Archive for June, 2010

Why we avoid difficult conversations

The most common challenges that we see in teams and organizations is the avoidance of difficult conversations.

The top reasons people avoid difficult conversations:

#1.  They are afraid they might open a big “can of worms”

#2.  They think that what they’re going to say might hurt someone

#3.  They don’t believe saying anything is going to make a difference

#4.  They think based upon the history with this person nothing will change

#5.  They are afraid of the emotions will come up

Here’s the five Coaching perspectives we take about those reasons:

#1.  True you may open some sort of can of worms, but remember ignoring problems generally don’t make them go away.  In fact there’s that old saying that when it gets buried, it’s going to cause an even bigger crater when it blows up!

#2.  You can’t control how someone else feels about what you’re going to say.  What you can control is how you say it like with some compassion and thoughtfulness.  Sometimes people do get a little bit hurt by what we have to say but we still need to say it and solve our problems and differences.  Not doing so usually causes bigger problems like people leaving the relationship (or organization).

#3.  Again, if you spend a little time and learn how to deliver hard messages that may actually impact whether your message is going to make a difference.  Secondly, one of the most common sources of frustration is the stuff we hold back and don’t communicate about.  So even if it’s not going to make a difference there is still value in getting it off your chest (remember when you do it correctly!)

#4.  You never know when one more hit of the hammer is going to knock down the whole wall.  Don’t give up on people and don’t ever stop saying what you need to say.  You can’t predict based upon people’s moods, emotions, and current life situation, when one of the things you’re going to say is going to finally make a difference.

#5.  Emotions do come up and quite honestly shouldn’t be avoided.  They don’t have to be all messy and uncontrollable.  Emotions are real and something we have to deal with.  Once dealt with it can make all the difference in the world.  Don’t forget a little emotional intelligence coaching wouldn’t hurt now and then either.

If all else fails, why don’t you let us do one of our Difficult Conversations Coaching Workouts led by Master Certified Coach, Pete Walsh.

Coaching – A Sacred Trust

One of the greatest coaches of all times, John Wooden, (lead UCLA men’s basketball team to 7 consecutive championships) knew how important it was to be trusted as a Coach.  Here’s what he said “I considered it a sacred trust: helping to mold character, instill productive principles and values, and provide a positive example for those under my supervision”.  He obviously knew something about Coaching!

We incorporate many of the all-time great Coach’s philosophies into our CEO Coaching, Leadership Coaching and Family Business Coaching.

Top 5 ways to be a trusted Coach and achieve peak performance:

#1.  Model the way (right actions, attitude, determination)

#2.  Listen – the only way to understand what motivates your followers

#3.  Show you care – pay attention and ask about the details of their lives

#4.  Be consistent – reliability is the center of trust

#5.  Expect greatness from your followers before they even believe in it

Coaching going Green!

“The human spirit is our greatest source of renewable energy!”

I would like to take credit for this, I really would.  I heard this statement from my client Tamara Woodbury (CEO at Girl Scouts-Arizona Cactus-Pine Council).

Think about it.  When you are motivated, focused, and excited about what you’re doing you tend to wake up, spring out of bed, and go excitingly into the day.  We can all picture the opposite of that (is that how you see your team members come in the morning?)

Great Business Coaches find ways to tap into that renewable energy in a way that becomes self-sustaining.

How are you doing at that?

  • Posted by Coach Pete
  • Monday, June 28th, 2010
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Great coaches are coaching ALL of the time!

One of the most common mistakes I see leaders make is sitting down with some of their key performers infrequently and sporadically to discuss performance issues either positive or negative.

Great Coaches are Coaching all of the time!

Let me say that again – Great Coaches are Coaching all of the time!

If you’re going to be the kind of leader that inspires great levels of effort, performance and results, you have to be Coaching all of the time.  Frequency, consistency in your tone, message energy, and attention to detail – all of those things are going to add up to a great Coaching and great performance.

Solving the mystery of motivating employees

If you think about it, finding out what motivates each of your team members is a little bit like solving a great mystery.  I encourage my coaching clients to take it on with intrigue, and the bright eyes of a young scientist.

Most of the time they take this on like a major pain in the neck, and a great big hassle in leadership.  When you can make the shift to seeing it as a exciting exploration that when accomplished can produce endless results (have you ever seen a highly motivated employee work?)  You will be on the right track.

Be creative and don’t be afraid to contact me for ideas.

  • Posted by Coach Pete
  • Monday, June 28th, 2010
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Tiger Woods Modifies His Swing Again

Many of you know a golf addict who, needless to say, was watching Tiger Woods in route to another victory at the Memorial tournament two weeks ago.  The commentator said “that swing change that Tiger made is why he’s hit every fairway this weekend.” In fact they went on to show viewers the video of the slight but high impact change Tiger made.

