Entrepreneurship — A Call to Planned Action

Entrepreneurship is a calling; a call to commitment, action, and innovation. Entrepreneurs are visionaries. They present a compelling vision of a future; a future rich in opportunity and possibility. Entrepreneurs are change agents promoting new perspectives of existing businesses. They embrace the risk and reward equation associated with implementing theirs and others visions. They think creatively, challenge adversity, and manage fear.

Entrepreneurship reflects art and science. Art as it challenges business professionals to be reflective and expressive; offering contexts to explore creative desire and unleash passion to realize the future today. Science as it requires entrepreneurs to be rational, use analytic methods, and make information informed business decisions. Entrepreneurship has evolved over the decades becoming a defined and refined skill set. No longer is either intuition or blind faith a viable platform for launching a business venture. Instead, contemporary entrepreneurs test the mettle of their visions in crucibles rich with comparative and competitor data seeking undiscovered or unexploited business niches. Dr. Tami Moser, Editor of the Administrative Issues Journal and Assistant Professor of Management at South Western Oklahoma State University states, “To be competitive in the global business environment, today’s entrepreneurs need a thorough business education informed by workplace experience. Entrepreneurs need to continually review strategic directions, business plans and refine implementation strategies in order to be competitive.”

How will you advance or revitalize your entrepreneurism? To start, consider conducting an
entrepreneurship inventory to review your entrepreneurial goals and resources.

Entrepreneurship Inventory

The heralded educator and statistician, W. Edwards Deming stated, “It is not enough to do your best; you must know what to do, and then do your best.” Entrepreneurs must know “what to do” if they are to realize their visions of the future through tangible and productive action. Central to an entrepreneurship inventory are core competencies enabling progress. One approach to enabling progress is Deming’s Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) Cycle. The PDCA Cycle enables entrepreneurs to implement new ideas through quality focused and repeatable processes. Moreover, it fosters a methodical, measured, and managed approach to problem solving and change management making way for innovation. The PDCA Cycle requires entrepreneurs to be knowledgeable concerning all aspects of realizing vision. Deming concluded “Lack of knowledge… that is the problem.”

Plan-Do-Check-Act (PDCA) Cycle

There are four phases in the Plan-Do-Check-Act Cycle

  • Plan: Identifying and analyzing issues and establish objectives and processes necessary to achieve goals
  • Do: Implement plan and processes, developing testing procedures, collect and chart results
  • Check: Use collected data to measure test real           and expected results. Determine if plans require modification to achieve goals
  • Act: Implement corrective steps to processes to  achieve goals

The End of The Beginning

Entrepreneurs are enabled through opportunity. Opportunityoffers the promise of realizing new visions of the
future. They are platforms for innovative thought and courageous action toward creating the future today. In order for others to understand entrepreneurs’ visions they must commit plans to print. Plans should be framed and explained, enabling self and others to help build the vision through eliciting vital and valuable feedback assessing the viability of a business initiative. Once plans are prepared, they need to be implemented, checked, and refined in order to effectively align real and desired results. The PDCA Cycle is not an ending process for entrepreneurs, but rather a beginning; a continuous process of reinvention and way of thinking about and testing entrepreneurial ideas and strategies for realization.

Entrepreneurs are visionaries.America’s economic greatness is testament to the power and potential of our nation’s entrepreneurial spirit. However, as Dr. Deming stated “Plans are only good intentions unless they immediately degenerate into hard work.” Coaches can assist you in developing the knowledge, competencies, and skills necessary to realize or revitalize the spirit of entrepreneurship.

Get coached; get results.

From Learn to Do: Cognition and Learning

What were the learning goals of your education? Did the goals include learning to predict outcomes, diagnosis situations, or learn to influence others? Perhaps these skills were components of the learning goals; but not the primary focus of the teaching and learning. Reflecting on how your schooling prepared you to live the life you chose, which subjects and experiences have enabled you?  Many adults respond to this question with “I’m not sure.” Or, “Organic chemistry hasn’t helped me personally or professionally.  However, learning how to negotiate for a better grade with my teacher enabled me to be a more successful entrepreneur.”

Central to learning is developing the cognitive processes enabling us to think critically in order to act effectively. Over our lifetimes of learning, we use an array of cognitive processes that help us survive, grow, and sustain. Sadly, our formal education does enable us to fully develop the cognitive processes and associated skills necessary to assist us in making effective decisions and taking informed action resulting in a meaningful and satisfying life.

Today, the public is pummeled by reports claiming our education systems are dysfunctional; unable to help students develop the cognitive processes required to be successful in the 21st century knowledge age. If these claims are true, then the nation’s students, as well as our nation will experience significant social, economic, and cultural consequences. Moreover, if true, can we counteract education’s dysfuntionality with new teaching and learning strategies?

