Leslie Ungar, The Inner Brilliance of Electric Impulse, Inc.

The Mirror of Reality

Leslie’s Articles

Can You See Yourself?

James Carville changed history when he gave the now famous line, “It’s the economy, stupid”, to then candidate Bill Clinton. He used the scalpel of clarity to cut through multiple campaign issues to get to the heart of the electorate’s priorities. Let’s apply the same scalpel of clarity to another popular issue, coaching.

Recently, I spent 5 days in the hospital. Not as a patient. We did not leave my dad’s bedside for 5 days. In his ICU room, there was a computer. My only connection to the outside world.

Sometimes in the middle of the night I would Google . . . anything: from Gottex bathing suits to websites of executive coaches like me. I found alot of gobbly-gook on coaching websites: we take you to the next level, we push you out of your comfort zone, we unleash the inner you. As Seinfield would say, yadda, yadda, yadda.

When you use the scalpel of clarity, you find that an effective coach does one thing: holds you accountable using observable, measurable evidence. Period.

My knees hurt and I didn’t know why. I looked over at my running shoes, they still looked good: white, crisp, never saw the outside. Certainly, it was too soon to replace them.

A few months into my journey for an answer, I went to the shoe store where I had my running shoes originally fitted. “Did you know”, Lenny asked, “it has been three years since you bought these?”

Impossible I thought, they still looked so good. It took an outside, objective source to hold me accountable. To give me the observable, measurable evidence that I so often emphasize to clients. It is not a matter of how we feel or what we think, we need to search for evidence. In this case, the evidence was three fold: how old my running shoes were, they failed the heel test, and an expert reviewed them.

Is there something about your performance or the performance of one of your team members that could benefit from an objective source, the mirror of reality? We are often too close to a situation to correctly assess it and hold ourselves accountable.

More and more people are using coaches. In a 2005 survey of 200 companies, 59 percent offered coaching to top management. This number is up from 29 percent a decade ago. Let’s look at “why”. As I often say, the magic is in the “why”:

  • 86 percent hired a coach to sharpen the leadership skills of high potential employees
  • 72 percent used a coach to correct behavior problems that interfered with performance
  • 64 percent wanted to insure the success of newly promoted managers
  • 58 percent wanted to help technical employees gain the leadership skills needed to work with a broad range of people and issues

On October 22 the Cleveland Browns were especially bad. Really, really bad. Midweek the Browns offensive coordinator had been replaced or fired. Whichever story you choose to believe, he was held accountable or held himself accountable for the team’s poor offensive showing. (by the way, one reason he was fired was his “communication skills”)

On October 29, one week later they scored 20 points, looked like a real football team, appeared to have a semblance of an offensive plan, an interception here, a catch there. And as an added bonus, they even won.

Books have been written and arguments made about the role of a coach. How much credit or blame do they deserve? After all, coaches don’t block or kick. The 20-13 Browns victory seems to be related to a new offensive coordinator. Did the new coach hold the players and himself to a higher level of accountability?

This is where an effective coach comes in. Whether it is to help you sharpen your leadership skills, correct behavior problems that interfere with performance, to insure the success of newly promoted managers, or to help technical employees gain leadership skills. The point is you need to find and trust an objective, external source that will hold you accountable to observable, measurable evidence. It’s about the accountability, stupid.

My knees don’t hurt anymore and I know why. Even though I looked over at my running shoes and they still looked good, it was time to replace them.

How did I know? Because I was held to a higher level of accountability by an objective, external source. The shoe expert contributed observable, measurable evidence: my running shoes were three years old, they failed the heel test, and an expert reviewed them.

You need to use the scalpel of clarity to cut through your multiple issues to get to the heart of your client or market’s priorities.

It’s all about accountability, and you’re not stupid.

Can you benefit from the mirror of reality?