Provision #746: The ABC’s of Leadership

Laser Provision

Without intending to follow any particular pattern at the time, I started to write about Evocative Leadership on March 21, 2010. That’s 20 months ago! Who knew the topic would prove to be so engaging?! My interest was simple: to apply the lessons we have been learning through Evocative Coaching to the tasks of leadership. That wasn’t hard to do, since great leaders are always coaching leaders. In today’s Provision, I summarize the series before moving on to other topics. Enjoy!

LifeTrek Provision


When I started this series on Evocative Leadership, I did so because I knew I wanted to write a book on coaching leaders. That book is intended to be a sequel, of sorts, to our book on coaching teachers. It will follow the same coaching model but it will apply the process to leaders in schools and other settings. There is a play on words here that launches the book with the following sentence: “This book is about coaching leaders to become coaching leaders.” How we coach leaders influences the kind of leaders they become. If we coach from a “tell-and-sell” stance, then they will lead from that stance. If we coach from a “listen-and-learn” stance, then things will shift in that direction.

Of the two, “listen and learn” is the way to lead. In fact, in the new book we intend to change the acronym for the coaching model itself. Instead of SEID (for Story•Empathy•Inquiry•Design), we will used LEAD (for Listen•Empathize•Appreciate•Design). Those are the attributes that make for effective leadership in the 21st century. Gone are the days of top-down, command-and-control leadership effectiveness. Upon us are the days of collaborative, coach-and-create leadership. Leadership coaches have the opportunity to evoke that style of leadership by modeling that style of coaching, as our book will make clear.

Something happened, however, on the way to that book on coaching leaders: another book was born. On March 21, 2010 • four months before Evocative Coaching had been released • I decided to explore the attributes of coaching leaders using the metaphor of what matters. I started withFocus and Faith before moving on to Results and Relationships. From there, I picked up a few more letters of the alphabet before accepting the self-imposed challenge of writing three things that matter for every letter of the alphabet. By August 2010, I was well on my way, circling back to fill in the gap that I left at the beginning: Feelings Matter.

It was fascinating, even as the writer, to watch the Provisions emerge and evolve. Until the very end, when I was consciously choosing to pick up the letters I had not yet covered, the Provisions would present themselves spontaneously. Something would happen that would trigger an instantaneous recognition: of course Health Matters to leadership! Of course Strengths Matter! Of course Discipline Matters! Even Jesus and Yoda snuck into the equation. Within the overarching framework of covering the entire alphabet there was randomness, spontaneity, and creativity. I hope you enjoyed the journey as much as I did.

Now it’s time to turn the series into a book, which my wife, Megan, has tentatively titled, The ABC’s of Leadership. I like that title because it invites me to place the Provisions in alphabetical order and to edit them accordingly. Putting things in a new order inevitably generates new insights. The final book will not be the same as the original series, and that’s a good thing, but it will be heavily indebted to the work we have done together over the past 20 months. As always, your reader replies proved to invaluable grist for the mill, and for that I cannot thank you enough.

It’s interesting for me to read the reorganized list of Provisions. I immediately find myself wanting to write more. What about Autonomy? What about Empathy, Honesty, and Integrity? What about Inquiry and Mastery? I could easily add one more Provision for every letter. But to everything there is a season, and ’tis the season to end this series. You’ll just have to wait for the book to see how the following Provisions turn out:

703: Actions Matter 684: Needs Matter
700: Attitude Matters 686: Nerve Matters
699: Awareness Matters 685: Nice Matters
710: Beauty Matters 677: Observations Matter
712: Being Matters 679: Oneness Matters
711: Belief Matters 678: Openness Matters
673: Constraints Matter 672: Persistence Matters
675: Creativity Matters 671: Planning Matters
676: Curiosity Matters 670: Priorities Matter
721: Data Matter 734: Quality Matters
722: Desire Matters 735: Qualms Matter
723: Discipline Matters 733: Questions Matter
680: Education Matters 665: Relationships Matter
682: Enlightenment Matters 664: Results Matter
681: Entertainment Matters 666: Rituals Matter
663: Faith Matters 696: Serenity Matters
683: Feelings Matter 697: Strengths Matter
662: Focus Matters 698: Surrender Matters
726: Generosity Matters 692: Tech Matters
724: Graciousness Matters 691: Touch Matters
725: Gratitude Matters 690: Trust Matters
689: Happiness Matters 743: Understanding Matters
688: Health Matters 744: Uniformity Matters
687: Hope Matters 745: Uniqueness Matters
668: Ideas Matter 693: Values Matter
669: Implementation Matters 694: Vision Matters
667: Inspiration Matters 695: Vitality Matters
709: Jesus Matters 706: Wisdom Matters
707: Juice Matters 705: Wit Matters
708: Justice Matters 704: Words Matter
739: Kaizen Matters 736: eXample Matters
742: Kindness Matters 738: eXhaustion Matters
741: Knowledge Matters 737: eXperiments Matter
716: Laughter Matters 727: Yes Matters
713: Learning Matters 729: Yoda Matters
715: Listening Matters 728: Yoga Matters
732: Memory Matters 719: Zapp! Matters
730: Mindfulness Matters 720: Zen Matters
731: Moods Matter 717: Zest Matters

Let me know if you see other opportunities for substituting one word with another. There is a lot of overlap, so I often covered one topic under the umbrella of another (for example, I covered Empathy when I wrote about Understanding, and I covered Honesty and Integrity when I wrote about Trust). Still, if you think I’m missing a crucial word when it comes to leadership, I would like to know your thoughts.

I would also like to know whether you think this should be one book or two. There is a certain appeal to covering the entire alphabet, A to Z, in one book. But that could make for a very long book, and people tell me that two shorter books may be better. Your thoughts, along with those of my publisher, will influence the way this turns out.