Dr. Roger Schank, founder of the Institute for the Learning Sciences and John P. Evans Professor Emeritus in Computer Science, Education, and Psychology at Northwestern University believes our education system’s dysfuntionality can be counteracted through new ways of teaching and learning. In his book Teaching Minds: How Cognitive Science Can Save Our Schools, Dr. Schank provides strategies and actions for reforming our education systems, as well as educating ourselves. His recommendations are as radical as they are simple, straightforward, and practical. Dr. Shank focuses on teaching processes and skills associated with students’ interests.  Moreover, to enable new ways of teaching to student interests, teachers and mentors must be aware of twelve cognitive processes that underlie learning. Dr. Schank writes “Learning is not any one process, but many processes, depending on what you are learning.”  He continues “If we wish to teach people, it is important to ask what capabilities we want them to have, not what we want them to know. Dr. Shank concludes “We need to understand what we have to do in order to make them do better.”

What do you need to learn in order to make you do better?  Consider the twelve cognitive processes.

Thinking As Process

The twelve cognitive processes are divided into three categories: conceptual, analytic, and social. Schank offers “thinking is a process.  It is something we do.  We need to see what the doing is like.” When learning a skill we need to identify the associated thinking processes.” Are you focused on understanding how the thinking processes can be categorized and used allowing you to understand what we have to do in order to make you do better?”

The 12 Cognitive Processes

The 12 cognitive processes reside within the three cognitive categories underlying learning. Listing and providing examples of all 12 cognitive processes exceeds the scope of this article. Instead, here are representative samples from each category with associated key concepts concerning their importance to learning     to learn.

  • Conceptual – Modeling: Building a conscious model of a process – Building a conscience model of a process matters a great deal if you want the process to work for you.  Designing and modifying it, as well as participating in simulations work much better as learning methods.
  • Analytic – Diagnosis: Making a diagnosis of a complex situation by indentifying relevant factors and seeking causal explanations – Diagnosis is a matter of both reasoning from evidence and understanding what to look for to gather evidence. Diagnosis is about process; determining evidence, and forming and testing hypothesis. Possessing expert knowledge and diagnostic experience relative to increasingly complex situations fosters analytic ability.
  • Social – Negotiation: Making a deal; negotiation/contracts – Contracting is fundamental to how we function. Learning to contract with others is a critical life and work skill. Learning to negotiate is learned by doing; succeeding and failing.

Coaching and Cognition

Learning to do the 12 cognitive processes requires receptivity to new ways of thinking about teaching and learning.  Moreover, the doing requires practice. Dr. Schank offers “All these processes require practice in order to master them. You cannot learn to master a process without practicing it again and again.  Feedback and coaching help one learn.”

To learn to do; we must do the learning.

A coach can enable your learning. Learn, do, thrive.

Advisor As Coach: A Shift of Mind

In Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Juliet asks “What’s in a name?” Everything! It defines function, clarifies role, and suggests context. In recent history, real estate professionals have defined themselves using several titles; salesperson, representative, and agent. Often considered synonyms, they are not. While sharing degrees of direct or inferential definitional association, these terms carry differentiated meanings as attributed by investors. From positive to pejorative, collectively, these terms define a narrow role and range of skills associated with real estate professionals, typically characterized as a transactional and tactical.

Howard N. Margolis is Senior Vice President at Prudential Douglas Elliman states, “real estate professionals are involved in nearly every aspect of the client property transaction. Many do more than buy or sell real estate; they help and counsel. However, to be effective in these roles, they must possess more advisor-based knowledge and skills.”

Advising requires different skills than agentry. In order for real estate professionals to transition from agent to advisor, they must reskill, in turn redefine themselves. An informed starting point for redefining roles and skills is to model professions recognized for their roles as advisor; attorneys, accountants, and physicians.

The Future Just Ain’t What It Use To Be

Here perennial baseball legend Yogi Berra may be suggesting that our vision of the future may change as we work towards its realization. What we’ve envisioned may morph as we and our circumstances change. As a result, our future may not be “what it use to be “or as originally conceived. Instead, our vision of the future may evolve in scope and robustness over time becoming more potent and powerful than we originally envisioned.

For real estate professionals this future may be a professional transition; from agent to advisor or advisor to coach. As coaches, agents become enablers, teachers, and partners. They develop clients as property partners, providing them with data-driven insights, property choices, and referrals within their network of helping professionals. However, these professional services are not the work of coaching. Coaching enables clients to examine their motivations driving the transaction. It expands the context and content of the transaction exploring all parties’ rationales and purposes. Ultimately, coaching guides clients to make comprehensive decisions informed by an orientation of self discovery enabled by the coach-client relationship.

