You are either influencing or being influenced

November 1, 2007

In business (and really in life in general), you are either influencing others or being influenced by others.

Right now in one of my businesses I am working to influence people to become advertisers/sponsors. Meanwhile, all sorts of radio, television, and print media are trying to influence me to advertise. Somewhere in these conversations some of us will achieve our primary goals, and others of us will not.

One of the most fruitful practice areas for the executive coach is in helping clients be more influential. There are specific conversations to have in specific situations that get results, and specific conversations that are neutral or do harm. You need to know these conversations and when to use them for optimal results. And then you need to know how to model them and teach them to others.

At the same time, sometimes when I am observing a meeting I categorize who says what by the type of influence style or conversation each person is having. Doing that, it quickly becomes clear who in a room holds true influence — regardless of title — who is being influenced, and who isn’t really doing much at all.

Note that influence doesn’t mean pushing a point of view across. In different situations, influence can mean listening in a certain way, using facts and logic, involving others to develop a consensus, sharing a vision, offering incentives, or asserting boundaries. Also, different cultures and situations tolerate different amounts of “pushiness.”

By dividing the world into influencing and being influenced, and understanding the subtleties of influence conversations, you can help your clients achieve their goals.

Resilience, resilience, resilience

November 1, 2007

This has been a tough business week for me. As many of you know, I am not only an executive coach, but also run a number of businesses.

In one of my businesses this week a potential lead investor backed out,  a relatively key partner decided to terminate our relationship, and another key partner had a major personal crisis. All of this has me shaking my head and wanting to scream.

Fortunately, I have an executive coach. This week, all she did was let me vent, encourage me, help me see possibilities, and keep me from making rash decisions.

Perhaps the number one skill an executive can have — especially an entrepreneur — is resilience, the ability to bounce back in the face of tough circumstances.

The best executive coaches help executives be resilient, without coming across as preachy or holier-than-thou. It is not easy to be compassionate and empathetic while also helping the executive tap into his or her source of strength. Nor is it easy to let someone vent, and just be there for him or her, being supportive during a tough time. The top executive coaches leave their clients in a state of seeing more possibilities, of finding new strength to keep on going.

Why Gordon Ramsay and Kitchen Nightmares is a must watch for Executive Coaches

October 2, 2007

If you are looking for a model of an outstanding executive coach, please start watching Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. In this series, the leading chef and famed restaurant entrepreneur turns around struggling restaurants. And he doesn’t sandbag: The restaurants he chooses are about as dysfunctional as you can get, suffering from bug infestations and filth, inept managers, kitchen stoves that don’t work, and menus that are wrong.

Those of you who are sticklers about the distinctions between executive coaching, consulting, and interim management will disagree with my assertion that this show is must viewing. That’s because Ramsay serves as all three during his week to turn around an establishment.  But the goal of any executive coach is to get results, and in the Center for Executive Coaching, we teach that the coach needs to find a structure that works for his or her client. Sometimes you have to switch from coach to consultant to interim manager — and the best professionals know when and how to do this.

Here is why Ramsay is a great coach:

1. He has picked a niche market (restaurants) where he can dominate as the leading expert. Too many coaches are generalists, and this is a mistake. It is important — both for marketing and for your solution set — to specialize. Pick a target market where you have a great story and can be the “go to” professional.

2. He is open and honest. He tells it like it is, and most of his clients need a dose of truth. They are too used to having employees who are compliant.

3. He can shift an uncoachable business owner into someone who listens. On just about every show I’ve seen, there is at least one top manager at the restaurant who is responsible for the mess in the “before” organization and won’t take responsibility for the poor performance. Ramsay is great at giving them the facts and data required — and delivering it — in a way that makes the most hardened manager/executive see the truth.

4. His solutions are brilliant. Because of his experience, he helps his clients get some miraculous results, quickly. Within a week he can work with his clients to turn a dying, bug-infested restaurant into the next hit.

5. He always starts with an assessment to get the facts. In his case, he samples the food, observes the dinner service, and inspects the kitchen. Note that he doesn’t automatically start with “leadership assessments.” Not needed. He gets right into the areas that have impact on a business in his target market. Once he assesses, he intervenes in ways that get immediate results.

Of course, this is television, and there are some contrived parts that won’t apply to the average Executive Coach. For instance, we can’t all take out an entire kitchen and put in a brand new one.

But watch this show and see how Ramsay does things. It is a rare opportunity to watch a master coach get results.

The value to Executive Coaches of role playing

September 25, 2007

During the next few weeks at The Center for Executive Coaching, members will be role playing specific coaching scenarios.