Over the next year or two, as I finish these books, I think I will reprise my now five-year-old series on Optimal Wellness. That will give me a chance to revisit the health side of the leadership equation, including new research and thinking from the field. I hope you will join me for the journey.

Coaching Inquiries: What matters most to you when it comes to leadership? Which of these words speak most powerfully to your own heart? How can you take that truth and carry it with you on a daily basis? What would people then say about you as a leader? What’s stopping you from making it so?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form to arrange a complimentary conversation. To learn more about LifeTrek Coaching programs, Click HereTop

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


Thanks for reminding us that Uniqueness Matters. Too often I have tried to conform myself to the expectations of others, even when that did not fit my personality. I know it’s important to be sensitive to the feelings and needs of others, but your Provision gives me the courage to do that without abandoning my own, distinctive style. Thanks!


I was really pleased to see your announcement about the January training program in evocative coaching. I’ve attended several workshops with you guys and I impressed with your skill, know-how and especially your empathic conscientiousness. Aiming this program at teachers and educational administrators as well as personal coaches and consultants is a perfect combination. Our schools need this! Thanks for bringing it forward.  


May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #745: Uniqueness Matters

Laser Provision

Last week I wrote about the importance of uniformity when it comes to leadership. The focus there was on the quality of processes and outcomes when it comes to goods and services. Leaders make sure that quality is consistently high. But there is no uniform way for leaders to get that message across. There are as many different approaches as there are leaders. Personality and individuality are not the enemies of leadership, they are its essence. This Provision finishes our meandering through the alphabet with some reflections on the importance of uniqueness.

LifeTrek Provision


Novice leaders are prone to try and emulate the leadership styles of others, and that may work, at first. Stealing a few plays from someone else’s playbook is a time-honored way of getting into any business. But the essence of leadership cannot be copied. It must come from the heart and always be authentic. We must, in other words, adapt what we learn so as to express it with our own unique style and voice.

That’s true in any human endeavor. How do we learn anything? It usually starts by watching. As infants we watch people walk until, sooner or later, we get the idea to try and walk ourselves. Then, we set about the business of figuring out for ourselves how to do it. No one teaches us how to walk. No one explains the biomechanics or establishes the standards. We just try and try again until we develop our balance and find our way forward.

What’s curious is how something as simple as walking expresses both uniformity and uniqueness. There are obviously more similarities than differences when it comes to bipedal motion. The biomechanics are pretty fundamental. But even here there is a lot of individuality. No two people walk exactly the same way.

You can test that assertion for yourself the next time you are in an airport or another public space. Watch people walk with a beginner’s mind. Sure, you will see people putting one foot in front of the other, over and over again. But that’s about where the similarities stop and the differences begin. Some people are heel strikers, while others are forefoot or mid-foot strikers. Some lean forward while other stand erect or even lean back. Some swing their arms while others rock from side to side. Some swing their hips. Some walk fast, slow, and everything in between.

There is no end to the expression of uniqueness! And if that’s true for something as basic as walking, imagine how true that is when it comes to something as complex as leadership. Style matters and it’s important for leaders to both understand and embrace our style on the way to leadership effectiveness.

Understanding our uniqueness is an important part of the equation. Socrates once said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” We could paraphrase that to say, “An unconscious uniqueness is not worth following.” No two leaders look the same or express ourselves in exactly the same way. There are short and tall leaders, thin and stocky leaders, left-handed and right-handed leaders, patient and impatient leaders, funny and serious leaders, task and relationship-oriented leaders, outgoing and quiet leaders, as well as gruff and charming leaders (to mention only a few possibilities).

What makes every leader effective, regardless of type or personal style, if we are effective at all, is that we understand our unique attributes and how those attributes effect other people. Equipped with that understanding, which represents a form of emotional intelligence, we can more consistently engage with people in ways that are both life-giving and performance-enhancing. We become, in other words, leaders who are worth following.

I have witnessed and coached leaders who lacked that understanding. They were too often unconscious of the effect they were having on other people. With an “I just gotta’ be me!” theme song, these leaders had uniqueness down pat. But without understanding, that uniqueness was alienating and destructive rather than endearing and constructive. As a result, things didn’t get done the way they or anyone else would have liked and their leadership eventually unraveled.

In their excellent work on resonant leadership, Anne McKee, Richard Boyatzis, and Fran Johnston identify three leadership myths that speak to this dynamic:

  1. Myth 1: Smart Is Good Enough. Not so, the authors write. Intellect and technical knowledge are the baseline but they do not differentiate great leaders. Emotional and social intelligence make the difference.
  2. Myth 2: Your Mood Does Not Matter. Wrong again. Bolstered by rich research from the field of cognitive behavioral neuroscience, the authors note that emotions are contagious and that a leader’s mood can either create resonance or dissonance in people and organizations.
  3. Myth 3: Great Leaders Thrive on Constant Pressure. The authors don’t deny that leadership involves a lot of sacrifice and stress. But great leaders know when to say when, adopting practices of recovery, release, and renewal.

Having identified the myths, McKee, Boyatzis, and Johnston spend most of their time focused on the ways leaders can increase both our self-understanding and our understanding of others. The two go hand-in-hand. Self-understanding is a prerequisite of all great leadership. We don’t have to jettison our uniqueness. We don’t have to become someone we’re not. But we do have to understand our personality and individuality if we hope to enlist those unique attributes in the service of desired outcomes.

Otherwise, we’ll just keep shooting ourselves in the foot without knowing how or why. And that’s no way to lead. The key to leadership is understanding who we are, what we value, and how we come across. Once those three are in place, then embracing our uniqueness is held at once more firmly and more lightly. Our uniqueness becomes something people embrace, enjoy, and forgive rather than reject, tolerate, and criticize.

