February 19, 2018

How far do you go… to coach an employee?

Four business people in a discussionI often see business owners and managers struggling to secure reasonable performance from certain of their employees – one or two members of staff who, for some reason, aren’t effective. Cases where it’s not a skills issue, more of an attitude problem.

Usually, the leaders try to manage more performance out of the individual. In essence, they apply pressure, with perhaps some effort to coach them in a narrow, task-related way as well.

The thing is…

Often, more fundamental help is required. Somebody needs to get across to the individual what being a working person entails, what life is about, ultimately.

Sometimes, an individual has just never had that kind of education, from parents or other role models.

The question then is (and I’m often asked this)…

How far should a business owner or manager go into this kind of territory?

How much of a leader of the whole person should they be?

The answer is… as far as it takes to stimulate the change in performance they need. Or the individual realises they are in the wrong place.

If the time and effort involved in doing that is beyond what’s justifiable then it’s time to recognise the appointment isn’t working out and deal with that.

Because it’s just too damaging to leave it alone.

Our choice is…

Do whatever it takes to get to the point where the individual is productive, perhaps getting an older, wiser head to talk to them about life, if that’s what’s needed.


Remove them from the team.

Holding back, doing less than it takes, isn’t an option.

How demanding is too demanding?

Group working on a projectIn some relationships, being demanding is (arguably) required to achieve the highest performance—for a coach with an athlete, for a leader with a team, or for a customer with a supplier. A little discomfort may be needed for the greatest achievement. Deliver the leadership people need rather than the leadership they want, they say.

On the other hand, self-generated, intrinsic motivation may be the most sustainable long-term driver of performance.

Being too demanding may risk being counter-productive (as well as uncomfortable) resulting in a lower performance, beyond the peak, as stress, distraction and tension set in.

What’s your experience? How demanding should a coach or a leader or a customer be? How do you tell when you’re overdoing it or when you’re not being demanding enough?

Does personal mastery make a leader inspirational?

Admiral Horatio NelsonI lately set up a new discussion group on LinkedIn called “Personal Mastery for the Inspirational Leader.” You can join the group here.

Well, that’s not the while truth. The group began as “Personal Mastery for the Resourceful Leader” then I thought… Should the word be “resourceful” or “inspirational”?

A key part of personal mastery is having the courage and strength of belief to follow an inner sense of direction, to be “in spirit.” With that in mind, the key question around the name is…

Does personal mastery make a leader inspirational?

For me the answer to that is emphatically “yes.” In fact, I notice it chokes me up to think of it like that – a sure sign of being on the right track, in my experience.

“Inspirational” does literally mean to be “in spirit.”

So I changed the title to…

“Personal Mastery for the Inspirational Leader”

But what about you…

Which word speaks to you the most and why – “resourceful” or “inspirational”?