01 Mar The Source of Power?

Teaching and coaching can be synonymous when the objective is to guide people to the source of their own power. Both teaching and coaching are fundamental skills required to become an effective leader.

Consider the people that have truly touched your life. Chances are they mentored you in some way – i.e., they illuminated and brought out a passion that you developed into a strength. The teacher/mentor/coach truly demonstrated leadership by communicating to you in a clear, respectful, stimulating and consistent manner.

Early in my career, I had a manager that was often misunderstood by his peers in the organization. He was an intellectual and he did not fit in with the typical, country-club executives (something I admired). What I learned from him was how to be a keen observer, and he always astounded me by seeing things other didn’t. He not only heard what was spoken, but he heard what was said. He could interpret body language in the context of group dynamics, and he was able to watch a leader’s nuances affect on others. Even more remarkably, he had total recall of interpersonal interactions.

During performance reviews, his observations demonstrated a total commitment to my development, and that led to trust, respect and loyalty. His observations helped me discover where I needed to adjust and he was extremely patient in helping me come up with solutions that I could commit to – that is, changes I needed to make in my behavior. He simply asked me questions that led me to take a step back and analyze the situation from a different perspective. His approach taught me a valuable lesson: Questions are a powerful leadership tool; and formulate questions for yourself about your own performance (e.g., What happened? Why? What could I have done differently? Why didn’t this occur at the time? How can I insure a better outcome the next time?).

Teaching and coaching contain the following components:
· Setting and Assessing performance standards
· Giving and receiving feedback (rewards and punishment)
· Managing disruptive and negative individuals

In “Coaching for Improved Work Performance” by Ferdinand F. Fournies, the author outlined a simple 5-step process for most coaching opportunities, and these can be applied to coaching your own performance:

1. Get agreement that a problem exists
· This is the hardest and most time-consuming part, because you are asking someone that may not have high self-awareness to focus on how his or her behavior/performance affects others and results. This is also the most important step, because if you can’t get agreement here, you will not end up with commitment

2. Mutually discuss alternative solutions
· You will get the best results if the person being coached has a lot of say-so in the solution – the “how” they will improve. This is also where you will see commitment to change and the “how” they will improve

3. Mutually agree on action to be taken to solve the problem
· Be clear that you both have the same expectations for what will occur (i.e., what will change)

4. Follow-up to measure results
· You can’t expect what you don’t inspect. To measure is to manage.

5. Recognize any achievement when it occurs
· Most importantly, catch people doing things right!

So the source of power is… The Art of the Question!

The things we know best are the things we haven’t been taught.
––Marquis De Vauvenargues


21 Comments
  • Terry Wilcox
    Posted at 02:50h, 06 March Reply

    The best teachers/coaches/mentors that I have worked with over the years in my career as an advanced practice nurse have been specialty physicians in cardiothoracic surgery, cardiology and pulmonology. I believe the key characteristics of these successful collaborating relationships with these physicians have been that all have treated me with respect, respected my opinion, have listened to me and have gained my trust. In order to have a successful working relationship we must trust one another’s judgment, address conflicts when they arise, be committed to the patient and providing the best/safest care available, be accountable to the patient and each other as colleagues, and finally always keep our eyes on the details and stay focused. They have also challenged me when I was heading down the wrong diagnostic path and helped me learn how to look at complex problems from many angles.BR/BR/While I was reading Fournies’ 5 step process I found it correlated easily to how practitioners assess/solve complex patient problems: 1. We must be able to define the problem (get agreement that a problem exists), 2. Analyze it, form a differential diagnosis (mutually discuss alternative solutions), 3. Develop a plan of care to include diagnostic studies/treatment modalities (agree on action to solve the problem), 4. Follow-up on testing and treatment to evaluate how a patient is doing and revise plan of care as needed (follow up to measure results), and 5. Recognize positive patient outcomes i.e. abort an acute MI or diagnose an acute pulmonary embolism (recognize achievement) in a timely manner to avoid morbidity/mortality

  • Emily Rodgers
    Posted at 17:30h, 10 March Reply

    The word “coach” has a plethora of meanings. When I first hear the word “coach” I envision a guy on the sidelines with a whistle, wearing sunglasses, and calling the next play. Thinking outside of that context, a coach can be anyone; a family member, a friend, a teacher, a mentor, etc. BR/Kendall mentioned in her lecture that, “Coaching is about where you are now, and where you want to be.” Coaching is geared towards one’s core value system. I really resonated with that definition. Self reflection and self awareness are both vital to finding out the areas in one’s life that could use some inspiration, in order to create a better and more well rounded you. Additionally, a leadership or life coach can help keep you accountable for what you say you are going to work on. I think that is very important. BR/Terry, I like how you touched on trust as a fundamental element that is important to you. I can imagine in your profession that you have to possess a great deal of trust in others, since a patients life can be at stake.

