Leadership...through the eyes of a coach...Alan Booth

Wednesday, March 11, 2020



A recent client told me stories about Donna,  an under performing person on her staff.

As I listened through these lengthy descriptions, I asked "what was the last time you sat down F2F with Donna?"

"I have yet to do that.  I am waiting for her annual appraisal."


"I am anticipating  there will be conflict"

"Are you encouraging feedback from Donna's colleagues?"


"Do you think Donna has indirectly discovered your intent in talking with peers?"

"For sure"

This is passive aggressive.

Just go to Donna directly and in a timely manner.  Deal only with facts and minimize your feelings.

Rule: when observing performance issues, address immediately.

It is the manager's credibility on the line if you wait!

Tuesday, February 25, 2020


What would you do with Bob?

Bob, a person I have casually engaged as we would usually end up standing next to each other at a local bar, asked me one afternoon, "What do you do to afford living here?"

"I am an Executive Coach"

"And yourself, Bob?

He answered in paragraphs. Whew!

After another 15 minutes hearing him talk,  I asked him about our conversation over the past 5 minutes, "were you 80% of our conversation or near 20%? He smiled.

"Since trust is so important when conversation is about money [he is a CFP], how important is listening?

He got the point and then said we should meet for breakfast so he could know me better.

I took that as a clue he might want to engage me.

Over Coffee

We talked about the importance of building trust in both of our professions and agreeing that listening is one prime way to do that.  As my friends frequently here me say about any conversation, "It is always about the other person.  And they will give you a clue when to speak."

Then the offer, "If you really feel that listening is most important, I would enjoy helping you as a coach."

He hesitated.

"Here is the deal: you will coach me as long as I can pitch you for my financial products."

My response, "These are two different conversations and we need to keep them separate."  I coached him for three meetings in February and steered him away from talking finance.

I submitted his February invoice.

Post Invoice

His email: "I was taken aback yesterday upon receiving your invoice.  I was under the impression we were meeting to see how we might mutually benefit one another and learn more about each other’s businesses." 

This after 3 months of talking?

I really got snookered!

So, what would you do now?


Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Facts vs. Emotions...a Big Difference when Relating to People

Emotions vs. Facts Exciting...I actually disciplined myself to spend the day reading from books that have influence me in the past. No computer on, no looking for emails. I am at How to Win Friends and Influence People. Dale Carnegie reminds us that when dealing with people, we are dealing with emotions, yours and theirs! But what is the frequency that people are engaging you around logic. Carnegie: "We are not creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotions, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity." SPEAKING ILL OF PEOPLE I catch myself talking to friends about people who hit my hot buttons. This is criticism. "Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain -- and most fools do" The result: people will think less of you and might even marginalize you. AS A COACH This is particularly a challenge for executive coaches. Yet, coaching is all about getting their clients to be judgmental about themselves. Tricky business. But when we are self-assessing, we will own possible solutions and be more motivated to act on them! That is what true coaching does. Call me to continue this conversation: 203.216.6232

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Friday, January 17, 2020

Fire All the Managers

This is a quote from an article in Harvard Business Review.  It led me to research the role of manager when I was manufacturing executive at American Optical.

Here is what I found: 

Management ...

n  Is an expensive overhead, generally 33% of payroll
n  Increases the risk of bad judgment
n  Slows down decision making with unnecessary layers and bias
n  Disenfranchises lower-level employees


At America Optical as a manufacturing executive, I did two studies to validate these statements.

The first was done with the head of accounting whose department produced 8 reports to manufacturing managers. We decided from gut feel what were the most used reports that added value.

We produced all reports but stopped delivering 4.

In six months time, not one manager asked for them.  We discovered they then had shorter meeting with more measurable outcomes [actions]


When I researched the quality issues that cost us an arm and leg, I discovered that the people closest to the cause and the resolution was the best operators on each line.

So the next study was to employ these people to; [1] be the ultimate inspector of quality and, [2] to go back to their peers to take action.  No management involvement.


  1. Quality approached 98% passing
  2. Operators discovered innovative ways to increase output by 85%
  3. No more need for the expensive "management research lab"

The most significant realization: mangers got in the way of those closest to the problems!