Leadership through Eyes of a Coach...Alan Booth

Monday, October 28, 2013


Why would a bright successful executive not pick up cues as to why he was disconnected from his staff?

When David Green introduced me to Ruppert, his new CEO, I suspected something was wrong. Ruppert asked me to interview his staff to get a sense of the difficulties he was encountering, saying it was all about THEM!

The result?

Every person reported a big disconnect with Ruppert because he had his own way of doing things but not interested in his staff's point of view.

So I conducted the "new manager assimilation" process where the leader tells his staff how he wants things to be done.  Separately, his staff comes to consensus on what they need from their leader to be successful...which is reported back to the leader to prepare a response.

Result: Ruppert had come from a much larger company that had a very well defined and different way of doing things. He knew no other way.

His staff told him essentially that he must learn to please never again refer to that previous company and how things are done there.

The lesson learned was to better engage your staff to genuinely "hear" what is on their mind.  That is leadership that works!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


"I know this might be a bit sensitive: Your team has observed a blind spot that is impacting the effectiveness of your leadership and causing lack of trust with your team.

I need to say this to many of my executive clients; people who are very confident but typically ignore feedback or do not seek it out.

Case in Point

Carol and Melissa are co-owners of a very successful and growing business. Melissa wants more money out the partnership being scared about her retirement savings.

Melissa is relentless and angry in finding ways to make more money at the firm.  No one wants to work for her. She angrily pushes to either fire their sales executive or reduce his compensation. With anger she is weak in negotiating!

As the friction increased I was brought in to cause "sanity" in this partnership by working with Melissa. We had a series of partner meetings so I could observe the dynamic.

But the solution was Carol's blind spot: never reacting or negotiating with Melissa enabled greater friction, volume and angry tones.  When she realized she was enabling Melissa's behavior this way, she found her voice and caused a much better relationship to occur and was successful in convincing Melissa of her only two options: either [1] be more collaborative or [2] have her partnership bought out.

Lesson: in dealing with conflict, first look at yourself as an enabler!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013


My wife taught me that women want to be heard and understood by men, not to have their problems necessarily fixed.

With management teams I coach, I see this as the 80/20 rule: Listening 80% of most conversations and talking only 20%. This has direct implications on running a business.

Case in Point

Jim Lynch, a CEO client was observed stopping his lengthy conversation when the other party started to nod their head.  He thought that meant there was agreement for his request. But he was stressed out  because many on his staff "agreed" to do important things and did not follow up.

So I had the other person meet with Jim and I so I could use the "nod" to expose both of them to this misunderstanding.  It happened - I interrupted Jim to call attention to the nod - and he shot back: "Hold a minute, Alan, I am not done talking here."

He was able to reverse the ratio to about 30% talking and 70% Listening...in about two weeks!

With clients and customers, listening so they feel understood, builds trust and meaningful relationships. After that, we gain the power to influence, suggest better ways to do things relevant to their individual needs, etc.
This ratio has implications for selling your product or services to how well your board can appropriately give advice.