Issue No. 242 of Your Weekly Staff Meeting features an extraordinarily jam-packed book of crucial coaching questions and leadership notes like this one: “Businesses and leaders reduce their own effectiveness when they attempt too much.” Plus, this reminder: check out my Management Buckets website with dozens of resources and downloadable worksheets for your staff meetings.
Crucial Coaching Questions
I was tempted to title this eNews, “Dangerous Place.” Graham Alexander, who tags himself “The World’s #1 Executive Coach,” warns: “…if you think you are doing everything right, you are in a dangerous place.”
Normally I dismiss ego-driven books and especially ego-driven titles like “World’s #1 Pastor, World’s #1 Politician, etc.” But a good friend, Werner Jacobsen, highly recommended this book. We kind of coach and mentor each other over breakfast a couple of times each year. (I may nominate him for World’s #1 Talent Manager, his pre-retirement profession.)
Werner’s book pick is golden. In my consulting work, I also do coaching—and this book is both my Coaching 101 and Coaching 401 gold standard. Great coaches ask great questions (Alexander calls them “Million-Dollar Questions”):
--What are you hiding?
--List the things that you have never discussed with complete openness and honesty with anyone.
--What are you afraid of?
--Do you nip negativity in the bud?
--Are your customers thrilled?
The coaching stories are numerous and relevant to any leader with a pulse. Alexander writes about a newly promoted executive: “During a discussion about something unrelated to the frantic pace he was keeping, I stopped the conversation and said, ‘With respect, I don’t want to continue this conversation. I want you to tell me honestly, How are you feeling?’
“That simple question stopped him cold. He thought about it for a few minutes and then replied, ‘I haven’t admitted this to anyone else, because I am fearful it would have a demotivational effect on people, but I will answer you honestly. I’ve been in this business for thirty years. I thought I knew everything about this business and that I’d be able to succeed in this role. That’s why I took it on. But I want to tell you that it’s ten times harder than I could ever have imagined. I’m not at all sure I can succeed.’”
As Max De Pree famously said, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.” Coaching can help leaders get reality (that elephant in the room) smack dab out on the table.
The coaching primer has 10 chapters with 10 probing questions. The pure gold in the book is there for the taking: two-page executive summaries of each chapter (20 priceless pages), each with about 30 bullet points in four categories: Million-Dollar Questions, Action Items, Leadership Notes and Wake-Up Calls. Brilliant.
Million-Dollar Questions: “What knowledge about yourself are you missing that could make a significant difference in your life and/or your company’s performance?” “What’s the one missing piece in your puzzle?”
Action Items: “Give it away. Identify three areas of responsibility and ten places you are involved to give away.”
Leadership Notes: “Whenever you have a grievance, only take it to somebody who can fix it. Only have conversations with people who can affect things positively.”
Wake-Up Calls: “Slay the sacred cows.” “Identify meetings you are no longer going to attend and what meeting agenda items you are going to drop from the meetings you run.”
Use this book two ways: for your own enrichment (you’ll be convinced on the value of finding a coach)—and for tools and insights for coaching others. In the final chapter, Alexander asks a hum-dinger: “Are the people I lead stressed out? What legacy am I leaving?”
Coaches who are Christ-followers will want to have this book in one hand and the new book, The Cure (see my review), in the other hand—a perfect blend of leadership savvy and grace.
To order this book directly from Amazon, click on the graphic below: Tales from the Top: 10 Crucial Questions from the World's #1 Executive Coach, by Graham Alexander. (Note: copies of this 2007 out-of-print book may be limited. Order quickly!)
Your Weekly Staff Meeting Questions:
1) In our delusional leadership patterns, we frequently announce that life will be normal once we get over the “next hump.” (How’s that working out for you?) Alexander asks, “Are you routinely breaking promises to yourself and your family regarding your schedule?”
2) Here’s another Million-Dollar Question for you: “What on your to-do list today, if not done, would have catastrophic consequences for the business?” Now…how do you balance Questions 1 and 2?
Results-Driven vs. Activity-Driven - Insights from Mastering the Management Buckets: 20 Critical Competencies for Leading Your Business or Nonprofit
One of the big ideas in my book, Mastering the Management Buckets, is to model, mentor, coach, preach and practice the importance of creating a results-driven culture versus an activity-driven culture.
Graham Alexander (see above) asks, “Would you rather have the results you want in life, or the reasons you haven’t got them?”
For a free download of the first chapter, The Results Bucket (one of 20 core competencies), and a weekly staff meeting worksheet, “When the Horse Is Dead, Dismount!” visit The Results Bucket webpage.