Tag Archives: coaching

Leading up

One of the challenges of being a good leader is understanding how to lead up and provide appropriate feedback to your leader while at the same time finding ways for your team to provide you feedback.

Here are three questions you can answer for your leader and ask of your direct reports:

  1. What am I doing too much off?
  2. What am I not doing enough of?
  3. What am I doing that is just right for you?

Whether in an annual review setting, quarterly check-ins, or more frequently, asking and answering these three simple questions is a quick and easy way to provide and receive feedback.


The difference between coaching and mentoring

Coaching – Socratic method based one-on-one discussions where the coach uses a series of questions and appreciative inquiry to help the leader discover her/his own path, answers, and epiphanies. Advice is not allowed in this model.

Competency Coaching – This is a blend of the previous definition of coaching with the addition of content around specific leadership competencies added in to the experience to raise the level of practical ability of the leader on a one-on-one basis.

Mentoring – Mentoring is a blend of shared experiences, socratic coaching, and advice.

Counseling – dealing with personal and interpersonal dynamics to help an individual gain perspective and clarity on the areas of their life that are causing angst, discomfort, or uncertainty.

This thread in wikipedia is also helpful.

Appended note based on Dan Pontefract’s question in comments (thx Dan!):

Coaching Culture – a coaching culture is a leadership methodology that blends learning, support and direction – the leader as a coach and mentor instead of old paradigm of task master extrordinaire. The goal of the leader in a coaching culture is to lead, guide, and grow the abilities of their team, using a combination of shared learning and experiences, insightful questions (see appreciative inquiry), and access to learning resources. This includes seeing everyone as a leader so the approach is 360 (peers, direct reports, my boss). A key component of this approach is a common set of language protocols which encourage open dialogue, candour, transparency, and ideological conflict (instead of interpersonal conflict).

Leadership Minute: Coaching for Performance Improvement

Coaching Direct Reports

Coaching is a great way to support Direct Reports in terms of continuous learning and give a “lift” to their leadership.  It includes providing feedback on behaviours, content or process; and is done in a way that the person receiving it feels respected and has an understanding of a different way to do things, right out of the gate.

Here are five tips:

  1. Model it first – Think of an employee who is watching a video of your behaviour.  What they see, is what is now acceptable and normal.  If you’re going to coach it in others, model it first yourself. We call this the ViRTUS Video Test.
  2. Watch your delivery – Remember back to when you were provided with effective coaching about a particularly difficult topic.  It’s much easier to take in the feedback, when the person delivering is non-judgmental.
  3. Ask powerful questions – Questions open up new possibilities for how we think of the world.  Ask open-ended questions so the person discovers the answer on their own.
  4. Coach in private, as soon as possible – Provide coaching in a way that considers the receiver.  Effective coaching is done in a place or at a time that is comfortable for the person being coached, and as soon as possible after the actual situation.
  5. Build it into your culture – Provide coaching often – this way it’s a normal occurrence, and a part of your culture, and is welcomed rather than feared.  In addition, make it two-way so that mutual learning is the norm.

This guest post was written by Tana Heminsley, ViRTUS Mentor and Executive Coach.

Finding a mentor or a coach

One of the first questions I get asked by entrepreneurs, CEOs, and executives interested in mentoring and coaching is, “what’s the difference between them?”

Coaching is a process in which a coach asks a series of cascading questions (sometimes referred to as Socratic Method), to help the person being coached use their own experience, intuition, and intelligence (emotional and intellectual) to come up with the answers they are looking for. Coaching is not advice driven in that the coach asked questions but does not proffer feedback or attempt to move the person being coached in a particular direction.

Mentoring is similar in it’s approach to coaching in that strong mentors are also good coaches. What mentors bring to the table that coaches don’t is the ability to add in their personal sage experience in the areas the person being coached is struggling with. Mentoring is both question and advice/guidance based.

Now that we know the difference, here are the rest of the questions I get asked:

  • Do you (Mike) have a mentor or a coach: I have two Mentors who are also very strong coaches, Walt Sutton and Guff Muench. I am grateful for the time, energy, and wisdom they’ve shared with me. They are great men who I have a deep admiration for.
  • How did your meet your mentors? Walt and I were introduce by a mutual acquaintance. Guff and I were introduced through the Entrepreneurs’ Organization Mentorship Program (a program I founded in Vancouver with the help of the late Steve Cowan).
  • Where can I find a mentor ? I’ll get the self-serving part out of the way first – at ViRTUS we offer both Mentoring and Coaching. One of my mentors, Walt Sutton, has space to work with another entrepreneur or CEO right now as well. The other way is to consider successful people in your life who have accomplished something similar to what you’d like to accomplish (family friends, executives in your company, other entrepreneurs you know, members of associations you belong too, etc.). Approach them to see if they are interested in having lunch or coffee from time to time so you can learn from their experience.
  • If I want to hire someone to mentor or a coach me, what does it cost? The range for coaching and mentoring in Vancouver is between $1500 – $5000+ per month depending on the mentor/coaches experience and the time and energy they put into working with you.
  • How often would we meet? Weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly for anywhere from 1-4 hours is the time commitment you can expect for face-to-face or on the phone mentoring. As well you should expect to have unlimited access to your mentor or coach between sessions by email or phone in case something time sensitive comes up that you really need some support on.
  • What will we talk about? Mentoring and coaching conversations span the complete spectrum from business, career, personal, and family. The primary focus is on your success as a business leader and as a human being – however you want to define that for yourself.
  • Why would I get a mentor or a coach? Because the very top performers in their field, regardless of what field that is (business, sports, medicine, law, etc.) all have mentors and coaches who help them stay ahead of the pack and ensure they put their energy, attention, and focus on the behaviours and actions that will lead to the success they are looking for.