This blog reflects ideas I've stumbled upon in my executive coaching practice helping clients deal with opportunities and problems.

Some Thoughts on Accountability

I’ve been working on accountability with two executive coaching clients. In one case my client is a sales manager who has seven direct reports. In the other case my client is a lawyer whose process goal is to have 8 business development lunches per month spending $1,000 in total on them.

The first steps in the accountability discussion ensure the person to be held accountable has the tools they need to succeed. These are 1] clearly managed expectations, ensuring the person knows what they are to do and that they are motivated; 2] the capabilities to do what is expected, either from experience, training or coaching; 3] measurement that is understood, so they know what the target is; 4] good honest feedback at the right intervals, to keep them on track.

So if the first four steps are in place and there remains a shortfall in performance consequences come into play. Variations on consequences include dismissal, anger and begging. None of these are productive.

I prefer incentives. My clients and I have invented two that we think will work.

Firstly, my sales manager client will provide two levels of status rewards. These are different than monetary compensation which is part of motivation. He’s going to implement two sales meetings. One will be in Hamilton, Bermuda. The other will be in Hamilton, Ontario. His best performers will be going to Bermuda. The others will be going to Steel Town. A variation on this kind of incentive is time with the manager. So best performers get 1:1 lunch time with their manager and lesser performers get group face time, not so good.

Secondly, my lawyer client and I developed an idea whereby when she has a shortfall in lunch spending she will donate the amount of the shortfall to a charity she doesn’t like. That wasn’t easy to come up with but we decided that one of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump would register as distasteful.

You Work to Fill a Void

“You work to fill a void” is a line from a terrific French TV show called Spiral in English [Engrenages in French]. Right now YouTube is the best place I know of to see it. The main character is a Type A female policewoman. The quote is how her love interest describes the way she dives into her police work to the extent of replacing other parts of her life.

How about you? Why do you work the way you do? Is it as simple as to keep a steady flow of current income or maximize future income? Apart from money does work give you things you’re missing elsewhere in your life? Or is work the only place you have any fun or spiritual fulfillment?

So here’s what to do. And this doesn’t just apply to work.

The next time you’re alone at Starbucks staring into a cup of coffee, with some time to think, ask yourself if there are any voids in your life? That is, reasonable things to want, that you know you want, or that your role model might have or do that would appeal to you. Let’s call that a void.

Now you have a void that you can strategize how to fill. You can determine for yourself what are the kinds of things you have to do at work [or elsewhere] to fill that void that you desire to fill.

One void I have is that I don’t putt very well when I’m golfing. The action I can take to fill that void is to practice. I can strategize over my cup of coffee to say I’m going to practice for five minutes in my pajamas before I shower in the a.m.

So what’s your void and what can you do to fill it?



Posted by Jerome Shore

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13 April 2016 ~ Comment

Mine the Details Find the Gold

I had a professor in graduate school who was keen to advise us to wallow in the research data. Tremendous advice. I loved spending hours in the stacks at the library looking for novel ideas about my topic. I still operate the same way. When writing up my meeting notes for coaching clients I sometimes get lost in Google searches looking for just the right article to back up an idea we spoke about.

There are three places you can look for details to mine that can add quality to your life and work.

a] Coach yourself to be more curious. Here is some good advice.

b] Drill down into the subjects you’re passionate about. Define drilling down as moving from the general to the specific. That is, divide the general into components and get more information about select components.

c] Know yourself. Use the drill down idea. So for example, you might ask yourself about the role your parents played in who you are. Or you might consider the role of your education, or your friends, or your relatives.

Posted by Jerome Shore

03 December 2015 ~ Comment

Separate Passengers Without Delay

Leaders too often let people problems fester. David Ogilvy, who I worked for, phrased the solution as; ‘separate passengers without delay’. I read Stalin’s version of this statement recently; ‘when there is a person there is a problem, when there is no person there is no problem’.

So what’s the prescription to avoid people problems. Here are some ideas.

1] Be more diligent in the recruiting/interviewing process. When I worked at Ogilvy and Mather candidates would often have endless interviews with a wide variety of people looking for problems. I recall being the 11th person to interview a man for an entry level position. He rose to become a very senior executive in the agency.

