mental toughness

Are Your Leaders Coaching? Or Are They Doing Something else entirely?

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 I often hear leaders today talk about the fact that they are coaching their staff. However, when I ask them more about their conversations, they are not in fact coaching, but often telling, teaching or mentoring their staff.

 Coaching is a very specific relationship, marked by a specific type of communication. According to an August 14, 2018 Harvard Business Review article by Julia Milner: “managers tend to think they’re coaching when they’re actually just telling their employees what to do.”

According to Sir John Whitmore, a leading figure in executive coaching, the definition of coaching is “unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.” When done right, coaching can also help with employee engagement; it is often more motivating to bring your expertise to a situation than to be told what to do.

An ongoing study on the topic that analysed more than 900 recorded evaluations of “coaching conversations,” showed that when many managers were asked to “coach,” they instead demonstrated a form of consulting. They provided the other person with advice or a solution. Regularly heard were comments like, “First you do this” or “Why don’t you try this?”

The author’s research looked specifically at how you can train people to be better coaches. The good news is that managers can improve their coaching skills in a short amount of time, but they do have to invest in learning how to coach in the first place.

The research looked specifically at how you can train people to be better coaches by focusing on analysing the following nine leadership coaching skills, based on the existing literature and practical experiences of leadership coaching:

· listening

· questioning

 giving feedback

· assisting with goal setting

· showing empathy

· letting the coachee arrive at their own solution

· recognizing and pointing out strengths

· providing structure

· encouraging a solution-focused approach

After a short training program aimed at teaching managers to improve coaching competencies, the result was a 40.2% increase in overall coaching ability ratings across all nine categories, on average.

Consider the key takeaways from this research:

1.   Be clear on what coaching is and what it isn’t.

2.   Let leaders practice coaching in a safe environment before working with their own teams.

3.   Invest in some form of training that includes time for participants to reflect on their coaching skills. Ask “what’s working” and “what can we do better?”

4.   Feedback from coaching experts in order to improve is helpful; how well are the coaching skills being applied.

5.   Consider regular peer coaching, in the presence of a coaching expert to provide a safe environment, and to facilitate discussions about how to overcome coaching challenges.

So, leaders take note. Coaching may not be what you thought. But real coaching leads to increased accountability and increased outcomes and problem solving. Coaching can be a significant opportunity for leaders and staff to embrace and coaching can be learned.

In designing an approach, consider the importance of learning effective coaching to ensure that leaders are not reinforcing poor coaching practices among themselves.

Wanting to create a coaching culture in your organisation? Send me an email at michelle@bakjacconsulting.com to discuss coach training for leadership.

Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Psychologist, Organisational Consultant, Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a credentialed Coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of Mental Toughness Partners and an MTQ48 accredited Mental Toughness practitioner. Michelle assists individuals and organisations to develop their Mental Toughness to improve performance, leadership, behaviour and wellbeing.

 

5 Attributes Which Can Affect Your Outcomes

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We are often faced with challenging situations on a daily basis. When we are confronted with a new situation, we tend to make a very quick automatic decision as to whether we feel we have the attributes to take a situation in our stride or whether we feel we will be challenged by the situation and get worried about how we will cope.

So when you are faced with a challenge, or a new task or even a difficult relationship, there are usually 5 attributes that we have which will impact either positively or negatively on our performance.

So ask yourself, which of these attributes you possess and what questions do you ask yourself when faced with a challenging situation?

1)   Your abilities

What can I bring to this task? What are the skills, resources or existing knowledge that I already have and what are the strengths, values or relationships I could tap into even if I don’t have the current ability?

2)   Your approach

How am I approaching this task? What are my motivation levels? What is my interest? What do I hope to achieve? Am I clear on what I want to achieve?

3)   Your reward

What could I gain if I was to become involved in this project (issue, relationship etc). What potentially could I achieve, or change in my workplace, life or in this relationship? What could I gain?

4)   Your Colleagues

How do you interact with your colleagues or with friends/associates/family? How do you enhance your relationships? Do you focus on a win/win approach?

5)   Your state of mind

Are you in a state of mind to rise to the challenge. Do you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset when it comes to the issue? Are your thoughts focused on a self-fulfilling prophecy with a negative or positive bias?

Interestingly, our state of mind accounts for at least 50% of the variation in an individual’s performance, but we only spend 5% of time optimising our performance through mental training.

