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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Nuts and Trees

Legacy Leadership Lessons from a Tiny Acorn

I may have mentioned a time or two before that I love great quotes. The more obscure and pithier the quote, the more I like it. And if I can find a Latin quote, well, that makes it better than a Will Rodgers or Mark Twain quote by far!

I think I have established a new high-water mark for obscure quotes today when I present this one for your consideration:

ex glande quercus

What does it mean?

The phrase is Latin and it is the motto of what was once a proud and noble institution but has become an ill-performing secondary school in England. In fact, recently, the school was in the lowest 20% quintile amongst similar schools nationally. In 2012, only 40% of the pupils enrolled there attained acceptable scores in English and mathematics. Following an inspection in December 2012, the school was placed in “Special Measures” under the Education Act of 2005 because it was failing to provide an acceptable standard of education and the persons responsible for leading, managing, and governing the school were not demonstrating the capacity to secure the necessary improvements in the achievements of pupils, quality of teaching, standards of behavior, and managerial leadership.

Oh, have I neglected to give you the translation of the Latin phrase from above that thrilled me so much? Have you “Googled” it already and found it out for your self? Here is the translation:

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Principles of Intentional Mentoring 

4 Things That Must Be Considered

There are some genuine considerations for the would-be protégé. In fact, there are four that I would have you consider today.

We need to identify a leader that is worthy of following.

It is an indictment of our culture, and maybe even our own judgment sometimes, that we would need to be reminded of this consideration. Not every leader is worthy of following. We must understand that consideration from both the leader’s and from the follower’s perspective. As a follower, I must find a leader that is worthy to follow and whose successes are not compromised by their ethics or methods. As a leader, I must always be diligent to be “worthy” to be followed.

We must learn how they lead.

Is there some “secret sauce?” Usually, there is not. It is just a lot of hard work and some careful application of emotional intelligence concepts. But, as a protégé, they will be asking: “What is the secret to your success as a leader?” So, as a leader, ask yourself the following questions: What makes you worthy to be followed? And what are you doing specifically that makes you “successful” as a leader?

What makes one leader successful will not always work in another place and setting. That is why I am stressing that it is important to learn how they lead. It is the “how” that will be filled with those traits and characteristics that will be the earmarks of an Emotionally Agile Leader.

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Active Mentoring 

What Does the Mentor / Protégé Relationship Look Like?

When you pause a few moments to think about it, consider just how great it would be to sit down with one of the most well-known leaders of all time. Wouldn’t that be incredible?

I would never put myself out there as that level of leader for a moment. But, I know that what everyone wants is that sense of a 1-on-1 dialog and they want that intimate relationship that is built through the kinds of conversations that occur over an extended period of time.

What is the Vision?

My vision is to create that kind of mentoring relationship where we are handcrafting leaders in small batches and not stamping them out in a factory automated format. One size has never fit all. And building more Emotionally Agile Leaders is an artisan process rather than a mass-production process.

Leadership is modeled. It is not taught. Leadership must be lived out and demonstrated before our protégés eyes to be able to impact followers and impact those who would yearn to be a leader too.

Mentoring is not a mass production process. It is done more in the style of an artisan or craftsman who painstakingly creates a work of art one at a time over a substantial period of time.

It is no accident!

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Sticks and Stones 

What I “think” about it really matters

How many of you remember growing up and playing on the playground? What did you say when someone said something mean or hurtful to you? Maybe you said what many children have said when you repeated a little saying.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

Oh, how I wish that were true. As we have gotten older, we have realized that words hurt more than the sticks and the stones. In fact, I heard a person say one time that “it is not what you think about me or even say about me that hurts me. It is what I think about what you think about me or say about me that hurts me.” What they are saying is that it is my perception about something that drives my behaviors.

What does this have to do with leadership?

I am working on some “appendix material” for my upcoming book. And I am working on a leadership development resource for 1-on-1 mentoring. I am working on the issue of self-awareness or self-perception. My focus for that section is on how we perceive ourselves, how others perceive us, and how we perceive that others perceive us. This can almost become a carnival house of mirrors scenario where that loop can become almost infinite. So, let’s not go that far.

Psychologists often use words like self-perception, other perception, and meta-perception. They indicate that we can be good or bad at each the of perception. I love alliteration. It helps me cement a concept in my mind. So, I am modifying their words to help me get a better grip on them and their leadership implications. So, I will use Self-Perception, Social-Perception, and Circular-Perception.

Self-Perception is simply a matter of how you see yourself. Our role as leadership mentors is to help our protégés to help them really see themselves as they are. And not just as they perceive themselves or even as others perceive them to be. Let’s face it. Very few of us are “black belts” at self-awareness. mentors must never come across as having become too much of an expert in this regard.

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My Mount Rushmore of Mentors

The Top Few Who Have Really Influenced Me

I had a text message this morning from a man who has been way more influential in my life than he even knows. We had not been in touch for a while due to his move from TX to LA and because of my crazy schedule for the last few months. He was checking in with me to make sure that the lack of communication was not due to some unidentified or unresolved issue between us. Nothing can be farther from the truth!

In the short text response back to him to let him know I am still alive, I told him that he is on my personal “Mount Rushmore” of guys who have had a major impact on my life. The real Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota is the epitome of public acknowledgment of greatness.

Mount Rushmore features 60-foot sculptures of the heads of four of the United States greatest presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Can you name anyone else who deserves to be on that mountainside? Wait, don’t do that. That is not what this article is about. It is about the four guys who have had a significant impact on my life and my leadership development.