I mention forgive because that is an important leadership dynamic. No leader gets it right all the time. Our uniqueness will inevitably rub some people the wrong way on some occasions. When that happens, that doesn’t mean that we should give up on our uniqueness. It means that we should apologize and learn better ways of using our uniqueness to get things done more happily for one and all.

Uniqueness, then, is not a static commodity. It is a fluid dynamic that weaves its way through the course of life. Great leaders know how to grow with, through, and beyond our uniqueness. That represents our lifelong journey, commitment, and pursuit both in relationship to our own uniqueness and to the uniqueness of others.

In all of his work on quality control, W. Edwards Deming makes clear that it is a key work of leadership to recognize and learn from unique people and events. First, of course, we have to know when someone or something is truly unique. That’s where Deming’s control charts come into play. They help leaders to recognize where someone or something falls in relationship to the standard deviations of the normal curve. There’s a natural degree of variation in every system and it’s best to not get too excited about that.

But when someone or something is truly unique, truly outside the normal limits of variation, then an opportunity has arisen that every leader should celebrate whether that uniqueness appears to be favorable or unfavorable. Exceptionally positive or negative events can be equally well leveraged for transformational change, both of individuals and of systems. They represent occasions for conversation that great leaders welcome and weigh in the continuing pursuit of excellence.

So that, in the end, is why and how uniqueness matters. Such diversity is the stuff of greatness. In leaders we call it charisma. In followers we call them capacities. Together, with mutual respect and understanding, we see them as generating the never-ending spiral dynamic of transformational change.

Coaching Inquiries: How would you describe your unique qualities and abilities? How well do you understand them? How well do you leverage them both for your own growth and for the growth of others? How might your uniqueness become more life-giving and performance-enhancing? Who could serve as a role model for you in this regard?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form to arrange a complimentary conversation. To learn more about LifeTrek Coaching programs, Click HereTop

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


I loved your last Provision, “Uniformity Matters.” Thanks! 


May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #744: Uniformity Matters

Laser Provision

When it comes to leadership, uniformity matters. That’s obvious when it comes to manufacturing. There are specifications for every product and it just doesn’t work if some products meet those specifications while others do not. Consumers expect a uniform level of quality from item to item, year after year. But uniformity is just as important when it comes to services. From one help desk representative to another, from one third-grade classroom to another, it is important for leaders to make sure that customers experience a consistent level of quality. That’s a critical task of leadership as this Provision makes clear.

LifeTrek Provision


Throughout my childhood, as my father worked his way up the ladder at the Sherwin-Williams Paint Company, he spent four years serving as plant manager at the headquarters factory in Cleveland, Ohio, USA. I can remember going down to the plant with him and marveling at both the complexity of the operation and the conviviality of the operators. As we walked around the plant, my father would greet people by name and they would reciprocate, regardless of where they seemed to fit on the org chat.

I also remember the signs and placards regarding both safety and quality. Paint factories can be dangerous places, both because of the chemicals and because of the machinery. Avoiding accidents and injury was an important part of the operation. So was the uniformity of every batch of paint. There were clear specifications regarding every step in the process, so it was important for every operator to both understand and follow the directions. Assembly lines are no time to go rogue when it comes to quality.

This was driven home to me after my senior year of high school when I made my one and only stab at following in my father’s footsteps. That was the summer when I went to work in the factory, as part of the research lab. I was a gofer assigned to work with the chemists who were developing new formulations and products. In that position, I gained an appreciation for what it took to make something as simple as a can of paint.

The chemists were of course interested in quality. Indeed, that was their primary charge: to find ever-better formulations that would last longer, spread easier, and protect more over time. Sometimes this was a matter of using different ingredients. Other times it was a matter of compounding the ingredients in different ways. In every case, production requirements had to be considered. If a formulation could not be made economically and at scale, then its quality really didn’t matter. As Sherwin-Williams famously proclaims, enough paint had to be made to “cover the earth.”

Half of my job that summer was about as fun as it could get for someone who likes to cook. I would be given a recipe for making a small batch of paint in a five-gallon mixer. There would be precise instructions as to what ingredients were to go in when, blended, for how long, and at what speeds. My job was to follow the instructions, making notes along the way as to my observations of process and anomalies. That was the fun part.

The other part of my job was to apply that paint to a variety of test surfaces. The painted boards and panels would then be taken outside for prolonged periods of weathering and exposure, during which time there would be careful, routine monitoring. I didn’t much care for painting those boards and panels (although spraying the paint was definitely more fun than brushing). “Wax on, wax off,” to quote Mr. Miyagi in the Karate Kid movie. It was boring, repetitive work.

But it was also important work. Quality in production started with quality in the lab, and that meant continuous testing as part of the research and development process. It wasn’t enough to make one great batch of paint. We had to replicate that batch, over and over again, before it would be moved into production.

Fast forward 25 years and I saw that same process being applied in the development of new computer software to manage operations at a large food manufacturing company. This came as part of the Y2K scare, which forced many companies to evaluate and upgrade their systems. At this particular company, where I was consulting in a communications and team-building role, $35 million USD was being spent to reengineer every aspect of their systems.

The development team took up an entire floor of a large office building and they were divided into groups that focused on different modules and environments. Some of those environments included development (where they came up with new stuff), test (where they tried it out), stress (where they tried it out at volume), and production (when they started to run the company with the new software, after go-live). The goal here was the same as it was back in the lab at the paint company: to make sure the company would run efficiently, effectively, and consistently with the new systems.

These are but two illustrations of a larger truth: uniformity matters. Goods have to be consistently produced according to certain standards, Consumers expect that. We expect every iPhone and Kindle to work like every other iPhone and Kindle. But that doesn’t happen by accident or remote control. Even in the age of robotics and high-tech gadgets, uniformity is not a set-it-and-forget-it commodity. It takes constant attention and continuous improvement to achieve.

