Speaking from Experience

Getting Practical

“I just need to hang around with you for a while; you understand this people thing!” muttered the no-nonsense V.P. after observing me without prior comment for three days in a coaching skills workshop. John Wayne and my client have a lot in common: cards held close to the chest and a gruff, tough exterior housing a heart of gold. After we helped him smooth out a few of the John Wayne edges, he was sold on the value of introducing a similar practice with his direct reports that they could then pass on to their people.

We chose a scaling system first introduced to me by Michael Wakefield at the Center for Creative Leadership, and together we reviewed each of his direct reports, exploring three questions:

  1. On a scale of 1-10, how effective would you say this person is?
  2. On what basis do you assign that number?
  3. What would it take for them to move one step closer to a 10?

He then asked his direct reports to assess themselves using the same three questions, giving him a chance to bridge any gaps between their perception and his, and to identify development strategies and targets together.

Mutual assessment and collaboration with an eye toward development is not only an important technique of coaching; it is essential to the spirit of coaching. Since adults learn best through experience, the scaling system provided an ideal model for his team to first apply to their own development and then replicate with others. And develop they did, for by integrating this one simple, practical method, their performance accelerated in both business deliverables and leadership bench strength—results even John Wayne couldn’t have argued with!