Tag Archives: business leadership coaching

Why Hire a Coach Chris Ruisi

Why Use a Coach?

Coaching is about growing and moving forward through changes in behavior. Many people can offer advice, however very few can coach, and even fewer can move you forward. Almost daily I witness so-called coaches who paid to be certified, but have little if any practical real-time experience. They like to call themselves a coach, but have no clue as to how serious their role will be. And what the implications could be to the individual who believes their canned message and engages them.

A coach must earn the right to be your trusted guide, with whom you can share your hopes and aspirations in confidence that he/she will meet your needs by:

  1. Holding you accountable.
  2. Guiding you to develop and refine your ideas.
  3. Being a resource by sharing a wealth of business growth strategies.
  4. Providing you with the contacts you need.
  5. Giving you a perspective from the outside, looking in.

Business today is a race for growth and efficiency. It’s a race with few rules. Why try to forge your own path through the thick undergrowth of trial and error, traditional thinking, and lack of information and exhaust yourself far short of the finish line? Invest in yourself with a coach…but, the right coach. I hope my video will help you make this important decision.

 

Chasing Success – It’s That Time Again

It’s that time again. You know that time that happens every year around now when we start to think about what worked and what didn’t; and what we need to do in the coming year to achieve business success. Here are 10 tips you can use to help give you the edge going into next year: Continue reading

It’s Never About You; It’s Always About Your Team

The success of your company hinges on many factors. Some of these factors you can control, while there are others that you have to react/respond to. One of the most important factors of success – that you can control completely – is your team. Specifically, how you select, develop, utilize, and measure them. To me, these four functions represent one of a leader’s key strategic responsibilities. To get the discussion started, let me offer five topics (there are more than five, but we need to start somewhere) that need your ongoing attention: Continue reading

Don’t Get Too “Content” – It Can Be the Beginning of the End

Leaders who choose to “Step Up and Play Big” have two important and common characteristics. First, they regularly question the “status quo”. The second is that they recognize that their habits define them and, as such, they are always looking for ways to enhance existing habits and learn new ones to help them elevate their game. By striving to elevate their game, they are able to use their full capabilities and continue to move forward.

The reason that successful leaders challenge themselves to question the status quo and strive to keep moving forward, is that when one gets “content”, it’s a surefire way to put the brakes on any future success they might achieve. Why? Simple really: success is a dynamic concept and never a permanent destination or status. To properly maintain it, or build upon it, requires action.

When you achieve one level of success, it’s okay to celebrate what you’ve accomplished. In fact, I would urge you to do so! You’ve earned it; you worked hard to achieve it. However, some folks either keep on celebrating or decide that they can now “ease up.” When this happens, it’s just a matter of time before they lose their focus, purpose, passion, and drive – and that’s when the “beginning of the end” starts.

As I stated, success is never a “permanent” status. You work hard to achieve a certain level of success within your company, industry, or profession. Once you get to that level, you have to keep working hard or harder to stay at that level. Some folks think that they can stop doing the “things” that made them successful – like:

  • They stop reading or learning about their industry or company.
  • They allow their leadership skills to get stale.
  • They don’t think it’s necessary to plan as well as they did before.
  • They start to accept less from themselves and others.
  • Their communications get sloppy; they don’t pay as much attention to them now since they achieved their “goal”.

Leadership Quotes from Chris RuisiThe list of mistakes goes on and on – the end result is they lose their edge, and sadly, it’s a result of their own actions or lack thereof. They mistakenly think that they have nothing further to prove. After all, “they’ve made it!” Well, let me share with you the following: if you like the view from the top of the mountain, you have to work even harder to stay there! If you fall into the trap of getting too content, you better improve your listening skills to hear the footsteps of the next leader who is closing in on you to take that view from the top away from you!

So what can a leader do to avoid this “too content trap”? Here are some important leadership qualities to consider…

First, they must make certain that they have a vision for where they want to go. In addition, they have to update it based upon what has been achieved so that it is not only current, but also relevant. Addressing their vision is an excellent example of questioning the status quo.

