Practice Your Own Leadership Content

2013 December 11
by Jason Overton

“It’s a funny thing, the more I practice the luckier I get.” Arnold Palmer

In most leadership development programs, a large part of classroom time involves introducing new content in the form of leadership models, industry research, and case studies. This content affects how you think. However, it rarely affects how you act. Understanding concepts and performing them on the job is not the same thing. Especially, when practice is not involved. As a result, most leaders return from training and apply only a fraction of what they studied.

In leadership coaching, the content comes directly from you. It is fundamentally an “inside – out” approach in regard to learning and occurs over an agreed upon number of months. The content includes real-time challenges that you are facing and serves as the core material for the coaching sessions.

During the process of coaching, you will identify a specific behavior to address and will write down commitments and outcomes related to the behavior. The behavior can include active listening, resolving conflict, building coalitions, addressing difficult topics or influencing others. With self-awareness, feedback from others, and practice you will learn to change the behavior in a sustainable way.

With countless books, leadership models, and case studies at our fingertips, most of us simply need to build new awareness and practice what is already in front of us.

Leadership development without application and practice on the job is hardly worth the investment. Coaching makes the content more personal and relevant, since the content comes directly from you.

Want to Change a Work Behavior? Take the First Step

2013 November 18
by Jason Overton

“A ship is safe in the harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” – William Shedd

Do you know the behavior at work you want to change, but are not sure how to make it happen? Or, are you avoiding a behavior change by playing it safe? Working with a leadership coach for a few sessions can help you design, understand, and feel comfortable with the change process.

The first step in the adventure is to create your own Individual Development Plan (IDP). Your IDP will be your guide for the change process and can be completed in three sessions, one-hour per week, with assistance from a leadership coach.

Your IDP will include the following aspects:

  • Observations to develop greater awareness
  • Practices that will link up with your behavioral commitment
  • Relational components to learn from others
  • Changes to your environment and systems

Here is a summary of the three sessions:

  • Session 1: Identify a specific behavior to address
  • Session 2: Create clearly defined coaching outcomes
  • Session 3: Discuss questions/changes to the IDP and explore process to receive ongoing feedback from others

Upon completion of your IDP, you can manage the coaching process on your own with self-coaching or partner with a leadership coach. Regardless of what level of support you choose, you will be well on your way to reaching the next level in your professional development.

Determining Your Readiness for Coaching

2013 November 4
by Jason Overton

One of the first things to consider before working with a leadership coach is your readiness. Are you ready to commit the time, energy, and resources necessary for your own self-development?

This is a personal decision based on what is going on at work and also at home. For example, are you barely treading water at work with intense travel or immediate project deadlines that will subside in a few months? Or, are things going fairly smoothly and you can make a three or six-month investment in your long-term development?

At home, are you facing major issues such as a big move, the birth of a baby, or a health concern? Or, are you feeling ready to reach the next level in your professional growth?

Coaching is self-directed learning and requires a commitment of approximately 4-5 hours a month to participate in weekly or bi-weekly coaching sessions and address agreed upon activities between sessions.

Coaching can help you work smarter and save time with increased clarity and focus. This can help you recoup time spent in sessions. In addition, most of the coaching activities between sessions are part of your normal job. However, each person has mental and physical limits. Before deciding on coaching, you will need to evaluate your own readiness and determine if it is the right timing.

As you assess your readiness for coaching, consider the following questions:

  • Do you have available time and mental space to dedicate to your professional development?
  • Do you want to improve a high-leverage behavior that will take you to the next level in your career?
  • Are you open to feedback from others and following through on your commitments?

If the answers to the questions above are yes, coaching is the next natural step.

Is Your Personal Development Plan for 2014 Personal?

2013 October 30
by Jason Overton

Yearly personal development plans often include SMART goals for everything from sales numbers, to project deliverables, training course completion, and books you will read in the upcoming year. Unfortunately, the majority of these personal development plans do not address behavioral components regarding how you will show up in the New Year. This can leave your plan dry and without much inspiration. To personalize your development plan, add a behavioral component detailing how you will show up differently.

For example:

  • How will you build more trust within your team?
  • How will you listen more effectively and resolve conflicts?
  • How will you give voice to your ideas and be more authentic?
  • How will you gain awareness of non-verbal behaviors that are impacting your communication?

The answers to these questions can form the basis of a personal development plan, which combines internal commitments with external commitments. An internal commitment to change a particular behavior that is observable by others is essential to personal growth and development.

Without focusing on internal development, you can unknowingly face the taxes that come from a lack of trust, a lack of listening, and a lack of authenticity. These taxes have significant financial costs that affect the success of your external commitments. Reference the book The Speed of Trust for business examples of the negative impact of how low trust decreases speed and increases costs, while high trust increases speed and decreases costs.

Working with a leadership coach can help you create a personal development plan that includes the following behavioral components:

  • Observations to develop greater awareness
  • Relational components to learn from others
  • Changes to your environmental systems
  • Somatic practices that will link up with your behavioral commitment

Internal behavioral commitments combined with external project commitments will allow you a greater ability to reach all of the objectives in your personal development plan. Plus, it is energizing to work on and improve a high-leverage behavior in the coming year.

