Coaching and Mentoring : Changing, Learning, Coaching, Improving

Rick Sidorowicz is the editor and publisher of The CEO Refresher and the Minister of Culture of High Performance Retail, a consulting and training enterprise obsessed with customer service and empowering front line associates for great performance. What does great performance look like ?

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I recently attended two of Jim Clemmer's free executive briefings, and although the price of admission was very right the insights and learning were priceless. Jim is a master of synthesis - of the techniques, and theories, and mindful intervention, and of what works for fundamental and lasting change, effective leadership and performance improvement. Jim Clemmer is the author of "Firing on all Cylinders", "Pathways to Performance", and "Growing the Distance" and is an outstanding speaker and facilitator. Jim and his team took us through Lessons Learned from the Front Lines of Organization and Team Transformation, and he teamed up with Dr. Peter Jensen for Coaching for High Performance.

With each of The Clemmer Group sessions I attend I am always taken back at how their framework for action gets 'tighter' and more focussed on the one hand, and more comprehensive and complete on the other hand. Jim and his group indeed 'walk the talk' and change and learn and improve as they simplify, clarify and perfect their approach to organizational effectiveness, and add new dimensions to their repertoire - as most recently demonstrated in their association with Peter Jensen and high performance coaching. Each new dimension seems to both expand and focus their approach - indeed living a paradox of effective development for leaders, teams and organizations.

Here are my 'take-aways' from my two most recent experiences.

Lessons Learned from the Front Lines of Organization and Team Transformation

Why most change/improvement programs fail

The top five failure factors are: priority overload, partial and piecemeal efforts, no improvement/change infrastructure or process, fuzzy focus, and leadership lip service. You have to move from "bolt-on" programs to "built-in" processes, and move from lip service to involved leadership and integration, where change and improvement is part of daily operations.

The Management/Leadership balance

We manage things and processes and we lead people. This is not an intellectual exercise or debate, and it's not either or - it's and. As manager/leaders we must manage systems, processes, technology, goals, standards, measurements and ensure control and we must create a context, culture, principles, purpose and ensure commitment. As managers we direct and respond, and react and improve what is. As leaders we initiate and serve and innovate to what could be. Managing is a way of doing. Leading is a way of being.

Transformation Pathways

Where do you begin ? Where's the point of leverage ? My takeaway is that you need to do it all. Create focus and context - and go beyond "the vision thing." Identify performance gaps with customers and partners. Clarify, simplify and focus goals and priorities. Improve the infrastructure and processes. Align systems and structure. Implement measurement and feedback. Improve education and communications. Energize innovation and learning. Develop skills. Build high performing teams. Improve reward and recognition systems. Review, assess, celebrate and refocus. And so very important - blaze your own pathway to performance.

My most important 'take-aways' tend to be the scribbled notes I make - little 'gems' of wisdom that 'stick.' Here are a few:

The "line of sight" from the customer's perspective

"If it's any consolation, we treat our employees worse than our customers."

"If the rate of external change exceeds our rate of internal growth we're eventually going to be changed."

Change choices: ignore it, predict it, control it, grow with it.

"Life is change. Growth is optional."

"Nuts and bolts is action and doing."


Simplified strategic planning - what are the the top three trends impacting our organization the most ? So what are we going to do ?

"Knowing isn't doing."

"Blinding flashes of the obvious."

"The obvious is not so obvious."

Coaching for High Performance

Peter Jensen and Jim Clemmer have got coaching 'nailed' with the practical application of coaching methodologies that have worked with elite performers in sports and business. Their briefing presented a crystal clear framework of the philosophies and techniques - the why, what you do and how to do it effectively. A few highlights:

  • Crystal clear objectives - commitment, performance and results
  • What you do - clarify, provide recognition, build competence
  • How you do it - expertise and communication - consulting, teaching, mentoring, confronting
  • Know yourself - philosophy and awareness ( always seems to start with the look in the mirror )

The effective coach knows the end goal and knows where you are today, but the focus is on the next steps - setting performance goals and and creating successful completion to build confidence and competence.

A few 'gems' that stick :-

"People can't do what they can't imagine."

"Imagery is the light of performance."

"Helping people see what's possible."

"People need a line of sight."

"People choose to give you performance."

If behaviour is personal, permanent and pervasive - it's not coachable.

"Personalize recognition."

"Confidence allows people to be competent."

"What's in the way is the way."

The Clemmer Group is renowned for their work with organizations and leadership and their current programs Leadership @ the Speed of Change and Leading in Turbulent Times: Coaching for High Performance are right on the mark.

© Copyright Rick Sidorowicz 2004

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