5 Tips to Get the Most from a Coaching Relationship

5 Tips to Get the Most from a Coaching Relationship, by Ryan Hansen

This week, Jamie and I had the chance to spend a day with one of our mentors in this industry. It was a blessing to spend this focused time with such a valuable resource, and as the hours flew by we lobbed question after question at him to take full advantage of the opportunity. We came prepared - in fact, we had already spent a few hours meticulously crafting a list of questions to make sure we wouldn't waste a moment. The next day, a thought crossed my mind. "What if I put the same effort and preparation into maximizing all of my coaching relationships?"

If you haven't already read Jamie's piece on the benefits of a coach, make sure to check it out right here. If you've read the piece, you are long past the misconception that professional coaching is some sort of punishment or a "finishing school" for underwhelming employees. For the growth-oriented leader, coaching is a means to...

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Making Conflict Constructive

Making Conflict Constructive, by Cindy Wofford Braun

The drive-up window at the local coffee shop felt safe. A TV monitor displayed each car that pulled up at the order menu, and two baristas worked the early morning shift. The coffee machines were humming, upbeat music was playing, and the smell of fresh coffee tickled the senses. If a conflict was brewing, it was going to arrive as the next driver pulled up to get their morning fix.

Many years ago, I owned this local coffee shop, and conflicts were rare but memorable. One in particular still stands out to me, and as a person who preferred to stuff emotions in the face of conflict, this experience completely changed my approach.

This particular customer had very specific expectations for two specialty drinks. These drinks had to be hand-made and delivered piping hot, with just the right combination of ingredients and foam milk. For three days in a row, this customer found something wrong and berated my employees until they...
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The Value of a Strengths-First Approach

The Value of a Strengths-First Approach, by Michael Beaulieu

One of my favorite programs I am involved in at The University of Nebraska is working as a Student Strengths Coach in the College of Business. I use my knowledge of the Gallup StrengthsFinder to coach freshmen on how to use their Top 5 Clifton Strengths in their daily lives. Between my experience working for Alloy and as a Student Strengths Coach, a few key lessons have distinguished themselves. Here are a few:

1. Focus on Improving Your Strengths, not "Fixing" Your Weaknesses

In high school, I would look at my report and typically see all A's and B's. Except for math, which typically sat at a C or C+. At the time I thought I needed to boost my math grade for scholarships and other applications. However, while my math grade went up to a B, I saw my A's fall down to B's. When I focused my energy on improving a weakness, I saw my strengths decline. I always tell my students not to think of the StrengthsFinder as a progress...

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Confidence: Why You Need it and How to Create It

Confidence: Why You Need It and How to Create It, by Ryan Hansen

Last month, during our Leader-Chip leadership summit, we had an interesting conversation about the role of confidence in succeeding as a leader. Actually, it wasn't a conversation at all - it was a debate! As two of our attendees argued over whether or not leaders can "fake it until they make it," the rest of the group listened closely and even voted on which side they agreed with. More on that later.

What was not up for debate was this: leaders cannot succeed without confidence. Confidence is a prerequisite for leadership. More specifically, self-confidence is the foundation upon which leadership can grow. Vince Lombardi explained it as "Confidence is contagious. So is a lack of confidence." Confidence lets us make decisions, have difficult conversations, and rally the people around us. How can a leader inspire their team members to follow through on a new initiative without confidence? I'll let John Maxwell...

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Why You Can't Undervalue "Soft Skills" Training

Why You Can't Undervalue "Soft Skills" Training, by Ryan Hansen

It probably won't shock you that I'm a big believer in employee development. It's what I do - I'm a trainer and a coach and I write about the benefits of investing in people. Furthermore, I know from experience as a former employee in companies ranging from small to very large that intentional employee development programs are impactful, meaningful, and valuable - both for the companies that drive the initiatives and the individuals who participate. I really like the Richard Branson quote: "Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don't want to."

For many groups, the pressures of day-to-day business operations take priority over employee development activities. The research tells us that this is a mistake that prioritizes short-term objectives over the long-term benefits to an organization.

