Colin's Blog

Are You Ready to be a Leader? Find Out with this Simple Checklist

are you a good leaderYou may be looking into some type of leadership coaching right now, but have you taken time to figure out whether you’re actually ready to be a leader?

Many people incorrectly assume that just because they are managing employees, reached a certain pinnacle within their company or their career, or have other advantages going for them that they will make good leaders right now. Being a strong leader is a matter of numerous factors.

Below are several questions you should ask yourself to determine whether you’re ready for leadership coaching and to be an effective and powerful leader.

With regard to your vision and priorities, ask yourself these questions:

1. How often do you communicate your vision and specific priorities about your business to others?

If you don’t have a tendency to do this very often, you may not be ready to lead just yet.

2. If asked, would any of your team members or employees be able to articulate your specific vision and priorities?

If not, then you are not communicating them effectively or often enough.

3. How do you spend your time?

How you spend your work and free time will basically show you where your priorities are. If the majority of your time is spent wasting it, going through emails, avoiding important phone calls, and being late for meetings, you’re not quite ready to be a leader just yet.

4. How are your team members or employees spending their time?

If you’ve been frustrated by a lack of productivity within your company, it’s usually directly related to leadership and management. You may have to work on finding ways to encourage your team members to help them manage their time more efficiently and effectively.

5. How do you respond to feedback and criticism?

If you have a tendency to get defensive when somebody tells you something you don’t like or want to hear, it’s going to be difficult to get the most out of any leadership coaching.

If you ask yourself these questions and honestly believe you’re in a good position to be a strong leader, then leadership coaching is the right next step.

3 Things that Commonly Interfere with Executive Coaching

things that interfer with executive coachingHiring an executive coach is a very personal decision, but it can have incredible benefits professionally. In order to get the most out of any executive coaching relationship, it’s important to avoid some of the most common things that interfere in this process.

Here are three things that can pose a potential problem with regard to executive coaching and some solutions to help avoid them.

1. Not giving yourself the time to reflect on each lesson.

You may be incredibly busy, but if you’re making time for an executive coach, you also need to make time to reflect on the lessons learned during that working relationship. If you don’t take some time to carefully think about various situations, they can become missed opportunities very quickly.

2. An unwillingness to reveal weakness.

The last thing an experienced, professional executive wants is to expose their weaknesses to their team members or even their executive coach. They see exposure of weakness as a major problem, but the coach should have all relative information at his or her disposal.

Your coach would be held to the strictest of confidence, especially if you hire one through The Holbrow Group. Trust in that relationship and confidence and share potential weaknesses so that your coach can provide the best solutions and information to help you become a great leader.

3. Fear of letting go of habits.

Many of the habits you have right now are responsible for where you’ve gotten in your professional life. As a result, it can be unnerving to try and give up some of those habits.

Sometimes, though, it’s important to do just that in order to learn and grow into the future.

When you understand those common aspects that can lead to interference with executive coaching, you‘ll be in a better position to provide your personal coach the best information to make the greatest strides and progress.

Success in the Business World Does Not Hinge on One Person

Sucess in business doesn't hinge on oneSuccess with in the business world is not reliant on one single person. Even the most experienced, intelligent, and skilled leaders must rely on their team members and performance levels.

If you’re looking into executive coaching or any type of leadership coaching, the goal is to help you become a more effective leader, which helps you get the most out of your team.

How leaders get things done.

Yes, the best leaders in any company or organization have a tendency to take most accolades when things are successful. They also have a tendency to take the brunt of blame when things go wrong. That’s because leaders are the ones who stand at the top of the structure. They are most visible to the general public, other businesses, partners, and more.

Effective leaders find ways to motivate their employees. They have a tendency to think about their employees as team members rather than just employees. They seek out the strengths within their team members and shift them around if needed so that they maximize their strengths and assets.

Success for any company depends on numerous factors and players. While the head coach of any professional sports team is responsible for bringing those individual team members together to achieve the goal of winning, he or she can’t do it on their own. They must have valuable team members working with them at all times.

To become a better, more skilled, and more effective business executive, coaching can certainly help you get there, but you first need to acknowledge that success at this level does not happen within a vacuum.

The Place for Friendships in Business and Why Disagreements are Good for Long-Term Success

disagreementThere is a train of thought in the business world that states: you can’t be friends with your employees. The main premise behind this ideology revolves around the notion that friends won’t be as efficient or productive as regular colleagues who have no emotional bond or connection.

The idea that you can’t be friends with your employees, especially people who are working for you (subordinates), is outdated. This antiquated philosophy has been perpetuated by certain executives who have a strong tendency to separate their personal lives from the professional lives.

