Over the last 2 years, I have been blessed with the wonderful opportunity to lead an operational execution team and we have managed to put together a group of fine professionals. They combine knowledge and experience but also curiosity for improvement and a hunger for growth. It has reached a point where we need to stop and look around and reflect. The conclusion I have reached is that we dedicate ourselves to execute plans that are being handed to us… right? More reflection is needed to find the real purpose: We hold in our hands the service delivery promise to our clients. Suddenly a job with no apparent complexity has become one with the highest possible stakes.
We expect people to know how to communicate brilliantly. In fact, we take this skill so for granted that we don’t bother to teach so called “soft skills” at school, at university or even in most work-placed training environments.
If you have been on a training course that I have run, you will likely have heard me lament this fact.
The Leadership Learning Log is a journal which evidences learning and skills development. It is not just a diary or record of ‘what you have done’, but more to the point it is a record of what you have learnt, tried and critically reflected upon.
I use the Leadership Learning Log in my Coaching Master Class (CMC) programme as a tool to follow up the training. I call this ‘Activity 1: Looking Back’. At the end the training I challenge participants to run up to five substantial pre-planned coaching sessions over the following six week period. I ask them to select two of these sessions for self-assessment – the ‘Best’ and the ‘Most Challenging’ – and answer the questions in the Leadership Learning Log for each session. This is their preparation for our first on-to-one coach-the-coach session.
For this article we go back to my friend Allen Tu in Shanghai. Allen is KCGFF Sales Team Leader for Maersk (China) Shipping Co and he attended my Coaching Master Class (CMC) programme in 2011. Using my material he kicked off his ‘Buddy’ Coaching programme in 2016 for his direct report sales managers. One of those managers is Jerry Chen who is the senior manager focussing on Electronic key clients. And Jennifer Yao is an account manager reporting in to Jerry.
In this second article about their coaching experience, we look at how Jerry used the Leadership Learning Log self-assessment questions to reflect on his ‘Best’ case coaching session with Jennifer.
In the last six months, I have been involved in the journey of digitalization. I am very passionate about it as there is no limit to what can be achieved when a large group of professionals get together and commit themselves to do things that have not been done before in the shipping business. However, this journey also brings an opportunity to start thinking about the role of humans in this process.
I know I need development but will I make a good buying decision?
Were you working for someone somewhere and frustrated at how you saw the business being run? Did you think you could do better and so struck out on your own? You recognise you could be a better leader but are concerned about making a poor buying decision for your development.
Your business is doing OK. It employs a dozen or more people incurring a monthly salary bill of the order of some tens of thousands of pounds. Yet, you have a lingering sense of frustration that your people are not doing what you need them to do.
Is the boot now on the other foot with some of your people feeling like you did that you could do better. The likelihood is that like you were they are probably your better performers and could more easily find a job elsewhere. Lose them and your business will suffer a marked dent in its performance. It is not that they are irreplaceable (no one is; you can lose someone to an accident or a lottery win), but they are effective and efficient workers. What can you do differently as their leader to improve the odds that they will stay?