executive coach

A Quick and Easy Way to Enhance Your Leadership

"What I want to believe based on emotions and what I should believe based on evidence does not always coincide." - Michael Shermer

Have you ever felt this in your leadership?

Here are some ways that I have experienced this phenomena:

  • I worked really hard and delivered on all my projects last year, I should have gotten a bigger raise.
  • I feel like I am plateauing in my career and there is nothing left to learn.
  • I just accomplished my major objective, now promote me.
  • My kids say they are getting straight A's, but I never see them study.

There are times in our leadership lives where the emotion of what we desire can outrun the evidence that is before us.

Closeup of business team showing unity with putting their hands together on top of each other. Concept of teamwork.

Harvard Business Review (November, 2015) wrote on what they called “The New Science of Customer Emotions." The premise is that when companies connect with customers emotions, the payoff is enormous. The idea is that brands and the companies they represent want to be trusted, but they often fail to align themselves with the emotion that drives the desired behavior.

The authors of the article suggest that if your customer wants to “have confidence in the future,” you will need to show them that future is better than the past by creating positive mental pictures of what the future looks like.

As a leader, how does this apply to you?

In my experience, those under your leadership have different emotional needs that you may meet. Some of these needs include:

  • To be trusted and believed in not only as an employee, but as a person.
  • To feel valued as an individual, and that their work is meaningful.
  • To believe you listen to and understand them through your actions.
  • To rest assure that they may be forgiven if they make a mistake.
  • To feel confident in their current position, as well as what the future may bring.

At this point, you are probably saying, “Okay, so I know I need to connect emotionally.” Yes, you know you need to; but does the evidence support what you believe to be true?

Here is an example of what I mean.

I was in a class not long ago where the facilitator played "The Ultimate Game" with a couple of students. It goes like this:

One person gets a sum of money and is told to split it with the other person and keep the rest for themselves. If the second person accepts the deal, they both keep the money. If the second person rejects the deal, neither one of them keep the money. They will play the game twice. Here is how it worked:

Game 1: Person A gets $100 and decides to give Person B $50. Person B accepted this amount. The teacher said that almost 100% of the time, it happens like this.

Then they play Game 2.

Game 2: Person A gets $100 and decides to give Person B $10. Person B did not accept.

Person A: “Why didn't you accept?” Person B: “Because you got more than me.“ Person A: “Yes, but you still have $10 more than when you started.” Person B: “I know, but it isn’t fair, so no deal.“

Neither Person A or Person B keep any money.

In a non-emotive state, we can see that Person B is being irrational. This person would have received 10 more dollars than they started the day with. This is free money, no strings attached. However, because it did not seem fair, emotion began to cloud the decision-making process and poor outcomes occurred.

It is no secret that emotions are important influences on the decisions we make and the impact we have on other people. As leaders, this is true for us as well. Let's not assume that we are making good emotional connections with those under our leadership. Go out and ensure that they feel valued and appreciated for what they do and who they are. Oh, and by the way, why not collect some data along the way to show you actually are connecting emotionally?

Homework: Look at the 10 emotional needs that you as a leader can meet for your followers. Can you show supporting evidence that you actually meet those needs?

How Top Executives Are Enhancing Leadership Effectiveness

I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving and are on your way to a wonderful Christmas season. I know for our family this is one of the best times of the year. One of my family's favorite activities is to sit around and play games together. Some of our favorites right now are Qwirkle, Bang!, Settlers of Catan, and our age-old favorite card game, Euchre. There is an interesting line of research that is showing how important the art of play is in learning. We all know this is true for kids growing up. I can remember as a kid going outside and playing for hours. We learned how to get along with others. We learned rules and boundaries. We learned how to win with humility and lose gracefully (well, at least we knew what the standard was for each of these even if we didn’t implement them correctly). Playing is an important part of learning for adults as well.


So, why don’t we play a game? I will give you a couple of questions, and you see if you can guess the right answer. These questions come from a recent article by Robert Paglinarini titled “The Top 5 Coaching Myths” based upon research on Fortune 100 executives. Let's see how you do.

  • Executives who participated in formal coaching program experienced what percent improvement in interpersonal relationships?

A. 48% B. 61% C. 67% D. 77%

  • Executives who participated in a formal coaching program experienced what percent improvement in teamwork?

A. 48% B. 61% C. 67% D. 77%

  • Executives who participated in a formal coaching program experienced what percent improvement in job satisfaction?

A. 48% B. 61% C. 67% D. 77%

  • Executives who participated in a formal coaching program experienced, what percent improvement in quality of their work?

A. 48% B. 61% C. 67% D. 77%

Answer Key

How do you think you did? Let's find out...

Interpersonal Relationships The 100 executives surveyed found that executive coaching helped them improve their interpersonal relationships by 77%. The truth is that when it comes to interpersonal relationships the change or improvement that is needed is often quite small. Usually, it is something that will make the relationship mutually satisfying for both parties. Things like putting down your phone and making eye contact, taking time to connect socially before digging right into business, and treating others with respect.

Teamwork The 100 executives surveyed found that executive coaching helped them improve their teamwork by 67%. Teamwork can be a little trickier because there are multiple individual relationships as well as group dynamics that come into play. Some new research on how leaders handle risk is shedding light on improving team performance. Many teams struggle because the risk profile of the individuals differs significantly. Fortunately, we now have tools to diagnose and assist in helping teams perform at higher levels based upon risk profiles. If you are interested in learning more about this let me know, I would be happy to share.

Job Satisfaction The 100 executives surveyed found that executive coaching helped them improve their job satisfaction by 61%. This one is two-fold in my mind. First, just having someone to intently listen to you like an executive coach does can do wonders for your over feeling of satisfaction. It can be like therapy at work. The other factor is that most people who hire an executive coach are doing so these days to make themselves better. When performance improves people feel better, ergo increased job satisfaction.

Quality The 100 executives surveyed found that executive coaching helped them improve the quality of their work by 48%. This is probably due to an executive coaches ability to clarify issues and help the executive focus on what is really important.

How About You

As you start to think about your performance in 2016, could a coach be the right next step? Are you looking to improve the quality of your work or maybe your job satisfaction? The return on investment (ROI) data for coaching is all over the board. Most studies cite numbers two to six times the investment range. My personal opinion is that most of the ROI data on coaching is suspect primarily because of the methodology used to calculate the data. What kind of return would you like to have on an important team's performance? How important is the project they are working on, for example? If the executives in this study say that coaching helped them that much, maybe you should try it for yourself. Conduct your own study and see what you think.

Homework: As you consider your goals for 2016 what would it be like for you to make an investment in a coach to help you reach your goal? Think about it, it might be just the bit of playfulness you need to learn and grow as a leader.