Burke J. Smith Founder of YourNetCoach believes that becoming a coach is necessary for business growth and sustainability in the 21st century. Smith states “It is critical to advise clients on every aspect of each transition. Coaches provide expert business knowledge and industry expertise promoting client trust and engagement. However, the goal is to be a center-of-guidance associated with all aspects of the client’s business life, enabling and guiding their discovery toward what they truly want and assisting them in its realization.”

Real estate professionals are not mental health professionals. However, they manage client fear, anxiety, and indecision present in transactions. For many clients, a property transaction may be the largest purchase of their lives. As a result, real estate professionals must help clients move forward by coaching them through the transaction enabling it to be transformative.

You Say You Want a Revolution

The age of agentry is passing and that of advisorship and coaching emerging. The revolution is real.  Let’s join together and act now to design our industry’s shift-of-mind. If we don’t act our clients will. The choice is ours!

 

From Evolution to Revolution: An Industry in Transformation

“The more capable a person is, the stronger is the desire to grow. But no amount of expertise or hard work is as powerful in achieving success as mastery of the self.” – Nancy Packes, President, Brown Harris Stevens Project Marketing

“With the internet, the traditional model of real estate sales has been broken, so it’s critical for agents to spend the time and the money to really learn the new technologies, improve their skills with training and participate in new innovations. It’s important to know the market better than the clients, who are able to get information online and who demand – and deserve – transparency. An agent must know the competition and never forget to cultivate and maintain relationships with clients – basic skills that will always work – even in the 21st century!” – Dottie Herman, President & CEO, Prudential Douglas Elliman

“A great broker must quickly sum up, heart-to-heart, what the client wants and calculate what they can afford that meets minimum concerns of  location, convenience, price, space, amenities, and livability and clearly point out the sacrifices in the equation. – Carter B. Horsley, Editorial Director, CityRealty.com

The End of the Beginning

For beginning…start with a first step. Consider the Chinese proverb “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”  Make professional development a daily activity. Attend industry seminars, and interview colleagues with specialized industry knowledge in areas with which you’re not familiar. You’ll be surprised how exciting and addicting learning becomes!

We’d like to quote Sir Winston Churchill who at the Lord Mayor’s Luncheon in London on November 10, 1942 following the British victory at El Alameinin in North Africa. Churchill said “This is not the end, nor the beginning of the end, but perhaps the end of the beginning. Let’s begin with renewed energy for our industry, resolve to engage and succeed in business building, and commitment to making professional development the cornerstone of our professionalism.

From Learn to Do: Cognition and Learning

What were the learning goals of your education? Did the goals include learning to predict outcomes, diagnosis situations, or learn to influence others? Perhaps these skills were components of the learning goals; but not the primary focus of the teaching and learning. Reflecting on how your schooling prepared you to live the life you chose, which subjects and experiences have enabled you?  Many adults respond to this question with “I’m not sure.” Or, “Organic chemistry hasn’t helped me personally or professionally.  However, learning how to negotiate for a better grade with my teacher enabled me to be a more successful entrepreneur.”

Central to learning is developing the cognitive processes enabling us to think critically in order to act effectively. Over our lifetimes of learning, we use an array of cognitive processes that help us survive, grow, and sustain. Sadly, our formal education does enable us to fully develop the cognitive processes and associated skills necessary to assist us in making effective decisions and taking informed action resulting in a meaningful and satisfying life.

Today, the public is pummeled by reports claiming our education systems are dysfunctional; unable to help students develop the cognitive processes required to be successful in the 21st century knowledge age. If these claims are true, then the nation’s students, as well as our nation will experience significant social, economic, and cultural consequences. Moreover, if true, can we counteract education’s dysfuntionality with new teaching and learning strategies?

Dr. Roger Schank, founder of the Institute for the Learning Sciences and John P. Evans Professor Emeritus in Computer Science, Education, and Psychology at Northwestern University believes our education system’s dysfuntionality can be counteracted through new ways of teaching and learning. In his book Teaching Minds: How Cognitive Science Can Save Our Schools, Dr. Schank provides strategies and actions for reforming our education systems, as well as educating ourselves. His recommendations are as radical as they are simple, straightforward, and practical. Dr. Shank focuses on teaching processes and skills associated with students’ interests.  Moreover, to enable new ways of teaching to student interests, teachers and mentors must be aware of twelve cognitive processes that underlie learning. Dr. Schank writes “Learning is not any one process, but many processes, depending on what you are learning.”  He continues “If we wish to teach people, it is important to ask what capabilities we want them to have, not what we want them to know. Dr. Shank concludes “We need to understand what we have to do in order to make them do better.”

