How to Use Coaching Moments as a Leader

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How to Use Coaching Moments as a Leader

It was October 2016, my first day at Berkeley Executive Coaching Institute (Berkeley ECI). The room was full of new faces from all over the globe, full of anticipation and wonder. Dr. Mark Rittenberg walks to the front of the room, faces us with a warm smile, and asks: “So, when did you all decide to be boring?”

Silence. Complete silence.

This single question has stuck with me ever since. What a powerful question that was and still is to me. In all candor, I think I am still pondering my answer. What a gift that is. That single question really made me sit back, reflect, and embark on a journey of self-discovery. And this journey continues today and every day.

I did not want to be boring….so why did I make choices that took me down that path? And what new choices was I going to make? What really, truly mattered to me? Huh. Simple questions with powerful impact.

The Power of Inquiry

Coaching can elicit a very similar response to the experience I had.  Coaching is about leveraging the power of inquiry.  I have found that powerful, open-ended questions that elicit reflection and deep thought can be extremely powerful in helping someone find a way forward. A way that is genuine to them.

For example, after Berkeley ECI, I made two commitments to myself – to get involved in animal welfare (I joined the Board of Berkeley Humane) and to pursue my certification in Pilates (another passion of mine). I truly believe, had I not heard - and felt - that question, I may have continued to dream about wanting to do these things, including creatively formulating a host of convenient excuses as to why I wouldn’t/couldn’t/shouldn’t do them.

But, I didn’t. I did not want to be boring and one dimensional, so I did it. And the fulfillment I have experienced from these choices cannot be underestimated. I have moved forward, in a way that is genuine to who I am.

Inquiry and Leadership

I have also seen how inquiry can be a very powerful tool as a leader. Not only do great questions encourage the other person to think through a situation in that moment, they also show your respect for them and their abilities.

Questions I often find myself asking others are: “How are you thinking about next steps?” What needs to happen next?” “What is your plan?” or “What are the possible solutions?”

The impact this has had is notable. While before, team members would come to me seeking answers, they now come to me with some well thought out solutions, and we use our time to brainstorm and play out the scenarios. I find that this creates a dialogue and room for experimentation and reflection. It also is a lot more interesting and rewarding for me as the leader.  For example, I have often had 1:1s with team mates who have left the discussion saying, “Thanks. That really helped me think this through.”

Inquiry is also a great way to encourage creativity. A question like “What are the possible solutions?” encourages the other person to think big, and consider many options (often ones that have not been considered before).

It can also lead to a dialogue with others.  They may start to ask themselves, “What solutions have I not thought of?” “What am I missing?” “Who might help me think this through?”

In a team setting, this can drive creative discussions, build teamwork and encourage creativity in others. In most cases where there is no one right answer, this can be very useful. 

For example, my team often arranges brainstorm sessions, and anyone can set these up at any time. The idea is that someone needs some help working through a tough project and the whole team comes together to discuss.  Not only are these fun, they are productive and build teamwork. I love it when these meetings happen.

So, as you continue your journey as a leader, I encourage you to think of ways you can: 1) choose to not be boring and 2) bring coaching moments into your work through powerful inquiry.

What are the possible ways this could happen for you? What would this look and feel like for you?  

So here’s my question to you: When will you decide to NOT be boring?


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Trisha Colton, is Head of Executive Search at Adobe and is a certified Executive Coach by the Berkeley Executive Coaching Institute. She is also a guest contributor to the Berkeley Executive Coaching Institute.


Want to learn more?

The Executive Coaching Certification offers an opportunity for both deep self reflection and the development of the skills required to be a trusted coach to business professionals. Candidates of the program include accomplished business leaders who wish to incorporate executive coaching into their management practice within an organization, as well as individuals who wish to begin or further develop a career as an independent executive coach. Learn more about how it can help you and your team develop as leaders.


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Leadership is Love: The Power of Human Connections | Dr. Mark Rittenberg | TEDxCincinnati

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Leadership is Love: The Power of Human Connections | Dr. Mark Rittenberg | TEDxCincinnati

When in your life did you stop singing? When in your life did you stop dancing? When in your life did you stop telling stories? This Navajo wisdom, which became part of the multi-cultural pedagogy of the late anthropologist, Angeles Arrien, serves as a guideline for self-love and leads to a powerful practice of human connection. This practice is empathy. Bringing empathy into relationships results in new levels of understanding and appreciation of one another and results in heightened communication, partnership, and collaboration in both professional and personal life.

Berkeley Executive Coaching Institute Founder Dr. Mark Rittenberg delivered this talk at TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx.

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Leadership Coaching Webinar: Why VPs Should Coach Their Engineers

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Leadership Coaching Webinar: Why VPs Should Coach Their Engineers

Do you dream of a team of engineers who proactively solve problems? Do you wish your one-on-ones and team meetings were powerful opportunities to truly grow your people and allow you to leverage your own unique leadership gifts and talents?

Learn how to use coaching to close the gap between engineers and management. Join us for an interactive discussion about coaching your people to build trust and empower teams for results.

"Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other”
- John F. Kennedy

Join us for an interactive webinar with the Berkeley Executive Coaching Institute (Berkeley ECI) faculty as they discuss how being a coach for your teams will powerfully complement your current leadership skillset, with a particular focus on the challenges and opportunities for those in the high tech industry.

You will learn about leadership lessons based on real-world stories and experiences but most importantly, you'll be given the insights of how to translate such lessons into your unique situations and context. 

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Transforming Hospital Culture

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Transforming Hospital Culture

The first cohort of participants from UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital. Dr. Wolfgang Stehr is in the center in the orange shirt.

The first cohort of participants from UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital. Dr. Wolfgang Stehr is in the center in the orange shirt.

"We can revolutionize health care through trust and connection with each other ... This can be as powerful as any new procedures, treatments or antibiotics." Dr. Wolfgang Stehr.

In this article from BerkeleyHaas Magazine, Summer 2017 "The Berkeley Advantage", read how Mark Rittenberg and the Berkeley Executive Coaching Institute are working with Dr. Wolfgang Stehr and the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital to transform operating room culture through our Leadership Communications programs.

"By the end of [Mark's] class, I was so inspired by the work, by how it made me think about my colleagues, and even how I felt about the world," said Stehr. "I wanted to break down silos in the hospital and create a better experience for patients and staff."

Read more: https://mydigitalpublication.com/display_article.php?id=2832426&view=423319

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