  • Jeanne Bair
    Posted at 19:25h, 10 March Reply

    Nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners, despite ever increasing numbers, remain a square peg in a round hole – not really fitting into the usual roles within the health care professions. We certainly must succeed by the willingness of others to follow us. BR/BR/Sometimes initially the most resistance comes from the nurses with whom we work. I have found that soliciting their opinion, really listening to their opinion and ideas, and then explaining why I agree or disagree with it usually paves the way toward decreasing resistance. BR/BR/My most memorable mentors have been those who really listened to me – even if they didn’t agree with my point of view. Knowing I was heard allowed me to consider another view as acceptable or maybe even better than my view.

  • Jeff Spicher
    Posted at 15:07h, 11 March Reply

    Isn’t it human nature for people to want to figure out things on their own? I also agree that the mentors/teachers/coaches who I respect the most do not give me the answer, but direct me to the answer through my own self-reflection. In the world of academics, we ask questions all the time. My favorite form of pedagogy is the Socratic method, in which questions are used to explore and understand subject matter. Asking questions is powerful, but asking the right questions can help to inspire others. BR/ BR/In the five step process outlined by Ferdinand F. Fournies – “Coaching for Improved Work Performance”, the author seems to leave out an important aspect of the whole process, the willingness and ability to actively listen. This should perhaps be step zero. What he is proposing is empowerment and partnership, communication about the problem, discussing barriers to change, working toward an agreed upon solution, followed by a metric for measurement, and positive reinforcement or a celebration of success at the end.BR/BR/All of us have the ability and responsibility to mentor/coach/teach others. It takes time and effort but in the long run can benefit those who we work with, our companies, and society as a whole.

  • Kelli's thoughts
    Posted at 16:51h, 12 March Reply

    I think power stems multiple sources. Knowledge is one way to obtain power but just because one has knowledge does not automaticlly give one power. Another source of power is attained from strength. Not I can lift 200 lbs or run 47 miles strength but inner strength. People who I percieve as powerful has an inner strength about them. They know who they are, where they are going and a good idea of how to get there. BR/BR/When Kendall spoke last week I kept thinking, why would someone need another human being to keep them motivated, moving in the right direction or seeing things that they themselves do not see. I realized that “coaching” is form of external reflection. Reflection is “big” in nurisng and is used frequently in nursing education. What I really took from Kendall is that we can always improve ourselves but that sometimes it takes an “outsider” to see where improvements need to be made…BR/Kelli

  • Kelli said
    Posted at 16:52h, 12 March Reply

    think power stems multiple sources. Knowledge is one way to obtain power but just because one has knowledge does not automaticlly give one power. Another source of power is attained from strength. Not I can lift 200 lbs or run 47 miles strength but inner strength. People who I percieve as powerful has an inner strength about them. They know who they are, where they are going and a good idea of how to get there. BR/BR/When Kendall spoke last week I kept thinking, why would someone need another human being to keep them motivated, moving in the right direction or seeing things that they themselves do not see. I realized that “coaching” is form of external reflection. Reflection is “big” in nurisng and is used frequently in nursing education. What I really took from Kendall is that we can always improve ourselves but that sometimes it takes an “outsider” to see where improvements need to be made…BR/Kelli

  • Kimberly Mackey
    Posted at 18:00h, 14 March Reply

    One doesn’t often think of leaders in an organization as coaches. But if you really think about what coaches do there are similarities between the two. Great coaches not only tell you what to do, they give you the skills you need to succeed. Great leaders do the same. A leader than takes on the challenge of coaching will provide the skills that their employees need to succeed in their jobs. Learning skills provides confidence in taking on new tasks and the drive to learn more. Leaders who are coaches can do this.BR/I really identified with the 5 step process. It was a helpful way to break down looking at a problem and not only finding a solution, but allowing both parties to participate in the process. This is key to the success of players and employees because they can feel that they have a voice.

  • CG
    Posted at 15:01h, 15 March Reply

    Seems like like the most difficult part of coaching is getting the first part down- agreement. I can think of numerous times when I’ve had to outline a particular problem or “area of opportunity” which comes off more tactfully and receives less defensiveness, and found that either the employee was not willing to accept that a problem existed or wasn’t aware. The latter seemed common, and I’ve noticed that when I was coached on a problem, I wasn’t always aware of something needing to be addressed. However, after reflection, I could usually get a hold of identifying the problem, meet again with the coach, and make preparations and a plan to address the problem. It seems that the most important part of the most important step is simply finding a way to bring it up- something that doesn’t seem to happen enough either because of manager passivity or poor skills.