That’s especially true when it comes to services. Take education as an example. What does it take to make sure that every third-grade teacher delivers  a uniformly excellent quality of education? It takes leadership. Not command-and-control, demand-and-direct leadership, but coaching leadership. It takes the kind of leadership that makes the continuous striving for quality a shared norm and a common enterprise rather than a top-down mandate and a leader-driven pursuit.

For that to happen, leaders lead by example. In schools, that means creating an environment where every stakeholder is motivated to collaborate in the pursuit of quality without fear, barriers, or competitive relationships. Uniformity is a byproduct of loyalty and trust. When people view their work and each other through that lens, quality rises naturally to the top.

In her work on teacher professionalism, my wife, Megan, has identified some of the environmental factors that contribute to such motivation. These factors include:

  1. Standardized skills (sharing common, professional skill sets)
  2. Mutual trust (cultivating good will and positive working relationships)
  3. Shared norms (being on the same page when it comes to what’s important)
  4. Disciplined inquiry (using data to understand the nature and implications of practice)
  5. Reflective dialogue (talking with each other about how things are going and how to make things better)
  6. Deprivatized practice (watching each other work and learning from each other’s methods)
  7. Adaptive discretion (empowering people to make situational decisions based upon their professional judgment)
  8. Collective responsibility (holding each other accountable for the performance of the entire system)
  9. Protected time (scheduling periods for planning and staff development)
  10. Requisite resources (mustering materials, supplies, and technologies for existing services and new ideas)
  11. Public appreciation (celebrating triumphs, progress, and effort)

What I like about this list is that each element can be influenced by the stance leaders choose to take in schools. Leaders are not captive to our environments; we are called to be their architects. To get a sense of how our stance is contributing to quality, in relation to the above environmental factors, we can, for example, ask ourselves the following questions:

  1. In what ways am I assisting people to grow their core competencies?
  2. How much do people trust me as a leader? How much do they trust each other?
  3. What do I say about the purpose and ethics of our organization? What do others say?
  4. In what spirit are data being collected and analyzed? What are we learning?
  5. How and how often are people talking with each other about continuous improvement when I am around? When I am not around?
  6. When do people watch each other work and what do those experiences generate? What kind of feedback do I receive on my work?
  7. How much freedom and responsibility do I give people to do their work?
  8. What is the balance between push, pull, and partnership when it comes to performance improvement?
  9. How often do I schedule time for planning and staff development? How often do other things interfere with that time?
  10. When and how do I secure the resources people need to do their jobs?
  11. How do I recognize good work and effort? What are the visible signs?

These questions may grow out of the literature and research on teacher professionalism, but they could just as well be asked of any leader in any organizational context. If we want to achieve uniformity when it comes to the quality of our goods or services, then we would do well to avoid giving orders, telling people what to do, goading people with the carrot and the stick, pitting people against each other, playing power broker, or being on an ego trip. Those postures do not make for long-term, continuous improvement, let alone for organizational transformation.

Instead, we would do well to make the gerunds in the above description a central part of our leadership practices. Our stance should that of sharing, cultivating, being, using, talking, watching, learning, empowering, holding, scheduling, mustering, and celebrating. We should be about the work of assisting people, building trust, clarifying focus, expanding awareness, welcoming feedback, extending freedom, increasing responsibility, partnering, making time, finding resources, and recognizing good work.

If that sounds like a daunting task, then welcome to leadership! No one ever said leadership was going to be easy. But it is also incredibly engaging and fulfilling when we get into flow with our work and with our people. That is the sweet spot we are looking for as leaders, and that is the sweet spot that will lead to constancy of purpose and uniformity of quality.

Coaching Inquiries: How uniform is the quality in the organizations and groups you lead? What would increase that uniformity? How could your conversations about quality become more engaging and productive? Who could you have one such conversation with today?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form to arrange a complimentary conversation. To learn more about LifeTrek Coaching programs, Click HereTop

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


My routine for Sunday mornings is to get my coffee, cuddle up in a comfortable chair with a blanket, and proceed to turn on my laptop to read the weekly Provision. I am amazed at how many times I feel you are talking directly to me. You seem to know my needs and exactly how to phrase the words to answer questions or to respond to my thoughts regarding a topic. The Provision “Understanding Matters” touched me and has helped me so much today with answers I needed. Thank you for your commitment to all of your readers. 


May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #743: Understanding Matters

Laser Provision

Two weeks ago I wrote about the importance of knowledge when it comes to leadership. By knowledge I meant a clear grasp of what’s important when it comes to leading organizations and optimizing performance. Best efforts are not enough. Best efforts without proper direction are doomed. To that end, I put forward Deming’s theory of knowledge as a great framework for leaders. But knowledge without understanding is also doomed. Understanding enables leaders to translate knowledge into action. Is that one of your goals? Read on!

LifeTrek Provision


W. Edwards Deming, the quality-improvement expert and leadership guru that I have been writing about for several weeks, was famously critical of best efforts. It’s not that he didn’t want people to do their best. It’s rather that best efforts, without a guiding theory of knowledge to direct those efforts, might actually push organizations in the wrong direction. Here are a few samples of Deming’s quotes on the subject:

  • “Best efforts are not enough, you have to know what to do.”
  • “Best efforts are essential. Unfortunately, best efforts, people charging this way and that way without guidance of principles, can do a lot of damage. Think of the chaos that would come if everyone did his best, not knowing what to do.”
  • “Best efforts will not ensure quality, and neither will gadgets, computers or investment in machinery.”
  • “Best efforts will not substitute for knowledge.”
  • “We are being ruined by best efforts.”

