Leadership through Eyes of a Coach...Alan Booth

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


The CEO of a client took one of my messages and started a new thread to me and her colleague I was coaching. Just so happened that the message I had sent the CEO provided a summary on how to best engage that colleague.  Oops!

Beware of continuing threads that someone might actually go back and read in entirety!

The danger in this situation was that the colleague did not have the context and jumped to conclusions.  The context was a summary of  a conversation with the CEO on how to better engage her colleague. It had nothing to do with the colleague.

Incidentally, the colleague needs coaching around her tendency to jump to conclusions without investigating the facts.  Weak listener and one to monopolize conversations.

Lesson learned?  Talk to people live and never rely on digital communication when the subject matter is sensitive.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


The Problem
Most of us believe we are accurately aware of how our organization works and what needs to change. However, your people's "perception" of you, your strategy, goals and what is most important to grow your company is the "reality" you must get in touch with.
How to be better informed
"Walk the floor"!  Sandy Tungare, Founder and CEO of Think Systems was never in his office until 10:00 AM each day. He was in at 7:00 AM getting the lay of the land, challenges needing his help and following up F2F with people at all levels.
By 10:00 AM he had his day's agenda established through these conversations. It is amazing how people were inspired to talk with him about any problems or failures they were experiencing...because he immediately got help! That was his job!
He used to rely exclusively on his managers but realized they filter the "bad" news to him and accentuate the positive.  No surprises, please!
To really be in touch, we just have to dig deeper to really know our people. Build deeper trust so your people will be more forthright. And have the discipline to listen 80% of every conversation. Active listening builds trust! With trust comes the truth.

Monday, July 8, 2013


Avoiding or delaying resolution of conflict, enables  the counter party to continue the behaviors that are so annoying. By not confronting the other person, we are sending the message, "It is OK".

As the tension rises, the organization is distracted or discouraged and the executive involved begins to look weak for not addressing the conflict head-on.
Potential "helps":

n  When the conflict is occurring, state: "This is not working"

n  No response? Stand up to exit discussion, "Let's try this tomorrow morning at 8:00."

n  "I" statements stop defensiveness. "I need to find a way for us to get on the same page."

n  "Help me understand what is causing you to act this way?"  Active listen. Validate that you have heard what the other person is saying.

The sooner one confronts unacceptable behavior, the shorter it takes to resolve.  But be patient enough to give the other person time to buy-in and own their part of the relationship.

Monday, July 1, 2013


Fred B., a friend of mine, told me this morning that he is thinking about leaving a startup he has worked for the last three years.

Seems the Founder is struggling with getting his staff motivated, hearing their ideas on how to grow, or allowing people to question his business model.

The Founder has a strong need to be right.

He does not see how he stymies creating ideas, good problem solving, or how his lack of being inclusive ["our company"] impacts performance.

He can be helped.  My experience is creating a safe dialogue that will allow these people to understand why this need exists.  Then we can deal with how to change this practice.

It is worth it, especially when a company is at risk!



For those of you turned off by the word ENGAGEMENT, remember that the most important thing a manager needs to do is motivate her/his staff is developing a trusting relationship.

Not to "engage".  When I need to have greater trust with my wife, I don't ask her to "engage" with me.  She would think I am a consultant!

I call this relationship building [sometimes harder for men than women].

Here is an example from the Harvard Business Review, July 1, 2013


Don't stay away.  Even if she gives you a lot of freedom, resist the urge to take it. Gen on your manager's calendar regularly to communicate any issues you are facing and get her input.

Don't run down a checklist.  Assume she wants to focus on the most important things you are trying to do and how she can help. Focus on no more than three things in each meeting.

Clarify expectations early and often.  Check in regularly to make sure you fully understand her expectations.