Box of Crayons Blog

Aligning Coaching with Strategic Priorities

In theory, coaching can be a powerful way to shift behaviour, increase engagement, enhance thinking and generally make a difference to the way people do business and the way businesses can succeed.

But it may not be working.

Consider these sad survey results:

  • One in four (23%) thought coaching had significantly affected their job performance
  • Only 20% felt it had significantly contributed to their job satisfaction
  • More than half of the respondents (60%) said coaching had slight, little or no impact on their job performance
  • 10% even said coaching had made them less satisfied with their jobs!

If the very goal of most organizational coaching is to connect people with purpose, passion and priorities, then what has gone so terribly, terribly wrong?

Coaching skills need to be embedded within the organization. In a landmark 2000 Harvard Business Review study, Daniel Goleman’s Leadership That Gets Results, research discovered that a manager’s leadership style was responsible for 30% of the company’s bottom-line profitability. Goleman noted, “Although the coaching style may not scream “bottom-line results,” it delivers them.”

Each and every manager should be equipped with the coaching skills needed to engage their teams in the work that matters. Sounds simple enough, but the leap from theory to practice is proving tricky.

One of the main reasons is that time-crunched managers are finding it difficult to translate the skills learned in a coaching workshop to the their day-to-day work life. One-off training sessions are a pretty lousy way of trying to shift ingrained behaviours. Let’s face it – if you’ve behaving in a certain way (let me tell you what to do/let me solve that for you) for the last 5 – 40 years and getting rewarded for it, 6 hours in a classroom is unlikely to have much effect.

For coaching to serve a business objective, it has to be useful on both a personal level, an organizational level and on an everyday basis.

What’s in It for Me?

There needs to be personal context, or more bluntly: how will this help me and my work? Getting managers to see how coaching can be not just another thing to add to the to-do list, but rather a way of actually reducing their own workload while increasing the focus on their own ‘great work’ builds the likelihood of it being a tool that’s used.

Show the Business Context

Here at Box of Crayons, we’ve found that enhancing coaching skills works best when it’s serving a specific business purpose – for instance, building team resilience before a corporate re-branding and reorganization, increasing key customer retention or reducing the churn of front-line sales staff. Context allows managers to see coaching as a support and a solution – and not just the latest HR trend.

Facing the Time-Crunched Reality

There are ways and means of creating a program that is connected to the strategic priorities of the organization – one that acknowledges the reality of most managers’ working “time-crunched” lives. Good coaching isn’t (and shouldn’t be) touchy-feely. It allows managers to move from “solution providers” to “solution enablers”.

Posted in organizational culture | Tagged

Navigating the Virtual World

In our digital world, it can seem virtually impossible to bring isolated teams together. But as a leader, it’s your job to manage groups from afar. So how do you engage your teams when you’re not in the same room? How do you stand out when you’re operating behind a screen or speaker?

These are the themes that two Certified Master Facilitators will be exploring in the second webinar for NetSpeed Learning’s 2014 Thought Leader Webinar Series.

In Virtual Facilitation: Leading Distant Teams through a Facilitative Approach, Michael Wilkinson, Managing Director at Leadership Strategies, Inc., and Richard Smith, Certified Master Facilitator at Leadership Strategies, Inc., will outline the facilitation skills you need to adapt to the virtual world and empower your team.

After attending this one-hour webinar, you’ll be able to:

  • Prepare for successful virtual sessions with the “6 Ps of Preparation”
  • Apply virtual engagement strategies and ground rules to keep your teams engaged and focused
  • Manage dysfunction in virtual meetings and interactions with facilitation best practices

Learn more about Michael and Richard’s webinar, Virtual Facilitation: Leading Distant Teams through a Facilitative Approach. Be sure to sign up!

Posted in productivity

Twofer Tuesday: On Bravery & Making Connections

In the Tools for the Time-Crunch Manager LinkedIn group (have you joined yet?!) I shared these pieces on finding your courage and making connections! Enjoy…

Is It Time to be Brave?

This is just a wonderful video. It’s “long” by internet standards, about 10 minutes or so. But absolutely inspiring and touching.

It tells the story of two women in their 70s plucking up the courage to do something for the very first time. I won’t spoil it by saying more.

(And after you watch it … I’d love to hear what your brave act be today?)

