Category Archives: Jeffrey W. Foley

One-on-One Coaching: The Most Effective Way to Develop Your People

By Jeffrey W. Foley

Jeffrey Foley: one-on-one coachingEffective one-on-one coaching is one of the most important skills a great leader must possess. Effective coaching inspires in others an internal drive to act ethically, without direction, to achieve goals. Effective coaching drives performance, builds competence and confidence, and ultimately enhances relationships. The best coaches help people find ways to make things happen as opposed to creating excuses why they can’t.

Effective coaching also requires you to believe in yourself. You need to believe that you can have an impact in the workplace, and that you can inspire others to achieve their goals they might not otherwise achieve. The real question is not if you will make a difference, but what difference you will make.

Respectful, transparent, and regular face-to-face communication between leaders and their people breaks down barriers and builds trust. What you can see in a person’s eyes or other body language can be revealing. While technology can be effective at times, it will never replace human contact for discovery and inspiration.

The most impactful leaders are adept listeners, and don’t allow their egos to become roadblocks. When egos are alive and well, listening ceases, effective coaching environments disappear, and organizations suffer.

Here are three recommendations that can help you raise the bar on your ability to coach others.Effective one-on-one coaching is one of the most important skills a great leader must possess. Click To Tweet

1. Create a positive and open environment for communication

People listen to and follow leaders they trust. They engage in meaningful dialog with people they trust. They are not afraid to disagree with people they trust. Trust provides the foundation for a positive and open communication environment where connections between people can thrive.

When people connect, they learn about each other. They enable understanding of cultures, individual strengths and challenges. Knowing your people’s unique capabilities and desires helps focus on how to help them be successful.

Knowing your people also reduces the probability of promoting someone into a management position who does not want it or is not otherwise qualified. Not all physicians want to be managers. Not all sales people want to be sales managers. Not all technicians want to be a shop foreman. The costs can be exorbitant to an organization that wrongly promotes someone into a management position.

There are three questions that can help establish this open line of communication: What is on your mind? What can I do for you? What do you think? How am I making your life more difficult? When asked with the genuine interest, people respond with more honesty.

Meet with your people regularly helps break down barriers. Not just in your office, but on the manufacturing floor, outside the operating room, in the cafeteria, or the warehouse. Talk to folks outside the work area like the jogging track, grocery store or the kid’s soccer game. The informal sessions can be wonderful enablers of opening the line of communication.

2. Establish agreed upon goals and strategies to achieve

Most people want to know what success looks like. They want to be clear in their goals as an individual and, if appropriate, the leader of a team. Well-defined, measurable, relevant goals on paper help people gain clarity on success for them. Assigning responsibility with authority helps inspire an individual’s commitment to be successful.

Success also includes how to reach their goals. Strategies are developed and agreed upon by the manager and team member so that both understand each other’s roles. The probability of success increases dramatically when strategies and accountabilities are well defined.

3. Enforce accountability by assessing performance

There are many and significant consequences when people are not held accountable for achieving goals or otherwise performing to standard. Integrity disappears. Discipline erodes. Morale evaporates. Leaders are not taken seriously. Problem employees become a cancer in the organization. The best people leave. Results are not achieved.

Effective coaching demands assessment of performance. Without this assessment, no system of accountability will be achieved. If the senior leader does not hold his or her executive team accountable, subordinate leaders are likely to think “Why should I?”

Consistent, regularly scheduled coaching sessions with your people are the key to ensuring effective follow-up assessments to celebrate successes and identify areas to improve.

Summary

Coaching session agendas will vary based on a variety of conditions. A good place to start is outlined below.

First, review the individual goals and those of the organization. Ensure alignment of both to clarify where the individual is contributing to the mission of the organization.

Second, discuss what is going well. Where do both the coach and the individual agree on successes? Provide positive recognition for achievements where important.

Third, discuss the challenges or areas for improvement. Underwrite honest mistakes in the pursuit of excellence so people can learn. Determine how you as the manager can help. Gain a clear understanding of the shortfall in the individual’s ability and desire to achieve the goal and what resources or assistance the individual needs to be successful. When unsatisfactory performance occurs, managers must address it. Leaders who never take action to remove an underperformer are doing a great disservice to their institution. All too often, good people serving in leadership positions fear the task of confrontation. They hope, magically, that something will happen which will turn the underperformer around and all will be well in the end. Hope is not a strategy; the magic seldom happens. Your goal as a leader and coach is to inspire a willingness to succeed. When coaching, it is often easier to criticize and find fault. Think before you speak—find ways to praise.

