Archive for June, 2010

Swift kick in the rear or a pat on the back? – let emotional intelligence be your guide

Great coaching leaders always seem to have a way of knowing how to motivate their employees.  As a business coach I’m always working with CEOs to further develop their emotional intelligence so they can understand and connect with their player’s deepest aspirations and emotions.

Let’s look at Vince Lombardi, one of the greatest coaching leaders ever.  Jerry Kramer, an All-Star guard for the Green Bay Packers tells the following story:

In one of the practice sessions early in his career Kramer missed his blocking assignment on a play.  On the very next play he jumped offside.  He said “Lombardi really jumped on me and reamed me out; he had me feeling awful!  I felt like smacking him in the mouth!”

“I was in the locker room after practice, ready to hang it up and do something else.  Vince came up to me and patted me on the back and said ‘son, don’t you know that someday you’ll be the best guard in this league?’ “Those words lit a fire!

This little vignette is a great lesson for aspiring coaching leaders.  Lombardi knew in a moment on the field Kramer needed a swift kick in the pants.  He also had enough emotional intelligence to know that Kramer was in need of a pat on the back in the locker room.

Had Vince Lombardi not had that level of emotional intelligence or intuition about the player, one of the greatest guards of all time may have gone down a different road!

So how many times during the day are your employees at a fork in the road relative to their attitude, motivation or performance?

If you’re going to be a great coaching leader you are going to be tuned into your team’s emotions and know whether they need a swift kick in the pants or a pat on the back.

The beauty of what Lombardi said to Kramer was the fact that it “lit a fire” in Kramer’s words.  So how important are words?

I’m reminded of a story of one of my clients Scott.  He was a young aspiring insurance salesman.  Scott and I reviewed his aspirations and his plans but given what I had seen in terms of his work ethic, balance, and consistency I wasn’t sure he was going to be able to execute on this plan and reach his goals.  In the coaching session I said, “those look like great plans and wonderful aspirations”.  But I followed up with “honestly I don’t think you’ll get there.  Based upon what I’ve seen of your work ethic and your inconsistency, I don’t foresee you reaching that goal, but I could be wrong”.

Scott came back to our coaching session 2 weeks later and reported “that really pissed me off! And I’ve been in my highest level of focus and production over the last several weeks as a result of it.”  I said to him, “good then it served its purpose”.    

With some clients if I made the assessment that they’re not going to make it, it would send them down a hole or crush their confidence.  In that moment with Scott, I had a sense that he was tough enough that he could take it in and that was exactly what would motivate him to succeed.

Scott and I have remained close over the years and that’s still one of his favorite stories about our relationship.

So what’s it going to be today?  What does your staff need?

Coaching CEOs About The End of Leadership

Most of the CEOs and Executives I’m coaching from Bangor, Maine to Phoenix, Arizona (and all points in between) are wrestling with the same struggle: how to connect with and motivate today’s workforce! Most are frustrated and perplexed with this dilemma. Even in this difficult economic cycle many are still experiencing what appears to be low levels of urgency, personal commitment and responsibility. Why is that? Are they poor leaders? 

I think it’s the end of leadership.  Leadership, as we’ve known it, for sure!  The days of blindly following the command and control leader are gone!  It must have been nice (and easy) to be a leader back then!  You could mandate that 100 widgets get produced per day, per worker, with no overtime, whether they like it or not.

The truth is, that today’s workers are skeptical about blind loyalty.  Do you blame them?  Look at what happened with Enron and other corporate meltdowns that resulted in loyal long-term employees losing everything that they had invested (both time and emotional energy) in the business.

Combine that with the 9/11 event, and people are more focused on enjoying the moment and looking out for themselves.  That doesn’t mean you can’t find and attract hard-working, committed employees.  It just means you’ve got to be much more creative and adaptive as a leader. You need to have a high level of emotional intelligence.

So we start with a skeptical workforce and add the fact that we all operate in increasingly competitive and complex markets. The need for high levels of personal commitment and focus is greater than ever. High level performance is critical for long-term survival.

I believe there is one form of leadership that is most appropriate today for producing high levels of performance and business results. I’m calling it a “coaching leader“.  This new form of leader knows how to connect with, inspire, and hold accountable the new kind of workforce.  The coach, in collaboration with the team, creates a vision and a culture that breeds an atmosphere of personal commitment, high performance and a focus on both business results and personal reward.

