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Ready for Promotion

Ready for Promotion

With my experience across many industries and disciplines, I’m amazed at the commonality of specific events. One that is most prevalent deals with the selection of an individual for a managerial position. More times than not, the results are not good. Not only can it be a disaster, it is expensive to correct. While there are many contributing factors, let’s examine two that are the most prevalent.

4 Ways to See and Overcome Your Leadership Blind Spots

4 Ways to See and Overcome Your Leadership Blind Spots

For the most part, the human eye gives the brain an accurate picture of what's going on in the world around it. Many assume that what they see is all that is actually out there. That's not entirely true. Each human eye has a blind spot. The brain handles the blind spot by scanning the surrounding environment to fill in what is missing so you’re not even aware the blind spot is present.

-A leadership blind spot is something you stink at that you think you’re great at-

Much like the human eye, leaders have blind spots and are usually unaware they are present. We call them leadership blind spots. To be clear, a leadership blind spot is not the same as a weakness. A weakness is a challenge you’re aware of. In contrast, a leadership blind spot is something you stink at that you think you’re great at.

According to an article published by Allen Sockwell and Brad Westveld, the top two leadership blind spots are 1) under-communicating strategic direction and 2) poorly communicating expectations. These two made the top blind spot list not because everyone is bad at them but because most leaders and organizations think they are doing them well.

-As executive coaches, our role is to help leaders see and overcome their blind spots-

At the core of our blind spots is something called illusory superiority; a cognitive bias where individuals overestimate their own qualities and abilities, relative to others. For instance, in a classic 1977 study, 94 percent of professors rated themselves above average relative to their peers. In another study, 32 percent of the employees of a software company said they performed better than 19 out of 20 of their colleagues. You do the math.

A leadership blind spot can hurt relationships, hinder performance and derail your career. As executive coaches, our role is to help leaders see and overcome their blind spots. Here’s how:

1. Start with a vision of how you want to be perceived.

Before you go searching for your blind spots, you need a clear picture of the leader you’d like to be. Here are just a few questions to answer of yourself: How do I want my leadership characterized by others? What’s my ideal reputation? What impact would I like to make on others? How do I want to communicate and interact with colleagues?  The idea is to create a clear and compelling picture of the leader you want to become. Write down and hold on to the vision you create in this step. You’ll be more likely to listen to hard feedback in the next steps when you’re serious about becoming the leader you envision.

2. Ask for candid feedback.

Reach out to people who have observed your performance and are willing to give you candid feedback on how you are perceived. This can be done using a formal 360° assessment, an executive coaching conversation or informally over lunch with a colleague. I remember asking a co-worker to give me feedback on my leadership abilities. He told me how I steamroll him and others when I have a big idea and people perceive me as a bully because of it. The feedback shocked me and was very difficult to hear. I truly believed that I was good at building consensus but I had no idea the impact I was actually having on my team. That conversation hurt but taught the value of feedback. I only wish I’d heard it years earlier.

-It’s possible your blind spot is that you don’t receive feedback well-

Some of you may be thinking, “I ask my people all the time for feedback and they tell me I’m doing fine.” It’s possible your blind spot is that you don’t receive feedback well, therefore your team is unwilling to be honest with you. If that’s the case, you’ll need to work toward building a safe environment for feedback.

3. Receive the feedback.

How should you receive feedback? With a genuine “thank-you”. Leaders often fail to routinely get critical feedback from their teams on performance not because they don’t ask, but because the environment isn’t safe. It’s the leaders job to create safety. You may not like or agree with what you hear, but getting defensive or turning the conversation around is a sure-fire way to guarantee that person will never be honest with you again.

Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.
— Andy Stanley

How you respond to feedback will determine the kind of feedback, if any, you receive in the future. A good leader asks for feedback. A great leader receives it.

4. Adjust perspectives and behaviors to align with vision.

Now it’s time to think and act differently. I can’t imagine much worse than giving your team the hope of positive change by genuinely asking them for feedback then doing nothing with that feedback. This is where having an executive coach can really accelerate your performance and help keep you on track. A coach reminds you of the vision, gives you critical feedback, helps shift your perspectives, inspires insight and co-creates a path forward to achieving your vision.

-When you make a commitment you build hope, when you keep a commitment you build trust-

We all have leadership blind spots. Seeing and overcoming them is not for the faint of heart but the effort is worth it. What will you do about your blind spots?

