Friday, 18 December 2015

3 Powerful Coaching Questions I Will Never Stop Asking

IIf you are interested in coaching, you will know that it is all about asking the POWERFUL questions. 
Not only powerful, but insightful, mind-opening, thought-provoking, challenging ones. 
You will probably also know that these questions often start with what poet and writer Rudyard Kipling used to call his 'little friends ' : what, how, when, get the picture.

The truth is, questions can be immensely powerful and developmental when they are insightful, when they are timely and when they encourage a domino-style effect in your thinking process. Through these type of questions one grows, one raises his/her own self-awareness and one learns, most importantly, about what really counts, what is at the core, what is the absolute heart of the matter.

I have three questions in particular that I find routinely match the description above. These are the questions I never stop asking whenever I coach individual or teams, whenever anyone asks me for help even informally. I want to share them with you in the hope you can also begin to use them and experience the staggering results on yourself and on others.

Question #1 WHAT will this mean for you?

This question is about understanding the impact of achieving one's objective. It is crucially important because in answering it will bring to the surface a layers of drivers, motivations and motifs far beyond one's initial idea and intentions. The fact is that one can keep on asking this question until one is satisfied that all motivations and reasons have been explored and explained. If motivations falters outcomes must clearly change or be adjusted. If motivation persists and actually it becomes even stronger every time the question is asked one can eat assured that the identified objectives are the correct ones.

Question #2 HOW will you go about achieving the desired outcome?

The is question is about available resources, strategies but also tactics that will enable one person to achieve their outcome. It is a very powerful questions because it enables the person to think about a variety of related issues, such as the resources needed to achieve the desired outcome, be it time, money, personal influence, other people's support, expertise and knowledge to mention but a few. But also it brings to the fore the need for action and action planning. 

Somebody said that leadership is half vision and half action and I totally agree. Unless you take action to execute your vision it will be impossible to achieve any outcome in practice.

Question #3 WHAT else can you do?

Often people come to me because they feel stuck in a vicious circle, they believe they have gone around it so many times they can no longer look at it objectively. Yet all they need is to be asked this simple yet ever so powerful questions, which is all about options. Having options brings hope and positivity to anyone's mindset, but particularly those who feel that had no more hope and no more options! I often drop it casually and then stop. After a few silence-because-brain-is-thinking type of moments people start to focus on their network, their colleagues, their peers, their friends and family. Finally they build an overall picture of where options maybcome from and generally come up with at least one answer. It may be a first small steps but it's importance should not be underestimated as people begin to take ownership and demonstrate a more dynamic and pro- active approach.

So what are your powerful and is nightfall questions? Please share the ones you use and think are crucially important ! As always I would love if you got in touch and shared some comments directly with me or below. 

Alessandra is an experienced mentor, business coach, consultant and strategist. She supports individuals - especially women - and organisations in achieveing their potential through customised, outcome driven interventions . You can find out more about Alessandra here and contact her by email here.  

Friday, 11 December 2015

4 Things You can Do Now To Improve Your Self Awareness

I was working with a team this morning discussing self awareness and the role it plays in building stronger relationships at work. The team recognised that not enough time is spent either by individuals or teams thinking about their own strengths and weaknesses, nor understanding how as a team they can be most effective. This is a common problem I find as people are generally focussed on the 'here and now' of work and hardly ever take the time to reflect and assess. As individual adults we are also quite set in our own ways, whether they are favourable or otherwise.  This means that we would rather not reflect on what might be obvious shortcomings, as the moment we raise our self- awareness we also feel compulsed to do something about it....and that takes hard work!

Nevertheless, without self awareness we cannot begin to establish trusting relationships. We also cannot as leaders chose the team that best complements our own strength and skills and thus best help us achieve our business objectives. 

So how can we begin to build our own self-awareness ?

Here are 4 things to implement immediately in your professional environment:

#1 - Ring-fence specific times to reflect, alone and with the team
Simple and obvious yet quite hard to implement due to people's busy schedules. It is critically important though and therefore must be done properly. This means using effective reflection tools to ensure the time is used most effectively and in a structured way. End of projects, performance management reviews, year-ends are all ideal times to undertake this analysis. 

#2 - Encourage feedback at every level
Organisations that foster open and transparent communication are also likely to encourage a culture of feedback. If you do not feel that your team is feedbacking enough, first and foremost open yourself up to feedback. Once the team sees the you are willing to accept it as well as to give it, feedback will become accepted as a 'modus operandi' and will be used for many purposes at individual and team level. Please remember that feedback is a 360 degree activity and you can choose to gain insights into your own strengths and shortcomings through junior as well as peer or senior colleagues, but also suppliers, customers and partners.

#3 - Strech yourself out of your comfort zone
Trying new things is a sure way to find out what you are good at and how you react and feel to new situations. For that to happen, you have to be willing to embrace a certain amount of risk, but it is worthwhile in order to learn new skills. Organisations can encourage or hinder the process - you as a leader of people should certainly try to encourage it as it will benefit yourself and-  by role modelling - your team.

#4 - Undertake regular, personal SWOT analysis
Many of us are likely to be familiar with SWOT analysis applied to products and markets. We are much less likely to have carried out this analysis on a personal level, highlighting personal strengths and weaknesses. It is a very helpful exercise that we should undertake on a regular basis to ensure we keep on recording progressing and filling gaps. Feedback can be used to cross check our thinking with colleagues but also friends. They will hopefully point out to us many additional qualities we did not think we have!

However good you think you are as manager and leader, however well rated by your colleagues, think about whether your self-awareness can be improved and whether you are doing enough to support your team through a similar process. Which tools do you use for this purpose and which results have you enjoyed? Please share in the comments as I would love to hear! 

lessandra is an experienced mentor, business coach, consultant and strategist. She supports individuals - especially women - and organisations in achieveing their potential through customised, outcome driven interventions . You can find out more about Alessandra here and contact her by email here.  

Friday, 4 December 2015

Why Giving Is Better Than Taking ( and Not Just at Christmas)

Yes, it is Christmas time in case you had not noticed....shops' windows, supermarkets, songs, television and in particular a certain British department store suggest that this is the time to buy, to give, to least at Christmas, at least once a year. What a shame that it has to be once a year and it has to be a 'material' gift to make us feel like we are doing something good for other people, so that we can hide our feeling of guilts. 

How about experimenting with giving a little more often, a little less 'mechanically' or because it is expected, but because we want to and because it is actually good for us?

As time goes by I find that the most fulfilling moments in life - and especially in my worklife - are those in which somebody realises they 'owe me'. Not money, not presents, but a good piece of advice, perhaps time, perhaps knowledge. The realisation that they have been given something for nothing, openly, willingly and with no expectation of an immediate return is something that touches people deeply as it is considered a luxury, a rarity, not the norm. This realisation I find is often physically visible, in the way people return a smile or open their eyes to is a moments of pure joy and fulfilment as far as I am concerned and it helps me build trust and loyal relationships. 

But is this a sustainable strategy or a naive, idealistic way? Perhaps it is not possible to do this every time, perhaps not with everyone. But in my latter years I have discovered the wisdom of the popular phrase ' what goes around, comes around'. The more I have given, the more I have received. The more I have shared, the more It has been returned. The more I have offered, the more I have been asked to take. And it seems to go on and on. 

Some may say that perhaps it is not business savvy or perhaps it is not commercially sound. But when we encounter people who are genuinely facing challenges and open their heart to us,  being generous is the only strategy that will ultimately provide a win-win. Try it to believe it, and not only at Christmas !

Alessandra is an experienced mentor, business coach, consultant and strategist. She supports individuals - especially women - and organisations in achieveing their potential through customised, outcome driven interventions . You can find out more about Alessandra here and contact her by email here.