Next, with an updated and relevant vision, they need to develop new plans to make the vision a reality. This means doing the same things they did that made them a success in the first place.

Finally, to keep themselves on a consistent learning curve, successful leaders are always looking for every opportunity to learn from their past experiences – both good ones and not so good ones, and to apply that knowledge to their current challenges. Every team – especially the champions – watches their game films to learn something about their performance. They then use that knowledge to prepare for their next game. The great teams are the ones who focus exclusively on learning what they need to do to get better.

Getting better is a constant goal of every successful leader. If you want to avoid falling into the trap of getting too content and resting on your past achievements, make “getting better” your driving purpose.

How to Know When You’re Not Having Fun as the Leader

Each of us in a leadership position get to carry the brunt of the problems and challenges we face every day. In most cases, we serve as the “buffer” between the problems and our teams. Once we have confronted the problem, we have to sift through the emotion and clutter that comes with it to determine what caused it and – more importantly – how to solve it while still doing everything else you’re supposed to do! Events like this are usually classified as “having a bad day”. Working through and managing bad days comes with the territory if you are a leader, but when the number of those bad days start to take place on an ever-increasing basis and the severity intensifies, you’re then experiencing days that “you don’t want to go to work”.

Leadership quote Chris Ruisi

However, as a good leader you pick yourself up and go to work on those days even though you really don’t want to be there. You fool yourself into thinking that “it’s what you have to do”. Now you’re no longer having fun and your day-to-day activities can be summarized by any one or all of the following:

  • there is never enough time; you feel your work is never done; you experience “endless days”.
  • you are easily distracted, frustrated, and agitated.
  • you are busy making no progress and you do not have a good sense of how you are doing.
  • you feel that you have no control over what the outcome will be.
  • everything seems harder to do and you are the only one doing it; you are putting too much pressure on yourself to get everything done.

If you’re experiencing any of these five symptoms (and hopefully only one, but more than likely you’re experiencing most of them), it’s time to come to a complete stop and put yourself in a time out! You need to give yourself some time to catch your breath and think about what you are doing versus what you “should” be doing. Why? Because if you don’t stop the madness, you’ll “burn out” physically and emotionally, and run yourself – and your business – into the ground permanently.

With the possibility of the demise of your business staring you in the face, you should consider taking all of these key steps:

  1. You need to have a clear direction of where you want to go. In other words, you need a vision. With a well-constructed vision, you not only have a direction, you have a purpose. With direction and purpose, you are better able to decide what you need to do and when to do.
  2. From your vision, you then need to put together a weekly plan – not just a “to do” list. Many over-worked leaders mistakenly think that managing their list is their salvation. Wrong! Managing their priorities is the goal. With a vision, direction and purpose it’s easier to regain control and work on the right things at the right time.
  3. Time to sharpen your delegation skills and start sharing the work that you’re doing with those on your team who have the skills and knowledge to perform the tasks correctly. If their skills are lacking, do two things. First give them smaller tasks of a larger project to work on. Smaller tasks minimize the risk of errors and mistakes. The second thing you need to do is to put training in place so that they acquire the right skills and knowledge so they can continue to take on more responsibility.
  4. Next, spend some time with your team to make sure that they understand their roles; what’s required; why they do what they do; where it fits in; and how they contribute to the company’s results. When your team understands the “why” of what they do, they have a purpose and structure. This will positively impact their motivation, engagement and performance.
  5. Lastly, once a week schedule a one-hour appointment with yourself. That’s right, just with you – no e-mails, phone calls, or distractions. During this “self-meeting” review your weekly plan and progress; make adjustments if needed and then spend some time on a task that only you can – and should – handle. Preferably, something that falls into the category of working “on” your business.

All of these steps are key parts of the plan you need to get you back in control – you know, to become a master of your circumstances as opposed to being a victim – unless you like not having fun. The choice is yours.