What do you need to learn in order to make you do better?  Consider the twelve cognitive processes.

Thinking As Process

The twelve cognitive processes are divided into three categories: conceptual, analytic, and social. Schank offers “thinking is a process.  It is something we do.  We need to see what the doing is like.” When learning a skill we need to identify the associated thinking processes.” Are you focused on understanding how the thinking processes can be categorized and used allowing you to understand what we have to do in order to make you do better?”

The 12 Cognitive Processes

The 12 cognitive processes reside within the three cognitive categories underlying learning. Listing and providing examples of all 12 cognitive processes exceeds the scope of this article. Instead, here are representative samples from each category with associated key concepts concerning their importance to learning     to learn.

  • Conceptual – Modeling: Building a conscious model of a process – Building a conscience model of a process matters a great deal if you want the process to work for you.  Designing and modifying it, as well as participating in simulations work much better as learning methods.
  • Analytic – Diagnosis: Making a diagnosis of a complex situation by indentifying relevant factors and seeking causal explanations – Diagnosis is a matter of both reasoning from evidence and understanding what to look for to gather evidence. Diagnosis is about process; determining evidence, and forming and testing hypothesis. Possessing expert knowledge and diagnostic experience relative to increasingly complex situations fosters analytic ability.
  • Social – Negotiation: Making a deal; negotiation/contracts – Contracting is fundamental to how we function. Learning to contract with others is a critical life and work skill. Learning to negotiate is learned by doing; succeeding and failing.

Coaching and Cognition

Learning to do the 12 cognitive processes requires receptivity to new ways of thinking about teaching and learning.  Moreover, the doing requires practice. Dr. Schank offers “All these processes require practice in order to master them. You cannot learn to master a process without practicing it again and again.  Feedback and coaching help one learn.”

To learn to do; we must do the learning.

A coach can enable your learning. Learn, do, thrive.

Opportunity As Transformation

We live in the future at expense of the present. We project our desires forward and prescribe responses to yet unrevealed conditions.  Living in the future enables us to explore and examine our intentions and potential outcomes. We construct our futures today. The opportunities we create and those revealed to us become portals for change; crucibles of transformation.

We create opportunities and opportunities create us.  Opportunity is the yield distilled from our belief, work, and continuous evaluation if the value of what we want is worth the human price we pay. Opportunity is a product of causality between us, others, and environments. The interaction of these variables creates conditions in which opportunities for fulfilling our desires and transforming our lives reside.

The 16th century English philosopher Francis Bacon wrote “A man must make his opportunity, as oft as find it.” Is there reciprocity between our efforts to create opportunities and the randomness of our lives from which opportunities emerge? Or, is opportunity a consequence of success? As Dr. Jonas Salk, the American medical researcher offered “The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more.” Whatever it origins and designs, opportunity enables our progress and potential.

The current economic recession has robbed professionals in all industries of opportunities. These conditions have reduced the volume and scope of professional development opportunities.  However, even with this theft of opportunity many professionals have advanced, leveraging opportunities toward achievement toward transformation.

Opportunity creates conditions for achievement. Daily we learn of others successes resulting from conditions they’ve created through opportunity. Often the conditions-of-opportunity are the product of a compelling vision of the future. A future steeped possibility; rich in reward. Our visions must be operationalized in order to be realized.  Mental and operational models structure our strategies and methods for achieving what we want. Explore our Opportunity Model as a mechanism for concretizing your visions.

Opportunity Model

  • Learn From History: Study the past; learn from the actions of others. Find mentors-of-history. Engage in a historical mentorship. Learn from those who’ve created opportunities and conditions conducive to achieving your goals.
  • Experiment With Purpose: Apply lessons learned to your visions of the future. Study causality, notice differences, construct plans, and develop skills for enabling focused, goals specific action.
  • Act As If: Act as if you are what you want to become. Then, work backwards from the conditions-of-opportunity you’ve created using the plans and skills you’ve developed projecting yourself into your future. Focus on transforming who you are into whom and what you want to become.
  • Reflect and Recalibrate: Transformation is an internal alchemy. It is conceived, gestates, and resides within us.  Reflection fuels transformation. It renders us receptive to our potential and open to creating growth opportunities.  While enabling, transformation requires management; calibrating and recalibrating our thoughts and behaviors relative to our desires.
  • Negotiate With The Future: Opportunities enable us to realize our futures. Once taken, opportunities quickly acquire characteristics and conditions that must be negotiated with if their power and potential is to be harnessed in the service of achieving goals.

Transforming Opportunities

In his Apology, the fifth century philosopher Socrates wrote “The unexamined life is not worth living.” If true, then the examined life has worth. A variation of this idea is “The examined life transformed by opportunity is worth living.” Three New York City real estate industry leaders who’ve transformed their lives through opportunity are Gary Malin, IIan Bracha, and David Schlamm. Their perspectives on opportunity and transformation are insightful.

