The Practical Leader series offers a roadmap for individuals striving to achieve leadership effectiveness within the context of today's complex world. Each book explores a different essential element of successful leadership, providing readers with insightful, real-world perspectives, as well as practical tools and techniques, to help them maximize their potential—-personally and professionally.
Real-life stories, practical tips and techniques, and the Anytime Coaching model equip managers with a set of coaching tools they can use immediately to transform the way they work with employees and colleagues. This second edition describes how recent findings in neuroscience support the effectiveness of Anytime Coaching practices. You will also discover how the practice of mindfulness can enhance your ability to observe yourself and others. Practical tools and exercises to help you be more present, aware, and focused in day-to-day interactions are included.
Whether you lead a cross-functional team on a short-term project or formally manage large groups of people on a daily basis, Anytime Coaching will help you improve performance and achieve results.
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About the Author
Wendy Sherwin Swire is Principal of Swire Solutions, LLC, a consulting firm that improves workplace performance through executive coaching, consulting, training, neuroleadership, and conflict resolution services. A certified executive coach, she works with clients throughout the United States as well as in Asia, Europe, Latin America, and Africa.
Read an Excerpt
Unleashing Employee Performance
By Teresa Wedding Kloster, Wendy Sherwin Swire
Management Concepts PressCopyright © 2015 Management Concepts, Inc.
All rights reserved.
It All Begins with You
"We must be the change we wish to see in the world."
— Mahatma Gandhi, Indian spiritual and political independence leader
As a well-known saying goes, "No matter where you go, there you are." Amusing and paradoxical as it may be, the saying is true. After all, it is you who shows up at work every day and you who returns home, listens to music, watches a movie, or goes out with friends. Learning more about yourself is a good starting point for your journey as an anytime coach. What you learn will add to, modify, or replace beliefs, knowledge, and skills you have now.
We first ask you to think deeply about the "self" you bring to Anytime Coaching. You will complete several informal self-assessments that focus on your beliefs about work and managing others, as well as your skills, knowledge, and preferences. Then we encourage you to reflect on what you have discovered. You might even want to retake the assessments once you have implemented some of the Anytime Coaching practices.
Undoubtedly, you already use some of the skills of Anytime Coaching. As the Anytime Coaching model depicts, the core practices of observing, inquiring, listening, and responding are linked to one another. When anytime coaches employ all four practices, the result is day-to-day performance improvement. Surrounding and supporting these four practices are the additional elements of self-awareness, self-development, neuroscience, and mindfulness.
Who Is the Self I Bring to Anytime Coaching?
Each individual will answer this question differently — but do take some time to answer it. The self-assessments will help you determine your current skills and beliefs, which will influence how you adopt and apply Anytime Coaching skills. The immediate goal is to boost your understanding of your skill as an employee, a manager, or a leader. There will be no "score" for the assessments — just increased awareness of the self you bring to Anytime Coaching.
To begin, the exercises ask that you think deeply about your work, your beliefs about work, your workplace, your employees, and your role as a manager. You will base your new learning about Anytime Coaching on these core beliefs.
Thinking about Work
As we understand more about brain development, we have come to realize that thoughts profoundly impact our feelings, emotions, and actions through the brain's release of powerful neurochemicals. That is why taking time to think about work is our starting point — to help you gain understanding of your feelings about your work and about being an anytime coach. What are your thoughts about paid work in general? Do you view work as providing opportunities for creativity, or does it seem merely routine? Do you think mostly about the problems immediately before you, or are you able to envision the future?
Our first jobs, our parents' work experiences, anecdotes from others about their jobs, and our personal preferences all contribute to our beliefs about what work is and why we do it. People who see work as part of a larger pattern in their lives — as a means for making a contribution, getting recognition for a job well done, or developing personal strengths — will find that Anytime Coaching skills are relevant to both the practical side of work (completing tasks and being paid) and its more personal aspects (such as professional growth and fulfillment). If we tend to think of work as simply a burden to be endured so that we can pay the bills, we may view Anytime Coaching skills as a way to transform our work.
"I had chosen my work as a reflection of my values."
— Sidney Poitier, American actor
Thinking about Your Role as a Manager
Anyone who has held a job has also had a boss. Whether your early working experiences were positive or negative will influence your own behavior when it is your turn to lead others. The management training you have had has likely influenced your understanding of your role too. And of course, your relationship with your own manager will have a direct effect on how you interact with your employees.
To manage others most effectively, you must be confident in your own beliefs but also open to new behaviors and attitudes. Whether you are a "command and control" manager or friendly and affable, learning new skills will test what you already believe. Most people who manage the work of others find that they must create a balance between motivating employees to do what is required and to proactively and continuously seek and develop creative solutions that fit ever-changing circumstances.
Thinking about Your Skills, Knowledge, and Preferences
An accurate assessment of your skill level, knowledge base, and preferences in social and work styles will help you as you learn the skills of Anytime Coaching. Reflecting on your own thinking will also impact your feelings, thoughts, and motivations as you learn new coaching practices.