Can You Become Obsolete? You Bet You Can!

It starts out slowly and goes unnoticed for a while. At some point, it begins to show itself. Others notice it first. Nobody says anything about it. Unchecked and ignored, it starts to gain a stronger hold on its victim – an executive who doesn’t realize that the ever-increasing challenges and problems that are surfacing in his organization have their root cause within him. At first the executive denies or doesn’t know what’s happening. Unfortunately, unless decisive action is taken, the executive will eventually lose control of his organization and like a swimmer caught in a violent rip tide, he will find it difficult to fight any longer or remain afloat and ultimately goes under.

The scenario I just described is what happens when an executive becomes obsolete and is no longer able to effectively contribute to his organization or lead his team. How and why does this happen?

Executives today are constantly making decisions on a full range of “changing” problems and challenges affecting their organizations. That’s their job: to adapt, stay ahead of the curve, and get results. To be successful in this role requires that the individual possess some basic abilities but, that’s not enough and unfortunately the road to becoming obsolete starts when the executive thinks that their basic skills are all that they need – and they do nothing to add to them.

Leadership obsolescence quote from Chris RuisiI can remember several occasions in my past where a decision had to be made about an executive’s status because he or she was no longer able to meet the demands of their position (in some cases as a subsidiary CEO) because they allowed themselves (and their skills) to fall far “behind the curve” of what was needed to be effective. In some cases, the gap was so great, the executive had become obsolete, and the decision as to what to do about it was painfully obvious.

The depth and breadth of skills an executive needs in order to continue to successfully meet the challenges of an ever changing and demanding work environment must be constantly evaluated for him or her to remain effective. Likewise, their role must be periodically evaluated to make certain it meets the needs of the company’s growth objectives. This role “review” may also identify additional skill or learning needs for the incumbent executive to address.

What frequently adds to the executives “knowledge and skills” challenge is the extent of the use of technology within their organizations (which is usually managed by technicians with highly specialized skills that report to the executive). In reality, the executive cannot know all of the detailed “ins and outs” of what these highly skilled technicians do. He should however have a good understanding of the general process they follow, why they do it, and what the desired (and measurable) outcome of their efforts is supposed to be. In most cases, this identifies a different learning opportunity for the executive, but a learning opportunity none the less.

With all of this as background, what should be done to prevent an executive from becoming obsolete? For starters let’s look at the warning signs or symptoms. For this to work, you have to be painfully honest with yourself. Take a look at what I have listed below and if you can circle at least three of them, that should serve as a “yellow” caution flag. If you circle more than three, then immediate corrective action is needed.

Signs that you may be on the road to obsolescence include…

(Circle all those that apply)

  • You are losing control of your operations.
  • Your vision, if one exists is no longer relevant and outdated.
  • You are “surprised” missed deadlines.
  • You’re the last to hear about a problem.
  • Everyone knows and understands more about an issue than you do.
  • You become reluctant to offer suggestions because you have started to doubt your abilities.
  • There are team performance issues related to confusion about your expectations (or lack thereof).
  • There is an increase in personal frustration and emotional exhaustion.
  • You have a constant feeling that you are spinning your wheels.
  • You realize that nothing that worked well in the past works now.

Next, as soon as you identify that blind spots in your knowledge and skills exist, act on it. Don’t put it off. Take the blind spots and put them into specific categories to help identify what corrective action needs to be taken in the form of a personal learning program. For example:

  • Does the need fall into a leadership skills category where improvement is needed in things like delegation, communication, listening, setting expectations, building trust, etc. There are more than enough excellent sources for you to get help
  • Or, are the blind spots related to changing trends in your marketplace or industry. The solution may mean getting involved in an industry trade group or association. Or, part of your solution may be to start your own personal reading program to help you stay abreast of industry trends and changes. Forget trying to read at work! Set aside an hour or two per week – without distractions – to stay current on your reading. You don’t have to watch that rerun of your favorite movie every time it is on TV.
  • Find a mentor who can help you stay on course; one who you can brainstorm with and who can offer additional suggestions to help you grow. This is too important for you to try and tackle on your own.
  • Conduct regular meetings with your team to review current activities, current or future challenges, and how they will be addressed. Open and frequent communication is an excellent way to get the entire team focusing on what needs to be done to stay relevant.

