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The Eight Practices of Highly Coachable Leaders

In my executive coaching work, one of the most important traits that differentiates high potential leaders is their learning agility. In succession planning discussions, organizations identify leaders who are learning agile because these people quickly learn how to be effective in new and different situations. Organizations hire executive coaches to prepare these leaders for challenging and stretch assignments. Based on my work with these executives, I have distilled eight practices that differentiate the coaching clients who made the greatest gains vs. those that did not. Whether you are being coached by your manager or by an executive coach, these practices will make the difference in your learning agility and impact.

Seven Warning Signs That Your Employee May Not Be Coachable

“I’ve tried to coach Anne to collaborate better with her peers but she just doesn’t seem to get it”. This came with an exasperated sigh from Mary, one of my executive coaching clients who is trying to get a direct report to improve her peer relationships. “I can’t spend so much of my time cleaning up the mess. Is it time to just find someone else for the role?”

In my executive coaching work, I often help my clients assess their talent. I help them become better coaches for their people. I also do a quick assessment prior to an executive coaching engagement to see whether a leader is coachable. Here are seven sure signs that someone on your team may not be.

Make Your New Year Resolutions Stick

Most of us start this time of year picking new year resolutions. For me, they are the usual suspects. Get healthier. Lose those 20 pounds I’ve been trying to lose since the 1990’s. Become a better person. The latter usually entails becoming more patient, loving, and forgiving in my relationships – including with other drivers on the road. Each year, I carefully set action plans to meet these goals. Yet, most of my goals lose steam around mid-February and it’s back to business as usual: donuts and road rage. With some therapy, I have even found some humor at the irony of being an executive coach and not being able to meet my own goals. The fact is 92% of New Year resolutions fail.

Here’s what I’m doing differently this year. It is from Marshall Goldsmith’s best-selling book called Triggers. The #1 executive coach pays someone to call him every morning and ask him 32 questions that help him to be accountable to be the person he wants to be. I decided to give myself the challenge of asking myself ten accountability questions every morning.

Five Steps to Get the Honest Feedback You Need

As an executive coach, some of the saddest moments I witness is when someone gets feedback…too late. “I was shocked” said one leader to me recently. “It felt like a kick in the stomach coming from someone I trusted”. Her voice cracked as she said this to me and it was clear she was trying to contain her emotion. This leader had been recently asked to take a demotion.  Lack of honest feedback is the biggest career de-railer I know of. We each have blind spots and feedback illuminates them.

I am a big believer that we each come from a place of good intentions. No supervisor walks in the office thinking “today I will be a jerk” and no direct report decides “today I will ignore all the signals that something may be wrong”. Yet, this is what I witness all too often: supervisors who don’t give feedback directly enough and direct reports who aren’t paying attention to the cues that something may be wrong. Incredible as it sounds, l see insufficient feedback as an improvement opportunity in 100% of my executive coaching engagements. It costs organizations millions in lost talent, productivity, trust, and engagement. Read on for five steps to get the feedback you need.

Five Steps to Practice Empathy

These last few weeks have been tough for many of us as we dealt with the shock of a U.S. election result we didn’t anticipate. Given the divisiveness of the election, many of us feel disenfranchised, while many others feel finally heard and redeemed. Many of us find ourselves estranged from family, friends or co-workers who are on the other end of the political spectrum. It’s time to figure out where we go from here – especially as many of us in the U.S. gather for Thanksgiving holidays.

As authentic leaders, it is important for us to examine and lead with our values. And it is equally important for us to move forward adaptively with change. Whether in our workplace or in our personal lives, not a day goes by when we’re not confronted with the unexpected or someone who has a different point of view (I say this with humility as the mom of a 17-year old!). So here are five steps I share to practice empathy.

Week 52: The End and the Beginning of Authentic Leadership

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Welcome to Week 52 of the Authenticity@Work Leadership Tool-kit! My intention for this series is to share a quick tool each week to help you lead with more authenticity, adaptability and inspiration so we can together create workplaces where we bring the best of ourselves and inspire others. So grab a journal and an accountability partner to make these practices even more powerful for you!

In last week’s post we talked about authenticity in teams and how we’re wired for team trust. Did you have an authentic trust-building conversation with a colleague? What did you learn?

Congratulations! We have come to the end. I imagine that you have grown immensely through these practices. And it is the start of a new beginning. I share here an image of the dedication in my book Wired for Authenticity. It is dedicated to you, the leader, journeying in each moment in the practice of authenticity.

Week 51: Authentic Teams – We’re Wired For Team Trust

Welcome to Week 51 of the Authenticity@Work Leadership Tool-kit! My intention for this series is to share a quick tool each week to help you lead with more authenticity, adaptability and inspiration so we can together create workplaces where we bring the best of ourselves and inspire others. So grab a journal and an accountability partner to make these practices even more powerful for you!

In last week’s post we talked about how to “go with the flow”. In what areas did you find that you use your skills to the utmost?

We’re wired to connect with one another. Micromoments of meaningful connections and trust with our team members actually help our well-being as human beings. Our bodies respond to positive relationships, so positive interactions with team members actually help build our immune systems.

Week 50: Go With The Flow

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Welcome to Week 50 of the Authenticity@Work Leadership Tool-kit! My intention for this series is to share a quick tool each week to help you lead with more authenticity, adaptability and inspiration so we can together create workplaces where we bring the best of ourselves and inspire others. So grab a journal and an accountability partner to make these practices even more powerful for you!

In last week’s post we talked about bringing your dream to work. What did bringing your dream to work open up for you?

Have you ever found yourself so devoted to an activity that you lose track of time—where there is just the joy of being in the moment? Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (yes, I’ve given up trying to pronounce his name correctly, so I fondly refer to him as MC!) has a term for this quality. It’s called “flow”—an intense focus, a sense of clarity where you forget yourself and feel like you’re part of something larger. Flow is an optimal state of consciousness where we feel and perform our best.

Week 49: Bring Your Dream To Work

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Welcome to Week 49 of the Authenticity@Work Leadership Tool-kit! My intention for this series is to share a quick tool each week to help you lead with more authenticity, adaptability and inspiration so we can together create workplaces where we bring the best of ourselves and inspire others. So grab a journal and an accountability partner to make these practices even more powerful for you!

In last week’s post we talked about how to dance with your dream. What one small step did you make to start working toward your dream?

What if we each took the time to draw the narrative of our lives? In my workshops, I often have leaders draw out their leadership journey. What we learn from others’ journeys helps us gain access to who they are, what drives them, and allows us to be touched by their dream.

Week 48: Dance With The Dream

Welcome to Week 48 of the Authenticity@Work Leadership Tool-kit! My intention for this series is to share a quick tool each week to help you lead with more authenticity, adaptability and inspiration so we can together create workplaces where we bring the best of ourselves and inspire others. So grab a journal and an accountability partner to make these practices even more powerful for you!

In last week’s post we talked about the courage for bold action in small steps. What did you learn from the five steps to practice courage?

It’s the pursuit of the dream that matters, not waiting until we have all the facts or are guaranteed success before we start. It’s the passion for an idea that captures our imagination. And in doing so, we are willing to overcome barriers and stretch ourselves outside our comfort zones—and when we fail, we try again. As we pursue our dreams, we inspire others who share them. We create a tribe of inspired supporters, advocates, and dreamers who work together to make the dream a reality.