Do you Haiku?

This post shared from Leadership Coaching faculty member Sue McLeod. See more from Sue on her blog at  

Presence is one of the fundamental skills of coaching. This ability to tune-into and be fully present with our client during a coaching conversation creates trust and intimacy, and signals to the client that we are listening, attentive and ready to meet them where they are.

Can you be fully present with another person, notice them with all your senses, speak to them in the present tense about what you experience without interpretation? Can you stay with them in the now without wanting to move to another time or place?

I think coaches are good at this. We practice being present during our coach training, we’ve experienced the benefits of the deep connections we create, and others tell us that we are great listeners. But I’ve heard from coaches that their attention can wander when clients talk too much; that their habit of taking notes means they are not 100% with their client; and when their “problem solver” gets activated that connection can disappear in a heartbeat. I, too, struggle sometimes with maintaining my coaching presence, so I’ve been playing with Haiku.

The instructions for writing Haiku are simple.

  • Find a place in nature and stay there for 30 minutes
  • Notice with all your senses
  • Write 15 syllables about what you notice
  • Write in the present tense
  • Write only what you experience – do not include your interpretations, judgments, or add metaphor, create simile, or refer to things that are not there.

Simple, but not easy.

Can you do it? Can you observe a single place in nature with all your senses for 30 minutes? Can you put into words only what you can sense, using only the present tense?

I can do it when I really focus and am intentional. When I begin, I notice that my brain likes to create simile and metaphor. My body likes to be moving, not sitting still. My spirit likes to be creating, not observing. “That waterfall sounds like an orchestra!”, “I could write a blog post about trying to write Haiku!”, “I wish I had my camera to take a photo of these trees.”, “I can’t wait to tell others about this beautiful place I’ve found.” or “I’ve seen enough here; it’s time to move on.”

These thoughts go through my head, until I settle myself down and remind myself to observe.

Buttercups move in the breeze.

Catbird jumps from branch to ground and back again.

Sky is blue. Grass is green…and darker green in the shade…and tan where the field has been mown in straight. Parallel lines.

The sun creates warmth on the back of my neck.

I hear children laughing in the distance. I hear birds chirping close in.

A soft breeze cools my cheek.

A church bell rings.

Here’s what emerged:

Soft breeze cools my cheek
Buttercups vibrate and sway
Noontime chimes

and, yes, it’s in the form of a Haiku.

Now, I won’t win any awards or accolades for my poetry, but that’s not the point. I’m satisfied with the experience; reminding myself that I can push aside the distractions, stay present, and find the essence of the moment.

Can you Haiku?

Learn more from Sue McLeod on >>

Are You Contagious?

This post shared from Leadership Coaching & Transformational Leadership faculty member Chris Wahl’s blog at  See the full version of the post here!

Leaders…Your mood affects others.

Self-aware leaders practice noticing themselves and the impact they are having on others. It’s part of being emotionally intelligent.

Self-aware leaders recognize that their mood is a critical factor in the ‘field’ they create around them. What ‘field’ are you creating?

We all possess “mirror neurons” – neurons that fire both when we act and when we observe the same action performed by someone else – which means that when others are around us, they pick up on and imitate what we do, and feel what we feel. And we pick up on their behaviors and emotions. Have you ever noticed that when you are working with others who are positive and happy, you feel better around them? Or, if someone is always irritable or anxious, you may find you are noticing anxiety in yourself when you’ve been with them.

Leaders who are aware of their emotional contagion will pay attention to what they are conveying. If you as a leader notice that your organizational culture is suffering in some way (and there are many ways a culture suffers), notice how YOU are feeling about the culture. Are you worried, on edge, anxious, doubtful, critical, protective? If your answer is yes, look around you – chances are those you influence feel the same way.

Over and over in my coaching practice, I hear stories about leader contagion. No doubt a leader creating a negative field risks contagion and its multiple effects, such as direct reports and colleagues keeping the truth from a leader, doing work-arounds so as not to have to deal with the leader, hiding upsetting information, and creating team dynamics that are dishonest and backstabbing, resulting in eroding trust. And the positive contagion, when a leader creates a positive field, has wonderfully good consequences: well-being, caring, truth-telling, and problem-solving, results of greater trust.

Find a way to be the leader you wish to be. Live into a leadership stance that is inviting and enlivening – make that your contagion.

Learn more from Chris Wahl on >>

The 10 Behaviors Of Strong Personal Leadership

This post shared from Leadership Coaching faculty member Scott Eblin’s blog at  See the full version of the post here!