Bottom line is that to avoid obsolescence you must be willing to question your own status quo; be painfully honest when you identify that a change is needed and then embrace that change. The competitive demands of your marketplace are always changing. If you don’t change (in terms of your knowledge and skills) to meet these challenges, you will become obsolete.

Leadership Is a Team Sport

Apply These Five Simple Steps to Boost Your Team’s Performance

Throughout the majority of my corporate career, I was always in a leadership position with my team depending on me to do the right thing to help them function. That’s right, “help them function”. A leader is only as good as the team they assemble, develop, and lead (not manage). Of these three critical issues, “assemble, develop, and lead”, the most important one is “develop”. Why? Because if you don’t invest the time needed to develop your team and help them create the right work behaviors or habits, they will form their own which I guarantee will not be the right ones! Plus, if you properly develop your team, you will tangibly demonstrate your genuine interest in them. When you are “genuine”, you earn the trust and respect from your team. Earning that trust and respect, will make it easier for you to lead them. In fact, they will want your leadership.

Chris Ruisi Leadership QuoteThe following five steps will help you boost your team’s performance. I learned them over the years from my successes and mistakes (and there was a bunch of them!). So, when you are challenged to elevate the performance of your team, think about one or all of these five steps:

  1. Always set a minimum level of performance and refuse to accept anything below it. Make certain everyone knows and understands what this minimum is.
  2. Invest the time needed training your team so that they have a clear understanding of what needs to be done, how it needs to be done, when it needs to be done, and why it needs to be done. No one covers the “what, how, when, and why” properly. You be the one who does, and then stand back and watch your team perform.
  3. Make sure that your team understand the consequences of their performance when they meet or exceed your expectations, as well as when performance falls below your standards. This will help them understand the “why” better.
  4. Recognize good performance as soon as possible after it has occurred. We spend too much time pointing out errors and mistakes. While corrections need to be made, spend the same amount of time acknowledging a “job well done.” When you do this, you are encouraging the team member to do the right thing again.
  5. Spend the time getting to know each of your team members and listen to their concerns and suggestions – this will again demonstrate to them who you are and how you lead – this will add to the level of trust they have in you.

So there you have it – five simple steps, that when executed properly and consistently, will have a significant positive effect on your team’s performance.

How do you boost your team’s performance? Let me know – maybe it can be added to this list.

Your Business Is You – Is that a Good or Bad Thing?

Let’s be clear; effective leaders know that working “On” Your Business really means working on “You”

We have all heard about the importance of differentiating between working “on” your business versus working “in” your business. The concept is often discussed when I am presenting to business leaders as a business motivational speaker. Heck, I use this statement in much of my work as a business coach with my clients. However, I am quick to point out that when an owner or leader gets better, their business automatically follows and also improves. So, you are your business and your business is you. But, is that always a good thing? Let’s look at some indicators that will help you answer the question for you and your business. Okay, you know the drill – answer the question based on reality, not what you might “hope” it would be.

  1. Do you find that during any particular week you waste time and money and still miss opportunities?
  2. Do you find yourself involved in a fair amount of “fire-fighting” and moving from crisis to crisis?
  3. Are you very busy, running from task to task and meeting to meeting but still see no measurable progress being made?
  4. Are you pulled in multiple directions at the same time with little or no time for you?
  5. Do your employees require constant follow-up; do what they want, when they want regardless of what you want them to do?
  6. Do you, today, still have the same passion about what you do as when you first started?

