Don’t Tell Me What to Do!

On a recent episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Jerry Seinfeld and Eddie Murphy are driving around in a Porsche Carrera talking about anything and everything.  Seinfeld says, “You know when you see two people talking, one of them is giving the other one advice…saying something like, ‘What I’ve learned…’ or ‘In my experience…’”

It’s funny because we know it’s true — we’ve all been on the sending and receiving end of unsolicited advice.  As this Psychology Today article confirms, however, being told what we should do actually makes us feel defensive.  When a coaching client asks for advice, I remind them that my job is to help them find their own answers.  If they insist, I might say, “What I’ve seen others do in a similar situation is…” and then ask, “How do you feel about that?”  Research tells us that giving advice appeals mostly to the rational parts of the brain.  I also want to engage the feeling part of the brain so my client can make the best possible decision – and own it.

As I’m writing, I realize that I need to practice this approach more in my personal life.  Is there anything you might need to change in how you respond when someone asks for advice? Here is a Harvard Business Review article that might be helpful.  Notice I didn’t say that you should read it!

Looking Forward

How would you celebrate a major career milestone?  On the tenth anniversary of launching my practice, I am celebrating your inspiration, encouragement, and the privilege of sharing this amazing journey with you.

I am also looking forward to what the next ten years will bring — leveraging thousands of hours of assessment, coaching, team development, and facilitation with clients across 18 functions in 70 companies and helping to cultivate courage through the Dare to Lead™  work.

My first blog post was about removing barriers to career success and that is my celebratory toast to you:  when you look forward may you see the path to the best version of yourself.

The Key to Increasing Leadership Development ROI

You’ve just completed a prestigious executive MBA program that required you to be away from your job and your family for an extended period.  The exhilaration of the learning environment has started to wear off and you realize that nothing changed while you were gone.  None of those case studies prepared you for this and you’re pretty frustrated so you decide to return the call from that headhunter to find out if the grass might be greener somewhere else.

That isn’t the outcome companies anticipate when they spend $50,000 or more. Educating the Next Generation of Leaders, a thought-provoking article in the most recent issue of Harvard Business Review, acknowledges that traditional approaches to leadership development are too generic.  Interviews for the article and evidence from LinkedIn Learning indicate that most executives value on-the-job professional development that relates to their environment.  The authors cite anecdotal evidence that only 10% of the $200 billion annual expenditure on corporate training and development delivers concrete results.

Although the authors propose a solution that includes more customized content they overlook a key component to effective leadership development –- coaching.  You can’t get more customized than helping a leader leverage his or her strengths, request and respond to feedback and enhance emotional intelligence.  Sustainable behavior change takes time, practice and accountability.  A seasoned coach will ensure the leader has all the necessary tools for success beyond the coaching engagement.

If you’re ready to increase the return on your leadership development investment contact me at cheryl@csbryan.com

4 Keys to Sustaining Behavior Change

Since coaching is often about changes in behavior that will improve individual effectiveness, I talk with my clients about how they can sustain those changes after the coaching engagement ends.  Mantras can be a useful tool so I created one for this discussion:
  • Purpose– Remember why you decided to make these changes. Focus on the benefits for yourself and others.
  • Patience– Expect that you will fall back into old behaviors under stress.  Give yourself a break and ask others to do the same.
  • Practice– It takes about a year of consistent practice, feedback and accountability to sustain a behavior change.
  • Plan– Who will be your feedback and accountability partners? How will you deal with setbacks?
These four P’s are the keys to keeping up your good work.

Real Mom vs. Super Mom

I love it when a client wants to share her insight from a coaching session.  One of my clients recently identified the pitfalls of trying to be a Super Mom and decided to be a Real Mom instead.

She defined a Real Mom this way:

  • Acknowledges she needs help
  • Asks for what she needs
  • Is resourceful
  • Focuses on what is important to her kids
  • Makes them part of the solution
  • Lets go of being needed

It was great to see my client redefine her priorities by getting out of her own way and getting clear about her ultimate goal:  teaching her children how to be whole and healthy.

This works for dads too!

Self Knowledge is Power

English author and philosopher Francis Bacon, an advocate of inductive reasoning in science, wrote, “Knowledge is power” in 1597.  This phrase has come up with many of my clients recently in a new form: self-knowledge is power.

One of the first steps in coaching is creating awareness of strengths, motivators and stress behaviors, typically through a personality assessment and confidential feedback from colleagues.  The challenge then becomes what to do with that information.  I often tell my clients, “You don’t have to agree with all of the feedback but you can choose what to do with it.”

Knowing …

  • your strengths gives you the power to resist buying into destructive comments from an undermining co-worker.
  • what motivates you gives you the power to pursue a role that makes you look forward to work every day.
  • what triggers your stress behaviors gives you the power to stay calm and in control when your brain wants you to do the opposite.

What do you need to know in order to be your most powerful self?