Coaching is a Desired Management Skill

Businessman Winning RaceIt wasn’t that long ago that the word “coach” was associated with just one thing: sports. Today, coaching is a fast-growing field, with coaches helping individuals on leadership, management, communication, life goals, health and wellness, sales…the list goes on. More and more professionals are being asked to coach their work teams, in order to get the most out of their people. Like any relationship, coaching must be built on trust and mutual respect. People you are coaching must trust you to guide them through a strategic thinking process. When information is shared openly, the process will be much more beneficial. As a coach myself, I recognize what skills are needed to be a successful coach. Here is my list:

  1. Focus: The coach remains focused on the coaching client’s goals and in turn keeps the client focused on those goals. Within coaching sessions, the coach focuses on the work to be done in that session and keeps the client on track through a solid process and effective clarifying questions.
  2. Mindfulness/presence: The coach is fully present and eliminates any distractions. For on-site coaching sessions, be sure to find a quiet, private place to meet.
  3. Rapport/trust: As the coaching relationship deepens, so does the level of trust between coach and client. Create a safe environment for the exchange of open dialogue and trust will develop over time.
  4. Confidentiality: The coach clearly states, and upholds, the commitment to retain all conversations and information in confidence.
  5. Active listening: The role of the coach is to talk less and listen more. Let the client do the talking.
  6. Intuition: The compassionate coach uses all senses to assess the client’s mood or the environment. Sometimes the coach must rely on the “gut” feeling of intuition rather than a more logical, rational explanation.
  7. Curiosity: The curious crave a deeper way of knowing and driver a deeper level of inquiry. The result: thorough and sensitive questioning to reveal breakthroughs in thinking or behavior.
  8. Sound judgment but not judging: The coach remains non-judgmental and open-minded and is prepared to use sound judgment when helping clients work through challenges.
  9. Patience: Behavioral change requires patience. Understand that each client works in his/her own time frame. Some clients require greater time to sort out issues and develop solutions and strategies.
  10. Synthesis: After listening to the client, the coach weaves together strands of information, sometimes disparate, and creates a seamless, condensed summary. Some would call it the 30,000 foot perspective. Often the client cannot see what is most obvious. It takes a skilled coach to point it out. When a client says, “I never thought of it this way” or “I can’t believe I never saw that before,” the coach knows the client is viewing things differently and can now take action.

If you are asked to accept greater responsibilities and coach others, know the skills that are required to be an effective coach. These ten tips will keep you focused. Professional organizations, like the International Coach Federation, and others, can also provide you with additional information for the professional coach.

(Excerpt from Everything I Do Positions Me: The Simple Path to Professional Success by Christine Zust, available from the author’s website at

A Handwritten Note? What a Concept!

july-1-2015Celebrate National Handwriting Day – January 23 – by creating several handwritten notes and sending them to people who matter most in your life or who deserve recognition. Sending an email or text doesn’t carry the same power as a handwritten note. When you take the time to express yourself through writing, the recipient appreciates the gesture. Here are some ideas:

Send a letter to your parent(s). I will be sending a short letter to my 95-year-old mother who lives about 70 miles away from me. She enjoys receiving mail, so I like to surprise her occasionally with a handwritten letter. Since she gave me life, she is #1 on my list!

Show appreciation to your main squeeze. My husband, Mark, does so much for me. I will write him a note of thanks and place it on his computer so he finds it in the morning. (I know there is some irony in placing the note on his computer).

Write comments to staff or co-workers. Seeing your handwritten words “Great job” or “I love this idea” on a report or memo, or in a special note or card expressing your thanks means so much to the people who work with you.

Surprise a friend with a card. You may be so caught up in your own life that you may have forgotten the impact that a kind gesture can have on someone else. The sentiment in your card may provide a bright spot in someone else’s otherwise gray day.

Write yourself a note. I’m not talking about a reminder note like “Buy milk”…I’m talking about writing yourself a meaningful note. It can be personal or inspirational. Consider a brief mantra that will keep you focused, like “Share your voice” or “Live joyfully.” Pose a thought-provoking question, like “What positive change are you creating today?” This Japanese proverb sits on my desk:

“One kind word can warm

three winter months.”


National Handwriting Day was created in 1977 by the Writing Instrument Manufacturers Association (WIMA), designed to promote the use of writing instruments like pens, pencils and markers. January 23 was selected for National Handwriting Day because it is the birth date of John Hancock, the first signer of the Declaration of Independence. Hancock never could have imagined that reference to his famous signature would be used in everyday conversation when people often say, “Put your John Hancock on this.”


