The Coach's Corner

Archive for the ‘Sharpening Your Personal Leadership Skills’ Category

Buckingham’s 8 Questions

December 11th, 2017 // Tom Doescher // 0 Comments

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

Those of you who personally know me or have been reading my blogs are aware that I have highly recommended using the 12 questions found in the book  First, Break All the Rules, by Marcus Buckingham. This summer, I heard Buckingham speak, and discovered he has pared his 12 questions down to eight (fewer is always better).

During his presentation, he explained that some of the original 12 questions were focused on the company, while others pertained to the team member. He went on to say that the best employers encourage their team leaders to really understand their team members’ point of view.  In reviewing and reorganizing his original 12 questions, Buckingham classified half of the questions (four) as company-focused; the other half address the individual team member. Then, he paired up the questions and categorized them: Purpose, Excellence, Support, and Future.

View the Buckingham 8 Questions Chart.

As with the 12 questions, I would highly encourage leaders/supervisors to use the Buckingham 8 Questions as a tool for career planning sessions (annual reviews) and/or as a gut check to make sure you’re thinking about questions from your team members’ point of view.

Anger: A Secondary Emotion

November 13th, 2017 // Tom Doescher // 1 Comment

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

OK, I’m a little out of my field of expertise, but I believe I can speak as someone who has received some great professional counseling. Years ago when I was promoted to a new job that resulted in more responsibility, I noticed that I would become angry more often. I wasn’t the happy-go-lucky Tommy of the past, and there were times when my reaction was disproportionate to the situation/problem at hand. To be honest, I blew up.

Fortunately, before I caused too much damage and embarrassment, I received some really wise counsel:

Anger is usually your second emotion. For me, I discovered the primary issue behind my anger is often frustration. Here’s a link to a wonderful one-page write-up and a helpful chart.

I keep this chart in my daily journal and refer to it often. If you can relate to my story, I would recommend you do the same.

Once I understood what was going on, the counselor suggested that I deal with issues — usually people — along the way, to avoid escalation. Here’s an example: Say someone on your team has an annoying habit or practice that bothers you and the team. Too often, no one tells that team member how they’re feeling about the habit or practice until it becomes a monumental issue, at which point the team member becomes the target of an angry outburst. I learned — and am still refining — the practice of healthy confrontation, or speaking the truth in love.

Over the years, I’ve discovered that if I keep short accounts — in other words, deal with little things before they become big things — I avoid the atomic explosion.

How about you? Can you relate?

LifeMission: Do You Know Where You’re Going?

October 30th, 2017 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

Successful executives know where they’re going, stay focused, and have an uncanny ability to know when to say “NO.” They may not use these exact words, but they’re operating off a LifeMission. They’ve discovered there’s limited unscheduled time and know their current “Season of Life.” The following thoughts are meant to help you develop your own unique game plan.

 Step 1  What’s Your Destination?

Reflect on these rhetorical questions:

  1. How do you know you’re on the right road if you don’t know where you’re going?
  2. When you’re sitting in your rocking chair in the twilight of your life, what would you like to look back at?
  3. If you were writing your own eulogy, what would you like it to say?

Step 2 — Realize That Time is a Limited Resource

Many resources can be increased through hard work, good investing, inheritance, and even luck — but time is a finite resource. We all get 24 hours each day. Have you ever thought about how you spend your time? Download the Doescher Advisors “How I Spend My Time” tool, which will provide a simple way to reflect upon your time commitments (you don’t need to fill it out!).

Step 3 — What “Season of Life” are You In?

Reflect on the following questions:

  1. Are you still in school? Are you going back to school?
  2. Are you married? Do you have children? Are your children still minors? Do your children live with you? Are you a single parent? If so, what is your support system? Are you coaching sports teams or do you have some other commitment related to your children (i.e., PTA)?
  3. If you’re married with children, do both spouses work outside of the home?
  4. How demanding is your job? Is it 24/7? Does your work require travel outside of your home city?
  5. Are you involved in outside organizations (i.e., charities, service clubs, a neighborhood association)?
  6. Do you attend church? Do you have other commitments/responsibilities related to church? Do you belong to a social or athletic club? Are you involved on the board or on a committee? What other responsibilities, hobbies, or activities do you have? Do you travel recreationally?
  7. Do you have responsibilities for aging parents, adult children, or others?
  8. Do you have a regular exercise program and/or participate in golf, tennis, fishing, hunting, etc.?

