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Welcome to this issue of CorporateCoach – a free newsletter for senior executives and teams in organisations interested in using coaching to improve corporate performance. Please share it with colleagues and contacts who will benefit from reading it.
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1. Editorial: Self confidence – or self esteem?
A fundamental part of our business in both executive coaching and organisation development is that our work helps individuals, teams and organisations develop self esteem. We believe that if we achieve this then they will operate more effectively; there will be greater trust, more empowerment and greater creativity. We also believe that people – and their families – will be able to live more fulfilling lives.
So it was very worrying to read in the British press recently about research that appeared to suggest that, contrary to what had traditionally been believed, high self esteem led to bullying and crime.
Not at all in line with our aspirations.
However, further analysis revealed that there had been confusion in the reporting between self confidence and self esteem. Self esteem leads to self confidence. But self confidence need not lead to self esteem.
Self esteem is respect for self. It gives the confidence to decide to do what is right even when others are foolish or criminal because "I am better than that". It is very important for teenagers when they are under peer pressure to smoke, shop lift or take drugs. It is also important in business, where the equivalent could be fraud or crime.
One of our missions is to promote leadership and to help raise groups out of cynicism. One cry we hear is about the fashion for ?partnership?. The belief is often that partnership means that "we give and they take". In an extreme, the cry of a supplier "If we don?t screw them first, they?ll screw us." What behaviour is such belief likely to lead to? Just the sort of behaviour that will, indeed, elicit a negative response from the customer or client – and a deteriorating relationship.
Another belief we hold is that the meaning of the communication is the response it elicits. In other words we are responsible for the consequences.
If another party reacts badly, what responsibility should we take, and in such circumstances how could we behave differently to achieve the outcome we desire. And in systems terms, how does our behaviour this time affect their behaviour next time?
It applies in business. It applies in teams. And it applies in social relationships and within families. How we behave affects how others behave. Thus the difference between leadership and followership.
You may be surprised by the title of the book that we review in this issue of the newsletter. Hardly the title you would expect for a business audience. But Flirt Coach is about communication for success. If communication is a generic skill, why not learn it in a fun context. And I have an excuse, of course. February includes St Valentine?s Day.
But to return to self confidence and self esteem. How did the confusion arise? In a reaction against too much criticism of children, parents were encouraged to focus on praising instead. Good advice, but only when their actions deserve it. In the words of The One Minute Manager, "Catch someone doing something good".
Or, as one of the press articles said "If you give the child feedback on what they have done, then the child can praise itself." That leads to self esteem and self confidence – and the same applies in business. Quality feedback improves morale and allows people to improve their performance.
Praise or criticism unrelated to the act causes confusion. So the objective is not to make people feel good, but to enable them to feel good 'because . . .'
SUGGESTION: Presentation skills
Have you enquired about our fun day introduction to presentation skills? Suitable for up to twelve participants, this workshop ensures that giving a presentation is experienced as something to be enjoyed – not to be feared. Starting with a simple presentation to two colleagues it moves through the day towards a series of videoed team presentations to an audience. On the way, participants learn a series of techniques for preparation of content, style and state.
This is a cost effective way of covering the basics before embarking on personal or small group coaching.
2. Coaching notes: The menu of life
There's a big myth about the modern age which is that we all have to work much harder than we ever did before. We hear about the frantic pace of the modern workplace, etc. etc. Frankly it's a load of hooey -- as any description of the working conditions of ordinary people more than seventy or so years ago will tell you. I still have the letters my grandmother wrote home to my great-grandmother in England, when she was out in Canada during the First World War. My grandparents were farming out on the Alberta plains on land recently opened up by the Canadian Pacific Railway. With four small children in a wood cabin in the middle of the prairie, she just worked solidly from the time she got up in the morning (about 4 or 5) till the time she went to bed at night (about 11 or 12) seven days a week with no holidays. And my grandfather did the same, out on the prairie in all weathers.
So where did this myth come from that we are all overworked these days as a result of the pace of modern life? Well, it's certainly true that many of us spend our time rushing around constantly busy. But rush and busyness don't necessarily equal productive work (or play).
One of the very real differences between life today and life in olden times is that we have far more choice. My grandparents had very little choice about how they spent their days. Everything they did was necessary if they were going to survive -- there were no distractions like computer games or tv or the internet. They couldn't just even get in a car and go off to the cinema. No car, no cinema. Life for them, and for most working people, was like the fixed menu in a restaurant. If you were lucky you might get one or two choices but for the most part you ate what you were given and got on with it.
These days life for most of us is like being presented with an enormous restaurant menu with hundreds of choices. Most of them sound mouth-watering and making up our minds is really difficult.
In a real restaurant when we are presented with a huge menu like this we know that, however much we dither, we have got to make up our minds what we are going to have. Usually we will choose a starter, a main course and a desert.
However when we are presented with the menu of life, instead of selecting a starter, a main course and dessert from all the hundreds of choices, we behave as if we had to eat the whole menu!
So it's not surprising that we end up rushed off our feet. We commit ourselves to so many things that there is no possibility that we can do all of them. Unlike my grandparents, who had to work incredibly long and hard hours, our rushing around is a self-inflicted injury.
The next time you find yourself complaining how busy you are, think about the restaurant menu and ask yourself how many courses you are trying to cram into your current meal. Are you trying to have five starters, ten main course and six desserts? No wonder you are having difficulty cramming it all in!
So make a start on cutting your commitments back to a make a meal that you stand some chance of being able to digest. And remember -- when you have finished one meal, you can always come back and have another!