  • Myra Young
    Posted at 00:46h, 16 March Reply

    This blog has made me really stop and think about the “power of the question”. In my current role I have to both teach and coach in a variety of situations. In terms of teaching, my primary job responsibility is to provide one-on-one training for Nurse Practitioners who are new to our agency. In some cases they are new graduate clinicians with very little experience, and in some cases they come with significantly more clinical experience than I have. Each of these situations poses unique challenges for training. I also precept clinicians who are learning new skills and procedures in the clinical setting. In addition to this primary role, I do group presentations for both clinical and non-clinical staff on a variety of health-care topics. I have learned how to use ‘the art of the question’ to assist in training, teaching, and mentoring in these situations. If a clinician isn’t sure what to do in a particular situation, I use a series of clinical and ethical questions to guide her toward coming up with her own answer. I believe this helps to develop clinical judgment and confidence. BR/BR/One of my other major responsibilities is to supervise a team of 10 part time NPs who “float” to various clinics. In this situation my role is one of setting and assessing performance standards, giving feedback, and occasionally managing disruptive or negative individuals. I find this role much more difficult, frustrating, and intimidating than that of “teaching”. It brings up fears about hurting people’s feelings or causing anger or defensiveness. Often in these circumstances I fail to use the asking of questions as a tool to help navigate a difficult conversation. This blog post has made me stop and think about how I might use the Steps of Coaching technique in conjunction with thoughtful questions about the other person’s role, feelings, perceptions, etc. next time I am in a coaching situation. My ultimate goal is to foster the success of my team and insure great care for our patients, rather than to just manage or correct behavior. This tool will definitely help me accomplish that.

  • Thanyaporn Jantharo
    Posted at 03:45h, 16 March Reply

    After the lecture from guest speaker last week, I realize that leadership coaching can give leaders the interpersonal and leadership skills to be able to help others expand not only their levels of responsibility, but also their capacity for improving their performance. Many people can be effective leaders by themselves while others can become successful in the art of leading with coaching and feedback. From my engineering experience, despite being the youngest and having the most inexperienced among the colleagues at the company, I was elected as a project leader in my team for a big project on waste water treatment system in the south of Thailand. Being a leader, I had to organize everything about that project. Not only these invaluable experiences strengthened my leadership, teamwork, and time management skills, but they have also widened my problem solving abilities, which later proved extremely beneficial to my work. After finishing that project, I had to evaluate team members’ performance. Many of my subordinates were highly educated engineers with strongly self-confidence. They rarely admitted that they had problem about their work attitudes toward me and the organization. Therefore, I absolutely agree that the first step of Ferdinand’s simple 5-step process for coaching, getting agreement that a problem exists, is the hardest and the most important step.

  • Thanyaporn Jantharo
    Posted at 03:48h, 16 March Reply

    After the lecture from guest speaker last week, I realize that leadership coaching can give leaders the interpersonal and leadership skills to be able to help others expand not only their levels of responsibility, but also their capacity for improving their performance. Many people can be effective leaders by themselves while others can become successful in the art of leading with coaching and feedback. From my engineering experience, despite being the youngest and having the most inexperienced among the colleagues at the company, I was elected as a project leader in my team for a big project on waste water treatment system in the south of Thailand. Being a leader, I had to organize everything about that project. Not only these invaluable experiences strengthened my leadership, teamwork, and time management skills, but they have also widened my problem solving abilities, which later proved extremely beneficial to my work. After finishing that project, I had to evaluate team members’ performance. Many of my subordinates were highly educated engineers with strongly self-confidence. They rarely admitted that they had problem about their work attitudes toward me and the organization. Therefore, I absolutely agree that the first step of Ferdinand’s simple 5-step process for coaching, getting agreement that a problem exists, is the hardest and the most important step.

  • Miguel Malagon
    Posted at 05:24h, 16 March Reply

    Socrates, the philosopher, had the same technic to the their disciples. Through the self reflection and questioning, the bigger dilema was narrowed down as the responses of the disciples were leading them to the right conclusion. Conclusion that Socrates knew they need to know, but he could not tell them, but lead them only to come up with it by themselfs. This technic train us to question over and over the problems we are facing, our attitudes and our approach to certain things, come up with aswers, question again and again until we get what I consider a breakthrough, an enlightment allowing us to grow and learn during the whole process.