In developing your LifeMission, you need to consider what’s important to you now — and realize that may change over the years.

LifeMission Summary

In a survey of 95-year-olds, Dr. Tony Campolo, a professor of sociology, asked them, “What would you do differently with your life if you could live it over?” Many responded: “We would reflect more, risk more, and invest in people more.”

With their advice in mind, begin the process of developing your LifeMission.

  • Think about “How I Spend My Time” and reflect upon your current “Season of Life.”
  • If you’ve ever used any assessment tools, consider and incorporate your identified strengths.
  • Brainstorm key words, thoughts, and themes.
  • Format isn’t important. We’ve evolved from words to a graphical representation of our LifeMission.
  • Like strategic planning, your LifeMission is an ongoing process.
  • Be accountable to someone.
  • Just do it!

Why Don’t They Read My Email?

September 18th, 2017 // Tom Doescher // 4 Comments

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

This is a common complaint I hear from senior executives. Over the years, I’ve received well-written communications (I will use this label to include emails, memos, texts, tweets, letters and all other written messages), as well as poorly composed ones. I notice that I always read the good ones and often skip the others. Here are a few tips I’ve accumulated over the years to help improve readership:

  1. First of all, why am I sending this communication? Should I? Often, I decide not to send the message after all.
  2. Pace your communications — or, maybe I should say, limit your communications. Avoid the “another email from Tom” reaction.
  3. Would I read my own communication?
  4. Make sure the subject line or the opening sentence is intriguing and/or catchy.
  5. Be brief, and be succinct. So many people seem to think longer is better, but that’s not the case. It often takes more time to be precise, but your readership will go up.
  6. Use bullets, headings and a lot of white space, so readers can scan the material more easily.
  7. Re-read your draft communication multiple times, to make sure it’s clear.
  8. Create an environment where your readers get something. Give them a tip, or some nugget of information that will help them be more successful.
  9. If you’re asking a question, make sure the reader(s) know you’re looking for a response.
  10. When appropriate, slip in a little humor (this is tricky; using sarcasm and/or referring to inside jokes can backfire and go horribly wrong).
  11. Assume your communication may be forwarded. I always ask the question, “What if my communication ended up in The Wall Street Journal?”

Hopefully, these suggestions will improve your readership. As you know, we’re all being bombarded with so many communications on a myriad of devices — and much of it is, indeed, junk mail. When your name appears, you want your readers to give your message priority status. I believe they will if you invest the time before hitting “send.”

To “Type A” Executives: You Might Think You Can Do It All, But…

September 4th, 2017 // Tom Doescher //

Tom Doescher - Doescher Advisors

One of my favorite Frank Moran stories occurred when I was in my early 40s and Frank was in his 70s. Both of us were members of the Birmingham Athletic Club (actually, Frank was one of the founding members).

One evening I was standing in front of my locker after a long day, having a debate with myself about whether or not to exercise. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a flash go by. It dawned on me that it was Frank. His appearance put an end to my debate.

After I was dressed but before going into the gym, I went over to Frank’s locker to say hello. As always, a huge Irish smile lit up his face and he greeted me warmly.

I said to him, “Frank, where do you get all the energy?” Without thinking about it, he looked me straight in the eyes and responded, “What makes you think I have a lot of energy?”

That few-second exchange made a lasting impact on me.

I am venturing out of my professional field here (I admit I’m not a psychologist!), but I’m telling you what I and others have experienced. Some of us are so driven, and our minds think we’re still 18 years old. Unfortunately, both physically and emotionally, we’re much older than that. After so many years, sometimes our “young” minds drive us to exhaustion and/or burnout.

Having been burned out more than once, my advice to you is to give some serious thought as to what you can realistically accomplish/achieve in a healthy way. I’m not saying you should lower the bar, but I am suggesting that you try to be honest with yourself. It will save you from a lot of pain, as well as possible embarrassment and regrets.

I think the saying “Act your age” may fit here.

The Advisor’s Corner

Tom DoescherYou’ll find stories from the trenches, business lessons, and pertinent questions to help you find inspiration, professional growth, and leadership savvy.