Since writing the first edition of The Next Level in 2006, I’ve coached, spoken with, and observed thousands of leaders in action. Many of them have been good leaders. Some have been great leaders. The great ones have one big thing in common. Great leaders practice and exhibit strong personal leadership. They endeavor to live at their best so they can lead at their best. Their lives are structured for continuous improvement.

Here are the ten behaviors of personal leadership that I’ve seen the great ones practice:

  1. Self Reflection – Great leaders take the time to identify and articulate how they are at their best. They use their understanding to regularly stop and reflect on where they’re hitting the mark, where they’re not, and how to get back on track.
  2. Self Awareness – Great leaders are aware and intentional. They notice the physical, mental, and emotional reactions they’re having to what’s going on around them and they are then intentional about what they’re going to do next.
  3. Self Care – Great leaders understand that they perform at their best when they take care of their health and well being. They move throughout the day. They get at least seven hours of sleep. They manage their stress.
  4. Continuous Learning – Great leaders never stop learning. They challenge their own assumptions by asking why, seeking fresh sources of input, asking for feedback on their performance and going out of their way to experience and understand the lives of others.
  5. Listening – Great leaders listen. They listen to gather the ideas and perspective needed to solve problems collaboratively. They move beyond transactional listening and regularly practice transformational listening.
  6. Operating Rhythm – Great leaders know and leverage their operating rhythm. They know what times of the day and the week are the best fit for getting particular things done and they also pay attention to when they need breaks.
  7. Gear Shifting – Great leaders know how to quickly shift gears. Between one conversation and the next, they take a few moments to breathe deeply, clear their mind from the last thing and visualize what they’re trying to do next and how they need to show up to do it.
  8. Focus – Great leaders focus on who or what is in front of them. They are aware of the things that could distract them and are intentional about removing those things from their environment. They set themselves and others up for success by creating space to focus.
  9. Clarity Of Purpose – Great leaders know what they’re in it for. They have developed a clear answer to the question, “Why am I here?” Their answer to that question informs what they do each day and how they do it.
  10. Gratitude – Great leaders are grateful. They acknowledge the good things in their life. They understand that even on days when it feels like everything is going wrong, there is always something that’s going right. They build on that to create positive outcomes.

As a leader you control the weather. How you show up is predictive of how the people you lead will show up. To lead at your best, live at your best. That starts with personal leadership. What’s working for you in your personal leadership? What do you need to adjust? Which of the ten behaviors of strong personal leadership holds the most potential for you?

Learn more from Scott Eblin on >>

Coaching Concepts: The Root of Roadblocks

This post shared from Leadership Coaching faculty member Sharon Keys Seal’s website  See the original version of the post here!

Years ago I was invited to be part of a panel of professionals to discuss the topic of getting “stuck” in life. The moderator asked us in advance to consider some areas of our lives where we have found ourselves “stuck,” what it was about, and how we worked through it. It proved to be a very thought-provoking exercise for me and the source of a tool I’ve now used for many years to identify reasons that I get stuck or feel blocked, so that I can then work from there to get back on track.

During that exercise I thought I’d begin by listing just a few of the times that I felt anchored in one place, not getting any traction. Things like: stuck in an outdated version of how I view myself, mired in an unfulfilling relationship, blocked access to my creativity, stuck in making the same unhealthy choices at meals, unable to attain a certain professional goal, closed off to scary new ideas. Let’s just say the flow of examples was one thing that was not stuck.

As I studied my list, it occurred to me that there are three reasons I get stuck:

  • Falsehood – When I’m not telling the truth to myself or others; when I’m not in reality; when I can’t answer “yes” to the question “Is this true?”
  • Fear – When fear rears its ugly head, it usually brings me to a screeching halt until I’ve named it specifically and then dealt with it at the root cause.
  • Forgetfulness – When I “forget” my purpose, lose sight of my vision, and/or don’t remind myself of my goals, I end up going down paths that drain me of my energy until I remember where I’m supposed to be heading.

I use my Three F’s theory by noticing when I feel stuck about anything, and seeing if it is sourced in any of these reasons. The next step is corrective action, such as looking for the truth and not continuing to deceive myself, or taking actions to address a fear, or refocusing on my mission statement. So far in my little experiment, the results have been positive and I’m feeling (and acting) a lot more free.

The next time you feel “stuck” in your professional or personal life, I invite you to see if my Three F’s tool can help you identify the source of your roadblock.

Learn more from Sharon on Coaching Concepts >>