Full-Spectrum Listening

2013 September 23
by Jason Overton

There is a full-spectrum of listening that is available to you beyond just your ears. When you access this deep state of listening (with your ears, eyes, undivided attention, and heart) you enter what professional athletes and musicians describe as flow state or being in the zone.

The way you listen to others affects how you build relationships, manage conflicts, influence others, and respond to what is happening in this moment. The way you listen to yourself affects your ability to be present, develop awareness of non-verbal communication, create internal space, and understand your patterns of thought.

When listening with the spotlight on yourself or others, you can observe a number of aspects simultaneously or pinpoint one aspect at a time for enhanced learning. The aspects of listening can include body language, tone, rhythm, silence, attention, context, and presence. This meta-skill is critical to reach the next level of your development and can positively impact all of your relationships.

Lessons from Nature for Global Leaders

2010 August 2
by Jason Overton

A recent Global CEO study by IBM of 1,500 CEOs worldwide cited creativity as the top leadership quality for leading in rapidly changing and complex global business environments.

A creative response to complexity and change reminds me of a computer simulation of flocking birds by computer scientist, Craig Reynolds, in 1987. What was interesting described by M. Mitchell Waldrop in his book, Complexity, is that the simulation did not have a rule to form a flock. The flock happens when each bird maintains a minimum distance from the other birds, matches velocities with other birds in its neighborhood, and moves towards the perceived center mass of the birds.

By following these simple guidelines, the birds can respond to any obstacles and quickly regain their formation. In the flock, it’s not possible to know everything in the lead position and direct each bird in their appropriate flight pattern. Change happens too fast. The flock forms naturally from the bottom up and each bird must adapt in a fluid way for the flock to fly seamlessly. I believe the same holds true for leaders in global business.

At Kordovia, our Global Peer Groups provide a forum for leaders to keep up with the accelerated rate of change in global business. With facilitation by a global leadership coach, the groups allow leaders to creatively respond to complexity, share successful practices, and make adjustments mid-course. Like a flock flying through the air, it’s an amazing thing to watch.

How Do Global Peer Groups Help Leaders?

2010 June 16
by Jason Overton

Global leaders face complex communication challenges in their global work. Our Global Peer Groups address their needs in a number of unique ways.

Global Peer Group Advantages:

  • Supports groups over six-months via one-hour calls twice a month
  • Addresses challenges facing participants “in the moment” to keep small problems from growing larger
  • Builds stronger networks that extend beyond the group sessions
  • Increases sharing of best practices and collaboration with higher-levels of trust built over six-months
  • Keeps participants moving towards goals with extensive time for skills practice
  • Offers a flexible format with participants providing input on the bi-weekly agenda
  • Includes coaching support via email and an individual coaching call with each participant
  • Keeps participation levels high by selecting leaders who want to be an active member of the group
  • Weaves calls into the normal course of their day
  • Brings leaders together with no travel costs

I Hear You

2010 June 1
by Jason Overton

With cross-cultural style differences and a virtual setting that relies on phone and email, developing trusting global relationships is a challenge even for those with significant global experience.

In our Global Peer Groups, leaders have a forum to practice deep listening. Why is this important? Because deep listening helps builds trust and without trust there is limited sharing of information and collaboration.

Signs of deep listening in our Global Peer Groups are exhibited when participants give thoughtful responses to each other’s stories and ask curious, open-ended questions without judgment. By improving their listening skills and seeking first to understand, leaders can take a major step towards building trusting relationships with global colleagues.

“Leaders will always be under pressure to speak; but to build social fabric and sustain transformation, listening becomes the greater service.” Peter Block – Community: The Structure of Belonging

Working Globally Means Lifelong Learning

2010 April 29
by Jason Overton

Countless leaders work with multiple countries during the course of a day. What is interesting is that they often work in the same style as they would with colleagues in their own country.

This is easy to do when talking on the phone or sending an email in the comfort of my own office. However when traveling to a country such as Spain or Russia for the first time, I quickly realized how much I don’t know about the culture and the way business is handled. The contrast is much more apparent in person and guidebooks only scratch the surface to help my understanding.

Making assumptions that everyone will adjust to my own style or the “corporate office” style often leads to huge mistakes. These mistakes can show up as missed deadlines, frequent miscommunications, and resentment on both sides.

There are many ways to get things done and seeking first to understand how people in another country conduct business is a great starting point. It requires humility and an understanding that it will take a lifetime of learning to refine and adjust.

It’s nearly impossible to be an expert in all cultures. However, I can avoid lots of mistakes and make slow steady progress by taking a humble approach that I am here to listen and learn above all else.

International vs. Global

2010 April 20
by Jason Overton

Twenty years ago companies advertised that they were international. This frequently meant that they worked with a few countries outside of their home country.

Today, many companies are truly global. This means a network of communication happens between countries all around the globe, not just through the corporate headquarters and a particular country.

This change from international to global business changes the sphere of influence from a single “hub and spoke” model to a model that is interconnected and based on regions with many “hubs and spokes”. In other words, each region has more influence. One region cannot dominate without consideration for the other regions.

That’s an important change from the past and highlights the importance of embracing diverse ways of doing business.