to understand that in order for them to earn the role of a leader that others desire to emulate, they need to be a role model. In other words, they need to be the leader that does the things that he/she wants other to do. They need to live a life in which they follow the same principles in both their professional as well as personal lives. This all-encompassing passion is what impacts and changes lives.

Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.” – Dwight Eisenhower

Making a Sustainable Change

With the emergence of BPOs in India, housewives got an opportunity to teach English and the simpler aspects of Customer Service. But with the boom of the Indian economy competitors for this space started to spring up all over the world. This demanded that the Indian taskforce has to be on a path of continuous improvement, which, in turn, mandated a higher level of capabilities in the trainers. Since this industry got a late start in India, accomplished trainers are still hard to come by. So we at MMM Training Solutions, being a soft skills training consultancy, pondered as to how we could contribute to this situation.

 

At this point, I saw the movie ‘Salmon Fishing in the Yemen’. This film is about a fisheries expert who is recruited to help realize a sheikh’s vision of bringing the sport of fly-fishing to the Yemen desert. The intent of the sheikh was to ensure that water was plentiful in the desert and that fly-fishing was a trade that the locals could benefit from. However, he did not consider the fact that the locals, for generations, had only lived in the desert. He also did not take their opinions or get them ready for the change. This venture was an exercise in futility as the locals sabotaged it.

 

Anytime a change is being initiated, three things need to happen:

  1. The people need to be informed and they need to see the wisdom in the change.
  2. Clear and systematic plan for the change needs to be laid out.
  3. People have to be taught the new ways of doing things.

 

Because of the competition in the marketplace, the first two items were already addressed. Hence, MMM Training Solutions decided that we would go to the root of the issue and increase the capabilities of the trainers. We decided to conduct Open House Train the Trainer Programs all over the country. We have already conducted two in Chennai and the accolades received spurred us to conduct the next one in Mumbai on Feb 22, 23 and 24.