Jono Shields

Mastering Coaching

0. Summary

The aim of Mastering Coaching by Max Landsberg is to strengthen and stretch the horizontal bar of the Coaching T into areas I might have missed otherwise. It covers the science behind coaching, as well as different stategies and situations.

1. Science

1.1. Neuroscience

1.1.1. The brain’s priorities

  1. Prioritise Survival - Whether it be a T-Rex or a stressful moment in the office, if the brain senses danger we often react without thinking (‘amygdala hijack’).

  2. Minimise Energy Use - The brain uses a shit ton of energy (25% at rest), this is why we start to hardwire pathways in the brain to do certain tasks, we call these habits.

  3. Strengthen oft-used circuits - This follows the same as above, the brain is constantly trying to reinforce patterns and optimise itself.

  4. Process one task at a time - Contrary to popular belief humans suck at multitasking, we just can’t to it. We like things broken down into nice and small tasks and then tackle them sequentially. Things take longer and we make more mistakes when we are start task switching.

1.1.2. Knowing how the brain operates and making strategies to deal with it.

1.2. Sports Psychology

1.2.1. Controlling Anxiety

Thought control strategies include consciously blocking out distractions, explicitly putting things into perspective, positive thinking, affirmations and prayer.

Task focus strategies like narrowing focus to the point of tunnel vision and concentration on specific goals.

Emotional control strategies includes controlling arousal and can be done through listening to calming music.

Behavioural Strategies like changing or controlling the environment or following a set routine.

1.2.2. Visualizing Success

Visualizing things triggers the same parts of the brain as if we were preparing for and undertaking them, thus helping to strengthen connections and develop neural pathways.

PETTLEP is a framework that helps with this. The more in depth the visualization the more effective it is.

1.2.3. Setting Goals

The right goals can really help to motivate people.

  1. They focus attention.
  2. Increasing effort and efficiency.
  3. Building resilience and persistence in the face of adversity.
  4. Promoting development of new strategies for problem solving.

It is also important to match the type of goal to the person and the strategy.

  1. Process Goals - e.g. “Kicking the ball Y% harder”
  2. Performance Goals - e.g. “X% better accuracy in goal shooting”
  3. Outcome Goals - “Winning the World Cup”

It is hard to motivate people with Process Goals, and Outcome Goals may be what everyone wants, but they make it hard to recover from set backs and are difficult to measure progress.

1.2.4. Cycling Success

For 70 years before 1992, Britain had won no medals for cycling at the Olympics. But some key people changed that using the techniques below.

  1. Set a bold and precise vision. Peter Keen announced at the Annual Conference that he wanted to make Britain the World’s top Olympic cycling nation.
  2. Obsess over the marginal gains. A 1% gain can make a difference, but if you find lots of places where you can makea 1% gain, they stack together. Dave Brailsford obsessed over everything the team was doing, not just training and nutrition. He analysed the pillows they used, set strict protocols for washing and researched gels to maximise the benefits of massage.
  3. Draw knowledge from far and wide. Brailsford also drew on knowledge from Sports Science, Business Success and Data Analysis from Baseball.
  4. Know and nurture the team ethos. This comes from alignment of the team, around goals, values and much more. The team together are in pursuit of excellence, they do this through being open minded and looking for innovation everywhere.

1.3. Positive Psychology

1.3.1. Seligman’s PERMA for wellbeing

Positivity - Happy emotions are necessary for wellbeing, and they don’t have to be fleeting. Look into learned optimism, REBT’s ABCDE technique and resilience through a growth mindset.

Engagement - Being present and engaged in a task. Being in the flow can help, also mindfulness.

Relationships - Crucial for mental health. Things that help are emotional intelligence and appreciative inquiry.

Meaning - Life needs to have meaning, this can be broken up into purpose, values, efficacy and self-worth.

Accomplishment - Understanding how to work with hope and set clear goals is crucial.

1.3.2. ABCDE of Resilience

A - Activating event. The trigger or cause of the problem.

B - Belief. Any preconceived notions about the situation or the event.

C - Consequence. How you feel after the event.

D - Dispute. Take a moment to dispute your existing belief and reason with it. Look at it from another angle. What benefits do I get believing this? Is there an alternative belief? Is it really that bad? Is it within my control?

E - Effect. What is the of the dispute? Has your belief changed? Even if not do you feel better about the even now that you have looked at it differently.

1.3.3. Resilient Mindset

A growth mindset is much better for resilience than a fixed mindset. As described by Carol Dweck, a growth mindset allows people to learn continuously, be more flexible and persist in the face of setbacks.

1.3.4. Flow

Things need to get into a flow state include..