For instance:

– How to deliver bad news after a 360 degree assessment of a particularly arrogant executive.

– How to handle a renegade “superstar” who delivers great results but is a terrible team player and undermines the CEO.

– How to work with a CEO who is a brilliant technologist but not very skilled at influencing
people.

– When to use behavioral coaching and when to shift to a more transformational approach.

– What to do when the client resists or becomes uncoachable.

– Working with an executive who can’t seem to get control of her schedule and priorities.

Every coach should take time, at least every couple of months, to role play with a trusted
colleague. That way, you can confirm that your  coaching has impact and gets results.

I work with many coaches who think they are terrific at what they do. Then, when we sit
down and role play, it turns out that their coaching lacks “voltage.” They start preaching
in a way that would turn most executives off, or come up with distinctions that don’t address the situation.

Executive coaching is a unique profession. You have to know how to improvise and dance with the client’s situation, style, and world view.

Role playing is a great way to stay sharp.

If you want to join a group of like minded coaches who want to take their practice to the next level, and who enjoy a flexible and highly personalized approach to learning, join our program at http://www.centerforexecutivecoaching.com

Sincerely,
Andrew Neitlich
www.centerforexecutivecoaching.com

ATN Associates LLC

You are invited to an exclusive 3-Day LIVE Executive Coaching Certification Seminar

September 3, 2007

Most visitors to this site/blog are already
seasoned executives, consultants, and trainers.

You have shared with me that you want to get
certified as an Executive Coach but are too busy
to take the time away for a prolonged on-site program.

For this reason, the Center for Executive Coaching
now offers you a 3-day Executive Coaching intensive
in beautiful Sarasota Florida, for you to get
certified as an Executive Coach. The cost is $1495,
and includes ongoing email support for a full year
after you attend.

This program is limited to 15 people, is by
application only, and takes place only once every
year. Candidates must be seasoned professionals who
want to include executive coaching in their existing
practice, build on their existing coaching practice,
or enter the field of executive coaching. To apply,
call me directly at 941-539-9623 so we can discuss
whether this program is right for you.

Here are the details:

Dates: Saturday November 3 – Monday November 5, 2007.

Times: Day One 9 am – 4 pm; Day Two 9:00 am – 5 pm;
Day Three 8:30 am – 2 pm.

Place: Sarasota Florida, Hotel in Downtown Area TBA.

Flight: Fly into Tampa, Sarasota, or Fort Myers.

Agenda (see http://www.centerforexecutivecoaching.com for
more information about the topics we cover):
– Executive Coaching defined
– The Executive Coaching process
– The orientations of the coach
– Structuring an engagement for success
– Inquiry
– Assessment
– Interventions
– Case studies and practice
– Key content and distinctions
– Combining coaching with consulting, training,
and facilitation
– Special situations and opportunities for the coach
– The RIGHT way to market and grow your practice

The format is extremely interactive, with an
emphasis on case studies and exercises.

Participants receive 4 manuals along with
over 10 hours of audio CDs. Those who successfully
complete the program receive Certification through
our institute. I am the founder of the institute and
developed all of the materials, and will lead the
entire program personally.

And again, you also receive a full year of support
after the program.

This is an exclusive, limited opportunity for you
to quickly develop the skills you need to be a
successful Executive Coach. Plus, it takes place
in a gorgeous location with one of the top 10 beaches
in the USA (Siesta Beach).

Mark your calendars and call me at 941-539-9623 to
apply and reserve your space.

Sincerely,
Andrew Neitlich
Founder
The Center for Executive Coaching
http://www.centerforexecutivecoaching.com

How to become an expert fast

July 23, 2007

One of the keys to marketing yourself as an executive coach is to be a perceived expert. There are a number of ways to do this: speaking, writing, getting quoted in relevant media, blogging, building up a list of qualified prospects and sending them your newsletter, articles on your website, books, and all sorts of information products.

Now, let’s say you wanted to be perceived as an expert within 2 months. Here is a plan:

1. Sign up for the software program ArticleSubmitter Pro. This nifty program lets you submit articles to up to 1,000 article sites. That way, you get a number of back links to your website as well as terrific recognition. The process takes a bit of work to set up the first time, and it takes time to submit articles once you are registered — but they help speed things up considerably.

2. Pick a couple of major corporations in your target market. Speak for free there on a topic of interest to their senior or middle management. Pass out an evaluation form at the end, and on it ask people what they found most valuable about your presentation. Now you have some marquee names on your speaking list, and testimonials from employees at leading organizations.