My Mount Rushmore

I want to share with you just who these guys are. But I want to allow them some anonymity out of respect for their time and privacy. Here they are:

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It’s Not “Who’s your Daddy?”

It is “Who’s your Uncle?"

My business travels have taken me far and wide. They have taken me around the world several times over. And I have had the incredible opportunity to observe and interact with many different cultures. One of the interesting aspects of the culture of India is the use of the word, “Uncle.”

Modern vernacular has given us the pejorative question, “Who’s your daddy?”  According to Wikipedia, it is a slang expression that means: “takes the form of a rhetorical question. It is commonly used as a boastful claim of dominance over the intended listener. It is also sometimes used as a derogatory claim of sexual dominance of a man over a woman or another man.” All in all, it is not the most uplifting thing that you can say.

What does this have to do with Indian culture?

Indian culture uses the term “Uncle” in quite the opposite sense. Rather than be a derogatory term as we see here in the U.S., the term “Uncle” is used as a way of showing respect for those that are older or more mature than we are. I was shocked to be referred to in that way on my first trip to India several years ago. I had the great pleasure to meet a family involved in ministry and missionary work. They were locals and were indigenous to that region of India. There were a husband and wife. They had extended family as well. We all went to lunch together on a Sunday afternoon. One of the young adults that I enjoyed dining with was 20-something female, who upon meeting me for the first time referred to me thereafter as “Uncle.” Rest assured, I am not her biological uncle. However, once I understood that it was a term of true endearment and respect, I did get a very warm feeling from being called “Uncle.”

People of India recognize and address those who are older with a familial term as a way of showing respect. It also indicates that they are open to the influence that the “Uncle” may have on their life.

What is the Leadership Lesson?

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Leadership Lessons from T-Ball

At least from a Papa’s Perspective

Leadership Lessons from T-Ball

I have remarked many times before that you cannot predict from whence inspiration will come. Such is the case today as I reflect on my youngest grandchild’s recent first year of Junior T-Ball.

We are not baseball fans by nature. I am much more of an ice hockey fan than a baseball fan. But, thanks to some very dear and patient friends, I learned the game of baseball almost 15 years ago. Nowadays, I thoroughly enjoy the game.

The fact that Jr. T-Ball bears little resemblance to real baseball is not the subject for today. Rather, it is to consider the leadership lessons (and really, life lessons) from watching our grandson’s first season.

Observations and an Application to Leadership

T-Ball can be a little scary. — Most of the little ones were a little scared to be out there on the field by themselves. Mom or Dad was always welcome to stand alongside the player. Shoot, the little player could actually ask anyone to stand not the field with them to help them feel more comfortable out there. I was drafted several times by my grandson to stand with them as they played the field. But, you know what, we were able to share great times together. And guess who taught him to say “Hey battah, battah, battah!” while he hunched over trying to be as ready as he could?

Leadership can be a little scary at times as well. We just may need to reach out and draft someone to come stand beside us from time to time. Not only will it be a comfort to us, we can also learn some things while they are standing by our side if we are open to a little ad hoc mentoring.

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The Truly Humble Don’t Know It

Or, if they do, they are too humble to mention it!

The Truly Humble Don’t Know It

Last week was a blur. I spent the entire week in New Orleans at the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council’s (WBENC) Summit & Salute.

According to their website, “WBENC’s Summit engages participants in a two-day program filled with a focus on the future of various industries, business networking, and development opportunities. The Salute follows the Summit and is a festive evening that highlights America’s Top Corporations for Women Business Enterprises for 2016.

An otherwise typical awards dinner took on special interest to me and to my colleagues when one of our peers was recognized for a life of leadership to various organizations. One of our colleagues had a friend who posted a great description of the award winner. She called her an “iconic and humblest of all souls.” Wow! what a description! Wouldn’t you like to have that said of you?

And the winner is . . . 

The winner of the award was my friend and colleague, Susan Stentz. Susan has spent much of her career supporting women and minority business enterprises. She is a “go to” person on our team. She is a wealth of experience and insight. I, personally, call her on the phone often to answer questions and get her feedback on thoughts and ideas that I have. Everyone on our team recognizes her leadership in this vital area of commercial dealings with potential suppliers.

What is the Leadership Lesson from this?

I think it is simply this. The greatest leaders are great without losing their humility in the process.

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Leadership Lesson from the Flu

A Flu Shot Would Have Helped!

Leadership Lesson from the Flu

Influenza-B. The was the emphatic word from the nurse at the after-hours clinic last Monday. That certainly explained why I felt like I had been hit by a freight train. And one of the first questions that she asked me as I walked in was, “Have you had your flu shot?”

Her question bothered e a little. She didn’t ask if I had “A” flu shot. She asked did you have “YOUR” flu shot. She personalized it. She made me take ownership of something that I didn’t actually own nor had I taken advantage of receiving the many times it is offered to employees where I work and many other places for those of us of a certain age and stage of life. But, I had not taken MY flu shot.

Perhaps I should have taken MY flu shot. All of the real medical evidence seems to indicate that if it doesn’t prevent you from getting the flu, it will at least lessen the duration and magnitude of the symptoms. Unfortunately, I like so many, chose to believe otherwise about the efficacy of the annual flu shot.

What is the Leadership Lesson?

The key to learning a leadership lesson from this is to understand what the flu vaccine is, or was.

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