  1. Having a clear goal, thus creating focus.
  2. Getting clear and immediate feedback, whether it be external feedback (the stock market) or internal (painting a picture).
  3. Balancing skill, the task at hand should not be too easy that it bores you or too difficult that you get stuck.

Others suggest that it is easier to get into a state of flow when you are invested in the outcome.

1.3.5. Tools for building positive relationships

Best Possible Self - Imagine and write about the best possible imaginary relationships that you can have are and what steps you might need to realise them.

Gratitude Letter - Write a letter to someone about something awesome that they did, describe your feelings of gratitude. Maybe even share it with them.

Forgiveness Letter - Write about a hurtful event that occurred at least 1 year ago and write a letter to the offender to forgive them. Maybe even share it with them.

Acts of kindness - Perform three acts of kindness and write about them and their outcomes.

1.4. Mindfulness

The psychological state of calm awareness of the present moment. Mindfulness helps to reduce stress, think clearly, help focus and benefits overall wellbeing. Meditation is a common practice to promote mindfulness, but there are other techniques too.

1.5. Experiential Learning

The 70/20/10 describes how we learn. 70% is through doing (learning on the job), 20% is through other people (colleagues and mentors) and 10% is through written and formal training.

1.5.1. Dewey’s Experiential learning model

experience concretely > observe and reflect > form abstract concepts > test implications of concepts

It is important to know that different people prefer individual steps and will linger in an area of comfort.

1.5.2. Learning Styles

Activists learn by doing. They like to be hands on and in the thick of it. The best ways for them to learn are brainstorming, problem-solving, group discussion, puzzles, competitions and role-play.

Theorists are the opposite. They are systematic in learning the theory behind eveything. They prefer to analyse and synthesize. The best ways for them to learn are models, statistics, stories, quotes, background information and applying theories.

Pragmatists need to see how learning can be put into action. Abstract ideas bounce off. The best ways for them to learn are problem-solving, case studies and discussion.

Reflectors like to watch, they learn by observing. The best ways for them to learn are paired discussions, self-analysis, questionnaires, time out, observing activities, feedback from others, coaching and interviews.

2. Strategies

2.1. Expert Performance

What is expert performance in your area? Defining what it looks like is an excellent way to set goals.

2.1.1 Schemata

Map the domain. Experts have templates that they use to represent their domain. These can be used to rapidly discern observations and can easily be applied in a number of different situations. Schemata make it easy to respond to quickly in certain situations. Imagine firefighting or nursing, the response is instant.

2.1.2. Chunking

To easier understand and store your domain you can break it down. It is really hard for humans to store large detailed processes and situations. It is found that experts usually chunk information down into easy steps that can be put back together (not necessarily in the same order). This allows experts to identify meaningful patterns in the information and draw even further knowledge. It also makes it easier to identify these patterns if you can identify parts of them from predefined chunks.

2.1.3. Deliberate Practice

  1. Clear intent and commitment - Make a goal, make a plan and stick to it.
  2. Engagement in Stretch Activities - Beyond your comfort zone and not yet sustainable.
  3. Close and Rigorous Monitoring - Have a coach, a video and a stopwatch.
  4. Generation of Specific Feedback - To know how you are doing and what you can do to improve.

2.1.4. Surprise Practice

It may not always be possible to schedule practice, this is true of things like speaking in front of large crowds. It is important to maek the most of opportunities that arise and seek these opportunities out.

2.2. Six Steps to Mastery

These steps were developed by Max Landsberg after researching the Old Masters painters. The most important is Passion, then you also need Places, Prior Art, Productivity, Practice and Patrons.

2.2.1. Places

Travel can bring great benefits to ones experience. Go and see excellence in action, if you are a Developer go and visit Google. You can learn a lot from travel, find inspiration that you didn’t anticipate and build a strong and international personal network.

2.2.2. Prior Art

Studying the work that came before you can be essential to learning new techniques and gaining inspiration. Seek role models in your area, learn about them and their techniques in detail.

2.2.3. Patrons

Having patrons allows you to constantly get feedback and improve. These could be customers, vendors, your boss and even personal relationships that can help.

2.2.4. Productivity

It is important to know how to scale, Raphael eventurally trained 50 people to work in large workshops for him. Delegation and thinking outside the box are key to expanding your reach.

2.2.5. Practice

See Deliberate Practice.

2.2.6. Passion

Passion is the key to being successful. Most people have trouble expressing what their passion is though. It is fascinating to know that passion isn’t static, it is constantly evolving and quite often malleable. Some things you can do to help find your passion are creating a space for refection, looking at early interests (the things that intrigued you when you were young) or by looking at what makes you angry and looking at what has caused that.

2.3. Hedgehog and BHAG

2.3.1. Hedgehog

The fox may know many things, probably too many for their own good. But the hedgehog knows only one thing. Many say that the secret to success is focus. Do one thing and to it well.