Even if some coaching skills are new to you, you are likely to succeed if you are committed to learning them. And if you are able to acknowledge freely that you do not have all the answers at work (even though you might be the boss), learning Anytime Coaching skills will help you get the best from everyone else's knowledge and expertise.
When it comes to personal preferences in work and social styles, simply being aware of your tendencies can be helpful. For example, if you are naturally gregarious and outgoing, you may decide to be less talkative to build your listening skills. Or if you strive for speed at all costs, you may learn a lot just by slowing down to have in-depth coaching conversations. Running at an overwhelmed, frenzied pace with excessive stress triggers a powerful neurochemical called cortisol. Over time, excess stress and cortisol can take a toll on your body, thinking, and memory. As we will explore in Chapter 2, you can improve your ability to slow down by integrating simple practices for being more present, aware, and focused in your day-to-day work.
Complete the following exercise to gain insight into how you view your own skills, knowledge, and preferences.
Thinking about Your Organization
Assessing your organization's approach to getting work done is an important step as you begin to try out new coaching behaviors. As a worker, you operate within a network of other workers. Some are your peers, some are "above" you in the hierarchy, and some may be "below" you. Organizations in which hierarchically driven behavior is pervasive and ingrained may be less hospitable to some coaching behaviors. In contrast, workplaces in which people at all levels mingle freely, sharing ideas up and down the chain, may be more open to Anytime Coaching. Practicing what you learn is essential, so it is helpful to be aware of the culture of your work environment.
How you see your own work and your role as a worker, your skills/knowledge/preferences, and your organizational culture will influence every coaching conversation you have. These elements are the foundation on which every coaching conversation rests. As your understanding of each deepens, you can begin to build the skills that will make you a successful anytime coach in your particular environment.
The Practices of Anytime Coaching
In the chapters ahead, we will talk about the key practices of Anytime Coaching. The word "practices" is significant here. A practice is something you do regularly, with the goal of continual, broad improvement. For example, a pianist practices scales and finger exercises to build greater facility in playing sonatas and concertos. A basketball player practices dribbling and hook shots to develop particular skills essential to playing the game well. We know from neuroscience that creating habits through practice is fundamental to forging powerful new neural connections. You too must practice individual skills to be successful in the game of Anytime Coaching.
What do you practice? The key practices are observing, inquiring, listening, and responding. What happens when you employ all these skills effectively? Day-to-day performance improvement.
Let's begin with the practice of observing.CHAPTER 2
The Practice of Observing
"Accuracy of observation is the equivalent of accuracy of thinking."
— Wallace Stevens, American poet
Now that you know that coaching begins with you, as the manager or team lead, you are ready to begin exploring the practices of Anytime Coaching. These practices will guide you in creating new ways of interacting with your employees — ways that enhance their performance and your relationships with them. You will learn and use new and powerful approaches to observing, inquiring, listening, and responding.
Our first stop is the practice of observing, because it is by observing that you create an effective foundation for all the other practices.
The Powerful Practice of Observing
What is the practice of observing? Webster's New World Dictionary defines observing as "the act, practice, or power of noticing." Observing requires you to accurately and objectively notice the people, activities, events, and communication around you with a fresh perspective. Through close observation, you will notice qualities in your employees you may have missed before, and you will pay closer attention to nonverbal cues and emotions. The practice of observing intensifies, widens, and deepens your focus.
Staying outwardly focused and observing employees takes intentional focus and practice. Staying focused may sound simple, but your brain circuits make it difficult. The brain is easily distracted and quickly moves to default mode, in which thoughts turn inward. The brain also has an innate, natural bias toward negative thoughts, which evolved to ensure our survival and safety but makes staying neutral and observing others more challenging.
With shorter deadlines, mounting pressure to maintain a rapid pace, and constant technological changes, the powerful practice of observing is even more critical in today's overwhelmed and stressed workplace. What occurs when employees face chronic pressure and stress? Does it feel harder to stay calm and access the important executive-suite brain system during your workday?
"When stress becomes more than an occasional burst, when it becomes a constant, grinding swirl ... feeling behind, jumping from task to task and never feeling there is time to do everything you have to do ... [neuroscientists] are finding the prefrontal cortex begins to shut down. The more stress, scans show, the smaller volume of neuron-rich gray matter in this key region of the brain."
The practice of observing is an effective way to counter the impact on the brain of what we call "cognitive capacity overload." Cognitive overload occurs when your brain is flooded with incoming thoughts or information and you feel overwhelmed. "You have to consistently apply your frontal lobes to help you, or any progress will be hit and miss. It's very easy when you are living in a rushing, reactive mode to have the frontal lobes all but drowned out by the doom-and-gloom brain regions that clamor for attention and can flood your body with stress chemicals at the slightest bit of pressure or foreshadowing of change."
