Leading, Coaching, and Mentoring

Often used synonymously — But vastly different

One of the great things about being involved in leadership development and coaching is the opportunity to be constantly learning and developing your own skills in these areas. They say that “you teach that which you need to learn the most.” Although I don’t really subscribe to that theory, there is a thread running through it that resonates within me because of the learning that often goes along with the teaching.

If you’re like most of us, you have probably noticed the buzz word “Coaching” being thrown around a lot in the corporate world. I am a leadership coach. But what does it actually mean? Sometimes when dealing with abstract concepts it is easier to define it by describing what it is not.

What it is not!

Coaching is not leading. Leadership Voices, LLC is all about leadership and about the many ways that leadership is defined and employed. And great leaders will often provide guidelines and advice on how to succeed in certain areas. Typically they will be seeking to help you reach a certain goal, or they wish to rally you and your colleagues to reach this shared goal. Great leaders will often also be great coaches; however, it is still important to understand the differences in the conversations with them.

Coaching is not mentoring. If you’ve ever been a coach or have been coached, and the conversation has steered towards advice on technical or job-specific concepts, then you aren’t being coached – you are being mentored. Mentoring is defined as, “A situation where a senior or more experienced individual is assigned to act as an advisor, counselor or guide’’ (Business Directory, 2014). Yes, mentoring is crucial in any role, however, it is equally as important to understand what mentoring is and why it is being done.

Coaching is not managing. If your manager provides a coaching session for you, and gives you advice on ways to perform your role in a greater capacity, gives you ideas on how to make your sales quota, or tells you how to achieve KPIs, then you are being managed. And if your manager does this with you frequently and an in a positive way, then you have a great manager. However, a great manager is not necessarily a great coach. It’s not that they are bad at what they are doing – quite the opposite. It’s just that they are doing what they are employed to do – manage their team members and ensure that they deliver on the targets set by their own manager.

So, what is coaching? 

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You Have To Be Able To Take The Coaching

Advice from Tom Brady that we all need to hear.

I have two favorite professional football teams. They are the Houston Texans and anyone who beats the Patriots. I don’t like their coach. And I don’t like their quarterback. But, when Tom Brady speaks the truth, I must acknowledge it.

One of the articles that crossed my newsfeed this weekend was an article on ESPN.com that gave some advice from Tom Brady of the New England Patriots to Deshaun Watson of the Houston Texans. His advice was as profound as it was simple. “Listen to ‘demanding’ Bill O’Brien.

Here is a little more of what Tom Brady had to say to the ESPN reporter.

“Billy’s certainly [demanding],” Brady said. “They’re all demanding. That’s what makes them great coaches. They have a sense of urgency every day. They care very deeply about how the team is performing. They want every player on the roster to perform at a very high level every day, and that’s a lot of pressure for players. And I think putting pressure on players is critical to getting the best out of them, because players need to be pushed. There needs to be high demand placed on what we’re doing, and typically players that don’t like that are probably the ones that don’t last very long, in my experience in the NFL.”

There seems to be more to this statement than the obvious coach and player relationship. Brady is acknowledging that Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien, the former assistant coach for the New England Patriots, is a little tough sometimes. Brady calls him “demanding.”

Demanding

What does it mean to be demanding? When referring to a task, the dictionary says it is about requiring much skill or effort.When referring to a person it says it is about making others work hard or meet high standards. So, why the negative connotation to the word demeaning?

One of the things sorely lacking today is any semblance of high standards and expectations. We don’t have any for those who lead us. And we don’t often have any for ourselves when it comes to our own performance.

Is there value in having a demanding coach?

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Coaching

What is it?

coaching

One of the great things about being involved in leadership development and coaching is the opportunity to be constantly learning and developing your own skills in these areas. They say that you teach that which you need to learn the most. Although I don’t subscribe to that theory, there is a thread running through it that resonates within me because of the learning that often goes along with the teaching.

If you’re like most of us, you have probably noticed the buzz word “Coaching” being thrown around a lot in the corporate world. I am a leadership and life coach. But what does it actually mean? Sometimes when dealing with abstract concepts it is easier to define it by describing what it is not.

Coaching is not leading. — Leadership Voices, LLC is all about leadership and about the many ways that leadership is defined and employed. And great leaders will often provide guidelines and advice on how to succeed in certain areas. Typically they will be seeking to help you reach a certain goal, or they wish to rally you and your colleagues to reach this shared goal. Great leaders will often also be great coaches; however, it is still important to understand the differences in the conversations with them.

Coaching is not mentoring. — If you’ve ever been a coach or have been coached, and the conversation has steered towards advice on technical or job specific concepts, then you aren’t being coached – you are being mentored.

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Developing Young Leaders

This works for any NEW leaders also!

developing-young-leaders

I have been on a bit of a “Leadership Development” track lately. That is especially true as it relates to young leaders. Training the next generation of leaders in your organization may be the most important thing you do as a leader. It has been said, and I agree, that the goal of leaders is  not to create more followers but to create more leaders. Now, we can debate what that single most important thing is. But, I think that we can all agree that training the next generation of leaders is certainly in the top three!

