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From Conquering Fear to Excelling

October 29, 2009 Leave a comment

remote control

He who conquers others is strong; he who conquers himself is mighty. – Lao Tzu

I am not writing this blog because I am one that has conquered all my fears or has achieved excellence. The decision to overcome some of my fears was a conscious choice made many years ago and it has been an on-going decision and personal struggle. I sometimes feel I must do the things I feel I cannot do.

The word “conquer” can conjure up all kinds of negative images, so, in its place, I am going to use “control” or “influence”. Influence seems to be more palatable. There are many ways we can influence others. There is influence that comes with being a parent, with rank as in the military, with titles such as being the president of a company or country, with knowledge such as an educator, with money such as in a master/servant relationship, with having a common vision(belief or values) as in a startup business or in a church.

At the end of the day, those are the means, the end is the self… the person. The ability to proactively control and influence the self is ultimately more rewarding, and it is as much an event as it is a process. As I struggle to overcome my own personal fear, I realize that I transition from reacting to responding. Instead of reacting to the circumstance I am in, I give myself the chance to process information in order to respond appropriately. More often than not, I seek out the advice of others around me that I trust. I tmay be my business advisor, my wife, my business partner or my attorney.

One of my top 5 strengths according to Strengths 2.0 is communication, yet when I was younger I always felt I would pass out if I had to give a public speech.  I am very comfortable communicating one to one, in a small group, to strangers and to friends and family. In fact I believe I am able to communicate ideas, visions, thoughts and concepts clearly, convincingly and succinctly.  However the thought of having to speak before a group of strangers never trilled me. In fact it used to terrify me. In college, I once negotiated with my project partner and offered to do all the work if he would just present.  A couple years ago, after joining a group called the Toastmasters, my speaking skills have improved.  Although I would not say I have “excelled”,  I believe I am well on my way to overcoming my fear of public speaking.

Categories: Uncategorized

Employees or consultants?

October 22, 2009 1 comment

When I hear that businesses are hiring, I hear that they are getting hundreds if not thousands of applications for each job posting. Many of these applicants get a canned response if they are even lucky enough to get that. This glut is causing many HR/recruiting departments to look to more efficient/effective ways to filter out these applicants. The problem is companies do not realize many of those tasks are better suited for a “consultant”.  Here are some questions to help identify whether an employee or a consultant is better suited for the task:

1. Is it really a short term project? if they hire an employee, they have to let them go once the job is done.  That has its own tax implications and headaches. So before you go cheap and hire a part-timer, see the questions below.  One of the many problems is part-timers might leave on a dime if they have a better offer.  If your part-timer is an intern, please consider the training and overseeing time.

2. Does it need to be done quickly and done right? With employees, there is a learning curve/training period, whereas with a consultant, they can hit the ground running. Training employees can be a distraction for the current management team, since most have to do more with less already.

3. Could you benefit from an unbiased perspective? Employees have job security on mind. I am not saying employees are bad, just that there is easily the mindset of “I am paid enough not to quit…therefore, I will do just enough not to get fired”. Consultants rarely have to put up with existing and past office drama/bureaucracy/politics.  In fact one of the task s of many analysts/consultants is to identify these “sacred cows” and “potential roadblocks to growth and advancement.

4. Will it will require a different approach? Not necessarily outside the box thinking as much as another box. If the current set of solutions do not work, a new set that has worked in another similar situation might.  It is all about not expecting different outcomes by solving the same problems the same old way.

5. Are you unable to decide if a consultant would help? “Knowledge is power and empowers”. About 20% of what a consultant does is right out of the can. Another 40% of the work is about customization, and the other 40% is accomplished using the experience, knowledge, and background they bring to the table. Here the decision to hire someone with broad experience or a narrow one is critical.  The question is, do you need a subject matter expert or a strategist?

If you need help identifying what kind of a consultant or if a consultant is beneficial to your company, you can contact me, I would be delighted to help.

Categories: Uncategorized

So what does an Executive Coach do?…cont.

October 10, 2009 2 comments

What can I expect as results?

There are no guaranteed results in coaching. It is not unlike hiring a coach for an athletic team. One possible outcome is that the executive may realize that in order to move up, they need to move on. That is a risk an organization takes when they invest in the coaching process. However, any leadership training or career development provided by an organization can facilitate the same decision. It is important to remember that although this may be the case, the occasional “separation” of an executive after the investment is offset by the increased value to those that remain and continue to add value back to the company. That is why companies continue to invest in their most expensive asset…their leaders.