Gary Mallin, President Citi Habitats shares “Opportunity presents possibility. I focus on anticipating opportunities yielding beneficial possibilities for the industry, Citi Habitats, and our clients.”

Ilan Bracha, Principal Broker of Keller Williams NYC and Chairman and Founder of the Bracha Group, offers “Transformation is central to growing and sustaining a real estate practice. Acquiring the knowledge and skills associated with professional transformation enable professional success.”

David Schlamm, President and Founder of Citi Connections states “Opportunity is the currency of the real estate industry. Our industry consists of transactional opportunities to create and exchange value; in turn transform our and our client’s lives.”

Transformation As Opportunity

Transformation requires courage and commitment.  Examine the depth of your commitment to change before embarking on journeys of transformation enabled by opportunity. Use our Opportunity Model as a tool for self-coaching toward realizing opportunity.  Remember, opportunity can transform you.  Being transformed enables new and limitless opportunities.

Coaching can enable transformation.  Get coached.

Resiliency and Resistance: Capabilities of Change

Change demands our attention. Ignoring it can be dangerous and costly.  Like the cornerstone of a great building, change is constant and dependable. It anchors our existence; ever strong and present.

Yet, we know other characteristics associated with change; complexity, unpredictability, and imperceptibility. Change can overpower our sensibilities and capabilities leaving us exhausted and vulnerable. Recognizing the paradoxical nature of change may produce uncertainty or indecision concerning how to view or harness the constructive power inherent in change. One perspective is viewing change as a context of conditions.  Conditions requiring you to use specific change management skills focused on increasing coping effectiveness and decreasing the tension and disability possibility generated by the contradictory nature of change. Three strategies for contextualizing and categorizing our perspectives of change include cognitive, affective, and behavioral.  Think of these strategies as perceptual constructs for framing your perspectives toward change.

Cognitively, we can adopt a philosophic perspective when conceiving, perceiving, and engaging the roles of change in our lives. Affectively, we can apply rationality and logic to temper the emotional states we introduce into decision making and action.  Behaviorally, we can align our actions with the spirit and intent of constructive thought and passion for achievement. Using cognitive, affective, and behavioral schemas can be especially helpful in acquiring the knowledge and forging the tools necessary to engage two key conditions associated with managing change; resilience  and resistance.

Let’s explore the roles of resilience and resistance relative to managing change? What can we learn about these variables that will enable and empower our personal lives and professional practice?

Resilience

The English naturalist and author Charles Darwin wrote “It is neither the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”  Responsiveness to change requires adaptability; our ability to accommodate and adjust to new stimuli in our personal and professional environments.  Our adaptability is predicated on the ability to plan for intended action, as well as unanticipated possible outcomes. Adaptability planning is tantamount to contingency or scenario planning.  Exploring possible futures and your ability to act and achieve in these environments. For many people, their ability to be resilient remains unknown and untested until crisis summons resilience to be proved.

Resilience is a capacity built through experience over time.  It is composed of an unflagging and relentless vision of the future, a nimble and elastic orientation toward the unpredictability and randomness of change, and comfort with situational ambiguity recognizing it as the modes operandi change and changing.

In his 1992 book Managing at the Speed of Change, change author Daryl Conner wrote “Resilient people experience the same fear and apprehension as everyone else when they engage change.  However, they are usually able to maintain their productivity and quality standards as well as their emotional stability while achieving most of their objectives.” Supporting his perspective, Conner shares Five Basic Characteristics of Resilience indicating that these qualities are characteristic of resilient people’s beliefs and behaviors. For this article, we have modified Conner’s offering framing the qualities using P’s of Resilience associating them with the cognitive, affective, and behavioral strategies presented earlier.

Five P’s of Resilience

  1. Philosophy (Cognitive): Secure, self assured, and opportunity focused
  2. Precision (Cognitive): Strong vision of the future and what goals are to be achieved
  3. Pliable (Cognitive/Affective): Pliable and flexible relative to uncertainty
  4. Planful (Cognitive/Behavioral): Strategic, continually planning, revising, and re-planning in order to manage ambiguity; and
  5. Proactive (Affective/Behavioral):  Seeking change; exploring and experimenting with the Five P’s of Resilience in order to understand the anatomy and potentials associated with change.

A coach can help you discover your resilience capacity.  Knowledge is power.  Get powerful; learn more about resilience.

