Category Archives: Leadership

Leadership Is About Coaching – Here’s How To Do It Well

Michael Kogutek, nonprofit management coach
Michael Kogutek

Michael Bungay Stanier is a Canadian coach. He is the author of “ The Coaching Habit.” He is one of my favorite people on coaching.

The following piece of his is terrific.” If you’re a leader or a manager, you probably wear a lot of hats. You’re a project manager, delegator, spokesperson, and most importantly, a coach.

But the problem is that no one ever tells you how to be an effective coach, or even what that means. Are you supposed to act like a sports coach? A therapist? Perform some bizarre (and arcane) HR ritual?

The answer is none of the above. In fact, it’s about making one tiny change to your behavior, one that will bring about significant impact. Being a coach is about being more curious, and being slow to give advice and take action.

But the truth is, most of us are advice-giving maniacs. We do not listen as much as we should. Being curious involves asking questions. The best question is What else?? It is based on the understanding that the first answer someone gives is never their only answer.

Coaching is an essential leadership behavior. Curiosity is the driving force in being more coach-like. Questions fuel curiosity. Remember as a leader and a manager, your job is not to have all of the answers-but to guide your employees to come up with the right ones.”

Author:  Michael Kogutek, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Good Leaders are Confident…But OOPS! Overconfident?

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

Good leaders are confident. Their confidence inspires trust and a sense of fulfillment for the mission. But there can be a fine line between confidence and overconfidence. The Wall Street Journal recently published an excellent article about this conundrum.[1] I will address the four questions, which are very explanatory, then add the characteristics that show up in leaders who are arrogant (overconfident?).

Four questions to ask yourself: The author of the article, Sydney Finkelstein, notes four questions that allow a leader to do a self-evaluation. They are:

            • How much time do I really spend listening?

            • Do I originate most of the ideas?

            • Do I often feel like I am the smartest person in the room?

            • Do I think of myself as indispensable to my business’s success?

The article includes some findings from a random survey of workers across the US, done online, that distinguishes characteristics of ‘bad’ managers called “The Impact of Arrogance”. Many relate to being overconfident. They are:

            • Doesn’t show concern for my career and personal development.

            • Isn’t open or interested in feedback.

            • Wants to prove himself/herself right.

            • Isn’t self-aware.

            • Betrays trust.

            • Plays favorites.

            • Doesn’t listen.

Believing in yourself makes for better outcomes. But as the author says, “in management as with everything else, you really can have too much of a good thing”.

Author:  Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org



[1]Confident or Overconfident? Four questions to Ask Yourself” by Dr. Sydney  Finkelstein (Dartmouth College), the Wall Street Journal {C-Suite Strategies), February 25, 2019.

What We Can Learn From Baseball

Dave Blankenhorn

A recent article, authored by Dave Blankenhorn (my son), in The Zweig Letter uses an interesting baseball story to illustrate the importance of “top down” and “ bottom up” communication in any organization.

There was much controversy in the last World Series when Dave Roberts, the Dodger manager, removed pitcher Rich Hill in the seventh inning who had at that point held the Sox to only one hit. The result was a Dodger loss which led to their eventual defeat.

What happened?

Following the game, it was revealed that the decision to remove Hill stemmed from a quick statement Hill had made in the dugout at the end of the sixth inning expressing concern to Roberts that he might not be able to hold up much longer. Roberts did not reply. So after walking the lead off hitter in the seventh Roberts walked to the mound to simply check in on Hill. He did not raise his hand signaling for a reliever. It was just a check-in. However, Hill assumed he was coming to remove him. Without a word he handed the ball to Roberts and walked off the mound. This lack of communication changed the trajectory of the game and in the end the World Series. Both said later that had either of them followed up with a question to clarify the intent of the other then Hill would have stayed in the game and the World Series would possibly have ended in a different way.

This story highlights the importance of complete and clear communication in any organization. Leadership needs to set a clear vision on the culture and strategy and let the staff know where to focus their energy. In turn staff needs to listen to staff to gain that input on how to be more effective. Any explicit or implicit message should be clarified to avoid a “7th inning” moment that could do great harm to your organization.

Author: Dave Blankenhorn, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Three Reasons to Hire a Coach

Karen Haren

Leaders in not-for-profit organizations frequently ask why would I hire a coach. In my own experience as a leader and in coaching executives, here are three reasons you might want to hire a coach.

It can be lonely at the top. Even though there are others who work in your organization, you can feel isolated. As a leader, you wrestle with many issues that you can’t share with your colleagues, direct reports, boss or the board. A coach could help you talk through the problem or opportunity and develop your strategies.