Here are three key reasons to maintain an ongoing employee development program:

1. Increased...

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Three Lessons from an Unexpected Success

Three Lessons from an Unexpected Success, by Jamie Hansen

I will never forget March 15th, 2019.

Ryan and I were in Orlando, just about to fly home from a John Maxwell Team conference. Typically, these trips send us home inspired and invigorated, but on March 15th we were glued to our phones as we read news reports and texts from friends and family in Nebraska. A cold, snowy winter had abruptly turned into a warm, slushy spring, and eastern Nebraska was facing once-in-a-generation flooding. As my phone pinged with each new message from home, we heard the stories of neighbors evacuating and it became clear that I would not have access to my house after we landed in Omaha. In the next few days, I learned that I had gotten off easy.

At some point during the following week - between slipping past roadblocks and helping neighbors move back into their homes - Ryan and I had the same idea: Alloy should organize a golf fundraiser to benefit flood relief. We had a format from our ...

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Making Feedback a Priority

Making Feedback a Priority, by Ryan Hansen

How many times have you heard a colleague lead a conversation with, "Can I give you some feedback?" Has that phrase ever preceded a long string of generous compliments? Of course not. "Can I give you some feedback?" has become an acceptable stand-in for, "Can I give you some criticism?" So it's no wonder that many of us equate feedback with criticism and recoil at the thought of unsolicited "feedback."

The inconvenient reality is that feedback - done correctly - is the source of growth, for both leaders and contributors. Feedback gives us guidelines to help us direct our efforts and gauge our own performance. Good leaders should crave feedback and build it into their team's culture.

To make your feedback effective, keep these tips in mind:

  1. Focus on Behaviors, and Be Specific. Don't let feedback become a commentary on anyone's character. People can change their behaviors long before their personalities. Positively affirm...
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Mentorship - The Law of Modeling

Mentorship - The Law of Modeling, by Cindy Wofford Braun

Have you ever stopped to think about how many people are influenced by your actions? As a business professional, I like to reflect on interactions I had throughout the day. I often look back and smile at the good behaviors and shudder at the memory of behaviors that I don't want to repeat. This can be an uncomfortable exercise, but I know there are two reasons to keep going: 1) I value personal growth, and 2) I am a mentor to young leaders, and they are modeling their behavior after mine. 

John Maxwell included the Law of Modeling in his book, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. In this law, Maxwell stresses the importance of finding role models to emulate. This is more than just reading the books by great leaders, it means we need to identify people in our lives who we can see and hear and look to as an example. Maxwell says, "The most important phrase you will ever hear a good leader say is: 'Follow me.'"

...

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Playing the Long Game: Creating Success through Consistency

Creating Success through Consistency, by Ryan Hansen

Throughout 2019, our Solutions Team members have been sharing crucial principles that young leaders should learn and master. You may have seen these notes posted to our FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn pages. In January, we covered three well-known principles: "Everyone is a leader," "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care," and "Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand." These are powerful leadership lessons, but there is another principle that every leader - young and old - should consider every day:

 Consistency Compounds

 Aristotle said "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." John Maxwell included consistency in one of his Laws of Growth: "Motivation gets you going, but discipline keeps you growing." Renowned speaker Jim Rohn pointed out that "Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of...

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Growing Your Potential with an Executive Coach

Growing Your Potential with an Executive Coach, by Jamie Hansen

When I talk to my clients about executive coaching, some of them look at me like I'm speaking Greek. "I don't need a coach," they say. "There's nothing wrong with my performance." To them, executive coaches are fixers, called in to deal with challenging or stagnant employees. It's an outdated attitude that has all but disappeared from today’s corporate culture.

The truth is, coaching is one of the most proactive gifts you can give yourself or a developing employee. Consider it in another context - you wouldn't hire a coach for your son or daughter because they were struggling to shoot a basketball, you hire the coach because you want to develop their natural talent. The executive coaching business has grown rapidly in recent years, and the market now exceeds $1 billion in the US alone.

An executive coach can help you cultivate your own talent by challenging you to grow and offering tools to get...

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