Leadership through Eyes of a Coach...Alan Booth

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


There really is only one most important leadership skill. Listening.

It is that ability that measurably differentiates great leaders and mangers from the not so great. Great listening inspires people to action, influences people more effectively, prevents conflict and is the one factor that is most powerful in dealing with change.

Maybe you caught the April 2009 New York Times interview of James J. Schiro, C.E.O. of Zurich Financial Services where he was asked: What is the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned?

A. It’s the ability to listen, and to make people understand that you are listening to them. Make them feel that they are making a contribution, and then you make a decision. I don’t think any one individual is so brilliant that they know all of the answers. So you’ve got to have a sense of inclusiveness.

My experience?

No matter the title or role of a leader, my clients typically do an exceptional job hearing and frequently listen to the point of listening; i.e. taking the time to understand others. The critical leadership skill; however, is having people feel they are understood!

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Most of you who are or have been my clients rarely call me a coach but usually refer to me as a consultant.

I have figured out why that is; a “coach” could be misinterpreted to mean “As your leader, I have a significant enough challenge to have to engage this coach-guy. Almost like admitting one is seeing a therapist. Ouch!

But the bigger problem for me is how to inform people what I do, rather HOW do I help leaders achieve key goals they struggle with? So what is the word for the skills of being a consultant, coach, advisor, trainer, mentor…using all in a typical day with a client?

My newly found colleague, Sue Melone of BoldTrek, Inc. says she just tries not to use the wordcoach.

I guess I am back to talking only to the challenges I help resolve: getting greater focus on the most critical business imperatives, getting others to aligned to those imperatives and increasing the effectiveness of engaging with one’s organization that people work with an owner mindset.