Click here to get your business back on track with tips from executive coach, Chris RuisiIf you answered “yes” to at least two of these questions, then your professional life (and maybe even your personal life) can best be described in the following way – “the bad news is you’re lost but the worse news is you’re making great time”. If you have a team depending on you, this type of situation will dampen any attempts to either properly delegate to them; set performance expectations or boost the team’s performance.

You are at a critical crossroads and you can’t stand there too long trying to determine which way to go. The choices are clear – accept the status quo, curl up into a complacent ball and accept the fact that you will forever be a victim of the circumstances you created. That’s right! You created! Often when one accepts this type of status quo, they are laying the groundwork for a future crisis. I remember discussing this point in a Managing Crisis presentation I gave to a medical management group when they hired me as a professional keynote speaker for their conference.

The other choice you can make, at the crossroads I mentioned, is to change the status quo and create a “new” reality and start down that road of becoming a “master” of the circumstances (and opportunities) that you create. That’s right you create!

You’re the only one who can make this decision. To help you, let’s get some brilliant advice from the wisest man I know – Yogi Berra. One of Yogi’s most famous statements is “when you come to a fork in the road, take it”. Here’s what Yogi meant by this brilliant tidbit of advice. According to Yogi (taken from his book with the same title) ”people are always afraid of making the wrong choice. But no matter what decision you make…you shouldn’t look back. Trust your instincts”. Yogi went on to say, “Make a firm decision. Make sure it feels right…don’t second guess yourself. But on big life decisions, get advice if you can”.

Bottom line; accept responsibility for your career (and life). If you don’t like where you are, then do something about it, now. Determine where you want to be; create your plan and take action and implement it, one step at a time. Click here to find the solutions for the questions I asked you at the very beginning of this post. Then, take the next step and contact me.

Leadership – Let Me Give It To You As Straight As I Can

Becoming an effective leader demands hard work and commitment on your part

In two past blog posts on leadership, I shared with you a number of key traits that are common among effective leaders. In the first post entitled (“No trust = No Leader”, and “7 Steps to Make Leadership Simple”). When combined, these two posts covered a great deal of territory found on the leadership landscape.

 

If you’re like me, you recognize that becoming an effective leader demands hard work and commitment. It requires more than just reading but actual “doing” and learning from your experiences. Sometimes when we are in the “doing” mode we forget some of what we have read and then realize after the dust settles that there was a different or additional technique that you should have tried. At times like this, I wish that I had a “pocket reminder” so that when it gets confusing I would have a simple guide to help me. Having said this, I am not suggesting that there is either a simple or “one size fits all” approach to developing your leadership style. As I said several lines up – “becoming an effective leader demands hard work and commitment on your part. It requires more than just reading but actual “doing” and learning from your experiences”. But, if a simple pocket reminder helps you on your leadership development journey, then so be it; as the title of this post reads, “let me give it to you as straight as I can”.

I looked back over my 35+ years of corporate experience and every leadership position I have held and have come up with these five traits that, when all else failed, helped get the leadership job done each time:
  • Listening
  • Being in the game 100% of the time
  • Preparation
  • Have an open mind
  • Challenge the team

Here’s some additional info that will help you understand better how to apply them to your style.

Listening – one of the most important standards I set for any team I lead was that it was impossible for them to “over-communicate” with me. I let my teams know that I hated surprises and that I would let them know when they gave me too much detail. I wanted my team to get into the habit of telling me all that they could. In this way I could keep my eye on how we were doing on achieving the vision and goals I had set. At this point, you might be thinking that my approach was a classic case of “TMI” (too much info) and micro managing. Nothing could be further from the truth! I found that when my team could see that I was genuinely interested in what they had to say, the quality of their communications improved. They also knew their role and where they fit in to the big picture – i.e. the vision. This also improved the quality and timeliness of their communications to me. As for micro managing, unless it was absolutely necessary, I never told them what to do. Rather, I asked them to show me how they would do it. Always be listening.

