Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Coaching VS Consulting - Do You Know the Difference?

by M. Phoenix Djukic

Executive business coaches and business consultants provide two distinctly different benefits for the executives, entrepreneurs, professionals, and leadership teams.

Consultants are normally hired for one of two reasons: either as a means of "outsourcing" specific functions or to access a body of knowledge and expertise not generally available within the company. Consulting also tends to focus on organizational issues of considerable scope.

Business and executive coaching, by comparison, is highly personalized and aims at enhancing the performance of individuals or perhaps small teams. Whereas consulting is largely informational, coaching is heavily motivational and is a path of self-discovery.

Consultants focus primarily on externals — processes and activities that outsiders can observe and monitor. Coaches have a deeper agenda, commonly probing the client's inner world to examine the self-created barriers, dramatically increasing their effectiveness as a leader and inspire them to bold action and breakthrough results.

To put this another way, companies hire business consultants to bring them solutions. Coaches are hired to help people uncover and implement their strengths and barriers to success. Both coaches and consultants help you build the business you want.

Consulting VS Coaching:
The Difference at a Glance

Even when one person is the main client contact, the consultant usually works with more than one person, often in a team, group, board, or department
Works on a one-to-one basis; may coach more than one person in an organization, individually
Structures projects for specific deliverable or result, which the consultant is primarily responsible for
Supports the client to achieve her or his own result or outcome
Usually problem-focused, i.e., identifies and tries to correct problems or weaknesses
Builds on the client's strengths
Regarded as the "expert" who will solve problems (the magic bullet)
Enables the client to solve problems or change things for the better
Consultant brings technical expertise to advise on solutions
Coach brings relationship expertise to support the client's solutions
If behavior change is needed, consultant generally does not get involved in it
A focus on individual and interpersonal dynamics supports behavior change
Gathers data and reports on what needs to be done
Facilitates growth
Time-limited; generally short-term and project-oriented results
Occurs over a period of time that generally involves renewable contracts; focused on long-term results
Provides information
Promotes self-discovery
Goals generally related to programs and funding
Values-based goal setting
Requires limited commitment from client to implement
Maximizes client's commitment to implement solutions

A professional consultant or coach can design a program specific to your organization’s need, using both consultant and coach to optimize performance and outcomes for individual executives and for the organization.  With a plan in place, both the leaders and the company grow.

M. Phoenix Djukic is an Executive Coach and Group Faciliator for Certified Impact LLC, a boutique consulting / coaching / training firm with offices in Chicago IL and Santa Barbara CA. The founder/owner of Life Dynamics, she brings over 20 years of expertise in communication training, executive coaching, leadership development, team dynamics and organizational development to our clients.  Djukic completed her Certification in Executive Coaching at The Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota.

During her tenure at a Fortune 500 company, Phoenix experienced the benefits of meditation and mindfulness for stress management and improved creativity. Her book, Soul Vision: Living and Inspired Life, with Cornelia Schwarz, explores the strategies and benefits of meditation in business as well as the other areas of your life.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Leader's Mood: The Dimmer Switch of Performance

by M. Phoenix Djukic

There is a concept in French which is called "Noblesse oblige". It means, roughly, that wealth, power and prestige go hand-in-hand with certain social responsibilities – in other words, with privilege comes duty. It is a privilege when we have the opportunity to lead a team of people, but with it comes many responsibilities, chief of which, some leadership pundits would contend, is managing moods.

In a Harvard Business Review article called Leadership That Gets Results, Daniel Goleman cites research which shows that up to 30% of a company's financial results (as measured by key business performance indicators such as revenue growth, return on sales, efficiency and profitability) are determined by the climate of the organization.

So what is the major factor that drives the climate of an organization? It's the leader: in Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence, Goleman states that roughly 50-70% of how employees perceive their organization's climate is attributable to the actions and behaviors of their leader. A leader creates the environment that determines people's moods at the office and their mood, in turn, affects their productivity and level of engagement. 

Afterglow or Aftermath?

Witness the number of times you may have driven home with an internal glow, reliving a positive encounter with an upbeat and supportive boss, perhaps savoring a "bon mot" about your performance that he or she left with you on a Friday afternoon. How great it made you feel, and how eager you were to get out of bed on the following Monday morning, and get back to the office to give that man or woman the very best that you had to offer. That's the "afterglow" that lingers and gives you renewed energy to be more productive, to bring your finest talents to work.