It is recognised that we can enhance our mental toughness and the ability to handle many situations. An individual who has mental toughness is somebody who doesn’t choke, doesn’t go into shock and can stand up for what he/she believes in. Mental toughness allows us to handle pressure, distractions and people trying to break our concentration. It involves focus, discipline, self-confidence, patience, persistence, accepting responsibility without whining or excuses, visualising, tolerating pain and having a positive approach.

Mental toughness incorporates intervention such as a focus on visualising outcomes, managing stress, anxiety control, goalsetting, positive thinking and building confidence to manage change and challenges through coaching and targeted interventions.

Want to know more about managing your stress and developing your Mental Toughness?

If so, contact me at michelle@bakjacconsulting.com for more information.

Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Psychologist, Organisational Consultant, Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a credentialed Coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of Mental Toughness Partners and an MTQ48 accredited Mental Toughness practitioner. Michelle assists individuals and organisations to develop their Mental Toughness to improve performance, leadership, behaviour and wellbeing.

 

 

 

Practice These Habits For A Better Night’s Sleep

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We all have the odd sleepless night, especially when something is worrying us, or we are under more stress than usual. But sometimes that odd sleepless night can turn into many sleepless nights and this almost creates worry for us about going to bed. But this is in fact the very place where we should feel the safest and the most relaxed.

So, if you feel yourself tossing and turning in the dark, don’t give up — small changes in mindset and routine can help you to let go of wakeful tension and worry and get back on track for a restful night. Consider some practices to explore and no, they do not involve counting sheep.

1) Create some space in your mind. Consider settling yourself and your mind after a busy day. Before you go to bed:

Say goodnight to your devices: The first thing we need to pay attention to is getting our screens out of the room. If you have your phone or a tablet lighting up your bedside table, it’s going to disturb your sleeping patterns. It’s best if it’s not in your room at all. It’s creating activity in your mind that you have to pay attention to.

Don’t force it: We have to stop trying to fall asleep. Our brains are too smart for that. The moment we’re trying to do something, we’re creating stress on top of it. So we don’t want to try and fall asleep. See if you can let go of the notion of trying to fall asleep at all.

Try a body scan meditation: Bring mindfulness into the sleep experience. You can do a gentle body scan practice where you’re being curious about just noticing sensations in your body and your breathing. When your attention wanders or becomes frustrated, see if you can just take note of that and gently come back to being with what’s here. When we allow ourselves to be with what’s here, the body naturally goes to rest, which is what it wants to do.


2) Undo the tension in your body.  Just 10 minutes of gentle stretching and breathing, can bring calm to your whole body — paving the way for sleep to happen more naturally. If you want some ideas, try this link - guided practice.

3) Observe your sleep struggles. Do you identify as “someone who struggles to sleep” — and then you struggle more? You can release this self-fulfilling mental pattern by cultivating 7 non-judgmental attitudes toward your sleep troubles suggested by Jason Ong, a sleep Psychologist from Rush University Medical Centre.

·        Beginner’s mind

·        Remember: Each night is a new night. Be open and try something different! What you have been doing to this point is probably not working well.

·        Non-striving
Sleep is a process that cannot be forced but instead, should be allowed to unfold. Putting more effort into sleeping longer or better is counterproductive.

·        Letting go

·        Attachment to sleep or your ideal sleep needs usually leads to worry about the consequences of sleeplessness. This is counterproductive and inconsistent with the natural process of letting go of the day to allow sleep to come.

·        Non-judging
It is easy to automatically judge the state of being awake as negative and aversive, especially if you do not sleep well for several nights. However, this negative energy can interfere with the process of sleep. One’s relationship to sleep can be a fruitful subject of meditation.

·        Acceptance
Recognizing and accepting your current state is an important first step in choosing how to respond. If you can accept that you are not in a state of sleepiness and sleep is not likely to come soon, why not get out of bed? Many people who have trouble sleeping avoid getting out of bed. Unfortunately, spending long periods of time awake in bed might condition you to being awake in bed.

·        Trust
Trust your sleep system and let it work for you! Trust that your mind and body can self regulate and self correct for sleep loss. Knowing that short consolidated sleep often feels more satisfying than longer fragmented sleep can help you develop trust in your sleep system. Also, sleep debt can promote good sleep as long as it is not associated with increased effort to sleep.

·        Patience
Be patient! It’s unlikely that both the quality and quantity of your sleep will be optimal right away.