To avoid that eventuality, Deming developed a Theory of Profound Knowledge involving systems theory, causes of variation, adult learning theory, and human psychology. Why should leaders care about such seemingly esoteric topics? Because they hold the keys to success. As Deming once quipped, “There is an excuse for ignorance, but there is no way to avoid the consequences.” Failing to know what to focus on and do is not a good idea when it comes to leadership.

Knowledge alone, however, is not sufficient for success. We also need understanding. What’s the difference? Knowledge comes from the head; understanding comes from the heart. All the knowledge in the world will not do leaders any good if we don’t understand how to apply that knowledge in real situations, with real people, in real time.

That was the point of my wife’s 2004 book on leadership in schools, Trust Matters. This book tells the stories of three school leaders, each of which are doing their best, but only one of which gets it right. What’s the difference between them? All three would probably give lip service to the same theory of knowledge. They would all say that school leadership involves paying attention to both tasks and relationships, but only one manages to pay attention in a way that generates cooperation, competence, and conscientiousness.

How does that happen? Through understanding people and what’s called for in the moment. All the data in the world (and Deming was a strident voice for the importance of collecting and analyzing data) will be for naught if we just use the results to punish people and to beat them up as to what they are not doing right. That was part of Gloria’s problem, one of leaders in Trust Matters. She had a taskmaster personality and data were used as arrows in her quiver for identifying problems and pushing people to get on track.

That was a bad idea in two respects: Deming would point out that she was not using data correctly. I would point out that she was not using empathy correctly. Both factors have to do with understanding.

One of the big mistakes people make when it comes to data is failing to analyze the data with a control chart. Control charts enable leaders to correctly distinguish between systemic variations that occur naturally, through no fault of any one individual, and special events that may have unique causes from which we can learn and benefit. For an easy-to-read discussion of control charts, you may enjoy Latzko’s & Saunders’ book, Four Days with Dr. Deming.

Leaders make terrible leadership mistakes, Deming notes, when we fail to analyze data correctly. We blame people for things that are outside of their control and we fail to intervene in situations where the exercise of control is possible. As a result of these mistakes, our leadership is less than effective. We make matters worse rather than better when we go at systems in the wrong way. And we fail to at our responsibility to coach individuals who are truly outliers from the control set.

As coaching leaders, it is our job to initiate learning conversations with those outliers (and to leave everyone else alone). What can we learn from extraordinary examples of both successful and struggling performance that can improve individual performance and optimize the system as a whole? Identifying those examples correctly and facilitating those conversations adeptly are, according to Deming, the primary tasks of leadership in any organization.

And that’s where empathy comes into play. There’s no way to have those conversations unless people trust us to understand their concerns and appreciate their perspectives. We all know what happens when leaders ask people for feedback or suggestions. We only hear what they want us to hear. People don’t open up and talk honestly unless they have first come to recognize and trust us as empathetic leaders.

But don’t confuse empathy with sympathy. That was part of Fred’s problem, another one of the leaders in Trust Matters. He wanted everyone to like him and no one to be upset with him. So he would sympathize with whoever he was talking with in the moment. That made people feel good, because it seemed as though Fred was on their side. He was feeling their pain, to borrow a phrase, leaving people with a reassuring sense that he would do something to alleviate that pain.

Unfortunately, to avoid upsetting people, Fred usually did nothing. He was a great guy who could not be counted on to have those learning conversations. As that reputation grew, Fred’s leadership became more and more compromised and ineffective.

Empathy is a very different kind of understanding. Through empathy we don’t just feel someone’s pain, we seek to understand and respect the causes of that pain. Empathetic leaders dig below the superficial level of what can be seen by walking around (MBWA) to understand not only the data but also the needs behind the data. We engage in honest, meaningful dialogue around the performance of both individual players and the system as a whole.

That takes emotional intelligence, since it is easy to become emotionally reactive when we hear or see something we don’t like or understand. From that vantage point, both Gloria and Fred lacked the emotional intelligence to be effective school leaders. One was too hard while the other was too soft.

But honest, meaningful dialogue takes more than just trust and understanding in the character of the leader. It also takes an organizational climate in which people are free to express themselves without fear of losing of their job. That’s another one of those Deming Management Principles. “Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company.” It is impossible to raise the quality of a system if the individual parts of that system are evaluated in relation to each other, apart from the system itself.

When the focus of evaluation is on the system, however, the individual parts become continuously engaged in conversations as to how to make things better. That’s when “continuous improvement” moves from being a slogan to being a reality. Everyone is continuously and forever striving to make things better. Data become our friend rather than our enemy. There is no competition between individuals or departments. Everyone is working together for the good of the whole.

That’s the understanding of empathy that coaching leaders bring into the workplace. Brenda, the third principal in Trust Matters, got that right. She set the tone that led to a culture of cooperation, competence, and conscientiousness. At times, that meant Brenda had to stand up for the people in her building against outside forces that might have pitted them against each other. Most of the time, however, that meant Brenda carried herself as a leader with both knowledge and understanding. She could work equally well with data and people.

And that was the secret of Brenda’s success. She understood how to work with and apply one of Einstein’s most important discoveries when it comes to data and empathy, knowledge and understanding: “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” May we each learn to balance those dynamics in our own leadership as well.

Coaching Inquiries: How would you describe your emotional intelligence? What kind of energy do you project? What kind of tone do you set with the people you lead? How would you describe the culture in your organization? What can you do to make it more of a coaching culture? With whom could you have an honest learning conversation today?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form to arrange a complimentary conversation. To learn more about LifeTrek Coaching programs, Click HereTop

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.
 


