Recently our high school-aged daughter asked, “Daddy, you talk to people all day long about their success. If you can make it simple, what are the two keys to success?”
If she was quizzing me, then I failed. Perhaps because I did not expect the question, perhaps because I wanted to say something special to her.
I said something trite: Focus on your strengths. Persist. Follow your passions. Build a great team. But sadly, like most of us, perhaps, I just could not find the words. Frankly, I struck out.
Then yesterday someone made it simple. Now I can answer her…
What are the 2 keys to success?
1. Attention, and 2. Support.
Just as we attend to an infant and support their growth, we create gardens of success. Every successful person talks about those who gave them attention. Their mentors. Their elders. Their coaches. Those who listened well, believed in them, supported them. After repeated actions toward a desirable goal, those people thrived and eventually felt successful.
This morning I shared this idea with someone. She doodled a circle, then drew an exclamation point, bold, in the center of the circle, to represent “attention,” then she gave it legs to represent “support,” then gave it an arrow to represent a future success. That image works!
The same pattern occurs in a coaching engagement. When I first meet someone they may be uncertain of the process, unclear about why they are receiving the attention. A common fear is that coaching is a process of “fixing behavioral gaps or deficiencies.” As if we could dunk people into a “flea and tick bath” and they emerge cleaned, ready for the next challenge. Instead, people decide if they like the attention, if they can use the support, and if they want to develop their strengths. That choice is the key to success.
So, key coaching questions may include, “Who do you need to give more attention to?” Or, “How can you support someone’s strengths?”
Time to go… I now have an answer for my daughter.
What are you going to do?
I hate the phrase “soft skills.”
Yesterday, I was at a project site, working with 10 people in 10 hours, and each person had concerns related to CORE business skills. Nothing ”soft” at all.
Their concerns included: conflict management, communication, delegation, listening, feedback, role clarity, alignment, engagement, motivating others, self-motivation, maximizing productivity of others, career development, managing work and family and health….
These are CORE Skills. Essential to their success. And there is nothing “soft” about developing these skills.
Perhaps it is time to rename skill development into two columns: Core skills (essential to business, hard to quantify) and technical skills (secondary to success, easy to quantify.)
- Consider what is taught in MBA programs? Or your training department?
- Consider what is tied to your employee incentives? Or promotions?
- Consider what has determined your success to date?
- Consider what will likely determine your future success?
My hunch is that your answers to questions 1 and 2 included technical skills. Easy to train, easy to measure, easy to track, yet secondary to your success.
Yesterday, one of my clients talked about his “Success Team.” He listed 4 influential people, and 3 were on site. I urged him to develop at least 6 people on his Success Team. And if he did not know the names of his target Success Team members, I urged him to select “the smartest person in the U.S. who wants this project to succeed.” He wrote down that phrase, and he will find the people soon.
Thankfully, we can each develop our core business skills when we ask for help.
One of my coaches says, “Individuals do not succeed, despite what history books and company records state. Teams succeed.”
So, how are you developing your core business success skills?
Who are you asking for help?
This morning one of my coaching clients was struggling with 1) a new manager, 2) a new role, 3) a former manager who expected him to continue doing the old work, 4) former colleagues who were not aware that his billable hours were now charged to a different business line. He was distracted.
We all get distracted. And the results are evident in 1) sloppy or inadequate work, 2) poor self care, diet, health, exercise, etc…
So what do you do to make smart decisions?
The Importance Screen is a great tool for sifting through choices. Just as you sift sand through a screen before creating a cement foundation, this screen is a simple way to gain clarity.
The team at Stephen Covey’s “Five Disciplines of Execution” developed this screen: Importance Screen v2.0
You can use it as a template and design your own.
1. Start by listing the individual and team goals that you think are important… get it “out of your head and onto the paper.”
2. Note that some goals have a net negative effect (-1) and assign a number to each goal in each column, then add them
3. Trust your “gut instinct” so that it “trumps the data.” We buy on emotion. And we rationalize using techniques such as this Importance Screen. Let it be predictive. Not descriptive. Use it to develop your 90-day plan, rather than explain your past 90 days.
4. Tweak these headings to suit your scenario right now.
Oh, my client? He stated that one takeaway from our session is that he will complete this Importance Screen within 48 hours, send a copy to me for review, then send a copy to his new boss when developing his 90-day plan. If he needs to use it as a reference when talking with his former manager, then he will have this tool, “in his back pocket.”
So, how might you use this Importance Screen?
And if you have shared this Importance Screen with others, please comment below on how you have done so…
There are 2 kinds of coaches in the marketplace. Those who 1) work based on value and those who 2) work based on hourly transactions.
