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Courage in Coaching with Mitchell Simon

April 18, 2012

Linkage’s Director of Marketing, Sarah Breigle sat down with Mitchell Simon at the 2011 Global Institute for Leadership Development (GILD), he was participating as an executive coach. Mr. Simon got his JD/MBA at UCLA and then spent 13 years leading product development, strategy, and strategic alliances at Motorola and Nokia. Here, he shares his insight on coaching in business:

How has the practice of coaching changed? Are leaders and managers facing different challenges today than they did 5-10 years ago?
As Gary Hamel stated, “Change has changed.” The last 5-10 years have seen acceleration in the pace of change, rapid ups and downs in the economy, and practically “overnight” business successes met with unprecedented business failures. I believe that the primary purpose that coaches play today is to support clients and client teams to courageously coordinate action in the face of rapid and unpredictable change.

Why is courage so important?
Courage is more important than ever today because any hesitation, inauthenticity, or inability to rapidly coordinate action in the face of change is a death knell. With so many choices and so many changing variables, if my client does not have clarity on what he cares about or what she is committed to, my client is at risk of having a competitor beat them out through agility, speed, or better execution of strategy.

As a result, my work as a coach is to get my clients to be extremely clear on what their primary care is, and give them the conversational tools to facilitate actions across their team to rapidly and fearlessly deploy in the face of uncertainty, skepticism, competition, and doubt.

I find that the predominant handicap that most teams have in moving from good to great, is their inability to speak from what they truly care about. Once I can get team members to be courageous in their speaking, speaking from a place of what they are truly committed to, the teams move to a place where they can achieve anything. Without courage as the primary competency, teams will be unable to compete and win in the future.

The most important questions that I ask my clients are:
1. What is it that you care deeply about?
2. What is it that your team members care deeply about?
3. Are your cares front and center at all times?
4. Do your conversations, actions, feedback, and processes demonstrate that you are meticulous, accountable, and disciplined in taking care of what you care deeply about?

I find that it takes courage to answer all four questions authentically. My role as a coach is to demand that all of my clients and their teams have the courage and the competencies to answer all of these questions in the affirmative.

About the Author:

Mitchell Simon is the president of a leadership development company where he coaches CEOs, Directors, and their teams to courageously achieve and maintain the #1 position in their industry. He works with several GILD participants including Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, CSC, and QSC Audio Products through facilitating retreats, one-on-one coaching, and team development.

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