Being in the game 100% of the time – wherever I was, regardless of the topic or situation, I was there 100% or as some would say, “I was in the present”. Nothing would distract me from the task at hand. Some would say “Come on Chris, get real! All leaders have lots on their mind”. That’s true but multi tasking at the wrong time can be “multi dumb”! Missing one key element in a situation could prove to be a disastrous surprise later on. And guess who would be responsible for it? You! Another reason you want to be “in the moment” is the example you set. If your team sees you as being 100% involved, then they will act the same way. This will improve communications and productivity. Be in the game 100% of the time.

Preparation – this is the simplest of all leadership traits to develop, yet it is the one that most “would be leaders” fail to properly address. The ability to prepare is one of the most important habits you can develop, nurture and maintain. You would be amazed at how simple things become when you take the time to prepare for what needs to be done. For example, knowing what you want to achieve in the simplest terms possible; the resources you will need and where and when to get them; knowing what each person’s role will be and so on. These might seem like a lot of things to do but if it helps you be successful, isn’t the time needed to prepare a worthwhile investment? Do you start your meetings by just walking in and trying to wing it? Or, do you either publish an agenda in advance or ask for one to be published, that states what will be discussed and the goals to be achieved? Without the necessary preparation you will be doomed to doing things over and over again until you get it right. This approach costs you money, time and leadership credibility. Be Prepared.

Have an open mind – I found that I was most effective when I would try to identify other relevant options. It was my job to choose the right option or course. To do that, I had to keep an open mind to all of the factors involved, some of which I initially might not be aware of. By keeping an open mind, I was also able to be effective in another key leadership role – staying ahead of other potential problems. By looking at the options, I could see which might cause other issues down the road. This at least gave me a chance to develop a plan to deal with these if I took that particular path. While I knew that keeping an open mind was important, I also knew that at some point I had to make a decision to keep us moving forward. Keeping an open mind to all options, does not mean you have to listen or act on all of them. To do so could literally paralyze you. I knew that as a leader, I had to make things happen. By keeping an open mind, I was better able to consider the most important factors to help me make a decision with incomplete or not so perfect data. Keep an open mind, but don’t let it paralyze you.

Challenge the team – the first, and one of the most influential business mentor I had, was a gentleman named George Hoffacker. He had the unique ability through reflective questions, to challenge me to find the answers on my own. When I was stumped, he challenged me to identify the resources that would help me keep moving forward. To this day, I believe that his leadership approach to me – to challenge to be better – laid the foundation for many of the successes I experienced in my career. He was always there to help me or guide me but, most importantly, he helped me learn the real measure of my full capabilities. During our discussions, again through reflective questions, he also helped me learn to deal with any obstacles or barriers I might face. He showed me that the solutions to my challenges were well within my grasp. While he could have easily told me what to do, he knew that approach would “short change me” in terms of my executive development. From my experiences with him, I created one of my own leadership approaches – when my team member wanted to see me about a “problem” there was one of two ground rules they had to follow. First, they had to be able to tell me what they had tried (that did not work) to solve the challenge. Or, secondly, they had to come in with recommended courses of action they wanted to brainstorm with me before they took action. This approached helped me to help my teams learn how to think and see their full capabilities which in turn positively impacted their professional growth as well as the growth of the business. A quote that I recently came across says it best “Leadership involves inspiring others to be greater than they believe they can be; to help them see how they can exceed their own self-expectations”.

So, what should you do now? Simple…conduct your own self examination to evaluate how well you are leading your team. Ask yourself how well you stack up against these 5 points.

Conducting this type of business self analysis can be challenging. Sometimes it’s hard to be objective when you are looking at yourself and your job performance. Not sure where to start? Let me give you the answer – call me. Let me help you create the plan that gets you the best results in the most reasonable timeframe. Maybe we can discuss how I can help you through a leadership coaching program or through some focused executive coaching. Whatever we do, it will be designed to teach you how to improve your leadership skills and, at the same time, improve your company’s profitability by boosting your team’s performance.