2] Develop instincts for what you are ‘not’ looking for. Using exit discussions about people who leave under unsatisfactory circumstances catalog the ‘must, want and avoid’ characteristics to succeed in your organization.

3] Give yourself an out. Agree on a probationary period with your new hires.

4] Test people you interview on their core values. Everyone can express excellent core values but these can be subjective puffery. Test them to tell you examples of their core values in action. Look for good stories of character and competence.

5] Use a trusted recruiter when possible. Many head hunters are not good enough to be good recruiters, good consultants and good friends. But some are. Find one for yourself.


Posted by Jerome Shore

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15 October 2015 ~ Comment

Coaching, Mentoring, Training

I was coaching a client today about an upcoming job interview. There was a need to discuss answers to the question “How do you lead?”

One part of the answer had to do with a leader helping people grow in the job. I suggested three strategies.

Coaching is polishing skills someone already has. So, for example, my client had interview skills when we first met. Some of my coaching has been to polish those skills by giving her ideas about things she could do better in interviews and tips for putting ideas into practice.

Mentoring is about being an evolutionary elder. When you’ve been in some sort of organization for a long time you’ve evolved and learned about its communication patterns [thinkĀ  ‘snakes and ladders’ ]. That gives you the perspective to mentor others on how they can operate in the organization.

Training is about filling an empty vessel. When someone has zero ‘know how’ about a certain topic as you move them from zero to some knowledge about the topic [action, tactic, skill] you’re training them.

A good metaphor for how all this works in sequence is how we grow our children. At first, when the kids are younger, there’s a great deal of training going on to get the child started. Then as the child learns some aspect of the skills, but not sophistication, coaching can polish those skills. And lastly when they’re older and they have plenty of skills to do almost everything mentoring comes when you can use your evolutionary elder experience to direct them to the right way.



Posted by Jerome Shore

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18 September 2015 ~ Comment

Survive Your Beliefs. Thrive

I’ve been reading Faithless by Tony Philpott. It’s about his journey from believer to atheist. He has a nice passage about how hard it was for him to evolve because belief in God was so ingrained growing up Catholic in Dublin. There was just no room for another view to gain traction in his environment. All media and every person around him supported and promoted the belief in God.

This article in a similar way shows how necessary it is to overcome low expectations. Where the author grew up, the wrong side of the tracks in Manchester, England, low expectations dominated. She writes that there’s lots of need in modern society to fight back against beliefs that get in the way of achievement.

I’ve also been impressed by U.S. Supreme Court Justice, Clarence Thomas, and Dr. Ben Carson, two black Americans who survived a start in poverty to reach the pinnacle of their professions. More evidence it can be done.

In my coaching work I often reference that after Roger Bannister finally broke the 4 minute mile barrier many others followed suit within a short time. Once the fact that it could be done took hold the new belief stimulated many others.

What connects the people above is that they’ve achieved heady goals while overcoming beliefs that hold most people back. Beliefs that were their own and others’.

That formula I use with my coaching clients. What goals do you have? What beliefs, yours and others’, are in your way? How can you overcome those beliefs? You can use the formula for yourself. Interestingly, developing goals is quite often the stumbling block.

Important, Urgent and Expensive

I’ve written about Steven Covey’s Activity Matrix several times: It is valuable to discern and focus on Quadrant 2, Important but not Urgent, while too much time in Quadrant 3, Urgent but not Important and Quadrant 1, Important and Urgent will keep you from investing completely in your future.

The other day a client pointed out a nice addition to the idea. She used the phrase Important, Urgent and Expensive. The meaning was that if you don’t spend time in Quadrant 2 [planning, relationship building, preparation, values clarification etc.] you’ll end up having to handle more in Quadrant 1 and it will be expensive. A simple example is your health. If you don’t take care of your health regularly as an Important but Not Urgent activity eventually fixing yourself will continue to be Important but also Urgent and, if you leave it too long, Expensive.

Think of all the times a lack of Important Planning resulted in future needs that were Important, Urgent and more Expensive than they had to be.