Fourth, as the manager, seek suggestions for how you can be a more effective leader for them. This question can change the dynamic of the coaching session and can provide powerful feedback for the manager in his or her quest to be the best they can be. Doing so will enhance their trust in you and help build confidence in their own capabilities.

Remember, effective one-on-one coaching can be the catalyst for attracting and retaining the best people, and that will ultimately help your organization to unprecedented results.

 Jeff Foley is a recognized speaker, executive leadership coach, and author of Rules and Tools for Leaders. He is a West Point graduate and retired as a Brigadier General having served thirty-two years in the Army. Drawing on his unique military experience, Jeff uses his singular insight to build better leaders. For more information on Jeff Foley, visit www.loralmountain.com.

Wield the Five Keys to Leaving a Positive Leadership Legacy in Your Life

By Jeffrey W. Foley

Jeffrey WoleyMany successful business people have pondered their leadership legacy—how do they want to be remembered. And many of them struggle to find the answer.

Your legacy is defined by the impact you have on the lives of others after you are gone. It is how you will be remembered. We are all leaving a legacy, there is no escaping it. If asked, how would you respond to the question of, “What do you want your leadership legacy to be?”

However old or young, you have the opportunity to raise the bar on the legacy you are leaving. Whether you are a senior executive, in a new position in your business, a new parent or grandparent, a student or recent graduate, you can choose your legacy. Or perhaps you have had a setback in your life, it is never too late to refocus on what you can change—your legacy.Being a person of character is at the foundation of building trust with others. Character is who we are and what we stand for. Click To Tweet

The most effective business leaders are people who ultimately pursue five separate but related behaviors. These five can provide the framework for you in your pursuit of creating a positive leadership legacy in life.

Character

Being a person of character is at the foundation of building trust with others. Character is who we are and what we stand for. It is comprised of many things but its foundation is values; those deep beliefs like integrity, loyalty, and respect. Values do not change overnight; rather they are forged in one’s heart and soul over time. They ultimately drive how we behave. When you think of those people who left a wonderful legacy for you, was not character the essence of the memory?

Attitude

Your attitude can change everything you do and everyone you meet. No one enjoys hanging out with chronic complainers or naysayers. A positive attitude can be a force multiplier in daily interactions or long term strategies. A positive attitude creates passion, enthusiasm, and a call to action. It can change outcomes. You have a choice in your attitude. Make it positive!

Vision

We all need a vision, or a plan, for our future. A saying attributed to the great Yogi Berra goes: “If you don’t know where you are going, you are likely to end up someplace else.” A vision provides clear direction for your future. Create your future by putting a mark on the wall of where you want to be one, two, five years from now. Craft an action plan that identifies your objectives and critical decision points. Establish a set of milestones that will help you achieve your objectives, and then celebrate each of their achievements as you progress along the way!

Excellence

Both championship teams and successful businesses do not drift to greatness; they commit themselves to excellence. Commitment means tireless pursuit of doing your absolute best, every day, all the time. Excellence matters in everything you do. If you don’t commit to excellence yourself and demand it from others you will create a culture of mediocrity. Most people are not interested in mediocrity.

Relationships

Building trusted relationships with others trumps everything else when it comes to leaving a positive leadership legacy in your world. Serving the needs of others builds trust in relationships. You serve by knowing your people, genuinely caring for them, reaching out to those in need, sacrificing and celebrating with them, exercising humility, are all important aspects enabling strong relationships. Nowhere is trust between leaders and followers more profound than in the military. You can learn, just like US Military Academy graduates at West Point are required to learn, that is Schofield’s Definition of Discipline. Major General John Schofield in his address to the Corps of Cadets in 1879: “The discipline which makes the soldiers of a free country reliable in battle is not to be gained by harsh or tyrannical treatment. On the contrary, such treatment is far more likely to destroy than to make an Army.” You know you will have achieved the goal of building trust when you can feel the spirit of cohesion that permeates the hearts of who serve together.

These five keys will provide a framework for establishing your approach to leaving a positive leadership legacy in your life. On a scale of one to five, with one being not so good, and five being great, how would you assess your behavior in each of the five areas? An action plan should follow your assessment that focuses you enables you to grow your ability where needed.

I wish you the best in your leadership journey.

Jeff Foley is a recognized speaker, executive leadership coach, and author of Rules and Tools for Leaders. He is a West Point graduate and retired as a Brigadier General having served thirty-two years in the Army. Drawing on his unique military experience, Jeff uses his singular insight to build better leaders. For more information on Jeff Foley, visit www.loralmountain.com.