Kindness Matters. Again I have been inspired and enriched deep within. I’m sure my teachers will appreciate purposeful “kindness” as we close our first term. Busy, yes, but not too busy to take time to show kindness. As they review progress data, creating progress reports and diligently planning learning for the weeks ahead, experiencing kindness • purposefully directed toward their needs, I know they will be refreshed and enriched. Thanks. I sometimes let the work overshadow the needs of the workers.


How uplifting and inspirational! You orchestrate and connect these stories so that they powerfully highlight the significance and implications of kindness lived out. What a wonderful testimony of your purpose and passion to influence the heart motives of leaders on our planet. 


Kindness Matters was a great Provision. Stories always contain that wonderful ability to include us in their world through the surprising transformation of our imagination. Thank you for choosing and sharing these four stories on kindness.  


Not sure where kindness fits into the Somali situation but we would greatly appreciate your prayers for one of our God-daughters, Blanca, who works for Doctors Without Borders and was kidnapped last Thursday. Such a long journey to move from desperation, anger and faith to kindness and respect and finding ways to solve such huge problems. (Ed. Note: I’m passing this on to our readers. May we all keep Blanc in our thoughts and prayers.)


May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #742: Kindness Matters

Laser Provision

Do you like stories? Then this is the Provision for you. It contains four stories, each of which illustrates an important principle when it comes to leadership: kindness matters. When leaders engage in either intentional or random acts of kindness, people notice. Such acts build trust and grease the wheels of change. If leaders want to make a difference in our organizations and in the world, then it behooves us to do kind things to others. When it comes to leadership, that may well be the perfect expression of the Golden Rule. What are those stories? Read on to find out about starfish, a Porsche, marathon runners, and W. Edwards Deming. Yes, even Deming was kind! Enjoy.

LifeTrek Provision


I think I’m about done with my exploration of the Deming Management Principles in this series of Provisions on Evocative Leadership. That’s not because we have done the Principles justice, but it is soon time to bring this Provisions’ series to a close. It’s been fun using the English alphabet to identify 78 things that matter, 26 x 3, when it comes to leadership. Still, I’m guessing you are about done with this theme. And I’m ready to turn the Provisions into a new book called The ABCs of Leadership. They will be reorganized (in alphabetical order) and rewritten (to make them less time-specific) before being published (I hope) before the end of next year. You’ll be hearing more about that, I’m sure, as time goes on.

One thing to which I would call your attention is a reworking of last week’s Provision on Deming’s Theory of Profound Knowledge. It was bothering me all the week that I did not properly describe the third dynamic of that Theory. In last week’s Provision, I referred to that dynamic as the scientific method, but that is a symptom rather than a cause. In this dynamic, Deming was really addressing adult learning theory. He was not concerned as to how people could know anything at all. He was concerned as to how people could add to their knowledge over time. When I was in college, I studied this concern in terms of evolutionary epistemology. Deming had a stance here that was compatible with what I learned almost 40 years ago.

I took the time, then, to rewrite that section of last week’s Provision. If you have an interest in the matter, I encourage you to click through to the Provision, titled Knowledge Matters, and to read the section on Learning Theory. I hope you will find the revision as illuminating to read as I found it to write.

With all of Deming’s sophistication as a statistician and management consultant, and with all of his fame for the transformation of the Japanese manufacturing and business communities after World War II, I found it interesting to read the following description of Deming’s work from the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers (JUSE):

“Shortly after World War II, the Japanese government encouraged the formation of several industrial organizations to help Japan recover from the war. The most notable of these organizations has been the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers (JUSE). This union brought together leaders and experts from all of Japan’s major industries so that they could share best practices. This was done in the hope of revitalizing Japan’s economy.

Its main directive was to revitalize Japan’s economy and eliminating waste by improving quality. It wasn’t until 1949 that JUSE began to host statistical quality control seminars. In 1950 JUSE invited Dr. W. Edwards Deming, a U.S. government statistical advisor to lecture to them on use of statistical quality control.

That invitation led to an eight day lecture that was well received by the eager Japanese engineers and scientists. Dr. Deming repeated his lectures many times with great reception. These initiated what is now commonly referred to as the Japanese quality revolution, of which JUSE is the quintessential poster child. The notes to Dr. Deming’s lecture, Elementary Principles of the Statistical Control of Quality, were subsequently translated and published in Japan.

Although JUSE offered Dr. Deming the royalties for his lectures, he refused. JUSE, inspired by Dr. Deming’s kindness, began the Deming Prize in 1951 from those same royalties. The prize, which is a bronze medal bearing a likeness of Dr. Deming is awarded to those who have contributed to the field of quality control. The Deming Prize was originally awarded in two categories. It is awarded to individuals who make a significant contribution to the theory and application of quality control and also to firms that obtain outstanding results in the application of quality control.

Although JUSE offers a plethora of seminars, training courses, and symposiums on quality related topics, JUSE is most well known for its role in awarding and administering the Deming Prize. Today, the Deming Prize is open to all persons and companies both Japanese and foreign in one of three categories. These categories are:

  • The Deming Prize for Individuals
  • The Deming Application Prize
  • The Quality Control Award for Operations Business Units

While these awards differ in criteria, they are all awarded to companies and individuals for their outstanding efforts to apply or disseminate Total Quality Management. JUSE also offers and co-sponsors other awards like the Japan Quality Medal, for Deming Prize winner overachievers, and Nikkei QC Literature award for excellent writings in the Total Quality Management field. All of these awards are administered by the JUSE Deming Award committee. Through these awards JUSE has sought to promote interest in the use and learning of Total Quality Management techniques throughout the world.”

Just imagine what might have happened if Deming had not been so kind as to donate his royalties to JUSE. He was certainly entitled to keep the money. The money came, after all, for the time and effort he took to get to Japan on multiple occasions to present what today would be described as his intellectual property. But Deming was more concerned to make a contribution than to make a killing. And that act of kindness, as much as the ideas themselves, distinguished Deming in the eyes of his Japanese hosts.