2.3.2. BHAG

Big Hairy Audacious Goal. When you combine what you love doing, with what you do really well and what pays well you will be happy. This is a venn diagram that helps with setting a massive goal for the future.

2.3.3. Ikigai (A reason for being)

The Japanese concept of Ikigai takes BHAG to the next level by including the question, what does the world need?

2.4. The Three Horizons

2.4.1. The Concept

While focus is important, the three horizons concept breaks goals into three steps. If you focus on the now, the soon and the future, you can great specific goals for each.

2.4.2. Examples

Some common pitfalls.

Getting stale - Dealing with the day to day, but not thinking about horizons 2 & 3. Very little resilience to change.

Burning Bridges - Only focussing on 2 & 3, but not looking after the now. Hopefully Horizon 2 plans come into action before core falls apart.

Just dreaming - Only thinking about Horizon 3, difficult to see how plans will follow-through. Due to no focus on the present, there is a good chance that things will get in the way of Horizon 3.

2.5. Psychometrics

Psychometrics allow a deeper understanding of individuals. However it is important to recognise some of the limitations of them. They are invaluable when using them with other coaching tools. Have an understanding of the reliability and consistency of tests that are used. Try to understand what valid assumptions look like and explore convergent, discriminant, predictive and concurreny validity.

3. Situations

3.1. Role Transitions

3.1.1. Two Journeys

When changing roles people often think about it froma process/technical stand point. Do I have the knowledge and skills that I need to do this role? The intellectual path is usually straight forward. The learning that you will need to do in this area is clear, goals are easier because the expectations in the area are usually communicated in advance.

But what is often not talked about is the social/cultural transition that the role transition requires. Creating the right social bonds with the right people is often critical to success, especially in management roles. The requirements in this area are often far harder to spot until after you begin exploring.

3.1.2. Preparing for the transition

It helps to map out the exit of the existing role. What skills will be of use to you in the new role? And what do you need to do differently? Sketching a map of the upcoming intellectual and social journeys will also help you to understand the role better too. Make a plan for learning, the people that you will learn from and the wider team that you can look to for auxillary information.

The plan should focus on learning in the beginning and move more towards taking action as time goes on.

3.1.3. Getting started

3.2. 360° Feedback

3.2.1. Before

It is important to understand why the 360° feedback is taking place. Is it a company wide initiative? Has your client organised it themself? What kind of feedback are they looking for? What are they expecting to learn?

Think about the expected quality of the feedback recieved. How is the information going to be perceived? Is it numerical? If it is, is it averaged?

Who is providing feedback?

3.2.2. Afterwards

Think about what information is going to be useful for development of the client. How should the feedback be structured? Having follow up sessions after the feedback is presented can generate deeper insights. Help the coachee to see how the feedback can be applied to their existing goals and commitments. How is confidentiality handled? Who gets to see the results? Do we know people that provided feedback?

3.3. Coaching a board

  1. Structure and composition
  2. Level of engagement with company issues (eg. risk, strategy, finance, operation, external relations,hr)
  3. Processes and Effectiveness of interactions (meetings, agenda content and dynamics)
  4. Peer Assessment (Strengths and development suggestions)

3.3.1. Knowing who your client is

3.3.2. Not just another management team

The board may not interact directly outside of board meetings. Their time is very limited and so meetings and agendas will be incredibly efficient.

3.3.3. Set a clear process

Agree with the board on a focus, spend time with the board analysing and building ideas, look at external suggestions and report back to the board.

3.3.4. Consider all options

3.3.5. What kind of actions might come out of this?

3.4. Coaching Gen Y

Millenials are the most diverse generation so far, but when it comes to coaching it is similar to others.

3.4.1. Building Confidence

Reassure them early and often. Helping them at the right time can go a long way. Take the time to explain things in detail and why certain elements might be critical. Give them praise in person, make it genuine. And then find opportunities to give them praise in public.

3.4.2. Integration

Help them to get into the team and understand existing social norms and the roles in the team. Use authority lightly, a culture of empowerment and autonomy helps to grow ideas and culture. Help them to understand the company as a whole, the internal informal networks and all the dotted lines.

4. Awesome Quotes frome the book

“If I have seen farther than other men, it is because I have stood on the shoulders of giants.” ~ Isaac Newton

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” ~ Plutarch

“Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.” ~ Mary Shelley

“Sometimes you have to let go to see if there was anything worth holding on to.” ~ Socrates

“What I have achieved by industry and practice, anyone else with a tolerable natural gift and ability can also achieve.” ~ Johann Sebastian Bach

“An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.” ~ Neils Bohr

“The man who chases two rabbits catches neither.” ~ Confucius

“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” ~ Thomas Jefferson