See: Watching These Two Old Women Fly for the First Time is Pure Gold

You Can’t Do Great Work by Yourself

It’s one of the paradoxes of Great Work: if you’re doing it by yourself, it’s probably not Great Work.

But that means getting out and engaging with others. For some of us, that’s easy. The rest of us can struggle a little.

Courtesy of my friend Adam McCormack, here’s a terrific article on the Art of Introductions. It’s a useful and different twist on “networking”. And some of you may be surprised as to where your most useful connections may lie…

Read: There’s Someone I’d Like You to Meet…

Posted in self-management

Michael’s Sign Language

What’s worth savouring today?

Get provoked daily. Sign up our Great Work Provocations.

Like a shot of espresso in the morning without the caffeine.
Feel free to share – Blog it, Facebook it, Pin it…anyway you like…

Posted in Sign Language

How to Be Strategic: The Discipline of Three

In this video, I’m sharing one BIG question and one essential tool to help you get more strategic. Along the way, I’ll introduce you to the best biscuits ever, use the “straight jacket” approach to help you get the focus you need to achieve your goals and demonstrate the discipline of three.

Looking for more ways to get strategic? Register for the Tools for the Time Crunched Manager webinar.


Posted in self-management | Tagged

BOC Receives 2014 Leadership 500 Excellence Award

gI_84810_4271_leadership500logoWe rarely toot our own horn on this blog, but today is an exception because I’m so proud that Box of Crayons was recognized by and Leadership Excellence as a Top 15 (“Leadership Partners & Providers – International”) award category for 2014.

For the past 30 years, Leadership Excellence has identified and recognized the Top 500 leadership organizations and their strategies and solutions in their yearly ranking.

“Companies that have deep leadership bench strength have significantly higher productivity per employee as well as earnings for shareholders. It’s that simple,” says Debbie McGrath, CEO of “Leadership is an art that requires constant practice and focus to master. The firms recognized in the Leadership 500 Excellence Awards program significantly help firms grow and develop their leaders through some of the most impactful programs we have ever seen.”

If you are looking to build leadership, resilience and focus in your teams and managers, take a look at our coaching programs or contact us for more information on how to arrange a workshop for your organization.

Posted in coaching skills, organizational culture

Twofer Tuesday: On Great Work & Motivation

This week in the Tools for the Time-Crunch Manager LinkedIn group (have you joined yet?!) I shared these great articles on how to find your great work and then how to stay motivated to see it through! Enjoy…

8 Critical Questions that Lead to Great Work

Sure, they call it “finding your passion”. And I’ve never been that “hot” on the whole idea of finding your passion. There are plenty of us in this world – me included – who don’t really resonate with that as a driving force.

But finding your Great Work? Sure.

Here are eight strategies – a fancy word for great questions – that designers and entrepreneurs use to stay focused on the stuff that matters.

Read: Find Your Passion With These 8 Thought-Provoking Questions

How to Stay Motivated (With Tips From Olympians)

I know we’re in between Olympics right now, with Sochi in the rear view mirror and Rio over a year away…

But can you imagine what it must be like to be an athlete striving to compete? Sure, we get to see the peak moment when they perform. But we don’t see the endless, repetitive, gruelling, ceaseless training that’s been going on for the previous ten, fifteen, twenty years.

So how do they keep getting up each day to do it? Personally, there are days when I can be barely bothered to walk to the fridge, yet alone go out and exercise…

This article from The Atlantic lays out some of the insights and strategies these elite athletes use to stay engaged. And there’s wisdom for us all here.

Anything you’d add?

Read: How Olympians Stay Motivated

Posted in self-management

Great Work Provocation

What has this inspired for you today?

Get provoked daily. Sign up our Great Work Provocations.

Like a shot of espresso in the morning without the caffeine.
Feel free to share – Blog it, Facebook it, Pin it…anyway you like.

Posted in Provocations

Strategic Thinking: A Head-to-Head Book Review

There are a lot of books about strategic thinking out there, many of them not worth the effort. However, these two books are brilliant. But, they have very different viewpoints…

In this video, I match up Roger Martin’s “Playing to Win” against Rita Gunther McGrath’s “The End of Competitive Advantage” and explore the interesting tension between them.

If you’re looking to get more strategic about where you put your focus, consider signing up for my next Tools for the Time Crunched Manager webinar.

Posted in self-management