Resistance

Scientist and futurist Dr. Peter Senge shares “People don’t resist change.  They resist being changed!” If true, resisting change can be viewed as a condition of cognition, not of the experience of change. Frequently, in response to change people state “I’m not changing; it’s too hard, time consuming, or uninteresting.”  Whatever the reason, they’ve made a decision to resist change.  Decision making is a cognitive event. Typically, we gather data, draw from past experiences, and then employ logic and reason make informed decisions. However, even in the presence of rationality; irrationality, illogic, and emotionality manifest hindering clear thought, in turn quality decision making.

When people resist being changed, but no change itself, we need to move ourselves and others toward rationality promoting data-rich discussion. Moreover, we must identify strategies for reducing the intrusion and ineffectiveness of emotionality in decision making and encourage commitment to partnering with change, making it an ally in building resilience and limiting resistance.

A coach can help you explore resistance to change. Resist resisting. Get empowered; learn more about resistance to change.

The Leader-Coach: The Future of Professionalism

The Leader-Coach: Leader as Learner

Coaching enables empowerment. Empowerment fuels achievement. Achievement empowers professionalism.  Professionalism can be expressed through a leader’s compelling vision of the future, an unwavering commitment to ethical business practices, or demonstrating the courage to champion innovation when the status quo prevails. Organizational leaders shoulder a mantel of professionalism; a leadership mantel. A mantel inlaid with learnings about professionalism and leadership from every industry.

Shouldering this mantel of professionalism are a few exemplary leaders self-identifying as leader-coaches. Leader-coaches because they’ve acquired formal coaching knowledge and skills or been coached by a leader-coach.  These leader-coaches are products of a time honored tradition of the master and apprentice relationship. This relationship considered a sacred trust by many, is a relationship proven to instill purpose, provide knowledge, and enable others to realize their potential. Leader-coaches are mentors; mentors who understand the coaching process and its tools. They are skilled at accessing and enabling others to act.

Leader-coaches invest in their own professional development. They learn to lead and lead as learners. They become life-long learners of leadership.  Learning and leadership become a self-fulfilling professional development prophecy as leadership theory informs practice and practice informs theory. As President John F. Kennedy stated “Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” The result of this indispensible interaction is a rich integration of leadership wisdom, perspective, and practice enabling leaders to lead modeling the way for others.

Leader as Model: Professionalism in Practice

Modeling is central to becoming a leader-coach. Modeling is leading and learning by example. Leaders can model mentors.  However, in the absence of a mentor, who can leaders model to enable their own leadership? For many leaders, they model exemplars of leadership excellence. Let’s explore leader modeling as a process for creating leader-coaches. Here are two exemplars of leadership excellence.

David Schlamm – Founder and CEO of City Connections Realty

Mr. David Schlamm, Founder and CEO of City Connections Realty, Inc. in New York City is an exemplary leader. A 23 year veteran of the Manhattan real estate industry, David continues to create the future of professionalism at City Connections. David’s vision of professionalism articulates creating a client-centric business culture, inhabited by highly educated agent-advisors, delivering a comprehensive and customized housing acquisition experience. Schlamm’s vision is fueled by his unflagging commitment to ethical conduct and is enabled by an innovative high “split-to-agent” commission structure the cornerstone of his business model championing entrepreneurialism.

Central to David’s vision of professionalism is his commitment to life-long learning.  To realize his vision of providing “highly educated agent-advisors” to his clientele, he endorsed and participated in creating the Certified Real Estate Advisor (CRA) designation. The CRA designation is the only professional designation of its kind worldwide coupling industry training and high performance coaching. To contribute to the CRA design process, David immersed himself in the coaching processes; being coached and becoming a leader-coach. As a result of his bold commitment and pioneering action, the CRA designation is rapidly becoming the recognized benchmark of professional excellence for residential real estate advisors industry-wide.

David’s vision of the future of professionalism is rapidly revolutionizing the residential real estate industry nationally.

City Connections, Inc. Website: http://www.ccrny.com/

Richard Dickson – President and Chief Executive Officer Branded Businesses of Jones Apparel Group, Inc.

Mr. Dickson, President and Chief Executive Officer Branded Businesses of Jones Apparel Group, Inc. is an exemplary leader. A thought and practice leader in the fashion, fragrance, and toy industries, Richard continues his legacy of creating the future of professionalism through his leadership at Jones New York.  Richard’s vision of professionalism crafts a worldwide culture of empowered women, framed by strong female models of leadership, and coached by recognized female leaders such a former Clinton Administration Press Secretary Ms. Dee Dee Myers.

Dickson’s vision of a world culture empowered and enabled by women leaders, is a transformative idea. However, without his innovative acumen and creative design mastery, this idea could remain transformative, yet unrealized. Richard’s unyielding commitment to professional excellence, driven by his relentless pursuit of artistry and creativity resulted in the launch of the Empower Your Confidence initiative in 2010 through the Jones New York brand.

