Height & Light Blog

Play by a different set of rules

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Dirty Word #1: Forgiveness

One of the biggest jokes I've ever heard in organizational life comes in the form of this innocuous statement: It's nothing personal, it's just business. Of course, this comment usually follows one of the following: We're going with your competitor. We've turned down...

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What matters in the First 90 Days

Recently, I was on hand for a CEO's first day on the job. He steps in to lead a $400+ international consulting firm. He asked a small group of his senior people a very important question: Starting today, what do you think is most important for me to do over the next...

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What my son taught me in piano lessons

Do you ever wonder why, despite your best efforts, people you coach don't get any better? I do. My son helped me learn part of the answer in our piano lessons recently. First, some background: I grew up taking piano lessons. I was lucky enough to have a top-notch...

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Which school should we send them to?

I overheard a conversation this weekend that got me thinking. My wife and I were enjoying a leisurely meal at Julius Meinl, a fantastic Austrian cafe in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago. I didn't mean to eavesdrop on the two young women next to me, but I couldn't...

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Getting Unstuck

Coach long enough, and you'll likely find yourself in a situation like this: You've helped someone identify a compelling vision of the future. They say they want to change. They even make faltering steps forward. But when you step back and look at it, you know deep...

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Turning the Tables

I was reading a piece by my colleague, Dave Wondra, on coaching recently and it struck a cord. Dave, a master coach, was writing while sitting in his favorite pickup truck, watching his daughter's soccer team practice. He realized that she has improved at soccer...

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Turning Wolves into Sheep Dogs

Not too long ago, a client asked a challenging question: We have some professionals we want to coach, but they refuse to engage. They're lone wolves. How do we get them to participate in our mentoring process? OK, first the obvious. I've written in a previous post...

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Are You Provoking Change?

If you hang in there and coach someone for any length of time, you'll reach a moment where you're completely frustrated with the pace of change. You will feel like you have banged your head against a wall and it just won't budge. The person is stuck, frozen. And you...

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Feedback Anxiety

Quick quiz: How many professionals go out of their way to get feedback? I don't have a scientific answer to this question, but here's my very strong experience-based hunch: very, very few! Part of my standard coaching approach includes setting up consistent feedback...

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Tough Feedback

And now for some of the most challenging parts of coaching a colleague: the tough feedback conversation. Let's face it, this is why so many of us don't like to coach. It's bad enough that you're investing in someone who may or may not make dramatic progress. It...

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The Dog Ate My Homework

In a recent post, I talked about using homework assignments to gain traction when coaching a colleague. A while back, a client asked me this question: What do you do when the person you're coaching hasn't done their homework? This client of mine is an immensely...

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Gaining Traction

Do you ever feel like you're working harder than the person you're coaching? Like you thought they were committed to taking an action and somewhere between your conversations, their tires slipped? Don't despair and don't give up. Anyone who has coached for more than a...

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