  • BeckyinCOLO
    Posted at 15:15h, 16 March Reply

    Not everyone is open to being mentored, especially those who have been with the organization longer than the leader/manager. All of the students in the nurse practitioner doctorate program and the MBA program want to learn and grow as professionals (otherwise we wouldn’t have come back to college). There are plenty of professionals and work cultures that promote more of a survivor mentality. My impression is that this resistance to self improvement stems from fear – fear of failure, losing face, and getting fired. It’s easy to say, well just don’t hire those types of people. But in many cases the work culture doesn’t believe in turnover or person’s boss doesn’t fire them for whatever other reason. I think the best we can do with this type of employee is to try to develop trust and repore. Only when there’s trust as a foundation is there even a chance to overcome the underlying fear that is paralyzing this person from growing.BR/BR/That said, my focus is definitely on those who are hungry for improvement and growth. These types of people usually seek each other out for mentoring. Fournie’s 5 step process seems to focus on more of a manager/employee elationship. I believe that mentorship (albeit less formally) can come from anywhere. For example, when I was an exchange student in the Netherlands I was mentored by a mentally retarded young man named Amie. I was at a party with my host family and hadn’t been in the country long. My Dutch language skills were elementary at best. Unlike everyone else whose vocabulary and quick speech made it impossible to follow, Amie used simple words and spoke slowly. I followed him around like a puppy dog for 2 hours asking him simple language questions like a small child. Amie was delighted and patient in answering all of my questions about Dutch words. I obviously learned much more than a few new words that day. Since then I’ve looked for mentorship and learning from most people I encounter whether they be older or younger, same or different profession from mine, smarter or slower. Some of these mentoring experiences are just moments long and some are deep, meaningful and last for decades.

  • Nicole Trouchon
    Posted at 15:38h, 16 March Reply

    The area of your blog that I really identified with was in regard to a manager that you had early in your career who was a keen observer. As a nurse, a patient’s nonverbal cues is at timesmore important that the verbal cues in identifying a problem. I have always trusted my instincts and used my observations skills-I feel it improves the relationship with the patient as they feel you know them and can understand them even when they don’t have the words to relate their problem. I feel it creates an arena of trust between the nurse and the patient.

  • ruth
    Posted at 01:48h, 17 March Reply

    Most of my preceptors and professors have been great leaders. There have been a few exceptions and really that was just a shame. Those that were not so great were in a position to effect great change but could not because they were rarely on the same page as others. It was their agenda or the highway. My very first mentor was exceptional and I was very lucky to be exposed early on to the value of patience and confidence. I was taught to not speak too quickly but rather to observe, assess and then create a plan-if necessary. But above all to be sure about my thoughts and to deliver my thoughts with confidence. Currently my supervisor at work has been reading a lot of leadership books and the difference in her is apparent. I think the whole team has responded positively. Now she frames issues in terms of system breadowns not employee breakdowns. It has been very interesting to watch the transformation.

  • John Sereda
    Posted at 02:29h, 17 March Reply

    To be a good mentor/coach/teacher I think that one of the most important facts is to know yourself. The only way that I can really think about how to know yourself is by asking the difficult questions. One of the lessions that I gathered from Kendall is that coaches are influental in our lives because they will ask us to examine who we are and what our lives mean. Only by examining your self can you find your power.BR/BR/For me one of the best mentors and coaches that I have had in my life was my mom. When I think about her influence I think about the kind of person that she was and I ask myself questions when examining her life. I am forced to think very deeply about who I am and as a result I come away with a better understanding of me. The great mentors in our lives are the ones that can not only get us to ask questions but to really want to ask those questions. To always be searching for answers. That is where I think the power of the question comes in.

  • Anonymous
    Posted at 03:53h, 17 March Reply

    Hope S.BR/Kendall mentioned durng the lecture that the best interaction with a coach is an involvement with a team sport. She stated you will get the most amount of important information in a small period of time. I agree with her thoughts but never thought about the impact of team coaching.BR/ When I think of the coaches I think of motivation. I have had numerous coaches in my lifetime that have inspired and motivated me in positive direction while encouraging self reflection.BR/Now, I would like to take a different approach. The comment mentioned in the article “consider the people that have truly touched your life”, I would have to say are my patients. Yes, I have had mentors/teachers/coaches/managers from my career field that have influenced my leadership style thus acting as coaches but I would have to say my true mold is from my patients. I do not fit into the typical patient/NP relationship. I tend to bond with my patients, their families and their health care status. This is my core value system, my patient’s wellbeing. I am able to interpret body language therefore hearing the words that are unspoken. Trust and communication are key in leadership. I have high expectations of my relationship with my patients. I treat them with total respect, trust and loyalty (as mentioned in the article). BR/I agree with Terry’s comments regarding Fournies’ 5 step process following the assessment process of patients problems.

