Leadership through Eyes of a Coach...Alan Booth

Friday, December 11, 2015


Getting your ideas across to your boss is no different than how to influence a business owner who is on the fence to sell her business.

You talk, they hear you...and nothing moves forward.  Frustration

The problem is most likely when you keep the conversation going; and, you miss the cues from the other person.

So you may not know your boss or business owner well enough to influence them; and you conclude they don't understand you.

Example: I engaged a client by first hearing from his spouse.  We arranged lunch to determine a good fit with her husband.  It was 2 months before I found out that she hired me to help her husband.

Complex triangulation!

This reminded me of not only to stop talking but to use the powerful tool of silence, sitting back to be open to the other person to tell me more.

Of course this probably does not work well with your spouse!

Friday, October 16, 2015


Conflict I have observed within my client's organizations always involves different communication styles. Usually one person is outspoken and monopolizes conversations which impacts those more reserved.

And the outspoken person needs to be a better listener!

I am currently working with Bob [CEO], who has a "need to be right" when speaking with Julia. He is more experienced and proud of it [to the annoyance of his team]

Julia, as a result, feels unappreciated, misunderstood and isolated because of a lack of dialogue with Busy Bob.

When one person feels the other does not take the time to understand him/her, trust is weakened, conflict rises.

"Conflict management" is rarely the issue; more it is what people need to openly talk about that prevents conflict.

In Bob's case, his staff would work harder for him if he took the time to LISTEN!

Friday, September 18, 2015


Filters, a communication typically based on opinion, not fact.  I see these in [1] vertical hierarchy...how many layers from top to bottom, [2] personal opinions not based on fact, [3] parent/child relations.

Take the case of my client Xenox Enterprises.  The CEO [68] has hired mostly relatives for managerial roles because, she says, in the beginning [40 years ago], it was believed that relatives are more trusted.  Ha!

Today the CEO is totally stuck with less than competent relatives in management positions.  He will not terminate them [of course not family] nor coach them to reach expectations [does not know how].

The CEO has stated that one alternative is to sell the business; however he has never sought people who could at least determine Fair Market Value and has discounted the fact that no one would want to inherit a dysfunctional management team.


We are making headway by getting agreement from the CEO to form a management team where he will not have any direct influence, but will be kept him informed. This eliminates the clash with the next generation in the business as well as the aunts, cousins and "close relatives", incent them to reach specific company goals and be more strategic to grow from a successful regional producer to at least develop customers east of the Mississippi.

You might consider this a "work around" but the CEO is finally hearing the news that without him in the business, it will fail.  It will succeed by empowering his younger team.

"The buck does not stop at the top!"

Friday, August 21, 2015


I find most of the management I consult , including business owners, do not know how to influence people successfully.

This can lead to managing more by "authority" which makes people defensive...and the management frustrated.

If you want to influence others, you need to make them feel important.

That's it.


Current clients are being taught about the 80/20 rule of conversations which turns the highly stressed [passionate?] to only occupy 20% or less of any conversation.

Monitor yourself to see where you are with this rule.

Need help on the "how"?  Give me a call. 203.454.3502

Monday, July 20, 2015


All too often with my clients I observe how people react and feel when others say, "I am busy" or when they simply do not take the time to engage people.

And...this is what others hear when this happens:

ü  She sees me as less or unimportant

ü  It is always about him

ü  I feel marginalized

In family businesses this phenomena is exacerbated because of parent-child relations that overlays the business culture.

In professional firms I observe competitive cultures where people are not working on a level playing field because of a lack of being genuinely engaged. Genuine and trusting engagement starts first by talking!

TAKE THE TIME TO BE INCLUSIVE...and recognize when you are not!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Totally stuck.

Potential to inherit Dad's company

Has talent but stuck in status quo


Patient listening to find out what is causing the stuckness,  that which has yet to be revealed

Who do you talk to when you feel stuck?  203.216.6232

Wednesday, May 20, 2015



2nd generation business owner


He goes directly to individuals to point out "what is wrong" with what they are doing

Message sent to staff

They feel he does not trust their abilities

Opening comment when first engaged:

"I don't think any of my managers add value"

No surprise!

Two weeks later:

"I have never had anyone teach me how to manage!"