So once again — here’s the lesson.  The great ones never stop learning and modifying their approach!  Here is a guy once again who is arguably the best on the planet AND he pushes himself to find new ways to be even more effective.

I see two kinds of leaders in my executive coaching practice.  There are leaders who have an unwavering commitment to learning and developing new ways of leading in this challenging time, and also leaders who think they know leadership and are spending energy begrudging the changing world and workforce.

Which are you?  Maybe you should think about changing your swing.

  • Posted by Coach Pete
  • Monday, June 28th, 2010
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Persistence is the road to breakthrough in CEO Coaching

I’m coaching a client over the past 90 days and we were working on him coaching one of the members of his team.  In my CEO coaching I am always helping the leader develop their unique coaching stand.  I encourage them to repeat the coaching messages over and over again.  While it seems repetitive and mundane, and leaders at times lose faith along the way — many times the breakthrough is just around the corner.  Great coaching leaders are determined and never give up!

So this week the client showed up with a breakthrough.  He said he was working with his stubborn employee and had been giving him the same message for several weeks and this week it finally got through!.  He said to the employee “I will lead you to success if you let me”. The employee said finally, and almost with relief, “I know.”

The client said to me “you said keep saying it and eventually he will hear it, but I’ll be honest with you I didn’t think it was going to occur.”  Well it did!

Decide upon your unique coaching stand, hone your messages, and repeat them time and time again!  You never know when the breakthrough is going to occur, but when it does it will have been worth all of the time and effort. 

Share with me a recent breakthrough you have had as a leader.

  • Posted by Coach Pete
  • Monday, June 28th, 2010
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Make a shift – build leadership muscle!

If employees were as motivated, smart, self disciplined, and hard-working as you’d want them to be they would be working for themselves! 

I’m amazed how many times the CEOs and Leaders that I’m working with are so discouraged and disappointed that they have to be the one setting the tone and setting the bar for great performance.  Don’t get me wrong.  What we’re going for is to have employees who are self correcting, self motivating, and inspired to be on the team.

On some level the reality is as a Leader your going to be the biggest pacesetter and cheerleader of them all.

Get over it!

A business coach can help you learn or refine the skills essential to being a great leader these days.  New leadership muscle can be acquired with a little hard work and stretching with your business coach.  If you are ready for the challenge, contact

  • Posted by Coach Pete
  • Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010
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CEO Coaching Highlight Reel – Great Leadership Practices

In my role as a CEO coach I have the opportunity to work with some great leaders and see some of the best and quite honestly, some of the worst practices of leadership.  In this particular case my client Park Howell, President of Park&Co Advertising Agency, understands the importance of story telling in leadership.  Story telling is a great way to teach your team about the nuances of your culture.  In this particular case Park uses an email to the entire staff and his favorite proverb to underscore the important of attention to detail.  I’ll let you read the proverb and the email from Park below.  This particular email and message did have an important impact on a client project two weeks after the email went out.  One of Park’s staff members was getting ready to submit a proposal and Park’s email came to mind and they stopped and took even greater attention to detail before they turned in the proposal.

The email:

For Want of a Nail

For want of a nail the shoe was lost.

For want of a shoe the horse was lost.

For want of a horse the rider was lost.

For want of a rider the battle was lost.

For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.

And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Thank you for sweating the small stuff every day around here. This includes your exceptional work on proofreading, timely follow-up with clients, accuracy in billing, making printed materials perfect during press checks, insuring that each video edit is the right cut, that colors are pure, emails are concise, conference reports are clear, the kitchen is clean. 

It will always be the small stuff that leads to our greatest challenges.  Thanks for sweating them.

Park Howell

Congratulations Park!  We could all learn something from this CEO highlight.

  • Posted by Coach Pete
  • Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010
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Coach Pete’s Tip: CEOs should practice physical and mental approach just like Stewart Cink

I know coaching is gaining widespread acceptance when guys like Stewart Cink (2009 British Open Champion) acknowledge their coaches in their acceptance speeches.  What’s interesting about Stewart’s acknowledgment is how he lets us know that he has both a physical and a mental coach.  His renowned mental coach is Dr. Morris Pickens (

In my CEO coaching we are not only emphasizing the importance of good physical technique, but also great mental technique.  Good physical technique performed with poor mindset or wrong mood will not produce great results.  It seems like we are so action oriented that we don’t give the proper amount of time to mental training. Our Peak Executive Workout by its very nature, tends to be thoughtful and reflective.  One of our most common practices is developing greater self-awareness (of blind spots and tendencies) that enables greater performance in real-time on the job.

Personally commit to making mental practice part of your deliberate practice routine and you will be on your way to Peak Performance!

  • Posted by Coach Pete
  • Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010
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