The best coaches are successful because they recognize that the coach-client relationship is a “customized” relationship that is tailor fit for each client.  I noticed this when I taught martial arts.  My students were most successful when I recognized that each needed to develop differently, work at an individual pace, and learn the individualized skills that would serve them best.  I taught each based on what they wanted to achieve.  Unlike many established martial arts systems, we had no belt ranking system.  Instead we viewed martial arts as an on-going process of learning, and developing our individual strengths to their fullest potential. This should be the case in a good executive coaching relationship as well.  In fact, the more you learn, the more you should realize that you need to continue focusing on the basics: sharpening specific core skills; developing new problem solving approaches to address old problems when current efforts are not working. One of the many emphasis would be reducing frustration, eliminating burn out, identifying root problem and helping/developing other “leaders” within the organization.

So then, who should you hire?

There are three criteria that are essential to working with a coach.
1. Broad life experience (successes and failures, good and bad)
2. Character (Trustworthy and dependable)
3. Honesty (Speaks the truth and is willing to hold you accountable)

So what does an Executive Coach do?…cont.

October 9, 2009 Leave a comment

So Who is Involved, What are Their Roles, and What are the Benefits (the three way partnership)?

1. The Organization and Its Commitment: Sometimes the HR dept or organization can initiate this process. In the past years, it has been mostly this way to shore up the executive’s weaknesses. The agenda of the organization has to be to genuinely develop the executive. The organization will benefit as the executive grows, and as those below them grow as well. As the executive’s potential rises and their ability to fill a higher role does too, the organization will improve.
2. The Executive and Their Commitment: Increasingly, executives themselves initiate this process as a proactive response to the needs they are about to face to help take them to the next level. The biggest benefit is to the individual instead of to the co-workers, family of organization. The skills gained become transferable skills that will transcend their current situation. This kind of support will continue wherever they go. This is not an “event” but a on-going “process”. Executive coaching works best if an executive knows where they want to go, but is not quite sure how to get there by him/herself. The executive has to be open to honest feedback and willing to make positive changes. Otherwise, the relationship will fail. It is not unlike an athlete unwilling to do what the coach is asking them to do in order to achieve a goal that was set by the athlete.
3. The Coach and Their Commitment: Unlike the organization or family/friends, the coach must remain unbiased. He or she must be a “truth speaker”, establishing trust as the basis for the relationship. To help the executive “get-there from here,” a coach doesn’t necessarily have to possess the skills the client wants to have to be effective. Instead, they have to be trustworthy, be able to hold the client accountable, be encouraging, and give honest feedback. It is also necessary for the coach to be able to listen actively and be able to help the client set realistic and attainable goals that are at the same time challenging. In order for a coach to be truly effective, they have to live in the zone where they care…but not that much. Besides the financial benefit, the coach will in many cases be able to build a long term business friendship.

Categories: Uncategorized

So what does an Executive Coach do?…cont.

October 9, 2009 Leave a comment

So Who is Involved, What are Their Roles, and What are the Benefits (the three way partnership)?

1. The Organization and Its Commitment: Sometimes the HR dept or organization can initiate this process. In the past years, it has been mostly this way to shore up the executive’s weaknesses. The agenda of the organization has to be to genuinely develop the executive. The organization will benefit as the executive grows, and as those below them grow as well. As the executive’s potential rises and their ability to fill a higher role does too, the organization will improve.
2. The Executive and Their Commitment: Increasingly, executives themselves initiate this process as a proactive response to the needs they are about to face to help take them to the next level. The biggest benefit is to the individual instead of to the co-workers, family of organization. The skills gained become transferable skills that will transcend their current situation. This kind of support will continue wherever they go. This is not an “event” but a on-going “process”. Executive coaching works best if an executive knows where they want to go, but is not quite sure how to get there by him/herself. The executive has to be open to honest feedback and willing to make positive changes. Otherwise, the relationship will fail. It is not unlike an athlete unwilling to do what the coach is asking them to do in order to achieve a goal that was set by the athlete.
3. The Coach and Their Commitment: Unlike the organization or family/friends, the coach must remain unbiased. He or she must be a “truth speaker”, establishing trust as the basis for the relationship. To help the executive “get-there from here,” a coach doesn’t necessarily have to possess the skills the client wants to have to be effective. Instead, they have to be trustworthy, be able to hold the client accountable, be encouraging, and give honest feedback. It is also necessary for the coach to be able to listen actively and be able to help the client set realistic and attainable goals that are at the same time challenging. In order for a coach to be truly effective, they have to live in the zone where they care…but not that much. Besides the financial benefit, the coach will in many cases be able to build a long term business friendship.