Richard’s vision of the future of professionalism integrates his legacy of creative perspectives resulting from coaching and being coached. The Empower Your Confidence initiative is a nexus of his leadership, creative genius, and branding skill.  It is the essence of originality crystallized in a distinctive and new strategic direction for Jones New York. This seminal work product articulating Dickson’s vision is evidenced in a stunning sepia print presenting empowered women framed in New York’s Grand Central Station.  This photo captured the imagination of the international fashion industry and launched Jones New York’s new strategic vision heralded by the power and potential inherent in these women. It concretized Dickson’s vision and evidences his exemplary leadership.

Richard’s vision of the future of professionalism provides witness to and models world class leadership creating new worlds of enablement through empowerment.

Jones New York Website: http://www.jny.com/Empowerment/JNY,default,pg.html

The future of professionalism is the work of leadership.  Leaders who are coached and coach others are the leader-coaches of the future.

Lead, coach, and achieve.

Cultures of Competence: Coaching As Catalyst

Coaching enables competence. Competence enables confidence. Coaching operationalizes competence through confidence. Organizational cultures endorsing coaching as a catalyst for professional development can maximize stakeholder productivity and profitability. Professional competence is a key measure of comparison for determining the probability of a person’s success in any business activity. The greater the professional competence; the greater the potential for success.  This formula makes sense; or does it? Professional competence, like other human capitals, will remain untapped and underutilized without continuous development and refinement. Coaching can develop, refine, and enhance professional competencies.

Organizational culture is a rich and powerful context for nurturing competence; in turn confidence. Frequently, organizational leaders perceive competency development as training. This is a misperception. It is a misconception in that training develops applied skills. Professional development can include skills training, however its scope is more comprehensive preparing professionals with integrated knowledge and ability in turn, expanding their professional bandwidth.

Acting on this misperception, organizational leaders institute training programs, delegate program administration to human resource professionals, and expect beneficial results. Sadly, this tact is often disappointing as the targeted skill training does is not transferred to practice. Inevitably, organizational leaders lament “Why didn’t this skills training investment develop the competencies we expected?” Or, “How could we make the same training investment mistake again? No one is using the training!” If these laments sound familiar, take heart as all is not lost!  Legendary physicist Albert Einstein also pondered this causal conundrum. Einstein’s perspective emphasized causal responsibility; the responsibility to achieve desired outcomes through a rationale approach to change. Einstein offers “Why do we try to solve the problems we create at the same level of thinking at which we created them?”

Let’s explore intersections between culture, competency, coaching.

The Misperception: Training for Competencies is Not Enough

Training is not coaching; however training provides specific and necessary skills that can be coached into competences. For example, learning the discrete functions of a specific software application may enable an individual to acquire skills to complete certain tasks. However, once the training is transferred to practice, unless the user seeks out new and associated knowledge to build on or extend the learned skill, enhancing the skill might cease. When training is coupled with performance coaching, an environment of continuous learning is created. Coaching seasons training. It enriches the reason for training, exposes its limits, and maximizes it effectiveness. Organizational leaders who’ve cultivated organizational cultural as cultures of coaching, understand and value the power and potential inherent in coaching to build and enhance competencies, in turn increase productivity and profitability.

Ms. Beverly Williams, Director of Human Resources for Langan Engineering, a global engineering and environment services firm headquartered in Elmwood Park, New Jersey identifies coaching as an essential practice in developing high performance; high productivity organizational cultures. Director Williams states “Coaching enables a high performance culture. Companies employing proven coaching strategies enhance employee capability and organizational competitiveness. Coaching is an essential professional development practice and process. Frequently, employees perceive coaching and being coached a valuable career development benefit. As a result, employee engagement, performance, and retention increase.”

Coaching for Competency

Coaching is a process of discovery; discovering potential through practice and persistence. Practice develops critical thinking while persistence fuels continuous practical discovery and behavioral refinement. Coaching focuses on client self actualization; a state of deep personal understanding, interrelatedness, and cohesion. Clearly, helping others develop professional competencies is a mighty task.  Therefore, coaches must possess coaching models, methods and tools able to guide change and enable transformation. One coaching tool used to develop competencies is our RAMP method. The RAMP method frames the competency to be developed in specific and measurable terms, enabling coach and client to monitor progress during competency acquisition, development, and application.

Let’s explore RAMP.

  • Relevance: The competency to be learned is directly associated to a desired and achievable goal and has practical application
  • Accountability: Clients willingly accept responsibility for achieving goals
  • Measurement: Quantitative and qualitative scales of evaluation are used to measure progress-to-goal achievement
  • Persistence: Planned and continuous attention focused on specific elements of goal achievement over a specified time.

