Are you a business owner thinking about whether coaching might improve the performance of your COO or another key executive? My answer is, “Yes,” in most cases, but only if the CEO is being coached. I’ve learned the hard way over the years that I can have a major, enduring impact with a COO or other direct report only when I am also coaching the CEO. I believe this is generally the case with true executive coaches.1
Any growth or development on the part of a subordinate that is not shared by the boss is likely to have two unwanted effects. First, the boss’s unchanged behavior will undermine and thwart the direct report’s new behavior. Second, the developing key executive will either abandon the changes or judge the boss to be the bigger problem and leave. As one blunt coach said to a prospect, “If I fix your VP without you moving in the same direction, you will become the problem.”
Stay away from inspiring stores of genius leaders such as Steve Jobs, Harold Geneen, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, etc. They are unique, lucky, and extraordinarily difficult to work with. They certainly were not copying anyone. Anyone attempting to copy them is likely to cause disasters both financial and personal.
These recommendations for management training, as with executive coaching, require the ultimate leader and influencer (you, the CEO/Owner) to learn and practice the same techniques.
1 I say true executive coaches because, these days, every consultant, trainer, and even many salespeople now call themselves coaches. That’s a topic for another post.
We live in America, “the land of the free and the home of the brave,” yet we meekly surrender our freedom at work. I know, “We call it ‘work’ because ‘play’ means something else.” But we give up so much so easily! Employers dictate whether we wear our hair: long or short, covered or uncovered, coifed, clipped, combed, or corn-rowed. Whether we are allowed to wind down after work with alcohol, nicotine, or cannabis. Or, whether we wind down at all, with texts, emails, and travel at all hours of any day. We let them record our phone calls, read our emails, count our keystrokes, search our pockets, and time our bathroom breaks. We must not discuss our pay or take a job less than …_X_ miles away, then get fired anyway over a Tweet or a bumper sticker. There are even worse examples, but…
You don’t need more evidence that too many jobs are intrusive and demeaning. You know … You know it! I can tell. You may even know that inventing and enforcing these rules wastes money and reduces profits. I’m not here to prove that this is a problem. I’m here with the solution. I have the answer! … The answer… is, “No.”… “Just …say, …’No!'”
My friend took a job on the Hubble Space Telescope, where programmers had not delivered a single finished program in three years. When he heard his first deadline, he said, “No! I need more time.” His boss shrugged. My friend delivered working code “late” -but on the exact date he promised.
He got another assignment with another impossible due date. Again, …he delivered on the date he promised. He didn’t get a third program to code. He got three programmers to manage. His team delivered quality code on the dates they promised. So, they put him in charge of all the programmers. Not because he was a coding savant. Not because he was a charismatic leader. No, just because he had demonstrated the awesome power of, “No.”
Our reluctance to say, “No,” comes from fear. Fear that you are your job. Fear that your income is your value. That is not who you are. You get to say who you are.
You get to say, “No,” anytime, anywhere, to anyone. Because we live in America, “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
As a coach and advisor to business owners, I find that the resolutions for many of our most complex, challenging management situations become simple and obvious when we use precise language to accurately describe exactly what has happened and what we want to help happen. Getting work done is faster and easier, for example, for entrepreneurs who understand the five aspects of trust, the operative features of a powerful request, and the distinct types of group agreement.
Leadership success requires accurate evaluations of colleagues and keen cognizance of how others are evaluating us as leaders. Managers can improve these judgements by understanding the difference between four common words that are too often used interchangeably.
One action or omission may breach all four though not in every case.
Integrity comes from engineering. A machine or system with all of its parts and components working together as intended and expected has integrity. Integrity for the human machine is consistency of behaviors, often summarized as, “Do what you said you would do.”
Integrity isn’t right or wrong, good or bad. It just works.
Morality is that aspect of a culture which delineates “good behavior.” Morality is how we “ought” to do things around here, the requirements for being respectable. Morality emerges from some combination of intuition and mysticism, from the nature of being human, not by vote, volition, or convention.
Ethics is a set of rules specifically defining the behaviors required
for membership in a group and enjoyment of the privileges membership confers. A
defining characteristic of modern professions, e.g., accountants, lawyers,
physicians, is a Code of Ethics. Ethics are manmade and can be changed
Law defines behaviors that can be punished by government. A unique characteristic of government is a monopoly on the initiation of force. Laws may be arbitrary or democratic, stable or capricious, and applied with equality or discrimination.
These last three are about right and wrong. Integrity is in that field Rumi wrote a poem about. 😉
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
A Great Wagon by Rumi
Those three also require imposed punishment:
Violate the law and risk violence.
Breach ethics and risk dismemberment (exclusion from membership).
Fail to act morally and be shamed, excluded from society.
Integrity does not require enforcement or punishment. Lack of integrity carries its own intrinsic punishments. Behaving with integrity just works better.
Today’s podcast, “Powerful Requests” is the audio from a webinar presented by Tony Mayo, The Business Owner’s Executive Coach. Listen to this recording and then join us for Tuesdays with Tony at Twelve, a weekly, free webinar where you can explore powerful executive coaching tools and ask Tony about applying them in your life and career.
Tony presents his model for, perhaps, the most important type of business conversation, the request. Much of what you accomplish, much of what people reward you for, much of the structure of our days can be understood as a complex network of requests and promises.
By thoroughly understanding and applying the three components of a Powerful Request, you can get more done while burnishing your reputation as a reliable colleague, supplier, or employee.
Today’s podcast, “Say Anything to Anyone in a Way that Works for Everyone” is the audio from a webinar presented by Tony Mayo, The Business Owner’s Executive Coach. Listen to this recording and then join us for Tuesdays with Tony at Twelve, a weekly, free webinar where you can explore powerful executive coaching tools and ask Tony about applying them in your life and career.
Tony shares two tools to help with your most difficult and confronting conversations.
12 Steps for Difficult Conversations
The Conversation Contract
Video, handouts, and other resources from this and other webinars are available for free at: