There is a tendency among some executive readers to file certain subjects under the label of “soft skills.” Quietly, however, these alleged soft skills drive everything from sales to customer relationships to brand identity. They also drive book sales, as Jack Canfield, co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul™ series can attest. After achieving sales of more than 125 million copies, one may wonder what else Canfield can offer readers. The answer comes in his team-up with executive mentor and coach Dr. Peter Chee. The pair wrote Coaching for Breakthrough Success to provide leaders with a repeatable set of principles to fire the three cylinders of coaching success: heart, mind and energy. This book is now available as a Soundview Executive Book Summary.
Canfield and Chee divide their work into three parts. The first part provides leaders with a set of 30 coaching principles. The principles cover a variety of aspects of the role and skillset of a coach, including bolstering your coaching spirit, establishing and maintaining relationships and trust, and using accountability to drive accomplishments. All of the principles are meant to build the solid foundation the authors refer to as “the heart of a coach.”
The second part provides readers with the “mind” that accompanies the heart of a coach: the Situational Coaching Model. This section builds a critical level of flexibility that is absent from other “one-size-fits-all” methods of coaching. The authors describe six paradigms that can be applied to a variety of situations. The third part of the book focuses on the “energy” of a coach in the form of the Achievers Coaching Techniques. Readers should view the techniques as a self-assessment and roadmap to keep your coaching efforts on a steady, measurable path.
The sum total of Coaching for Breakthrough Success is a more focused method that executives can easily apply to business. Don’t short sell soft skills. They may make the difference in your next step on your career path.
LEADERS EAT LAST
The Necessity of Putting People First
The theme of Simon Senek’s new book is the importance of people to the success of organizations and corporations. While the argument is not new, the imperative of putting people first and the sometimes depressing reasons why organizations and leaders fail to do so have rarely been presented with the eloquence and insight found in Leaders Eat Last. Sinek, whose previous book was the bestseller Start with Why, builds on a combination of academic research and business case studies to lay out the challenges of a management imperative that is all too often discussed in clichés and easy, step-by-step instructions. His explanation of the evil of abstraction and its impact on management, to take one example, is at once revealing and horrifying.
The concept of abstraction is encapsulated in Stalin’s phrase that one death is a tragedy, a million deaths a statistic. The story of a young lady killed in a hit-and-run is profoundly moving, Sinek writes. News stories of thousands killed during the Syrian uprising don’t have the same effect — those deaths are too abstract, he explains. A controversial Yale University experiment in which 65 percent of volunteers willingly shocked someone in another room with high doses of electricity is even more disturbing evidence of the insidious power of abstraction — and that power, Sinek argues, is reflected in the corporate world.
Many corporate leaders, he explains, have the same facility to ignore the pain they inflict on others — through massive layoffs, for example — because in a corporate setting, the pain is abstract. Since it is easy to hurt people, it is easy to focus on numbers over people. It is easy, he declares, to destroy the livelihoods of families in order to boost return figures because most corporate leaders have no contact with the families.
The solution to the problem of abstraction, according to Sinek, is to manage the abstraction. Bringing people together is one way. Social media can be an effective communication tool, but regular face-to-face conversations and meetings are essential. Another solution is to follow Dunbar’s Number. Anthropologist Robin Dunbar’s research shows that people can only have a real relationship with no more than 150 people — which is why the 10,000-employee Gore-Tek company still organizes its plants and offices in working groups of about 150 people.
Engaging and Eye-Opening
Abstraction is just one of the areas related to the issue of putting people first that Sinek covers in this wide-ranging book. For example, building on the biology of humans — the balance of “selfish” chemicals and “selfless” chemicals that allow us to both survive and collaborate — he explains why people are most productive and happy when leaders know how to elicit the right balance of selfishness (solving a problem, achieving a goal) and selflessness (creating strong relationships). He describes the “Circle of Safety” framework for an environment that promotes productivity and teamwork and reduces tension and conflict. He highlights the temptation of what he calls “destructive abundance” — when having more makes you want to protect what you have at all costs (such as Bank of America’s plan to charge a debit card usage fee to make up for lost fees under new regulations).
While not everyone may agree with every assertion in its pages, Leaders Eat Last (the title refers to the Marine Corps tradition of officers eating last) is an engaging and eye-opening read, especially for leaders who might think they know all there is to know about putting people first.
Is started with Emotional Intelligence, but since the development of this concept we’ve moved on in the business realm to business intelligence, creative intelligence, spiritual intelligence, financial intelligence, social intelligence and more.
One recent addition to the list is conversational intelligence, a term trademarked by Judith Glaser. Glaser defines conversational intelligence as “the intelligence hardwired into every human being to enable us to navigate successfully with others. Through language and conversations we learn to build trust, to bond, to grow, and build partnerships with each other to create and transform our societies. There is no more powerful skill hardwired into every human being than the wisdom of conversations.”
Although we may understand the importance of conversations, the deeper question is whether or not we have adequate skills in this essential function for business and life. So we’ve invited Judith Glaser to join us for our upcoming Soundview Live webinar so that we can all better understand this important skill, measure our own level of expertise, and come away with the tools we need to excel as intelligent communicators.
Glaser will present a framework for knowing which kind of conversations trigger the lower, more primitive brain and which conversations activate higher-level intelligences such as trust, integrity, empathy, and good judgment. Drawing from her book, Conversational Intelligence™, Glaser will make complex scientific material simple to understand and apply through a wealth of easy-to-use tools, examples, conversational rituals, and practices for all levels of an organization.
Judith E. Glaser is the CEO of Benchmark Communications, Inc., and the Chairman of The Creating WE Institute. She is one of the most innovative and pioneering change agents, consultants and executive coaches in the consulting industry – and refers to herself as an Organizational Anthropologist.
A best-selling business author, Judith is the world’s leading authority on WE-centric Leadership, Neuro-Innovation and Conversational Intelligence®. Through the application of neuroscience to business challenges, Judith shows CEOs and their teams how to elevate levels of engagement, collaboration and innovation to positively impact the bottom line.
Join us on March 6th for How Great Leaders Build Trust, an interactive webinar with Glaser that will answer your questions about conversational intelligence, and provide you with the tools you need to become skilled at the art of conversation.