3. Record your speech from #2 and offer it on your website, noting that it was delivered at the marquee company.

4. Get yourself listed on PR Leads, a leading site that journalists go to find experts.

5. Build your network on LinkedIn.

6. Join a major association in your target market and start getting active in leadership roles there.

Avoiding the platitudes and simple solutions

May 22, 2007

Wonderful! The Wall Street Journal today has an article called, “Not communicating with Your boss? Count your blessings.”

The wisdom in this article offers a fantastic criticism of much advice that some executive coaches spew. For instance:

– Asking “How can I help?” can be a good thing to do, but can also offend certain people by implying they need help.

– Paraphrasing what people say to show you are listening can make you sound like an idiot and offend others (who may not appreciate being paraphrased).

–  Some problems between people can’t be solved by 5-step formulas or action plans.

– Open communication can backfire with easily threatened managers, or managers with borderline personalities.

– Don’t confuse communication problems with much more serious relationship problems. The latter requires much more nuanced understanding and actions.

– Don’t confuse talking with doing. Results speak the loudest.

– Sometimes no communication is much better than communication — even if, for instance, a boss asks for open communication and feedback. (The article gives the example of a boss who asked a manager for feedback about why his direct reports seemed fearful of him. When she explained why people reacted the way they did to him, he almost fired her).

At the Center for Executive Coaching, we do our best to avoid platitudes (the article notes one article on communication that advises, “Listen to gain understanding”) and instead focus on real-life situations in all of their complexity. The best coaches avoid lazy advice, and have the depth of experience required to help their clients succeed in challenging, politically charged, and often dysfunctional environments.

Case study of a coaching program with fantastic potential

May 18, 2007

Yesterday I was delighted to have a prospective student contact me and share some of his plans and marketing materials to be a coach.

He showed me a coaching program he wants to offer with the following advantages:

1. He targets an extremely specific target market. This is a huge advantage because his solution and marketing materials speak the language of the market (a specific profession) and goes deeper than more generalized coaching solutions. Plus, he can reach his market easily and at a low cost, compared to going after a wide swath of different businesses.

2. He offers tremendous value and a compelling marketing message. His one-page program description makes it impossible NOT to respond to learn more about his services. He identifies the problem he solves, the benefits of his solution, and the specific results he gets. The only thing he needs to add are testimonials to prove his results, and those are coming.

3. His solution is repeatable. He can package it as an information product (or products), sell it as coaching services, offer seminars, or take a share in companies he helps to build with his methodology.  While most coaches “wing it” or offer custom solutions, this individual does what we teach in our program: He has created a repeatable methodology and a system for getting results for clients.

I love seeing these kinds of focused solutions and plans. This individual will be successful!

Improving your client’s Power Base (and your own)

May 18, 2007

Right now Center for Executive Coaching members are studying power and influence. At the Center for Executive Coaching, we focus hard on how well clients influence others. The framework is an effective one:

First, we start with one-on-one influence. Most executives don’t understand the need to vary their influence style and strategy depending on the situation and their goal (In fact, many executives don’t even set an explicit goal before going into an influence situation). The coach can help executives choose the right style for the right situation. Does the client want to convince, get compliance, get commitment, or generate alignment? There are different styles that work in each situation.

As part of this training, executive coaches can develop an entire practice around working with clients to rehearse high-stakes conversations and make them more effective prior to a key meeting.

Next, we shift to how to coach executives to get an idea accepted throughout an organization. You can’t influence “them.” Influence happens one person at a time. Coaches can help executives see the political playing field and figure out how to get enough people on board to make an idea happen.

Finally, we move to helping clients build their power base — up, down, across, and outside the organization. Formal authority is very limited, especially these days. Coaches need to help clients build strong business relationships and alliances. That way, they can get things done more rapidly in their own organizations, and also assure career success if and when they choose (or get asked) to leave.

During this entire process, coaches are challenged to look at their own influence styles and, most importantly, power base. That way, they “do the work” too, and also build a stronger network to develop new clients.

Would you rather be successful or ….

May 4, 2007

It all comes back to outcomes.

Sometimes executives are getting terrific payoffs for neglecting outcomes.

A great conversation to have with your clients in these situations starts off, “Would you rather be successful or….?”

You fill in the blank, depending on the situation:

– Look smart

– Have status

– Look good

– Be safe

– Be popular

– Have perfect information

– Be invulnerable

– Protect your ego

If you have a client whose behavior indicates that they get payoffs through non-productive behaviors and values like the ones above, then you can provide data documenting these behaviors and what they are costing him or her. Next, work with the client to understand why they values these behaviors over the true success that comes with results.

Successful outcomes are hard to achieve. It is much easier to look good, stay safe, or be popular. Take a stand for the results your clients hired you to get.