Implementing RAMP enables individuals and groups to achieve relevant goals, framed in accountability, measurable by specific evaluation scales, and fuel by persistent effort and planned action.

Cultures of Coaching: The Next Step

In his 1992 seminal work Organizational Culture and Leadership, social psychologist Dr. Edgar Schein reminds us that “Culture is the product of social learning. Ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving that are shared and become the elements of the culture.” Coaching can become an element of the culture.  It can be used as a primary tool for competency development and catalyst for high performance. Use RAMP and ramp-up your organizational culture to a culture-of-coaching.

Get coached; RAMP up your performance.

Empowerment: From Enablement to Execution

Empowerment opposes marginalization. It is a social process enabling people to access power, in turn exert control over their lives. Empowerment necessitates prioritizing critical issues in order to overcoming obstacles associated with realizing a vision of the future.

Empowerment promotes thinking and acting in new ways.  Frequently, we experience the essence of empowerment through a call-to-recognition. Our thinking is stimulated by a quotation or fragment from a conversation provoking our awareness to recognize mission. It is a calling; beckoning our attention; and compelling action. From calling to a call-to-action, a path toward empowerment is revealed.

Empowerment requires becoming empowered.  The road to empowerment is articulated by shifts in perception and meaning.  It requires releasing existing belief systems and replacing them with new, transformative mental models enabling aligned with transformative action.

Releasing existing belief systems invites states of reflection and receptivity to new paradigms of empowerment. In his 1990 seminal work The Fifth Discipline, Peter Senge offered the concept of metanoia – shift of mind. Metanoia enables transformation, in turn empowerment through acquiring new beliefs or philosophies.  Metanoia is fueled by generative learning; individuals working together integrating existing and new knowledge with past experience. The union of metanoia and generative learning yields meaningfulness; meaning catalyzed from an emergent idea or the experience of being a part of something larger than oneself such as a corporate rebranding or global movement. Meaningfulness promotes self-reliance, like-mindedness, and the energy to move forward toward empowerment.

So, is empowerment relevant to enabling professional growth, cultural engagement, and organizational sustainability? Let’s explore empowerment relative to its association with modeling, execution, and coaching.

Empowerment As Model

Empowerment can be enabled through models. In their seminal book The Leadership Challenge, authors Kouzes and Posner present Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership. The first exemplary leadership practice in Model the Way. Leading towards empowerment focuses on establishing principles of thought, behavior, and performance associated with a vision of an empowered future. Models of empower present standards of excellence, guidelines for managing complex, long-term change, and prescriptions for achieving goals. Empowering leaders lead with ideas, images, and imagination. They eliminate conditions impeding action and create opportunities for metanoia and self actualization.

Consider the empowering leadership and modeling created by Richard Dickson, President and Chief Executive Officer Branded Businesses of Jones Apparel Group, Inc. In 2010, Mr. Dickson launched the Empower Your Confidence initiative through the Jones New York brand. It is a transformative model of empowerment for women on which they can reflect, rethink, and renew themselves within a context of strong female role models. These role models provide direction, guidance, and support toward beginning, becoming, and being empowered. This empowerment initiate delivers ideas of inspiration and images of transformation that stimulate the power of possibility and potential for realization.  The Empower Your Confidence initiative enables empowerment.

Empowerment As Execution

Again, authors Kouzes and Posner present another principal of exemplary leadership applicable to empowerment; it is the fourth principal of Five Practices of Exemplary Leadership; Enabling Others To Act.  

Enabling others to act through being empowered requires clarity of purpose and commitment to a compelling vision of the future. Frequently, the future is articulated in a mission statement, its goals embedded in individual thinking and direction mapped through strategic and action plans. In organizations, achieving goals is fueled by the collective energy generated through the single-minded collaboration and tireless, execution inherent working in teams. Participants become empowered through the execution of engagement. Empowered in this way, individuals and teams invest extraordinary effort in the service of achieving sustainable, long-term results. Through the execution of mission empowerment is enabled. So too, each person is strengthened, invigorated, and empowered to act.

Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese Taoist Philosopher reminds us that enabling others to act is the result of leading others to the realization that self leadership is empowering “…leaders are best when people barely know they exist…who talks little when their work is done, their aim fulfilled, [the people] will say, “We did it ourselves.”

Empowerment Through Coaching

Coaching enables empowerment. The coaching process promotes opportunities to experience shifts of mind, build models enabling high performance, and achieve productive excellence through mission and purposeful action. Hermann Hesse, the 1946 Nobel Laureate in literature wrote “The true profession of person is to find their way to themselves.”  Coaching promotes self discovery.  Self discovery enables transformation. Coaching toward self discovery is empowering.

Empowerment is empowering.