And think about the reverse of the afterglow – the aftermath, or bitter aftertaste. This is what Susan Scott, in Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life, One Conversation at a Time, brilliantly calls "The Emotional Wake." That's what lingers with you after being the recipient of some acrid remarks from a leader in a negative mood. How did that affect your determination to overcome difficulties in a project, to keep your heart fully engaged in the process, to want to continue to give that person your very best game?

Contagion and Consequences

Leadership literature is full of studies attesting to the consequences of a leader's mood. One such study involved 62 CEOs and their top management teams and it showed that the more upbeat, energetic and enthusiastic the executive team was, the more co-operatively they worked together, and the better the company's business results. The study also showed that the longer a company was managed by an executive team that didn't get along well, the poorer the company's market returns.

Perhaps nowhere is a leader's mood more crucial than in the service industry where employees in a bad mood can, without fail, adversely affect business. In one of a multitude of such studies involving 53 sales managers in retail outlets who led groups ranging in size from four to nine members, it was found that when managers themselves were in an upbeat, positive mood, their moods spilled over to their staff, positively affecting the staff's performance and increasing sales. We can all take an inspiration from organizations such as Starbucks who place great value on the importance of creating a positive climate for employees which, in turn, ensures a pleasant customer experience and repeat visits. "We are always focused on our people" is an explicit statement to new recruits on the company's career site.

When we move the curtain a bit, we can see clearly that a leader's bad mood is a source of infection – an emotional contagion that eventually spreads across people to entire units. We can learn a thing or two from leadership in the military. Imagine the effect on troop morale and energy that an "overwhelmed", "anxious", "worried" or "irate" leader would have? And how about a leader who is plagued by uncertainty? "Indecision," as HA Hopf puts it, "is contagious. It transmits itself to others." It can become debilitating and habit-forming in an organization, as people take their cues from the leader's state of mind.  

Inconsistent Means Unpredictable

We could argue that the occasional bad mood, the occasional rant, on a bad "corporate hair day", is excusable. Often, we refer to this type of behavior with statements such as: "She can't control her temper sometimes, but she is so brilliant". Or, "He has an amazing mind but he has a tendency to shout at people when it's stressful." It is as though brilliance is an excuse for bad behavior. And it may very well have to be in some environments – but the message it sends to constituents is one of inconsistency, which is an undesirable trait in any leader. We want our leaders to be predictable because there is comfort and safety in predictability. Predictability engenders trust and an unpredictable leader elicits anxiety and, in some cases, even fear, both of which negatively affect performance and productivity.

Of course, no leader steps out of the elevator in the morning with an intention to spread a bad mood around but, as sure as there is gravity, events occur during the course of some days that can derail even the best among us. To be clear, we are not advocating that leaders turn into a shrink wrapped version, complete with false smiles and fake cheerfulness. Constituents spot a non-genuine smile anyway and are very adept at noticing when a leader infantilizes them. 

The Right Mood? 

There are, of course, no easy solutions to managing emotions on an hourly basis in the often difficult circumstances in which leaders must operate and make decisions. However, we can draw some advice from another Harvard Business Review article entitled Primal Leadership: The Hidden Driver of Great Performance. First of all, it's important to note that a leader's mood has the greatest impact on performance when it is upbeat. But it must also be in tune with those around him.

Goleman calls this dynamic resonance. "Good moods galvanize good performance, but it doesn't make sense for a leader to be as chipper as a blue jay at dawn if sales are tanking or the business is going under. The most effective executives display moods and behaviors that match the situation at hand, with a healthy dose of optimism mixed in. They respect how other people are feeling – even if it is glum or defeated – but they also model what it looks like to move forward with hope and humor." The operative threesome here is "optimism", "hope" and "humor". As someone once put it, leaders are dealers in hope.