That’s the way kindness works when it comes to leadership. It sets leaders apart and makes people more interested in our ideas. People love it when leaders walk the talk, putting the interests of others in front of their own.

I saw that last week in Lawrence, Kansas. My wife and I were presenting our work on evocative coaching in schools to the Sixth Annual Instructional Coaching Conference. We were there at the invitation of Jim Knight, a good friend who heads up the Kansas Coaching Project. We presented our talk twice, and participated in two panel discussions, that were as informative to us as they were to the audience. We had a great time and, if you are interested, you can view our presentation online by downloading our PowerPoint slides from the Center for School Transformation website.

For all the energy of the interactions, the biggest squeal came at the end of our second presentation when a young woman from the audience came forward with a few of her friends. “You look so familiar,” she said, “and your voice sounds even more familiar. I’ve been trying to figure out how I know you. Is there any chance that you were the 4:45 pace team leader last year at the Baltimore marathon?” Now Lawrence, Kansas is a long way from Baltimore, and we were there from all parts of the USA for a totally different purpose. So the chances were unlikely, but this young woman nailed the association. And that’s when the squeal went up. Suddenly we were hugging, swapping stories, and taking pictures.

Talk about a serendipity! And it could not have come at a better time, since yesterday was the 10th running of the Baltimore marathon and I was once again at my post. “I would never have finished that marathon,” this gal said, “in the time that I did, as strong as I did, were it not for you.” We gave each other another hug. It meant so much to me to know how this simple act of kindness affected another person. And, I think, it may have gotten her a little more interested in our ideas as well.

Why do I describe running the Baltimore marathon as an act of kindness? Because we are doing it for others rather than for ourselves. From as fast as 3 hours to as slow as 5 hours and 15 minutes, more than 50 pacers intentionally slow ourselves down in order to get others across the finish line in their desired times. Before the race yesterday, someone asked me: “Why do you do this? Why do you come up here every year to lead the 4:45 pace team? What’s in it for you? Everyone else is trying to run as fast as they can. You are going slow just to help others? Why?”

I told him the story from Lawrence, Kansas. That’s why. Because it makes a difference. Because it touches people’s lives and creates a deep connection. Because people year after year tell me how much they appreciate both our competence and our kindness. It really doesn’t get any better than that. And kindness is up to us. It’s a choice. We decide how we want to be and show up in the world. I choose to be kind.

You have perhaps heard the story about the starfish. There are many versions of this story on the internet. I like the one inspired by Loren Eiseley, a scientist and a poet, as told by Joel Barker on the Star Thrower website:

“Once upon a time, there was a wise man, much like Eiseley himself, who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work. One day he was walking along the shore. As he looked down the beach, he saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself to think of someone who would dance to the day. So he began to walk faster to catch up. As he got closer, he saw that it was a young boy and the boy wasn’t dancing, but instead he was reaching down to the shore, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean.

As he got closer, he called out, “Good morning! What are you doing?” The boy paused, looked up and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.” “I guess I should have asked, Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” “The sun is up and the tide is going out. And if I don’t throw them in they’ll die.” “But young man, don’t you realize that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it. You can’t possibly make a difference!”

The boy listened politely. Then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves. “It made a difference for that one!”

The boy’s response surprised the man. In fact, it upset the man. He didn’t know how to reply. So instead, he turned away and walked back to the cottage to begin his writings.

All day long, as he wrote, the image of the young boy haunted him. He tried to ignore it, but the vision persisted. Finally, late in the afternoon he realized that he the scientist, he the poet, had missed out on the essential nature of the boy’s actions. Because he realized that what the boy was doing was choosing not to be an observer in the universe and, instead, to make a difference. The man was embarrassed.

That night he went to bed troubled. When the morning came he awoke knowing that he had to do something. So he got up, put on his clothes, went to the beach and found the young boy. And with him he spent the rest of the morning throwing starfish into the ocean. You see, what that boy’s actions represent is something that is special in each and everyone of us. We have all been gifted with the ability to make a difference. And if we can, like that young boy, become aware of that gift, we gain through the strength of our vision the power to shape the future.”

That’s another way to look at the power of kindness. It touches the heart and brings out the best in people. When leaders are kind to people, whether in expected or unexpected ways, it established trust and rapport, builds community, and creates a buffer against the inevitable bruises that come with leadership. None of us is great all the time. Kindness encourages people to overlook our flubs and faults, without our even asking.

Motivational speaker and former National Geographic photographer, Dewitt Jones, tells a wonderful story on his video, For The Love of It, about the infectious and salubrious power or kindness. Since you can watch the entire film online, free of charge, I encourage you to do so. Here is what Dewitt had to say about his experience with Random Acts of Kindness and a Porsche:

“Now I know that sometimes no matter how much we fill up our cup, no matter how much we hang out with folks who seem to love what they do, that light, that inspiration • our light, our inspiration • just doesn’t seem to be there. From our perspective, it’s just storm clouds and darkness.

Well at some point, if the light’s not there, you just have to add it. Just like using a strobe. You just have to make your own light. Just act as if you were in love with what you do.

Several years ago, there was a woman in San Francisco who wrote an article called Random Acts of Kindness. Maybe you•ve read it. Maybe you practice it. I loved the article. I believed in the concept. Random acts of kindness. Well, since she lived in San Francisco, one of her suggestions for such a random act was to pay the bridge toll of the guy behind you when you crossed the bridge.

And at that point, you know, I lived just across the Golden Gate and every time I’d come to the city, I’d say, •Ok, today’s the day!• And then I’d drive a little further and I’d go, •Uh uh. Today’s not the day.• I don’t know why, I just couldn’t do it.