You are dealing with change. You are stepping into uncharted territory with a new job, project or responsibilities. You may want to make a career move or you want to retire. A new phase can be unsettling and cause insecurity. A coach can listen to you and help you chart your course. A coach can accelerate your learning through the transition.

You are up to your assets in alligators. It’s hard to remember your objective was to drain the swamp. You may be stressing over a personnel problem or worried that you can’t raise enough money to keep the organization afloat. The three most frequent subjects raised by not for profit executives are personnel, fund raising and boards of directors. A coach can let you vent and help you work through options to chart your course.

Coaching is a relationship process that can help you solve problems, manage change and/or reach goals. Being clear about your reason for hiring a coach will accelerate the process of reaching your objective.

Author:  Karen Haren, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Conducting an Effective Meeting

Michael Kogutek, nonprofit management coach
Michael Kogutek

Do you dread attending the weekly staff meeting and other meetings on your calendar?? Melanie Woodword from Balance Small Business offers the following advice:

“7 Tips For Effective Meetings 

Establish the Meeting’s Objectives

Before sending out a meeting alert and putting it on your calendar, ask yourself why you want to hold a meeting and determine the objective.  Is it a meeting to bring employees up to speed on a change in management?  Are you making a decision regarding a project?  Is it a brainstorming session for a new business strategy?  Be certain that gathering employees in a room for face-to-face discussion and interaction is necessary for your objective; if the purpose of the meeting is a status update, perhaps sending out a group email is a better use of everyone’s time.

Communicate the Purpose of the Meeting

When inviting others to your meeting, be clear about the purpose of the meeting.  This will not only keep you focused but will enable employees to attend the meeting prepared either with documents or with thoughts on the matter at hand.  Communication is essential for an effective meeting.

Be Selective about Attendees

No one appreciates attending a meeting that has no connection to them or their work.  Determine who really needs to be there and why.  Whose input do you need?  Which colleagues must participate and will likely have questions on the matter?  If someone is on your list that simply needs to be informed of what was discussed, then do them a favor and take them off the list.  They can be easily updated with a follow-up email.  Time is valuable and no employer wants to negatively impact productivity by having employees sit in on meetings that are unnecessary.

You Must Create a Meeting Agenda

Holding a meeting without a set meeting agenda is akin to climbing into a sailboat and hoping the wind takes you where you want to go.  You will – quite literally – be lost at sea.  Your meeting agenda will guide you to your final destination.  Include topics to be discussed and who will be addressing each item if others are taking part.  Email the agenda to attendees ahead of time so everyone knows what to expect and comes prepared.

Stick to Your Plan

Even the best-planned meeting will go awry if the discussion gets derailed and goes off on tangential topics.  This is why most meetings fail to achieve their objective – they do not stay on track. At the outset of your meeting, establish ground rules and a specified time allotment for each item on your agenda as well as the overall meeting. For example, “Thank you for coming today.  Everyone’s time is valuable and it is my goal to keep this meeting to less than an hour.  Let’s stick to the items at hand and reserve discussion on other subjects for a later time.”  Rein in anyone who is monopolizing the discussion or introducing topics, not on the agenda.

Keep Them Engaged”

Visual aids go a long way in keeping everyone focused on the meeting and not on their phones or the clock.  Post the agenda on a Smart Board in the front of the room.  Project visuals onto a large screen using a computer; anything to keep their eyes up front.

Summarize the Meeting

Ever leave a meeting and have a totally different takeaway than your colleague?  Make sure this doesn’t happen with your meeting by emailing a follow up within 24 hours.  Include a summary, highlight key topics addressed, tasks assigned and indicate deadlines.  Sending this out in a timely fashion will ensure that attendees don’t head in the wrong direction.

Author: Michael Kogutek, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC,org

Characteristics of a Good Leader

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

When plans don’t go as we hoped they would, or we get discouraged, we may ask ourselves what went wrong. What kind of a leader have I become? I recently read a very interesting article that provided the ten most important characteristics of a good leader. The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) is known for its rigorous research on leadership styles.  Their commitment to growing good leaders is unparalleled.

Based on their research – interviews with leaders from many parts of the world – CCL found a consistent core of leadership traits. They are…

            • Honesty                                • Commitment

            • Ability to delegate                • Positive attitude

            • Communication                    • Creativity

            • Sense of humor                     • Ability to inspire

            •Confidence                            • Intuition

I have already blogged about self-awareness – a good start on knowing if we possess any of these qualities. Another test might be to focus on a good leader we know and ask, “do they have these characteristics?”

May this information help your organization select and develop strong and authentic leaders.

Author: Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Book Review by Michael D. Kogutek

   “Extreme Ownership” Jocko Willnik and Leif Barbin, St. Martin’s Press (2017)

Michael Kogutek, nonprofit management coach
Michael Kogutek

“Extreme Ownership “is written by two former Navy SEALs, Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, who now head up a leadership training and  executive coaching  company.  The battlefield experiences they share in this book are intense and vivid.