Steps Toward Better Performance

So what are the specific recommendations? Your mood and behavior affects performance. How do you work on attaining the consistent, emotionally intelligent leadership behaviors that breed success in yourself and others? Here are a few other suggestions to consider that can improve your and your team's performance:

  • Model Meeting Behavior - Take a hard look at your behavior in meetings, which are often "cauldrons of emotion." Do you model the way by setting a positive tone right from the start? Or do you impose your own "pace" based on how you feel at the moment? Aim for a calm, relaxed mood, and a consistent, positive approach.
  • Look for Good in Others - Long before leadership books were in vogue, Andre Malraux, French novelist and statesman, reminded us that one of the central objectives of a leader is to make others aware of the greatness that lies in them. Be known in your organization as someone who is always on the lookout for what is right with people. It engenders good will and is good for business. 
  • Read the Climate - Do you have a good reading of the climate of your unit or organization? Can you accurately sense what the emotional atmosphere is? Is it upbeat? Is it energized? Is it down or dejected? Do people seem slightly apprehensive and somewhat cautious in your presence? Can you ask a trusted acolyte if the atmosphere changes when you are away?
  • Be Pleasant and Cooperative - If you are an emergent leader, and working on having a pleasant personality is not a priority for you, consider putting some effort into cultivating this prized quality. It is almost impossible to have executive presence without it. Be cooperative, for example sharing ideas and shortcuts. This is another example of how mood affects productivity.
  • Be Emotionally Attractive - Along that vein, focus on being emotionally attractive. This links to the concept of resonant leadership. Resonant leaders are individuals who have the ability to manage their own emotions and those of others in a manner that drives the success of their teams and organizations. In Resonant Leadership: Renewing Yourself and Connecting with Others through Mindfulness, Hope and Compassion, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee explain that resonant leaders create a positive emotional tone in the organization and engage and inspire people. As the title of their book indicates, these leaders possess three core qualities which are: mindfulness, hope, and compassion. Consider making these a part of your arsenal as a leader.
  • Manage the Emotions of Change - Be particularly mindful of how you manage emotions if your organization is undergoing change: how you handle emotions during these crucial times can help or hinder the change process. It's a known fact that if the resistance to change is emotional, it is the hardest form of resistance to overcome. As the leader handling a change initiative, don't avoid the emotions that accompany the change process. Set the mood and manage the emotions – or they will manage you.

If you cringe at the whole notion of emotions in the workplace, including talk of empathy and compassion, intuition or discussions of emotional intelligence, I encourage you to reconsider this mindset. Hone your intuitive ability, and listen to those hunches that hint to you that something in your behavior and actions on bad days is causing a ripple effect on others. These are the whispers we try to dismiss when we elect to focus only on "rationality". Intuition is a precious tool worth including in our kit. Einstein put it best: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift."

As the leader, you have in your hand the switch that can control the intensity of engagement of the people who do the work in your organization. It's like being a director in a movie: "The first work of the director is to set a mood so that the actor's work can take place" (William Friedkin, American movie and television director/producer.) A leader's upbeat mood metaphorically oxygenates the blood of followers – it's a transfusion into the corporate arteries. It may be one of the most potent contributions you can make as a leader. 
M. Phoenix Djukic is an Executive Coach and Group Faciliator for Certified Impact LLC, a boutique consulting / coaching / training firm with offices in Chicago IL and Santa Barbara CA.

Djukic, the founder/owner of Life Dynamics, brings over 20 years of expertise in communication training, executive coaching, leadership development, team dynamics and organizational development to our clients.  She completed her Certification in Executive Coaching at The Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota.

During her tenure at a Fortune 500 company, Phoenix experienced the benefits of meditation and mindfulness for stress management and improved creativity. Her book, Soul Vision: Living and Inspired Life, with Cornelia Schwarz, explores the strategies and benefits of meditation in business as well as the other areas of your life.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Leadership: A Journey of Growth

By M.Phoenix Djukic

What is the most significant predictor of great leadership?

Many leadership experts have asked and addressed the question: are leaders born or made? Our perspective—based on 20 plus years of experience—is that the best single predictor of great leadership is the commitment to self-improvement. 
Self-awareness is crucial to leadership and it can be enhanced through coaching. An effective coach knows that the infrastructure of successful leadership vision and behavior is heightened self-awareness about one's motives, values, and personality traits. That's especially true within today's challenging changing environment. 
The higher up you go in companies, the more you're dealing with psychological and relational issues. 
Successful leadership requires astuteness about others: their emotional and strategic personal drivers; their self-interest, overt and covert. These relationship competencies rest on a foundation of self-knowledge, self-awareness. And you can't know the truth about another without knowing it about yourself.

