The One thing I Would Say to Every Coaching Client I Have Ever Had
A friend asked me a question that infected my brain like a splinter. It was a ridiculous question that I thought myself smart enough to answer. So I did.
“When you think of all the people you have coached, what’s the one thing you would like to tell them all?”
The question seems ridiculous – leaders are individuals. But in my silly brilliance an answer came to my mind. Answers have never been a problem for me, especially wrong ones.
The one thing I would say to all the coaching clients I have ever had has four parts.
#1. Forget about perfecting any leadership skill.
Corporate knuckleheads need to measure stuff. They need to see how close to perfect they are and how far you fall short. 2+2=4 is perfect. But people aren’t equations.
Track improvement. But…
The idea of measuring something that can always be improved is hilarious.
#2. Strive to develop several leadership skills, but not at the same time.
Working to develop two leadership skills at the same time cuts effectiveness in half. Working on three leadership skills at the same time is a complete waste.
Humility develops one thing. Arrogance works on everything.
#3. Focus on three relevant skills. (See #2 above.)
Perhaps delegating, leading one-on-ones, and managing your calendar seem most relevant. Go for it! Don’t overthink it.
In a month or two, you’ll lose interest in improving your delegating skills. Pat yourself on the back and focus on the next thing.
When you develop one thing, other things improve.
#4. 80% is good enough.
Don’t polish the turd. Develop a skill to 80% and move on. The last 20% isn’t worth it.
How will you know when you’ve reached 80%? Go with your gut.
One thing: Constantly develop yourself. (Maybe the question wasn’t ridiculous.)
What’s the one thing you would say to ALL leaders?
One thing: remember process is product.
My favorite word in the English language is asymptotic. It applies absolutely to leadership.
Thanks always, Dan, for your reminders and ideas. I have all my clients subscribe to you. Leadership vitamins!
Thanks Abigail. I always impressed and depressed when I have to look up words that people leave in comments. 🙂 Enjoy the weekend. And thanks for encouraging people to subscribe. Much appreciated.
Brilliant summary Dan. Here is my take:
1. Courage – doing what needs to be done in the presence of fear. The “doing” being the key word. Think like a scientist, put on a lab coat, take it all as a hypothesis, and if it doesn’t fly, you pivot…and keep that iterative process. Believe that’s not easy to pull off, the iterative process…but, it’s the winning formula in leadership. This is the part we say “It’s about you”
2. Humility – Knowing and accepting that you don’t have all the answers. Be curious. Ask questions. This is the part we say “It’s not about you, it’s about them” Leverage your people.
3. Discipline – doing what needs to be done in spite of your mood/feelings. Feelings have nothing to do with it. Consistency, practice, practice, practice is where the game is won. Discipline in what you may ask. Discipline in showing up with COURAGE and HUMILITY every single day.
That’s my story…
It’s been a while, I hope you’re doing well!
1. Be curious. Seek to understand, rather than judge (
2. Be patient. Train don’t blame.
3. Be kind. Separate the person from the problem.
4. Be open to course correction. Failure is important feedback.
Leaders world do well to apply these mindsets to themselves and to others.
Great seeing you here today, Lori. I’m so glad you dropped in. The combination of curiosity with patience, kindness, and openness seems essential. Wonderful list.
Great post Dan!
“Don’t polish the turd” definitely going to “borrow” that one today.
To all leaders: Perfectionism = Procrastination
Begin before you are ready and focus not on the outomes, but the process. If you only focus on the outcomes or “measurables”, you miss out on the abundant opportunities along the way.
Have a great weekend!
Thanks Joseph. Maybe you shouldn’t say where you got it. 🙂 Perfectionism = Procrastination. Boy, is that true for me. A little more freedom of spirit will take us further than perfectionism. Cheers.
“Perfectionism = Procrastination” – Thank you for that simple and accurate equation. That’s definitely something I am going to “borrow!”
Fantastic advice! I as well recommend you to those whom I influence.
I love how simple you lay out the process.
When challenges arise, go back and look at the process.
Great reminder that we do not have to be perfect and that perfect was never the true intention.
Hey Michael. Thanks for the good word and enjoy the process. 🙂
“Don’t polish the turd” What an image that presents!! And, how correct – 80% is enough to show growth. Great post and absolutely true, each part. Thank you, Dan.
Thanks Cedar. Have a wonderful weekend.
Hi Dan, I’m a long time follower of your blog. I was lucky enough to work for a time for a wise and inspiring man, Stephen, who also followed your blog. He once said: “Perfection is the enemy of good enough.” It has stayed with me ever since.
Thanks Judith and thanks to Stephen for following Leadership Freak. We are so afraid of “good enough.” But when it comes to self-development sometimes good enough is good enough.
Love the post Dan.
My takeaway is allowing myself to focus on one skill at a time. I think sometimes I rush to want to be good at all leadership skills and that most likely takes away from the learning process. To be mindful of developing one skill at a time and working toward 80% feels more realistic! Thank you for all of your information. Your ideas and posts have been helpful for me and my team as I use your information regularly! Take care!
Thanks Tony. My experience with highly aspirational leaders is they try to do too many things at the same time. When something feels good, we are more likely to get it done. When something feels overwhelming, we are more likely to avoid it. Best for the journey.
Recognise when not to lead.
Be willing to be led by others.
Say thank you.
Accept that there will be a time when you are the turd
Thanks Linda. LOL…sometimes you are the turd. 🙂 Brilliant.
Let others lead. One of the ideas up for grabs on this post was to realize that many people on the team are ready before you think they are. Let them lead.
LOL, “we can’t polish a Turd”, so that wipes out “Perfectionism”.
Just remember for leader we all have a part in the Universe. So let them have the reigns and stand back, with practice comes polish. Happy Friday…:-)
Too funny Tim. Maybe perfectionist need a clean start.
Dan, Maybe, I heard it’s “a total wipeout”! Cheers my friend!
I connect to your messages. I LOVE this one. However, I always find myself reading them and agreeing with them and not having any clue of how to utilize them as an elementary school administrator…everything here is communicated to us as a polar opposite of successful school leadership, unless you show the test scores…which doesn’t always happen and doesn’t happen quickly.
It is going to require a huge leap of faith on how I have been trained and what I observe, which is OK because that is not working out for me either. Thank you.
Thanks JF. Some things are easily measured. 2+2, for example. But when it comes to skills that can constantly be improved, only progress can be measured.
When it comes to leading or teaching, there are table stakes. You need to be able to do XYZ at a reasonable level just to play. But the principle of constant improvement says that progress is more important than where you started, as long as your starting place is acceptable.
When we are incompetent, active intervention seems appropriate. Training, for example.
You’re the expert on test scores and where they may or may not be appropriate. I wonder where measuring progress is enough, when it applies to education?
When it comes to leadership development the only thing to measure is progress. (Just some thoughts. Thanks for the inspiration.)
Thanks to this team for the replies to Dan’s post today. I am benefitted by this conversation today!
Me to Jenny. 🙂
One thing: Leaders need to listen. Plain and simple.
Leadership is about relationships and people. On average, though, 85% of problems are due to processes not people. So, focus on improving processes and establishing meaningful relationships with people.