Want to Grow as a Business Leader? Employ the BRAVE Model

By Jeffrey W. Foley

Jeffrey W. FoleyWilliam had never felt fear before. He had just been promoted to President of the company that had grown dramatically over the past three years and they were not ready for this rapid expansion. While he felt confident that he was the best qualified for this position, he lost sleep thinking of all the leadership challenges his people were expecting him to fix. He saw himself in the image of the Greek Titan Atlas holding up the globe. He was going to need help.

The good news is William was not afraid to ask for help, and had a mentor he could turn to for that assistance. His mentor happened to be a career army officer who had developed a simple, powerful, proven model for developing leaders in the business world. He titled it BRAVE—fitting for an army guy.

What keeps you up at night? What is causing you to feel pain?

Some of the most significant leadership pains business leaders suffer from include: the shortfall in achieving desired results, the inability to attract and retain quality talent, the lack of leadership skills in managers, lack of a values-based culture that enables bad business decisions and unethical behaviors, the lack of an engaged workforce, and the lack of an inspired high-performing executive team.

The BRAVE model helped William tackle his challenges, as his company is on track for a record setting year. The model can also assuage your fears as a leader, and put you on the path to running a more stable, profitable organization.Being a great leader is tough business. It takes courage. It takes bravery. Click To Tweet

Be a leader of character

Character is at the heart of being an effective leader. It represents who you are and what you stand for. No amount of leadership or technical competency can overcome a lack of character. It begins with a comprehensive understanding of yourself—a necessary condition before you can effectively lead others. Character is ultimately defined by those values or deep beliefs that guide behavior. For leaders to be followed, they must secure the trust and confidence of their followers. The best leaders of character define and communicate those values, then bring them to life through living them, and reward others who live them.

Reinforce leader competencies

Clearly-documented leadership competencies–and their associated behaviors—make it abundantly apparent what is most important to an organization. Core competencies highlight the fundamentals of solid leadership for everyone throughout the organization. There are additional competencies commensurate with a leader’s level of responsibility. As one progresses up in the organization, responsibilities and authorities change. At the executive level, the environment is characterized by increased complexity, higher risk, greater uncertainty, and less direct control over subordinate echelons. There is risk to any organization if expectations of competencies are left up to chance. Identification of them and gaining proficiency in them requires training, tireless practice, and feedback.

Attack with a leader development program

 Over the past 243 years, the army recognized the value in investing heavily in the development of leaders at all ranks. Good developments programs help prepare the current and future leaders to be prepared to lead teams and set the conditions for the organization’s future success. Once developed, rigorous execution of the program is paramount. The best leaders recognize the importance of sustained investment in the development of their people. Success stems from a culture where leaders are equipped with the mindset and passion for developing others. Leaders own the task of developing their people and cannot ignore it.

Value coaching excellence

One-on-one coaching is arguably the most important skill a leader must possess to be effective in developing others. The best leaders are great communicators who set the example for what right looks like. Great coaching skills do not come naturally to many leaders; they must be learned and practiced. When leaders ignore or short-change this critical task, their people fail to grow and reach their full potential. The consequences continue to expose themselves as their people will also fail to learn how to coach their own subordinates. The entire organization suffers. The keys to coaching success include creating a positive and open communication environment, agreeing of clear goals, and engaging in consistent dialog focused on assessment of performance and inspiring actions for the future.

Embrace trusted relationships

Trusted relationships between leaders and their people trump everything when it comes to effective leadership. A leader’s influence over others will not occur if their mutual trust is absent. For leaders to be trusted, they need to be leaders of character, competent in technical and leadership skills, genuinely care for their people, and exercise humility. The best leaders have these qualities. Trusted relationships remain in place for life. Soldiers will follow their leaders into the most dangerous places, under the most extraordinary conditions if they trust their leaders. Earning that trust is a critical task and must be mastered to be a leader in the army.

Why BRAVE? Francis Scott Key is the author of the famous words “The land of the free and the home of the brave.” He wrote those words in 1814, and since 1931, they have been sung as the national anthem of the United States. The word has powerful meanings. Being a great leader is tough business. It takes courage. It takes bravery. There are powerful lessons to be learned from the US Army. This model helped William achieve the success he was seeking, and can help you.

Jeff Foley is a recognized speaker, executive leadership coach, and author of Rules and Tools for Leaders. He is a West Point graduate and retired as a Brigadier General having served thirty-two years in the Army. Drawing on his unique military experience, Jeff uses his singular insight to build better leaders. For more information on Jeff Foley, visit www.loralmountain.com.