The Time Management Coach
Tel: +44 1403-250016
Fax: +44 1403-249474
Mobile: +44 7768 221268
Copyright Mark Forster, Coach, 2002. This is an extract from Mark's newsletter. You can subscribe by sending a blank email to email@example.com
3. Book review: Flirt Coach
Here is a challenge for you business readers. Will you been seen in public reading this bright pink book with the word FLIRT in light blue on the cover?
Flirt Coach, by Peta Heskell, has a strap line "communication tips for friendship, love and professional success". One of the most common needs we encounter in our business as executive coaches and management consultants is for improved communications skills. There are many books around, and an increasing number of excellent British books to complement those published in America. This one stands out. It has been widely available in UK bookshops and is likely to be prominently displayed this week. Have a look at it. Flick through. It has a bright and accessible design. Lots of tinted boxes with exercises, and lots of examples of individuals' experiences.
Flirt Coach is a lightweight but deep course in personal development. It is one of the best we have met in terms of beliefs, voice and body language, building rapport, language. The style is easy to read, the exercises are empowering and begin to make you think about how you are as a person at your best. The many simple examples and exercises do much to demonstrate how easy it can be to change your outlook for the better.
If you can see through the flirtatious wrapping you will find excellent wisdom. And then, of course, you might also enjoy the bonus of "Developing fantastic flirting states" and "Awakening your sexuality".
And just in case you had thought that flirting is just about seduction let's review some of Peta's definitions at the beginning of the book.
Flirting comes from the the old French word fleurter, meaning 'to flower'. According to Peta, flirting is showing people you are interested in them and making them feel warm towards to you; flirting is about connecting and getting to know people; flirting is eye contact; and flirting is the art of being able to break down people's barriers and make contact.
So what are the characteristics of successful flirts?
Surely an excellent list of corporate and everyday generic characteristics. This book tells how to develop all these qualities. It is about how to develop the confidence, attitudes, beliefs and skills to interact easily and successfully with yourself and others.
We believe that good communication with others only comes once you have good communication with yourself. The book is divided into three parts: - inside, outside and integration.
The first part includes: -
So buy Flirt Coach. – and, if necessary, buy some brown paper for the wrapper too.
Or visit our books site for more ideas and recommendations.
4. Case study: Pharmaceutical manager
Mike Small is a Director of Technical Affairs in a small pharmaceutical company.
He had progressed rapidly in the organisation because his advice and expertise were highly valued and had made a significant contribution to the business. A major restructuring within the company gave him greater responsibility and a new boss to work with. She suggested that he might benefit from an external coach.
Mike values his time with his family and did not want it to suffer as he developed his career. He was somewhat sceptical about how this additional burden on his time would help him, although he knew that it would help if he could forge better relationships with some of his colleagues including his own team. He was not sure exactly how to do this and welcomed the opportunity to discuss this outside the office.
He had set his sights on becoming IT director in a major pharmaceutical company one day. Curiously while entertaining this thought he had never really explored it in annual appraisals because he had been more keen to demonstrate his own abilities and achieve his boss's support for the salary he wanted. He used his coaching sessions to explore what immediate steps and plans he should put into place to bring about opportunities for development toward this goal.
In the first coaching session he talked about what he felt might have held him back in the past. Whilst he had done well in his career so far he did recognise that it was more difficult to get close to some people at work and he knew that he needed to have the confidence of everyone around him. Sometimes this led to a lack of confidence in himself because he didn?t feel entirely comfortable with new team members working with him so was unsure how to handle team meetings.
With his coach he explored the level of his skills and what people valued in his abilities, examining his achievements thus far and how he had felt at times of success and what he observed around him. Even just talking about these matters in some depth made him feel more confident for the future and with the help of his coach he learned to 'anchor' these feelings for future interactions.
He experimented with new approaches to challenging situations, steering away from his past reliance on technical detail where he had felt more secure and towards identifying better goals. He analysed his desired outcomes in some detail including the message he wanted to be received (not what he wanted to tell the audience!), how he wanted them to feel about him and the manner in which the information came across. He recognised that his deeper understanding of the people involved had helped considerably in the past and resolved to set aside specific time to build rapport with certain new colleagues. He found they welcomed his interest in them and their aspirations.
Mike was intrigued by some of the feedback he received. He had not realised how some of his colleagues had really been quite nervous of him in the past and felt it had taken time to get to know him. He knew he needed to alter this so looked in detail at some areas identified with his coach – even examining the way he dressed to go to the office and which entrance he used when he arrived. He resolved to pass through new departments and stop for a few minutes on his path to his own area. He gave some thought to how his choice of attire might make others more comfortable rather than make him look a little imposing!
As months passed, Mike found much greater comfort in his own contribution in larger team settings and his new focus on well formed outcomes motivated his own team. He even gained the confidence to share details of the coaching process and his feedback with his team openly, which made continuing opportunity for feedback within the team easier. He talked with his new boss about long term aspirations and enjoyed the ideas they shared together on people to talk to and ways of ensuring his development in his current role.
Mike returned home early the Friday of his last coaching session and took his wife and children to dinner for a treat. He had found more time for his family in recent months and was feeling that the quality of this time was better than ever, his mind being on the moment and not anxieties about the tasks to be done. He started toying with the idea of coaching in the family setting, During the evening they talked about the holiday home in France they might buy in a year or two . .
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We hope you enjoyed this issue of CorporateCoach. If you would like to learn more about how we can work together, then please contact me, Richard Winfield:
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