October 2012
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TD Magazine

Achieving Coaching Success

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Winning Factor: Inspire Gold-Medal Performance in Your Employees

By Peter Jensen

(AMACON, $24.95, 240 pp.)

The world of professional sports always has been a powerful, condensed, and public metaphor for overcoming the challenges of life with resiliency, dedication, and hard work. The best Olympic-level coaches inspire record-breaking performances from their athletes, while developing them holistically as confident and successful human beings.

In The Winning Factor, Peter Jensen draws from his own professional sports and business coaching experiences, as well as interviews with dozens of well-known sports coaches, leaders, and developmental psychologists. He captures common tenets of coaching success and refines them into principles for business leaders to use in motivating their employees.

Although the coaching field is rife with self-help books, Jensen contributes some collective gems for those business leaders who are driven by a "third factor"—the committed desire to draw the best from everyone with whom they interact. Developing this competence, Jensen asserts, takes life-long practice, and like athletes who prepare for lasting achievements at the pinnacle of their game, so must leaders work at coaching others to be the most important drivers within their organizations. This third, "winning" factor makes the critical difference between winning or losing to the competition.

Jensen identifies five seemingly innocuous characteristics of exceptional coaches: self-awareness, ability to build trust, ability to use imagery, ability to identify blocks when they occur, and capacity to recognize the importance of adversity. He builds on these characteristics in subsequent chapters by describing relevant experiences and stories.

Take, for example, the case of the Olympic athlete who has presumably reached a plateau. Rather than directly challenge his performance after a disappointing failure, Jensen describes multiple approaches through which effective coaches work with athletes to break down the event and overcome barriers—for example, imagery, questioning, and active listening techniques.

Leaders and managers who seek to ignite or re-engage their employees' commitment to their work and organizations also can implement these self-managed and emotionally intelligent approaches. The ultimate goal is to help individuals reach a commitment to their own development, thereby igniting third-factor behavior and thinking, which once learned, serves them for life.

A supplementary website enables further exploration of each of the five key coaching characteristics. Readers are encouraged to access this website to build on each of the five areas, reflect and practice the techniques, and gain exposure to additional references.

Overall Jensen's book offers several interesting insights, with each chapter building on principles from previous chapters and packed with real-life examples from business and athletics. While every employee brings her talents and capabilities to the team, the opportunity to ignite her performance through these coaching and sports performance strategies makes this book a worthwhile read.

I give it three cups of joe.

Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go: Career Conversations Employees Want

Beverly Kaye and Julie Winkle Giulioni

(Berrett-Koehler Publishers, $17.95, 144 pp.)

To most (if not all) employees, career development is the most powerful instrument in employee motivation; it drives retention, efficiency, and outcomes. In Help Them Grow or Watch Them Go, Kaye and Giulioni highlight three overarching conversations—hindsight, foresight, and insight—that carry more weight toward motivation than any well-meaning development process. The authors include tips, tricks, and blueprints to shape these conversations for each individual employee. This book is a must-read for any manager who is trying to get the most out of her employees and increase organization performance as a result. And all it takes is one career conversation at a time.

Change-Friendly Leadership: How to Transform Good Intentions into Great Performance

Rodger Dean Duncan

(Maxwell Stone Publishing, $24.95, 304 pp.)

As a manager, enacting change can be a grueling task, but Duncan has set out to make it a friendlier, stress-free process. He offers a roadmap for change by outlining seven steps to guide readers through the journey. These steps are validate the journey, scan for speed bumps, chart the course, build a coalition, ford the streams, stay on message, and mind the gap. Duncan writes invaluable insight for those leading an organization through the murky waters of change. For example, "in addition to making a solid business case for change, you must make a compelling psychological case for change." The book provides a pathway for keeping change as beneficial—and enjoyable—as possible.


Butterflies and Sweaty Palms: 25 sure-fire ways to speak and present with confidence

Judy Apps

(Crown House Publishing, 29.95, 192 pp.)

Apps, a public speaking coach with many years of experience, wrote Butterflies and Sweaty Palms for those who get the jitters when speaking in front of an audience. In two parts, Apps first explains how even the most skittish speaker can develop the confidence necessary to become a riveting presenter, and then describes the 25 strategies readers can use to grow such confidence. Apps includes a variety of visual illustrations, descriptive data, and relevant anecdotes in an easy-to-read format. Anyone who has ever felt afraid to speak in front of a large group should read this book to better understand his fears and improve his presentation skills.

What's on Tom Rath's Bookshelf?


Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain. This is a great read for all of us who are a bit more introverted. Cain explains how reserving time for deep thought can have great value.

The End of Illness by David B. Agus. One of my personal passions is studying the future of health, medicine, and technology. In this book, Agus describes how new discoveries will help people to live longer and healthier lives.

The Halo Effect ... and the Eight Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers by Phil Rosenzweig. If you are in the business of developing people, or do any research in particular, you need to read this book. It is a cautionary tale of how easily we confuse great stories and case studies with real data and causation.

About the Author

Jane Loda is a technical workforce educator in Connecticut.

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