Want to know more about setting up a great wellbeing routine for yourself, email me at michelle@bakjacconsulting.com

Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Psychologist, Organisational Consultant, Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a credentialed Coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of Mental Toughness Partners and an MTQ48 accredited Mental Toughness practitioner. Michelle assists individuals and organisations to develop their Mental Toughness to improve performance, leadership, behaviour and wellbeing.

 

5 Ways You Can Fly Like An Eagle

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After a fairly hectic week with some late work day training sessions, and a busy weekend to boot, I was looking for a way to wind down on my Sunday night to give myself a bit of R&R. One of my favourite past times is to watch a great movie. None of my regulars were grabbing me, so I decided to scroll through and pick out a new movie to watch that I hadn’t seen before. My Pick – Eddie The Eagle. I thought it looked inspirational and was also relevant given the current Winter Olympics.

I had not been a particular fan of winter sports (not being a fan of the cold – Brrrr) and had not in fact heard of Eddie The Eagle. However I found the movie really inspirational.

The movie is loosely based on Eddie (Michael) Edwards, who overcomes adversity to be a ski jumper at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. The movie tells the story of a young boy (the son of a plasterer) who desperately wants to compete in the Olympics – and he does not care initially in what event. As a boy, he wore callipers on his legs and when they are removed, he tries every sport imaginable (from holding his breathe underwater, to high jumping, to hurdles) but without any success. He finally turns his attention to winter sports and skiing and after a lot of hard work and dedication only narrowly misses out on making the Olympic team. So he turns his attention to Ski Jumping and being Britain’s first Olympic Ski Jumper.

Everybody told him he couldn’t do it, even his father. But he wanted this so badly. He overcame adversity including a significant crash after a very bad landing, working different jobs and sleeping in broom closets, and ridicule from peers. But he didn’t care – he just wanted to be an Olympian.

When Eddie finally qualified, he was so overjoyed. He had already fulfilled his dream, even before he competed, and when he arrived, he won the crowd over with his joyful enthusiasm at just competing.

When he did compete, Eddie the Eagle finished last in all three of his jumps at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary, but what he did do was manage to beat his own personal record. His responses to achieving his personal best jumps, were overt displays of joy and exuberance, flapping his wings in front of an adoring crowd. He didn’t care about coming last, he cared about competing and achieving his best.

"You have captured our hearts. And some of you have soared like eagles," remarked Frank King, the games' chief executive, during a speech at the closing ceremonies. 

In my opinion, Eddie showed the true nature of a growth mindset:

“He didn’t want to be THE best. He wanted to do HIS best”

 I think we could all learn a lot about ourselves from this great little flick. Think about these opportunities to fly like an eagle and embrace a growth mindset.

1)   Run your own race

Stop comparing yourself to others and their success. Define what you want your personal success to look like. Start to run your own race and derive joy from being better than you were yesterday.

2)   Embrace a challenge

Step outside your comfort zone and get comfortable being uncomfortable. Recognise that you will come out stronger on the other side and learn a lot about yourself and how to tap into your strengths.

3)   Persist in the face of setbacks

Don’t let obstacles or setbacks discourage you from your path. Recognise your self-image is not tied to your success and how you look to other people. A setback or perceived failure is just another opportunity to learn. So whatever happens, you still win.

4)   Put in the Effort

We may have natural talent or none at all. But the only way to mastery is effort and lots of it. Effort is necessary to grow and build skill and capability, so sweat and tears are a must.

5)   Criticism is just another source of information

We often smart when receiving criticism or negative feedback and shy away from it. But if we embrace a growth mindset and see criticism as information that we can use to grow and improve, then we can start to recognise that negative feedback does not have to be directed about us as a person, but about our current level of skill and ability – and this we can always improve with effort.

So, when we have a growth mindset, we can create positive feedback loops that encourage us to keep learning and improving and run our own race.

If you are interested in developing your growth mindset, contact me at michelle@bakjacconsulting.com

Michelle Bakjac is an experienced Psychologist, Organisational Consultant, Coach, Speaker and Facilitator. As Director of Bakjac Consulting, she is a credentialed Coach with the International Coach Federation (ICF) and a member of Mental Toughness Partners and an MTQ48 accredited Mental Toughness practitioner. Michelle assists individuals and organisations to develop their Mental Toughness to improve performance, leadership, behaviour and wellbeing.