10 Ways For New Leaders To Develop Their Leadership Skills

Pursue Feedback

Ken Blanchard says, “Feedback is the breakfast of champions.” Excellent leaders are characterized by aggressively pursuing feedback. You will never graduate with a degree in leadership from the school of “no news is good news.” After most “enlightening” experiences, circle back and ask what went well and what could’ve been better. Be relentless in your pursuit of receiving feedback.   – Dean MilesBridgepoint Coaching & Strategy Group

So, what is Executive Coaching and what makes it so valuable?

Interview with Dean Miles, President of Bridgepoint Coaching & Strategy Group

- Mountain West Credit Union Association, which represents 400+ financial institutions.


Q: Dean, what is Executive Coaching and why is it something leaders should consider?

A: In 1999 a Fortune Magazine cover story discussed the failures of prominent CEO’s and came to the conclusion that the emphasis generally placed on strategy and vision created a mistaken belief that the right strategy is all that’s needed to succeed. They found that 70% of the time, the real problem wasn’t bad strategy – it was poor execution. We can all relate to that, can’t we? For most of my clients, the problem is not a shortage of knowledge or good ideas. The problem is in the application of that knowledge and the execution of those ideas. That’s one of the main reasons why coaching is such a great resource.

Coaching isn’t therapy or mentoring. It’s not about fixing what’s broken or developing specific job skills and knowledge. It’s about the execution of ideas and making the leap from good to great. Coaching is a partnership that focuses on setting goals, creating forward action and managing change.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit about how coaching works?

A: Sure. Good coaches are there to inspire insight, balance perspectives and drive results. Most of the time, that comes from reminding leaders of what they already know. Think about the amount of information you’ve learned over the past decade. You’ve probably read quite a few books and articles, attended conferences and seminars, maybe watched a few TED talks, learned new skills and gained insight from those around you, etc. But, how much of what you’ve learned has actually been put into action? How many of your good ideas have actually come to fruition?

The truth is, most people spend the majority of their time somewhere in between where they are now and where they want to be. Coaching provides the necessary structure for moving from where you are to where you want to be as quickly as possible.

Q: What can one expect to gain from working with a coach?

A: Professional coaching can provide a fresh perspective about personal and professional challenges, enhance decision-making skills, improve interpersonal relationships and boost confidence. As a result, most professionals who work with a coach experience vast improvements in productivity, satisfaction with their work and the attainment of goals.

There’s a great quote from Samuel Johnson that says, “People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.”

Most leaders already know what they need to do, they’ve just forgotten. Coaching helps them synthesize every thing they’ve learned and put it into practice. It helps leaders be more deliberate about what day-to-day actions they need to take in order to move closer to their goals.

Remember the Pareto principle? Also known as the 80-20 rule, it simply states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. Most of the time, the key to moving from good to great lies in doing less of a few things and more of the one thing that is generating the most results.

Think about it for a moment. What is the one thing that’s generating the majority of results you are getting? Most of the time that one thing is simple to find, but difficult to achieve. Coaching can help identify the actions generating the majority of results and provide the structure and impetus to act on that insight.

Coaching is not a 3-step method. It’s not about information – it’s about implementation and follow-through. It’s about being deliberate and making a plan for translating an idea into day-to-day actions. I ask clients, “What do you want to do? Tell me how to motivate you?”

Q: Is there an example you can share about how coaching impacted the professional success of one of your clients?

Yes, our coaching with U. S. Steel Oilwell Services comes to mind. This is a good example of an organization having a good strategy, i.e. goals, with the challenge being the execution. We were able to work with all levels of the organization. Once we were able to establish that every level knew their goals as it related to the overall strategy, we turned our attention to the execution.  Here again, it wasn’t so much about teaching them anything new, but reminding them to establish and maintain the structure of priorities, making commitments, giving account, and driving success.

As a result of this partnership, they have developed a high performing management team that meet or exceeded their goals and accomplished a 7 to 1 return on the investment of coaching.

Our coach worked with our employees at all levels to help us align our business strategy across the organization. He helped us develop the road map to reach our goals and provided the right amount of assistance and support so our employees were equipped with the tools to succeed.
— David Clarke, Director of Offshore Operations.

Behavior is always perfectly aligned with results. As you change behavior, results change right along side. When someone is there to remind them of what they already know and help them put that knowledge into action, we can really accelerate their growth and create the results they are looking for.

If you’re interested in finding out more about Bridgepoint Coaching, you’ll find them at