Transition to holding managers accountable and stepping away to make that happen.  His managers need to build greater trust with the boss that they are competent leaders.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Yes, It is the kids that you need strong trust and relationships to move deal flow forward!
If the next generation does not show the passion or competency to lead their company to new heights, selling is a viable option...so says my client who engagement me this year to help discern which way to go.
Then the clincher...the owner says that his issues with his kids might partly be his fault.
So sets the family dynamic!
"Oh! But dad hates conflict so it is hard to engage him. We do not think he listens to us half the time."  Dad, "I feel like they are still kids, even though they are in their 30's."
A hint of adolescence that can be resolved by changing the parent/child dynamic.
It has a lot to do with kids feeling validated and the parents ability to step back and allow more freedom for the kids to operate. Never as easy as us parents want!
The question I am now wrestling with is: how willing is the dad [president] to carve out a CEO role as a means to step back. If "yes" we can allow the next generation [and all of the involved cousins] to step up and see how good they really are.
If not I will need to use the 80/20 rule with the father and help the kids figure out a more significant role than the father currently allows.
If the kids don't step up and "pass", I will be looking for one of you to intervene in the sale!

Saturday, March 21, 2015


My clients have taught me that when they find fault with others this can open the door to opportunities to resolve.

My client, Jonas, frequently complained about his sales manager not delivering in a new role. The emails he showed be always started with incendiary tone. "You have yet to deliver..."

Although subtle, he wished that the sales manager would resign even though his performance was great in making appointments with the highest executives of their prospects.

As our relationship grew,  this blaming opened a new conversation about him [Jonas] and what he could do differently! "There are other options to correct this situation other than termination."

Why does blaming occur?:

n  Lack of confidence

n  Lack of control

n  Feeling failure because the blaming does not bring the right results

...all correctable when one puts aside their ego for moment!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Does this make you feel angry that I would be so aggressive?

When coaching CEO Dave, it became clear he was dissatisfied with one of his staff who was in the field.  "Dave, please share what your last conversation sounded like."

"No problem, Alan", as he prints out all of the emails from the past two weeks." [8 pages]

WHAT?  Email?

So I read the first sentence of the last message: "John, I am very disappointed with the proposal you gave XYZ Distributors..."

My response to CEO Dave: "How do you think John reacted?"

Dave: "Not very well"

 Me: "So do you want to terminate him, have him resign or motivate him to meet your expectations?"

 Needless to say there was much more work needed when one attempts to manage, motivate or influence someone exclusively by email.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Have you had that feeling from your manager, board, customers, clients?

"Not enough time" has become a frequent [and passive] way to say: "I don't value your idea" or "What I am working on is more important."

Client Jon Betz, a senior operating executive is seen as exceptionally busy, resulting in his team not genuinely trusting him.  When he speaks or emails, his direct reports need to read between the lines.

Without that trust and collaboration, his team holds back on bringing up new ideas to grow his company. They simply feel disrespected.

They wonder, "am I the problem" or "is it Jon?"  Business paranoia!

Being a mirror for him, I ask how he gets the best from his team, followed by a summary of what his team has told me.  Big gap!

Having the respect of his team is #10 on his priority list.  So much so we convened a "New Leader Re-calibration" to enhance feedback in both directions on what is most important to them both.  This causes a new beginning of engaging Jon and how Jon can build the respect he wants and needs.

Like Jon's people, do you feel you have the ear of your boss and that person respects your ideas...and acts on them?

Thursday, January 29, 2015


Tom Lynch had just been turned down by a prospect after he had proposed a solution to what he assumed was her problem. So he called me.

He learned that he needed to stop selling and first engage her so that she feels he genuinely understands her...her issues, the importance of them, etc.

He needs to turn off the "expert" discussions, totally. Create dialogue that helps the prospect reveal issues they are struggling with.

PATIENCE!!  Stop talking

Ask informed questions:

"How does family dynamics impact the success of your business?" Use silence to encourage the other person to talk. Reflect on what they have said..."so what I am hearing you say is..."

This causes one to feel understood! This builds trust!

Want help in breaking the habit of being the expert? Feel free to call me [pro bono].



Friday, January 23, 2015


Carl, President of a mid-market service business asked me to deal with his new Managing Director of business development, Frank.

The Facts

ü  Carl:  "Frank is going to cost me big bucks in the future.  He lets deadlines drive his work priorities...and one day he will miss one."

ü  Frank arrives 20 minutes late to our initial meeting

ü  No interaction between Carl and Frank as to why he is late

ü  I ask Frank "What is going on?"  Frank: "I was out supervising our staff in the field"

ü  Meeting with Carl: "Does not sound like you have Frank in his business development roll. What is up?

ü  "I hired him because he owned a business like mine that had subsequently failed".

Carl's real issues

¨  He is gambling that Frank has the ability to develop new clients

¨  Frank does not really like business development

¨  Carl fears being too direct with Frank who is an old friend

After three meetings Frank more clearly saw this was not the place to be...and resigned!