With that in mind, let’s get right to it 

Here are the things that I feel we need to be doing to keep producing new leaders. This list is not exhaustive. But I firmly believe that if we take these seven ideas to heart and begin to employ them in our relationships with young leaders, then great things will happen.

Train Young Leaders to Respect Authority – To effectively be in authority you must first learn to be under authority. They are “young leaders”. There are certainly some “gray leaders” around who have the scars and the experience to guide these young leaders. And these young leaders must learn to respect those in authority over them.

Play to the Strength of Young Leaders – These young leaders have immediately identifiable talents, skills, and abilities. Play to them and allow the young leader to experience success early and often in their developmental process.

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Be A Mentor

Are you a mentor to other leaders?

be-a-mentor

In a recent article, I tackled the need for leaders to be “teachable.” And we certainly must be. But leaders must also be teaching — or, in my words, leaders must be a mentor.

Your followers today are the future leaders of tomorrow. As leaders, we have an obligation to those who will come behind us, or in other words, our future to train and mentor tomorrow’s leaders today. The pace of change today is so swift that we must mentor and coach our young leaders through these times. “Trial by fire” may just not be an option in our organizations.

How do we develop and keep the best young leaders? 

The answer is to use a formal or even an informal mentoring program. By using an effective mentoring program, you and I can help develop today’s leadership talent and potential into tomorrow’s proven and tested leaders. Organizations that leverage the leadership and experience of senior staff can develop, maintain, and retain the talent that they may already have in-house. 

What are some things to consider as a leadership mentor?

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How to Choose a Coach? 

Don't pick someone you already know!

How to Chose a Coach

By now you may be beginning to see the value of having a leadership coach who will work with you and guide you along the journey of life. But, how do you choose a coach? What are the criteria that you should consider?

Unfortunately, selecting the right leadership coach is often a decision that is made based on a flawed set of criteria.

Let me just say quickly, in this article, I am going to be dealing with non-technical criteria. Certifications, degrees, and experiences are all technical criteria when it comes to what may make a good coach. I want to focus today on less technical selection criteria.

So, what is the selection criteria?

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Where Do Leaders Go For Help?

Even leaders need it!

Where Does A Leaders Go For Help?

Even leaders need help. Or, maybe I should say, “Especially leaders need help.” I am not sure if that is the right way to say that grammatically, but I think you get my point.

I have been doing leadership coaching, working with non-profit boards, and doing one-on-one coaching for many years. Several years ago I founded Leadership Voices, a collaborative site for all kinds of leaders. Over the last few years, we have grown this community from nothing to more than 2500 “followers.”

Resting on current achievements has never been a part of my operating procedures. And recently I began to feel a real need to reach out to get some help and advice. But, just where does a leader go for help? That is the question facing me and probably many of you as well. Who can I turn to for help and advice on what I am doing wrong and what I am doing right?

So, here is what I did.

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Put Your Oxygen Mask On First

Put Your Mask On First

You may have heard these words before and not given them much thought.  Today, you have an opportunity to think about them from a fresh perspective.

If you are traveling with children, or are seated next to someone who needs assistance, place the mask on yourself first, then offer assistance. Continue using the mask until advised by a uniformed crew member to remove it.

This is part of the safety briefing that I have heard way too many times in recent days. Upon a quick review of my flight activity on United’s website I was a little surprised to realize that I have flown almost 92,000 miles on United or another Star Alliance carrier since the beginning of the year. And I have flown another 15,000 miles on other carriers in that time.

You hear basically the same safety briefing on every flight. They are fairly dry and emotionless. Unlike some of the funny stuff you hear coming out of Southwest Airlines, United doesn’t see a lot of benefit in humor.

The part about the oxygen mask caused me to pause and ponder a bit recently. The flight attendant asks you to place your mask over your face FIRST. You are asked to do that BEFORE you offer assistance to your children or anyone else who may need your help. I am not sure about you, but that is a concept that would be hard and seem at odds with the heart of a loving father if my children or grandchildren were onboard with me.

What is the Leadership Lesson?

The leadership lesson is that we must realize it is important as leaders that we focus on ourselves from time to time in order that we will have sufficient energy and resources to lead and be a force for change and growth in those around us.

How do we do that?

Here are 5 things that you can do to put your oxygen mask on first:

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The Business of Ethics

MM - Ethics

I am sure there has been much written about ethics in leadership but I wanted to share some insights recently revealed to me.

I had a visit with some dear friends who have been in leadership positions and one is currently writing a book on “ethics in the university”. He is a retired professor and is a dear friend so, jokingly, I asked him if he had discovered any, to which there was a resounding NO.

The chats usually go with the state of our country then circles around to business models and ethics.

First, I’m not sure why we call it “business ethics”.

Is the place we learn business ethics, in business, or is it too late then?  Our conversation had me asking that question, “Where do we learn” ethics?

Well, I got the standard business answer we all should expect and the one you are thinking. We teach them in college and have training classes and seminars. Which isn’t bad, I might add!

As you may guess at this point in the conversation, I still had plenty of questions. So, one immediate question was; at what age do we start to teach ethics?

Where and when do “we” learn ethics?

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