  • Joshua Hojnacki
    Posted at 05:52h, 17 March Reply

    The ability to ask the types of questions that force you to solve your problems is an art. I feel fortunate that I have had guidance from my father in this method of thinking from an early age. Developing the skills of a coach will hopefully allow for me to become more coachable. BR/One main theme that runs through most leaders we have come across is the ability to be introspective. They seem to know their limits, if they have any. The way that great leaders can impart this wisdom of inquiring the proper questions requires practice. The coaching process can help you to uncover your own limits, “guiding people to the source of their own power”. BR/I closely identify with the 5 step method, and will keep this as a tool for continued use. This tool can be applied in many different situations, for a relationship for example, as a communication growth tool.

  • Laura Hess
    Posted at 20:57h, 17 March Reply

    My most memorable leaders or bosses have been the most inspirational. As a student nurse midwife and a nurse there were certain instructors that made me love my profession and want to devote my entire life to it. Others made me want to consider a career at Subway. My two favorite mentors have been my boss at a Family Planning position who showed me what a difference contraception could make in a person’s life. My current boss inspires me to work hard to preserve natural childbirth and to expand the profession of midwifery.BR/ I think the purpose of coaching is not to motivate someone from the outside, but to determine what their intrinsic factors are that motivate them. Leading can also be done by example, if you show that you are passionate about your work and take it seriously, others will pick up on this. Although the five step method has some merit, I think that “following your inner compass” and passions will inspire others and make you a competent leader.BR/Laura Hess

  • Rocio Perez
    Posted at 23:29h, 17 March Reply

    Kendall’s presentation outlined the importance of leadership coaching because it emphasized and reinforced the need for coaches. Coaching can take different forms such as assist in creating a road map in reaching our vision, it can motivate us to attain goals, it can guide us in learning through observation of others and it can help us search deep inside ourselves to find answers. Understanding what makes an effective leader does not create a leader. Leadership has to be practiced and learned before it can be put into practice. My leadership skills have been attained by investing in others through time, resources, and/or inspiring others to take action. BR/BR/My work experience has given me the opportunity to understand different leadership roles and models. For example, while working in the nonprofit sector I found myself in a leadership role in which I volunteered my experiences to help the organization overcome difficulties and create a business structure. In this role, I got the opportunity to interface with other leaders, one of which was my manager. My manager had a different view of what constituted a leader. His approach was to constantly remind us that he had 30 years of experience in the nonprofit sector and that nonprofits were not businesses. His authoritative leadership style was to coerce and be in control at all times. This became evident as employees were afraid of asking for assistance. Although, he was highly intelligent, he lacked the emotional intelligence that makes a great leader. In an effort to influence him to change his paradigm, I would converse with him about his challenges in leading generations within the organization and commented on what may be important to one generation or individual is not necessarily the case for other generations and/or individuals. After offering my insight multiple times, I learned to stand back and observe while asking myself questions about the decisions he made and how I can apply his leadership style. I constantly questioned what I would do differently and whether or not his approach was acceptable to the corporate sector. I learned from observing him interact with others while questioning my own leadership style and decisions. BR/BR/As a business consultant, I emphasize to my clients the importance of having a business coach. I currently consult for my former boss, but things are different now; he has lost three-fourths of his staff within a 12 month period because of his coercive leadership style. Now we are working as a team to try to rebuild his non-profit business. Furthermore, I can say that we are learning about our shortfalls and how to become influential leaders. BR/BR/Many times leaders say that we need new blood but I think we need a new leadership style. We cannot continue to operate the way we did in the past and blame employees for the organization’s short comings. We must take a close look at ourselves and ask whether or not we’re the problem. In conclusion, we need ask ourselves what is needed to lead employees in reaching the organization’s goal’s and objectives.

  • JP Maxfield
    Posted at 15:35h, 25 March Reply

    It seems as though the greatest quality of a leader is the ability to bring out the best in followers, or provide an avenue for followers to bring out the best in themselves. Asking questions is an important method for reassurance, as well as to allow a follower to formally think through a given situation or behavior. The point is that we all posses the ability to achieve, however, leaders serve as the conduit or inspiration when we lose our way. We are feeling creatures, and feed on positive reinforcement, thus setting measurable goals and providing feedback is a great method for leaders to reach followers.

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