That being said, it’s important to understand there is a certain place for friendships in business, but that there should also be boundaries established within the relationship. An executive can certainly play racquetball, go out to dinner with his wife and another colleague from work, and even have certain employees over for personal functions or entertainment at his house, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Some employees will certainly take advantage of the situation and assume they don’t have to work as hard or that a mistake will not be viewed the same way from them as it would somebody else.

A strong leader won’t allow those discrepancies to occur simply because of their personal bonds with some of their team members. A strong leader will treat everybody within the workplace the same.

That’s why sometimes it’s good to have a solid, heartfelt disagreement about certain aspects within the business with those who are considered friends. The last thing any leader wants is to have their team members treating them disrespectfully, but having disagreements is one of the most effective ways to find the best routes for success in any business. It is those disagreements, and the feeling that team members can approach their leader with their different ideas and even argue about them that helps to generate the best ideas of all.

Friendship is possible in a business setting, as long as it is maintained in a professional manner and all other team members are treated the same.

Empathy Strengthens Leaders and Builds Character in Executives

empathy strenghtens leadersBeing able to listen to others and empathize with their situation may not seem like it has any place in a professional environment. However, it makes people stronger leaders and builds character in executives.

While you might not think that acknowledging other people’s feelings have any place in business, it can go a long way toward empowering you as an executive and leader.

Think about a musical instrument.

When talking about empathy and leadership, consider a guitar. If you’ve ever listen to somebody perform music with a guitar, you likely heard them tuning it before the performance. The process of tuning a guitar brings it into harmony. While there are plenty of electronic old devices that allow somebody to tune a guitar without actually listening to it, the better musicians will still be able to pluck the string, compared to other strings, and make adjustments to bring it into perfect harmony, even better than a digital tuner.

Your team is like that guitar and those strings on it. They need to be brought into tune with one another to create perfect harmony. You can rely on digital devices and technology to create that, but nothing will ever replace the ability of a person to listen and help generate harmony.

Listening to what other people on your team, your employees, have to say, the challenges they are facing, or input they could offer can provide you with an incredible opportunity to gain new perspective. It also allows you to see the challenges they are facing in relation to what you are facing as well.

When you allow other people to talk and you acknowledge their feelings, you provide them with the sense that you are not separate from them, but part of the team, which you are.

This can also provide you valuable insight to help mentor and guide your team members, thus providing them more skills in the future, which will have a direct impact on your team’s ability to achieve its short and long-term goals.

The More Exercise the Brain Gets, the Stronger the Leader Becomes

exercising your brainWhile you might go to a local gym somewhere in Toronto to get in shape, workout your muscles, and get healthy, there is one muscle that these type of routines don’t help. That is the brain. The brain is like any other muscle and requires exercise to stay in shape and get stronger.

Keeping your brain strong and getting exercise requires regular use. Watching TV, listening to music on your way home from work, and other such sedentary activities don’t actually provide much exercise for your brain. Doing the crossword puzzle, playing strategic thinking games, such as chess, and other activities are extremely beneficial. The stronger your brain gets, the more it can impact the rest of your life, including your executive and leadership abilities.

A significant amount of research within neuroscience and medicine indicates that the living brain is actually ‘neuroplastic.’ This means that the neural synaptic pathways, or ‘circuits’ are in a constant state of change in flux that responds to various stimuli and things we do throughout the world.

Whenever you think about something, form new memories, or even learn new skills, these new connections within the brain are being created and strengthened.

That doesn’t mean new brain cells are being formed, though. As an adult, you have as many brain cells as you will ever have. If a brain cell dies, it is lost forever; it will not be regenerated and new ones will not be formed.

When you focus on getting your brain more exercise, it means you will be developing more skills and that will help to improve your analytical abilities and that can have a direct impact on your leadership and other business skills.

You can strengthen your brain and learn new skills by hiring an experienced executive coach and see your leadership abilities increase in time.

Therapist, Heal Thyself: Why this is Not Always Possible and Sometimes an Outside Perspective is Necessary

sometimes you need an outside perspectiveWhen you’re an executive in any company, whether it’s a business you’ve built from the ground up or one in which you climbed the ladder over a number of years of hard work and dedication, you’re going to reach a point where your executive and even leadership abilities might not be as effective or efficient as they could be, or that you want.

If you find your employees or team members not performing to the level you expect, you’re reaching a point where efficiency and productivity are not increasing as they should, you might recognize the potential benefits of looking in the mirror to improve your own skills.

You can certainly go out to any bookstore or go online and download a variety of self-help books, but these are not nearly as effective as hiring a professional executive coach.

In most bookstores throughout Toronto and all of Canada there are sections for self-help books. If you’re dealing with depression, going through marriage difficulties, or trying to find ways to become more motivated in your job, you can find a book that’s supposedly written by an experienced professional that could help.