Self-knowledge and the relational competencies they're linked with are central to an Executive's ability to formulate, articulate and lead a strategic vision for a motivated, energized organization. Self-knowledge builds clarity about objectives; it fine-tunes one's understanding of the perspectives, values, aims and personality traits of others. When that's lacking, you often see discord and conflict among members of the senior management team; or between some of its members and the CEO.

One executive we worked with was already an excellent, high-potential leader. She received first rate scores on the initial assessment we conducted. Senior management was grooming her for the CFO role. Still, as our work with her demonstrates, there is always an opportunity for improvement. When we conducted a reassessment after six months of executive coaching, her already high scores went up even more due to her:
  • Commitment. Her stance from the beginning was, “I will stick to this self-development plan.”
  • Humility. She has a will to learn.
  • Respect for others. She listens to other people.
  • Awareness of her impact on others. She understands that what she does impacts how others do.
  • Evolution. She has a deep desire to grow and to become more effective

In addition to that type of anecdotal evidence, research has been conducted that supports the assertion that executives who are committed to self-development improve as leaders.
We hear time and again from executives in coaching and their stakeholders that those who are most committed to putting in the effort to become better leaders are the ones who actually do. Data from studies at Stanford and Harvard back that up. We have found a positive correlation between a leader’s commitment to learning and self-development, and perceptions of his or her leadership effectiveness.
  • Leaders who create and follow through on an action plan based on feedback from their peers, boss, and direct reports are perceived as being more effective than those who do not.
  • There is a positive correlation between stakeholders’ perceptions of leaders’ effectiveness and the degree to which they are observed to be following up on their action plan for improvement. Following up takes commitment. It means not only working to improve but also going back periodically to stakeholders (whoever who provided the feedback) and having a dialog about progress.
  • Clients who commit to engaging in Executive Coaching self-report growth in leadership abilities. 

Obviously, two things are at work here: one is the commitment to do it and the other is the actual benefit from the work they put into the coaching experience itself.
Having innate talent never hurts. However, we have seen that executives who work on improving their leadership and demonstrate their commitment to improve are seen as more effective leaders, regardless of what their starting point was. Clearly, those who are open to feedback, open to coaching and learning, will always have an edge in this world. What does this imply for your future success?
  • Make a commitment to your own development. What are you doing today for your continued professional and personal growth and success?
  • Ask for feedback from people who are impacted by you as a leader and even as a person in your life (e.g., friends, spouse…).
  • Consider an assessment to learn how you come across to others. What do they see as your development needs and your strengths?
  • Create a strategic plan for your training and education. You may do this alone or with an executive coach.. When is the last time you took any courses or training?
  • Get an Executive coach…the key is to find someone you believe in who has the confidence to tell it like they see it and is smart enough to call you on your bluffs. No matter how senior you are, these partnerships are invaluable to leaders, particularly at the top. 

How are you demonstrating your commitment to your continued professional growth and development? Do you know how people perceive your leadership over time?
M. Phoenix Djukic is an Executive Coach and Group Faciliator for Certified Impact LLC, a boutique consulting / coaching / training firm with offices in Chicago IL and Santa Barbara CA.

Djukic, the founder/owner of Life Dynamics, brings over 20 years of expertise in communication training, executive coaching, leadership development, team dynamics and organizational development to our clients.  She completed her Certification in Executive Coaching at The Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota.

During her tenure at a Fortune 500 company, Phoenix experienced the benefits of meditation and mindfulness for stress management and improved creativity. Her book, Soul Vision: Living and Inspired Life, with Cornelia Schwarz, explores the strategies and benefits of meditation in business as well as the other areas of your life.

Monday, March 17, 2014

A New Value Proposition for Supplier Diversity

by Joanne Tica Steiger
Managing Director - Certified Impact LLC 

I think it is safe to say that most entrepreneurs are not looking for a handout.  Small business owners want to sell products and services so that they can pay their bills, pay their employees and earn a decent wage to compensate them for the risks that they take every day as self-employed people.

Supplier diversity sourcing – the business program that encourages the use of: minority-owned, women owned, veteran owned, LGBT-owned, service disabled veteran owned, historically underutilized business, and SBA defined small business vendors as suppliers – was designed to provide opportunities for legitimate business growth to up and coming, qualified entrepreneurs.  It was not designed, as many think, to provide a handout – a freebie - to the underutilized small business community.