Don’t misunderstand me.  The coaching leader still has some of the elements of the older forms of leadership.  At times he or she has to act like a manager and make sure certain things get done.  Sometimes they act more like a mentor and help people learn a new technique.  But the coaching leader has high emotional intelligence, great personal discipline and integrity and consistently builds loyal and committed followers.

What kind of leader are you?  Are you trying to be the old command-and-control leader?  Or are you one of the many CEOs I’m coaching that is a bit confused and frustrated with today’s workforce?

Have you considered becoming a “coaching leader“?

Coaching vs. Doing it yourself…which way is faster or better?

As a CEO Coach, this morning I heard a familiar story play out.  The CEO was talking about the need for higher level of performance out of one of his team members and confessed ” in order to get it done right I decided to do it myself.  It’s faster and easier!”

Let’s face it most CEOs, business owners and family business founders got where they are because they have a great personal commitment to producing high levels of results.  The problem is it’s not scalable unless they learn how to coach and develop others to take on that same level of personal commitment and drive for results.

As his CEO Coach we discussed how he could go back and coach his employee to produce a higher level of results.  As most CEOs do, he indicated his concern for the amount of time and effort it takes to coach versus just doing it himself.  But what you have to remember is you’re really trying to build a culture of high performance and to make your organization scalable.  You will not create a high level sustainable organization on your own individual performance!

As much as you don’t want to hear it, you need to learn how to coach and motivate others.  Great coaches know how to tap into people’s intrinsic motivators and bring out high levels of performance and personal responsibility.  Yes, it is probably going to take you a little bit longer in the short run, but in the long run you’ll have an organization that is sustainable without you.

This week keep an eye on yourself and watch out for the “I can do it myself quicker” attitude and begin coaching others to take on personal responsibility for high levels of results.  Enjoy the journey.

  • Posted by Coach Pete
  • Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010
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CEO Coaching Tip: Loyalty can cause Coach blindness

Don’t get me wrong.  I love loyalty and loyal team members!  In fact, breeding loyalty is a sign of a great coaching leader.  For some coaching leaders loyalty can cause a gradual blindness kind of like glaucoma. This is one of the most debilitating problems I see in my CEO, Team and Family Business Coaching.

As a Coach you are constantly evaluating talent and looking for ways to tap into motivation to get the most out of your team members.  In my business coaching, many times I see loyalty with employees who are probably no longer the right fit for the position.  This loyalty is as a result of a long standing relationship and tenure with the company.  Think about it.  When you started out you were small group and two or three of your most loyal lieutenants have stayed with you over the years and eventually you’ve promoted them into key roles within your organization.  Unfortunately, at some point, the job or the complexity of the position may have outgrown their talent.  Now you’re stuck in this dilemma.  Here’s a person who’s been a very hard working and dedicated member of your team, yet no longer effective in their role.

What you do as a Coach?  This is where the art of coaching comes into play.  You need to use your emotional intelligence to try to ask the right questions and truly understand what this person may be thinking and feeling. My experience is that most people know when they are in over their head and they aren’t happy with the situation either. As a coaching leader you need to create a dialogue that allows this type of honest confession to occur. In most cases what’s needed is a way for this person to transition to a role that better meets their capabilities and still maintain their dignity. Remember coaching is a process over time. Transitioning to a new role or out of the organization can only occur with dignity after many coaching sessions in which there are well grounded assessments about the gap in performance.

Not taking action often causes significant individual and organizational stress. Keep focused on the vision of creating a Peak Performance Coaching Culture and keep your objective coaching eye, so that you, your team and your loyal team member will be better off!

  • Posted by Coach Pete
  • Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010
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Coaching leaders get more than success – they get to be significant

In my research for my upcoming book, End the Leadership Madness – The “Coach Approach” to Extraordinary Business Results,I am studying many of the greatest coaches from a variety of fields of endeavor (sports, performing arts, etc). One of them is Lou Holtz, the famous Notre Dame Football Coach. I thought he did a wonderful job of answering the “why coaching?” question.