However, just as with emotional or mental challenges that many people have on a regular basis, it’s not practical to try and heal yourself. Having an outside, independent perspective can shed a great deal of light on things you’re going through, challenges you face, and struggles you contend with on a regular basis.

An experienced executive coach would be able to evaluate your particular situation, design a plan that would be most suited for your personality as well as your experience level, and help you work through various strategies to help you become a stronger leader and better business manager.

The Holbrow Group has some of the most experienced executive and leadership coaches that can provide that all important external perspective.

5 Elements of Great Executive Coaching

5 stepsWhen you’re looking into executive coaching, either for yourself or somebody within your organization, you want the best coach to work with you. There are many things that go into executive coaching and below are five elements that can define greatness.

1. It’s about bringing out your best effort.

Don’t expect the coach to be responsible for pulling out your best effort from within you. That is still your responsibility (or the person who is receiving the coaching). The coach should certainly provide his or her best effort, and you should also do the same.

2. A coach should be well organized.

A person who is not organized, doesn’t have a plan in place, or seems to be making things up as they go along isn’t going to be providing the kind of support that the client needs. An executive coach who has experience will have a planned, systematized, and ordered approach to the process. He or she will also be skilled at communicating what they expect from you.

3. Asking plenty of questions.

An executive coach should ask a number of questions, preferably open ended ones. When they ask questions they are looking to you to be introspective and think clearly about their answer. Eventually, the ‘aha’ moment will arrive and that’s what these coaches look for.

4. Real life experiences are essential.

Nobody lives within a bubble. Life outside of work impacts life within work just as much as it’s the other way around. An executive coach will bring in the client’s real life experiences as tools to help them understand exactly what is expected to what they need to learn.

5. Compassion and caring.

A great coach is one who has an honest and sincere vested interest in the client. One of the best ways they show this is helping the client to find his or her true passion.

When a person is passionate about the work they’re doing, it’s going to inspire them to continually aim to improve.

Focus on Timeliness and It Will Change Your Executive Qualities

focus on timelinessHow important is being on time for you? If you’re an executive, you have probably dealt with a number of issues through the years with employees showing up late, even consistently. Being late every once in a while might not be a major problem, but for people who have a tendency to show up 10, 15, or even 20 minutes late several times a week, it can cut down on productivity.

It can also impact other employees and team members. When you’re looking at leadership coaching to improve your standing within your company and your abilities to lead your team, timeliness is an essential component.

When you have numerous meetings throughout the day and all week long, when you have deadlines that need to be met, timeliness is essential. It may be tempting to schedule a couple of extra meetings in the morning on Tuesday, just to get them done, but if you run behind in one meeting, you’re going to be running behind in others as well.

This may “tell” people with whom you’re meeting that they are not all that important to you. Whether it’s an employee or another executive, a client or partner, timeliness should always be a top priority. When you end up being punctual, it will have a direct impact on how others see your leadership abilities and skills.

Here are couple suggestions to help you focus on being timely and avoid being late.

Avoid double booking. You can’t be in two places at the same time, so don’t even try.

Plan on arriving early. No matter what time of the day a meeting happens to be, plan to get there at least five minutes early. Even if you’re running late by a couple of minutes, you’ll still be on time.

Timeliness shows others around you that you respect their time and it helps to establish stronger executive characteristics and leadership qualities within you. You’ll be setting an example others want to follow.

Avoid Slipping into a Vacuum when Improving Your Skills

don't get sucked into a vacuumOne of the most common mistakes too many executive coaches make when working with clients is operating within a vacuum. If you pay attention to any professional sports, especially team sports, it’s clear that every single team member has an impact on the overall team itself.

These players will work one-on-one with individual coaches to help improve their skills, but the head coach is responsible for ensuring that each player is in the right position and doing their job as effectively and as efficiently as possible to help the entire team.

When you’re talking about a business, it may be easy to think of a single employee as being out for himself or herself, but they are still part of a team. There is a complex system that executives have to work within, and leadership skills are developed by focusing on not only individual skills but the entire system as a unit.

Success is simply not a solo act. It’s important to focus on the context of any given situation to help somebody improve their leadership skills and abilities. It’s not just about determining what a client’s strengths and weaknesses happen to be. They also need to focus on organizational strategies that help to mold the client’s competencies, capabilities, and capacity.

It’s also important for an experienced executive coach to determine what the roles and responsibilities are for each team member. An experienced and qualified executive coach will be able to help you, as an executive, determine what your organization’s goals should be, communicate the vision for the future, and shape the culture and environment within that company in the best way possible.

When you seek out an executive coach, be sure to focus on one who understands the importance of team play, even for individual and independent leadership training. When you do, you’ll know you’ve chosen the right executive coach for you.

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