Do Major Corporations Care About Supplier Diversity Initiatives?
Some do, but many don’t appear to care. They publicly pay lip service to the idea of supplier diversity but don’t provide support for the professional, efficient management of programs in place to support the intended goals.  Try searching the top food manufacturing web sites in the US – how many of them have a direct program link to a diversity initiative that is easy to find and encourages participation by small business owners?  Out of the top 50 companies, maybe 10 of them? 

Many times, the supplier diversity “program” link is an email to supplierdiversity@xxxx.com – a blind email box that is never answered or that can’t accept any more email because it is so full.  The instructions are (paraphrased) “attach every bit of information about your company and email it – blindly - to supplierdiversity@xxxx.com and we will contact you if there are opportunities”.  Is it even good business practice to send confidential documents through email, especially if you don't know where they will end up?

Supplier diversity programs are intended to encourage promising entrepreneurs to learn and participate in the market through modeling and potential mentorship opportunities.  I wonder how many corporate CFO's would instruct their staff members to send proprietary corporate documents and financial statements to a blind email address in order to generate business for the company? 

What is the Goal of a Bad Program?
Major corporations need to show some level of commitment to supplier diversity to maintain eligibility for government contracts.  As a result, most design a program that ticks the required "ethical and legal" boxes but has no chance of actually producing sustainable results.  What is the goal of program that is designed for failure?

When the intended audience can’t find the information needed to participate in the initiative, the corporate messaging is simple:  We don’t care about this program.  We don't care if you apply for it.  We expect you to waste your time and continue to jump through hoops before we will speak with you.  We want to see how serious you are before we waste our time on you.

In the past few weeks, while researching this post, I have called the corporate offices of over 140 companies with stated supplier diversity goals.  These companies had no supplier diversity program links on their corporate web sites.  Out of over 140 companies, not one individual has called me back.  Not one company rep has returned an email. 

I left messages with designated “supplier/procurement” people who “handle” the supplier diversity program.  If I accidentally reached anyone, they were generally condescending and rude and disinterested in my questions.  They didn’t know where to transfer me and had no answers themselves.  It was a total waste of my time, as they assumed that I wanted a handout, or a grant, or something else - not an opportunity.   

Is the supplier information difficult to find and access because corporations don’t care if their initiative succeeds?  There are probably easier ways to retain corporate eligibility for government contracting.

Creating Value for Viable Programs
For those executive officers of major corporations who genuinely seek to keep legitimate diversity programs in place, consider some of these changes when you are creating or restructuring your program.

             -  Increase Program Visibility 
Place a hyperlink to your supplier registration portal in a visible location on your website. The entrepreneurs are the ones who need the information, not your investors and industry peers. 

 - Create Actionable Goals - Not Talking Points
Talking points are great to generate support for a plan.  But, when you are advertising that you already have a plan, make sure that it works.  Program significance can only be measured through meaningful interaction with those who can benefit from your program's efforts.

 - Respond to Phone Calls and Emails
Educate your staff so that they know how to responsibly answer calls and emails from entrepreneurs who are interested in the opportunities that you offer. 

 - Hire Human Beings
Designate a real department with real people to respond to these inquiries.  Get rid of the generic email boxes and opt for human interaction.  If the supplier diversity initiative means anything to your company, it should be worth staffing with human beings.

 - Educate Entrepreneurs
Help small businesses learn which attributes comprise a good procurement risk to a corporate buyer. Develop internal education programs and webinars for this purpose.  Treat your prospects like potentially viable future partners and tell them what it will take to earn your business.  

A good supplier diversity program is responsive to its intended audience.  Through intentional interaction, education and opportunity development between small business and large corporations, economic value and good will can be created that will ultimately benefit both types of entities.


Joanne Tica Steiger is the managing director and the lead strategic consultant / corporate trainer for Certified Impact LLC, a boutique professional services practice in Chicago IL. 

A professional business consultant for over 20 years, Tica Steiger has also worked extensively in commercial real estate lending, banking and education, most recently as a director and advisor for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Initiative in Chicago. 

A good consultant can help you leverage your organizational assets for growth and success. Send your questions by email and we will try to address them in upcoming posts.