He writes “Coaching gives one a chance to be successful as well as significant. The difference between those two is that when you die, your success comes to an end. When you are significant, you continue to help others be successful long after you are gone. Significance lasts many lifetimes. That is why people teach, people lead, and why people coach. As I leave the field of play, I enjoy the feeling of being a winning coach. But more important, I hope that I have been a person of significance in the lives of these young men”.

In my work as a CEO Coach and Family Business CoachI have found that Coaching creates a stronger and deeper connection to people and their willingness to work hard and stretch for extraordinary levels of business results. But as Coach Holtz says, even more important is that I believe the impact you have as a coaching leader runs deeper and wider into how people live their lives, and in turn impact others.

Our PACE Coaching System was designed as a result of CEOs asking for a simple and effective way to coach their staff. It is an integral part of all of our business coaching engagements. Whether or not you use PACE, learn how to coach, and become significant!

  • Posted by Coach Pete
  • Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010
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Coaching Mindset: Grapes or Employees – Keep Them on the Verge of Discomfort for Business Results

What do winemaking and business have in common? 

While celebrating our 20th anniversary, Karen and I visited the Napa Valley wineries.  A friend of mine, Tony Wasowicz, is the Chief Winemaker at Michel-Schlumberger Wines (  Tony gave us a tour and explained all of the latest thinking on organic farming.  I asked naively, “so I imagine that you give the grapes a good supply of water?”  He said, “no, in fact we found that when we gave them a plentiful supply of water they became plump and fat, and not very flavorful.  Tony explained that they found that if they kept the grapes on the edge of starvation it creates the most fruitful and delicious grape which in turn makes the best wine. 

That hit me right between the eyes!  Isn’t it the same in life and business?  If you look at human nature, when things are plentiful and easy, we tend to become lethargic, bloated, and not as fulfilled or sharp.  It’s the same thing in Coaching.  As a leader it is your job to keep people in a state of disequilibrium.  We need to actually keep them on the edge of competitiveness and challenging themselves to create the greatest performance, focus, and execution.  Now, not to by cynical, but the folks who are not leaders are kind of sitting back hoping they can be plump, fat and not working that hard.

As a Coaching Leader, it is your job to make sure that you keep them stretched and growing.  Growth and change require a certain amount of discomfort, just like the grapes.  As a Coach, don’t let your people become raisins ro bloated grapes, challenge them just enough.  In winemaking discomfort leads to great tasting wine – In Business Coaching discomfort leads to great business results and personal satisfaction.  In my work as a CEO Coach, I find that most CEOs are constantly trying to create the right amount of disequilibrium with their staff.  Keep stretching them!  Try the Coach Approach and you and your team will get the most our of each other.

  • Posted by Coach Pete
  • Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010
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Business Results Increase With Long Term Under Performer

Executive and Coaching Highlight Reel:  Sit in on a recent real coaching session to get a sense of how CEO Coaching can not only improve business results, but the CEOs personal satisfaction.

Phoenix, Arizona – October 1, 2009

(My CEO coaching client is being held accountable to bringing a tangible business result to validate the Coaching.)

Coach:  How’s the coaching going with Jeff? (client’s long term under performer)

Client:  His attitude, engagement, and results have noticeably improved!

Coach:  Why do you think that has happened?

Client:  I think now he feels like he and I are working together to solve his problems and raise his performance.  Before it seemed like I was “harping on him” and he was “full of excuses” why he wasn’t doing better.  Now we are having a coaching session once a week reviewing last week’s results and strategizing and committing to new techniques to improve.  At first he was a bit reluctant and not open to the Coaching.  Each week he has become more comfortable with the coaching conversation and the process.

Coach:  Congratulations!!  What should you do next?

Client:  Not sure.

Coach:  How can you get even more of this?

Client:  Point out that I notice a better attitude and the impact it’s having on results?

Coach:  Exactly!  So are you going to have that conversation with him?  (new commitment)

Client:  Yes.

Coach:  By when?

Client:  At our meeting on Monday.

Coach:  Please send me an email after your meeting on Monday and let me know how it went.

View from Coach Pete:

When my CEOs learn how to be Coaching Leaders they create a stronger, more collaborative relationship with their staff.  Ultimately it is built upon repetition and practice (consistent coaching by the leader) and builds trust and personal accountability. 

  • Posted by Coach Pete
  • Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010
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Coach Pete’s Peak Playbook™ Coaching Tip – Trust

In my work coaching CEOs and their leadership teams we almost always get into the issue of trust.