(And perhaps a third kind, who are aspiring coaches or underemployed.)
The value of performance based coaching is based on transformation. Too many people, such as HR professionals, regard coaching as a transactional event. Yet coaching cannot be billed hourly. That is unethical. It leads to inflated billing, inaccurate expectations, or time waste. Can you imagine how long a transactional coach might have to “work with you?” It may be years! Instead, if the coaches goal is to help someone change beliefs or behaviors, then the coach should be paid based on results. The value is not time spent, or wasted. The value is results. I do not understand why any professional would suggest billing hourly.
Instead, we use internal champions to 1) show the value of coaching, 2) sell the value of coaching.
Here is a representative dialog thread. It led to a meeting with the next buying agent, and a 12 month engagement.
Thanks. I am not suggesting it’s not fair & know that Lou has direct experience in this sort of thing. Just instincts, and they may surprise me. I may continue with coaching even if they don’t fund the shadowing. I’ll follow-up with you after I can get in touch with Lou.
From: Doug Gray [mailto:email@example.com]
Subject: RE: next steps: performance based coaching
Good morning (Champion),
Welcome back from your well-deserved spa time.
1. There is nothing more important than driving employee engagement/ response. What gets tolerated causes emotional responses and delay. You have an urgent need.
2. This proposal reflects a fraction of your value to the company. Assuming a 10:1 ROI, these numbers are more than fair.
3. I remain glad to speak to Lou, or anyone at any time.
Respectfully, Doug Gray, PCC
To: Doug Gray
Subject: RE: next steps: performance based coaching
Sorry Doug – I didn’t get a reply from Lou on the message I sent him before vacation. (I kind of have a problem with that). Have 1:1 with him tomorrow, but to be honest, not sure they will fund this expense.
As we discussed on Tuesday, September 6, here is a proposal with 3 options. We have an opportunity here to create significant change/ impact…
We have tentatively set aside Tuesday, October 4 as the first day to meet/ observe your team in Atlanta. Please let me know which option you would like, by Friday Sept 23, so that I can submit an invoice.
(In the interim I certainly hope that you can enjoy your well deserved vacation time!)
I look forward to helping you apply/extend your leadership skills to your team.
Here are at least 2 questions for you:
1. What does your team need?
2. And how are you being a champion?
Naturally, I urge you to contact me ASAP so that we can discuss your needs.
Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are commonly used metrics for a business. You may use quarterly returns, cash flow, % new sales, #of clients retained in your daily life. Accountants and MBAs are taught to master these. As if they were gospel.
But they are not gospel. They are a choice.
What if we these KPIs were only metric among several?
1. Posted on the door of my home office are two examples of alternate KPIs. One is a list of financial metrics by month (e.g. revenue, expenses, investments, monthly gross, bank balance, and % of 12 month goal.) That visual keeps me focused on business. And it teaches our high-school aged daughters something about business. The second list is called “Passionate Actions.” These are the reasons why I work. Listed monthly are the family trips, personal trips, adventures, life decisions in the past and in the future. I update both lists quarterly, or so. Together, these KPIs keep me focused on 1) the top line, 2) bottom line, and 3) key lines.
2. According to recent articles in Fast Company and the TED community online, there is a new KPI being adopted in several countries in Northern Europe. They measure Happiness. As a social construct. And as a material currency. Details are at http://blog.ted.com/2006/09/26/happiness_exper/ Can you imagine using a Happiness Quotient, HQ, as a measure of your personal success? Makes me wonder if we are missing this KPI in America. The health and social benefits of happiness as a choice are well documented. The alternatives are even better documented (e.g. depression, violence, poor health and diet…)
3. Alienation. Anomie. Social Isolation. These are not commonly discussed points at your local breakfast Rotary Club, or while watching your kids play soccer. But these are social facts in America. Especially for men, who are being replaced by women throughout every business segment in America. These people may be too sad to talk. They do not easily build relationships. So, perhaps we need to adopt radical new KPIs such as “The number of direct conversations with people per day. The quality of conversation per day. The number of hours helping others per day.” Relationships define business success, and psychological health. We know that those who live longest have a strong social network. Hmmm… solopreneurs are not the only ones who need to guarantee social contacts. Look at any coffeeshop or bookstore or library for examples of lonely people. Watch how many fathers are at school bus stops, or PTA meetings. Scan any online dating company. Did you know that you can now “Rent-a-Grandma” to watch your children? Makes me wonder what would happen if we were to create KPIs around constructive social relationships.
Like many readers, I have shelves of books on Success. I regularly send subscriptions of Success magazine to my most engaged coaching clients. Creating “success” is a work in progress, and the metrics define the outcome.
What if we were to adopt a new view of KPIs?