The book is written in a very basic and clear way. The authors convey one main point per chapter by sharing a story from their war experiences, then highlighting the main  leadership principle of that story, and finally giving a concrete example of how this principle applies in business and organizational  settings.

The main points can be summarized as follows:

(a) The leader is always responsible and there is no blame to go around. This is the “extreme ownership” concept.

(b) The team must believe in the mission.

(c) Collaborate with other teams to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.

(d) Keep plans simple, clear, and concise.

(e) Check and monitor your ego.

(f) Assess your priorities, and then act on them one at a time.

(g) Clarify your mission and plan

(h) Communicate with your leadership team

(i) Execute decisively, even when things are chaotic.

 The simplicity, clarity, and structure of this book are its greatest strength.

A weakness in the  book is that it  does not take in account how emotions factor in  leadership, management and decision making. The book is totally alpha and needs to be balanced. It is a terrific read and I highly recommend it to you and your teams!! As Jocko would say in SEAL lingo: “Get after it!”

Author: Michael Kogutek, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Book Review by Michael D. Kogutek

Michael Kogutek, nonprofit management coach
Michael Kogutek

Judith Glaser’s book is a welcome treat for coaches and mentors looking to expand their professional horizons. Her thesis is that the relationship is central and key is providing change and transformation. She comes from a coaching perspective and states that conversations build trust that move us as individuals and organizations.Her definition of trust in human relations is that, “ I get that you authentically have my best interest at heart, not just your own.” Glaser states,”People trust us more when we have their best interest at heart.” She details the case of making sure that one sets up key parameters for enhancing this process. It formalizes the theory behind how conversations evolve and the position of the different speakers. What sets this book apart from others is that the author brings neuroscience and research into the equation to substantiate her assumptions. Glaser’s book can help take your leadership to the next level by showing you how to enhance the quality of your conversations. I highly recommend it!

“ Conversational Intelligence” Judith E. Glaser Bibliomotion (2014)

Author: Michael Kogutek, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Organizational Changes Require Good “Facilitation Skills”

Adrianne Geiger Dumond

When organizations go through change, good leadership skills are necessary to withstand the uncertainty. A leader with good facilitation skills can assure a smooth transition and support transparency. The skills are required for good collaboration and consensus building. A significant skill to this learning is the ability to ask good questions, which fosters meaningful group discussion. Involving the whole group provides authenticity to the discussion and helps the group think through difficult issues.

How it might work: The CEO has announced some major changes in policy or operations, and you are about to meet with your staff to clarify the changes. You are interested in modeling for them the way in which they may take their teams through the same process. You want to prepare all levels of management to explain and communicate the message. Here are some questions to help the process:

What are your questions or concerns about the changes? Your goal is here is to let the staff know that you are open to their input and are willing to listen. You might even choose to take notes so you can follow up later, or brief the CEO. Be sure to emphasize that all comments and information are confidential to only those in the room. This needs to be emphasized early on.

Who on your team will be the most affected by the changes? It is important for staff to clearly think through how the changes will affect all employees. This is your chance to help them realize the impact of change and personalize the resolution. You can assure them of your support and that of the organization’s.

Can anyone share with us how they plan to meet with their team for this? An open discussion about methods and strategies helps others to formulate their plans – providing learning for those more hesitant or less skilled. It is important to give affected people as many options and as much participation as possible.

What else can I do to make your challenges easier? It’s important for a leader to demonstrate humility and accountability, and not just authority in helping employees adapt and accept the resolutions to the changes. Patience and support are key leadership skills here – longer than one might feel is reasonable. We do not all change at the same pace. Keeping a positive attitude and being accessible also helps.

Author: Adrianne Geiger DuMond, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org

Don’t Forget to Plan for the Unexpected

Dave Blankenhorn

Often in our planning we forget to look at what might happen in favor what we want to happen. As we consider our goals for the coming year give some thought to what might upset your best laid plans.

What internal and external threats could disrupt your mission?

Internal risks could include unplanned expenses, disruptions in revenue, inadequate reserves, or IT crashes, internal fraud or theft, inadequate insurance coverage, hacking, or reputation risk.

External issues could be how to operate if there is a natural disaster, economic downturn, or regulation changes.

Identify the risks, measure the possible impact of each, determine the probability of the occurrence of the risk, then prepare a plan to mitigate those with the highest potential to damage your organization.

These should be then incorporated as part of your overall plan tied together with your contingency plan.

Continue to review and update your assumptions during the year. As the Boy Scouts say: “Be Prepared”.

Author:  David Blankenhorn, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org