Categories: Uncategorized

So what does an Executive Coach do?

October 8, 2009 Leave a comment

I have had the question posed to me many times, “What does an executive coach do?” and “How can they help me?” With the increased pressure in the workplace to generate fast results, executives have had to turn to those who can help them develop professionally…executive coaches that can help advance their careers and develop their leadership skills. One reason is that coaches provide honest, constructive and unbiased advice. They can help develop leaders while they are maintaining their day-to-day responsibilities so that they can act much like a guided missile…adjusting in real time based on the feedback and guidance of a coach. Given the right situation (I will address this in future post), this one-on-one interaction with an objective and unbiased third party can provided executives with a focus and perspective that cannot be found anywhere else.

The question is, then, “When should I consider an executive coach?” Leaders are in the position to lead, empower, and help those they lead grow. They do so by providing feedback and guidance. But once they get to a certain level, who then provides them with those things? Many of those leaders become increasingly isolated, and many will plateau in critical interpersonal and leadership skills. To avoid such stagnation, coaching, in my opinion, should be considered at any time for every executive. It is particularly effective in times of change, such as a promotion, or developing potential for promotions, or when the company is facing a challenge such as a turnaround situation or rapid growth. It is also important to note that using a coach has no bearing on whether you feel confident in facing a challenge.

There are over 330 professional consultants, business advisors and executive coaches on 88owls with10 or more years of work experience to help companies and their executive. However if you have any questions, you can ask here.

To outsource or not to outsource…

October 7, 2009 1 comment

Well, I am writing this blog because it has been bugging me for weeks now. I recently had a very brief conversation with a consultant.  He felt his mission was to help the companies he advice only do business locally.

Really?

Is that a good strategy? This sentiment is not without its followers.  But as consultants, he should realize that the reason he has a job is because it is being outsourced to him.

The second an entrepreneur hires an employee or gets a partner, they are outsourcing. When they hire their accountant or attorney, they are outsourcing.  That is because someone can do it “faster”, that’s right, faster than they can.  Not better, just faster.  I personally do not think my attorney can do a better job than me.  I could get a contract together.  BUT it would take a whole lot more time!  I could spend the next few years learning about accounting or book keeping or law before I start me business…then I would not have to outsource, I would keep everything internal/local.

Surely that is not what he meant. I understand where he is coming from. We buy our beef, chicken and vegetables whenever we can from local farmers. The down side is you have to buy like 1/4 or 1/2 a cow at a time and store chicken in freezers like a small restaurant (thank goodness for good neighbors). The reason for that decision is health and knowing what is in those animals.  Now regarding that consultant’s mission, I believe it is flawed and if I am his client, I would not be for long.  There are three main things to consider when outsourcing/delegating/off-shoring. They are Time, Quality and Price.

Companies should be defined by one of them. That is whether they are known for their quality (customer service, quality of their products, their precision, exceptional taste etc), or their ability to do things really fast (convenience stores,  1 hour photo shops, vending machines),  or their low prices (dollar stores, mega discount retailers, box stores). You know a company is doing real well and will dominate their sector if they can excel in two areas such as having low price and good quality. This company will have it’s turnaround time suffer and will find it hard to compete there if their customer wants fast delivery.

What about a company that can do all three you say…well, that would mean they can do it really fast, really cheap and maintain a high quality. When I come across that, I see an entrepreneur in his garage making a custom product for his friend, selling it at a loss and staying up all night tinkering on his invention…excited that a friend actually paid for his creation.

The key to knowing where in the diagram you should be is to know where your customers are and to make the necessary financial analysis to determine when, where, how, how much, to whom etc.

It is admirable to want to keep jobs locally. I think if that is the wiset decision, then you should, otherwise, find the right person (perhaps an employee, perhaps it is a consultant), the right company (IT, SAAS, Telecom, design firm), right country to do what it is your company needs done. After the proper analysis, it might very well be his clients need to do all their business locally, but without a thorough analysis, no company would ever know.

For me, everything is outsourcing. I am off to outsource my grocery shopping to my wife…be right back!