As you develop as an anytime coach, you will learn that observing is an essential foundation for the other skills outlined in the Anytime Coaching model. For example, observing leads to asking powerful questions. Your questions will be based on what you notice as you observe your employees' verbal and nonverbal communication. Observing complements listening; as you move beyond merely hearing what employees say, you will practice a deeper form of listening that yields more information. Observing also allows you to respond to your employees in the most appropriate way. Finally, observing helps you notice opportunities for results-focused Anytime Coaching — and results are, of course, the ultimate goal of your coaching conversations.
Why is observing a powerful practice for Anytime Coaching? First, observing employees' best qualities (a new practice for many managers) helps build a positive foundation for employee-manager interactions. You will find that observing the positive leads to greater collaboration, commitment, and trust in your working relationships. Second, observing enables you to learn significant details about your employees. You will notice verbal, nonverbal, and emotional cues and will likely find that your employees have interests and capabilities of which you were not aware and that can be explored during your coaching. Finally, self-observation will help you understand your own style and preferences when interacting with others. This is particularly important if your management style is more directive than collaborative — if you tend to tell more than ask.
You will learn how to engage in the practice of observing in four ways:
1. Observing positive qualities and possibilities in your employees. Employees' good qualities and potential too often go unnoticed. We offer techniques to help you change how you observe your employees and uncover positive possibilities.
2. Observing nonverbal cues and the emotions underlying employees' words. What role do these play in communication? We provide exercises to help you decode the clues. We also discuss the importance of congruence between verbal, vocal, and visual communication and of becoming a nonjudgmental observer.
3. Observing whether you have a tendency to direct, not coach. We help you notice whether you often tell others what to do instead of coaching. We urge you to take note of your impatient, performance-oriented "fast results gene" (FRG) and explain how to tame it, allowing you to coach more effectively.
4. Observing your mindful presence. We describe how being more present, aware, and focused will improve your observation abilities — of others and yourself. To help you become more familiar with mindfulness, we provide short, practical exercises and suggest some reference materials. These mindfulness exercises will help you become more present, aware, and focused as an anytime coach.
We begin the practice of observing by focusing on positive possibilities in others.
"The person who sends out positive thoughts activates the world around him positively and draws back to himself positive results."
— Norman Vincent Peale, author of The Power of Positive Thinking
Observing Positive Qualities and Possibilities in Your Employees
Rather than focusing on employees' weaknesses, look at the larger picture. Think about what each employee does well and how his or her work style is effective. This sounds simple, but observing positive qualities takes focus and practice.
Why is it hard to look for positive possibilities in others? Managers generally are not trained in or rewarded for observing the positive. Instead, most managers are skilled at, and rewarded for, solving problems. They pay attention to what is not working and fix it. There is less apparent short-term incentive to ask: "What is working really well with my employees, and how can I build on their strengths?"
Managers get very comfortable, perhaps too comfortable, observing a situation or an employee through the lens of problem solving. They then perceive their employees as problems that need fixing or improvement. It becomes easy and automatic to ask: "How did this employee not meet performance expectations?" "What does this person lack?"
We believe it is a huge shift in perspective to first notice your employees' positive qualities and then determine what can be improved. When you do so, the positive qualities and possibilities you notice may seem simple. But they are important building blocks, and observing good qualities is an essential aspect of becoming an anytime coach.
This practice of observing positive qualities in your employees and others also yields favorable neural rewards that "activate brain centers that open you up to new possibilities." Daniel Goleman summarizes the benefits of following a positive approach:
A focus on our strengths urges us toward a desired future and stimulates openness to new ideas, people and plans. In contrast, spotlighting our weaknesses elicits a defensive sense of obligation and guilt, closing us down. The positive lens keeps the joy in practice and learning — the reason even the most seasoned athletes still enjoy rehearsing their moves. You need the negative focus to survive, but a positive one to thrive.
Observing is how you begin to notice the potential in others and find possibilities for them.
Getting Started in Observing Positives
Here are some examples of positive qualities to look for in each of your employees:
 Does this person work hard? Put in long hours?
 Is he or she punctual?
 Is he or she trustworthy?
 Is he or she modest and humble?
 Is his or her work detailed or thorough?
 Does he or she perform well when working in a group?
 Does he or she take feedback well?
 Does he or she have a sense of humor?
Anytime coaches notice their employees' positive qualities and look for positive possibilities in them.
The following scenario illustrates the power of seeing an employee with new eyes and the possibilities created by doing so.
Excerpted from Anytime Coaching by Teresa Wedding Kloster, Wendy Sherwin Swire. Copyright © 2015 Management Concepts, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Management Concepts Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsPreface: Anytime Coaching Revisited,
Introduction: Anytime Coaching in a Changing World,
Chapter 1: It All Begins with You,
Chapter 2: The Practice of Observing,
Chapter 3: The Practice of Inquiring,
Chapter 4: The Practice of Listening,
Chapter 5: The Practice of Responding,
Chapter 6: Improving Day-to-Day Performance,
Chapter 7: Your Path to Becoming an Anytime Coach,
Principles of Anytime Coaching,