We have several “plays” in our Peak PlaybookTM that help teams practice the key elements of trust.

One of the most essential elements of trust is personal integrity, which is a part of  personal character. My favorite idea about integrity is “doing the right thing when no one is watching.”

As we like to do here at PEAK, let’s review some recent “game film” to learn and improve performance and business results.

Apparently while I was parked last Friday, someone hit my car and left a minor scratch and dent. I discovered it as my wife and I walked into dinner with friends.

I proceeded to moan and complain about the carelessness of the other driver and the $1500 damage they left me with (minor dents are even expensive). I steamed over the whole 2 hour dinner.

Upon our arrival home, still steaming, my wife said, “Hey look there’s a note on your windshield.”

Lo and behold on the note was written, “I think I hit your car. Please call me.”

Integrity in action. Taking personal responsibility. Wow,  how great is that? How rare is that in today’s world?

Why was it that 4 people listened to my complaining and not one of us thought to say, “Maybe they left you a note?”

I’m surprised with myself. I’m generally looking for the best qualities in people. (There’s another blog here for later—my emotions flooded the rational and optimistic parts of my brain).

So if you want to build a business team that produces championship level results, you’ll need to have everyone practicing impeccable personal integrity and character.

It starts with you.

Oh yeah, when I called the gentleman the next morning he said, “I already have the claim opened at State Farm, here is their number.”

That’s old school. Character in action. The cornerstone of greatness.  Let’s all do our best to get back to that!

Don’t you love it when you see passion in business performance?

Okay let’s face it… every day we are giving a performance!  Like great musicians and actors, we are going to have an opportunity to hit the notes just right, “nail the scene” or “mail it in”.  It’s our choice.  It’s our responsibility.

We seem to forget that at times.  This is true in our business performance, our friend performance, our coworker performance, our significant other performance, and our parent performance.

Let me give you an examples of peak performance.

Let me introduce you to Veronica Lodge.   Veronica is the shoeshine professional over at V’s Barbershop in my neighborhood.  Let me set the backdrop.  I’ve been having the same person at an unnamed shoe shop shine my shoes for the past 10 years.  I have been a loyal customer.

I’m in getting my hair cut at V’s last month and Veronica comes over with all her enthusiasm and attitude and starts to tell me what it takes to be a really great shoeshine.  She goes on with such confidence and determination explaining how her shoe shines are like no other.  She says, “They last longer.  Look better.  Keep shoes looking like new all of the time.”

I’m sold.  She takes my shoes, shines them, all the while, still talking on and on about a great shoeshine.  I have to tell you it was a great shoeshine.  I’m taking my shoes to Veronica even when I’m not going in for a haircut.

What’s most amazing about Veronica is her passion, determination and confidence about what she does.  Of course the best part is her business results are equal to her promise she makes in her confidence in her service.  I have to say, as a business coach, I run across many people who have confidence that doesn’t equal the results they produce.  Back to Veronica.  Please don’t take this the wrong way Veronica .  Veronica is selling a five dollars service.  A service some would say is less than glamorous, not high on their career choice list.  But to Veronica it is the most important thing in the world when she is at work.

I’m thinking to myself, what would happen if all of those business people I work with every day had the same kind of positive attitude, determination and confidence that Veronica took in her shoeshine service?  The world would be a better place.

In our business coaching we are trying to help business people, CEOs, and business leaders be more like Veronica.  Be passionate about what you do.  Be the best at it.  Go confidently after acquiring more clients and deliver on what you promise.

In the meantime, just hope Veronica doesn’t switch to your profession.  My guess is she would kick your ass.

Oh yeah.  Do me a favor.  Take your shoes in to Veronica and if it isn’t the best shoeshine you’ve had, let me know.  I’d be surprised.

More Peak Performance in Business – Ric's Auto Body

I’m not exaggerating when I say that Ric’s provides the most impeccable service I have ever come across.  I have an eye for business performance and superior service and Ric’s has delivered time and time again.

Here are the fundamentals.  They do what they say they’re going to do, when they say they’re going to do it.  Wow, you would think the formula was more complicated than that, but it isn’t.  Yet most businesses screw it up several times along the way. Read the rest of this entry »