Posts Tagged ‘coaching CEOs’

4 reasons and ways to practice acceptance with mom and dad in the family business

file000370064754Working in your family business with your mother and father sometimes feel like a prison sentence with no sign of parole anytime in the near future!  I know I spent 16 years doing time in my family business.

I like to use a little humor as a way to ease the pain.  My 16 years in my family business was rewarding on so many levels but ultimately my frustration with certain things in the business led to my happy and healthy departure in 1999.  It was the best thing I could have done for me and our family.

One of the things I encourage my family business clients to practice is acceptance.  For some people that sounds like giving up but it really is not about giving up.  Here’s some things to consider about  acceptance:

Number one acceptance gives you the right mindset: The Brain

Scientists have proven that when we are under stress or in a state of anger it shuts down the creative part of our brain.  This limits our ability to see more choices on how to handle the situation.

Number two think the best of people

I truly believe no one wakes up in the morning and says in themselves “I think I’m going to make some people’s lives miserable today”.  People have annoying habits but at the end of the day I really don’t believe people want to make other people miserable. I believe they are stuck in unhealthy patterns and simply don’t know how to get out of them.

Number three see your own responsibility in the situation

Almost never do I see a situation where it’s all one person’s fault in the family business.  It’s like the old saying it takes two to tango.  The sooner you can see how your behaviors, actions and attitudes are contributing to the situation the sooner you’ll be able to have acceptance about the situation

Number four acceptance isn’t giving up its freeing up energy to see new choices

When I encourage family business participants to practice acceptance, I think they hear it like I’m telling them to give up.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  So many people are stuck in being cynical or re-signed about the situation, I’m simply trying to move them from negativity to neutral to free up their creativity and power to see and take new choices.

Start today!  Find a way to find acceptance in your family business situation and you will have taken the first step toward finding peace, purpose and prosperity in the family business.

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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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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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!