If you want to learn more about the handwritten note, read Margaret Shepherd’s book, The Art of the Handwritten Note: A Guide to Reclaiming Civilized Communication.

In recognition of National Handwriting Day, who will you be recognizing? Appreciating? Praising? Something that seems so simple – a handwritten note – will position you as thoughtful and appreciative.

Bowie Reminds Us to Reinvent Ourselves

Rock icon David Bowie promotes his Blackstar album

“I heard the news today, oh boy…”

While the world is still reeling from the shocking news of rock and roll legend David Bowie’s passing on Sunday, January 10, his music, his spirit, and his legacy lives on. Examining his 40+ years as a musician, entertainer and trendsetter, his message becomes clear: Reinvent and transform yourself; go beyond what you may think is impossible; be proud of who you are. David Bowie lived it all.

After we dried our tears, my husband Mark and I played “The Best of Bowie” album and danced to Fame and Golden Years in our living room. When Heroes came on, we cranked up the stereo and took a seat to listen to the lyrics. Halfway through the song, the stereo went silent. The amp blew out! We got the message, David.

David-Bowie-737x800David Bowie was a modern day Magellan, exploring the unknown – the Universe, social justice, human relationships. He gave a voice to those who society shunned. We never knew what was coming next. He surprised, delighted and shocked us. As a young British performer in the 1960s, he kicked around London clubs, then morphed into the wildly flamboyant Ziggy Stardust in the 1970s, then transformed into the Thin White Duke. Every step of the way, we craved more.

Mark and I enjoyed every minute of Bowie’s January 7, 2004 concert in Cleveland, Ohio. Donning a crisp white shirt, with collar up of course, tight black pants and spiky golden hair, Bowie walked onto the stage and opened with Rebel, Rebel. The crowd went crazy. His electrifying performance – all 26 songs – was unimaginable for a man who at that time was in his late 50s. He brought the excitement and passion of a younger Bowie to the stage that night. He brought that high energy to every performance.

The internet is buzzing with comments, blog posts and tributes to Bowie. Here are two of my favorites:

Simon Critchley’s eloquent post in The Opinionated. 

Conan O’Brien’s tribute.

No one lived his life more fully than David Bowie. The lyrics of Changes remind us to live every moment in grace and to challenge the norm and even complacency. “Time may change me, but I can’t change time.” Let that be a lesson to us all. How can you live your life with greater purpose and fulfillment? What transformation is waiting for you?


Resolve to Share Your Knowledge

knowledge0This year, rise above the standard resolutions that make you feel better about yourself (lose weight, drink more water, exercise) and do something that will make others feel good about you: Resolve to share your knowledge with co-workers, colleagues, family and friends.

It begins with a simple statement: “I resolve…to share more of my knowledge…with others.” The end result: When you give more, you get more in return.

You have been living in the Information Age for more than two decades now, and yes, people can find information on the Internet with a quick click of the mouse. However, the most meaningful information that you can give (and receive) comes through human contact, old-fashioned face-to-face interpersonal communication.

In your profession, you glean valuable information through your lived experience. That’s something that you cannot find on a spreadsheet or in a PowerPoint presentation. You share that information by telling your story. “When I started at this company ten years ago, we didn’t have a marketing director. Now we are shipping our products to 39 countries worldwide.” It’s that personal information that puts things into perspective for the listener.

Today, there are still some people who choose not to share their knowledge with others because they fear that someone else may assume their position. It sounds something like this: “It took me 25 years to get to where I am in this company. If anyone thinks I’m going to simply share all of my knowledge, well, they’re wrong!” This type of scarcity thinking holds those people back from greater achievement in their career and in life. Imagine the kind of work environment they could create if they became more inclusive and collaborative in their thinking and sharing of information. It positions them as true leaders who want others to succeed. They invest their time sharing their knowledge so that others can perform better on the job. What a concept.

Sharing your knowledge with others positions you as:

*Caring about the success of others

As you think about the tremendous knowledge that you possess, think specifically about the kind of knowledge that you can (and will) share with the people around you. They will appreciate it for two reasons: 1) You have shortened their learning curve or 2) You have given them a critical piece of information that allows them to do their job.

Deliberately holding back information out of fear is so outdated. Share your knowledge with others and see how positively people will respond to you. Your giving will come back to you ten-fold.

Begin with the question: What knowledge can I share with others?