Leadership through Eyes of a Coach...Alan Booth

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Do you remember my client, Randy? [My History with Randy]

He is the high assertive CEO who struggles with the paradox: "the harder I work at causing accountability with my people, the less they seem to deliver".

At a December meeting, he said, "You should know that you went down a different path than I wanted you to." Gulp. "With all of the work you have done with my VP's you got me to realize I also had to make some changes; and that is really hard work!" Whew!

We laughed, but not for long. Randy wanted me to help turn around his Operating Executive, Tom. This is "code" for "I need more coaching but working my challenges through your work with Tom will be easier for me." This is one reason why I always involve the coachee's manager.

Why is Tom a challenge for Randy? As direct as Randy is, Tom is indirect; slower paced, less demanding of his people and more tolerant of performance gaps.

So how can we deal with this situation - opposite styles and lack of accountability?

  1. Coach Randy to tone down his assertiveness
  2. Encourage Tom's confidence

This process seems to be working:

  • 1:1 meetings with Tom are boosting his confidence
  • We are moving him away from full staff meetings to short one-on-one weekly meetings where he works on his people's commitments for action
  • We are teaching him the language to deal with broken commitments
  • Randy-Tom-Coach meetings around key business issues where my role is to prompt Randy when his assertiveness causes Tom to withdraw. For example, a simple glance at my watch is the cue to stop talking and ask Tom his opinion.
  • Immediately after meetings with Tom, Randy and I debrief by playing on Randy's competitiveness. The winner is who can recall all of the situations where Tom was not meeting Randy's expectations -- and why!

Results to-date? Sales are up 5.4%