So one day, I just grabbed hold of myself and I said, ‘today is the day. I don’t care if you don’t think you•re ready. Just act as if you are.• I mean, I’ve discovered that sometimes, you just have to act as if. Even if you•re scared. Even if you haven’t worked the kinks out yet. You just begin to make your own light by acting as if.

So, I got out six bucks. Three for me, and three for the guy behind me. And I drove into the toll booth and I looked in my rear-view mirror and hidden behind me slides a gleaming, black Porsche. Like he needs it, right? I’m not a Porsche kind of a guy; I drive a gray, dusty Subaru. But I rolled down the window and I hand the money to the girl who’s taking the tolls and I said, ‘this is for me and the guy behind me.•

And she looks down at my Subaru and then very slowly she looks over at the Porsche. And she looks back at me and she says, •You don’t know him, do you?• And I said, •No I don’t.• And she just broke into this huge smile. A wonderful smile.

And I drove out of the toll booth and I looked in the rearview mirror, here was the guy in the Porsche, trying to hand her the money. And she was talking to him; I don’t know what she was saying but finally he pulled his hand back in and he accelerated from zero to sixty in about 2.4 seconds. As he passed me, he let go of the wheel, looked over at me, and went •Yes!•

I don’t know if I made his day. I think I did. I think I made her day. But I know I made my day. I mean, I will never forget that feeling, which all began by acting as if. And every once in a while, I take out six bucks as I cross the Golden Gate Bridge.”

May the spirit of kindness be in us all!

Coaching Inquiries: When was the last time that you did a Random Act of Kindness? What about an Expected Act of Kindness? How would you describe your intention when it comes to kindness? When it comes to leadership, would people describe you as kindhearted or tough-as-nails? How is your way of being working for you? What might inspire you to be more kind? Who do you know who has been kind to you and how have you reciprocated in life and work?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form to arrange a complimentary conversation. To learn more about LifeTrek Coaching programs, Click HereTop

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.
 


Your recent Provisions on W. Edwards Deming, Kaizen Matters and Knowledge Matters, have been fascinating.  I had heard the name, and even once knew something about the man, but I had forgotten about Deming entirely. With the growing “Take Back” protests around the world, targeted on the wealth disparities in this country and around the world, it would appear that Deming’s Principles should be retrieved from the dustbin of history. Thanks. 


May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #741: Knowledge Matters

Laser Provision

Two weeks ago I wrote about the importance of kaizen to leadership. Kaizen is the Japanese word for “good change,” and it has come to be used in reference to continuous improvement and Total Quality Management or TQM. Unlike some quality systems that focus on inspections, quotas, and merit ratings to achieve quality, the system developed by W. Edwards Deming argues for constancy of purpose, pride of workmanship, and a no-fault learning environment where everyone, at all levels, is constantly and forever striving to improve operations. Which of the two sound better to you? Once you have the knowledge, there’s no going back.

LifeTrek Provision


When it comes to leadership, knowledge matters in at least two senses of the word. On the one hand, leaders cannot be effective unless we know what is going on in our organizations, with our people and customers, and in the world at large. That requires not only systems of data collection but also open and honest communication, all the way up and down the line. When information is being hid from leaders, an all too common situation, leaders cannot lead.

On the other hand, leaders cannot be effective unless we know what is important and how best to lead our organizations. We need, in other words, what W. Edwards Deming referred to as a theory of knowledge that focuses our attention and guides our decisions. In the absence of an adequate theory, our efforts as leaders may not only be ineffective, they may also be counterproductive. Common sense is not enough when it comes to leadership.

That’s because common sense becomes common through the accretion of cultural and developmental dynamics that often work against the goals of leadership. Leaders, for example, want people to give their very best, to work hard, and to be creative when problems arise. How do we make that happen? From the time we were young children, the assumption has been that those things get commanded and reinforced by those in authority. That represents one theory of knowledge. But is that really the best way to lead?

Deming, as well as many others, says, “No.” What may have worked well with 2-year-olds, who are still developing their internal controls, does not work well with adults. Adults require a different theory of knowledge altogether, and yet many leaders show up with the same frameworks we have been using all our lives.

Want people to work harder? Threaten them with negative consequences, up to and including termination. Want people to give their very best? Provide large, financial incentives for quality work. Want people to be creative when problems arise? Tell people to make suggestions if they have any ideas for improvement.

Sound familiar? It’s common sense to lead people in this way. It happens all the time. And the disease is spreading. What once was limited to manufacturing operations and the shop floor has now taken the world by storm. Even the most humanistic of professions, such as education, is being held to performance standards with the carrot and the stick. Reward the high performers and punish the low performers. What could be simpler than that?

Unfortunately, to paraphrase H.L. Mencken, simple is not always better. In fact, it can be quite wrong-headed. Mencken wrote: “For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.” Using extrinsic motivators to enforce compliance in the workplace, whether in education or in any area of human endeavor, is one such example of a solution that sends us down a rabbit hole from which there is no escape other than a new theory of knowledge that takes us in an entirely different direction. Knowledge matters, especially when it comes to leadership.

Deming argues that what leaders need is a theory of profound knowledge. Profound knowledge is often the opposite of common sense. Profound knowledge is uncommon sense, but it is the key to effective leadership and organizational success. In Deming’s system, profound knowledge requires an understanding of four dynamics: systems theory, causes of variation, learning theory, and human psychology. Without understanding these four dynamics, no leader can hope to be effective.

  1. Systems Theory. This goes far deeper than the recognition that organizations are systems made up of interconnected parts. Everyone acknowledges that basic truth, but not everyone understand its implications. Profound knowledge recognizes and accounts for the interdependencies between internal as well as external parts so as to optimize the synergy of the entire system; in other words, so as to make the whole greater than the sum of the parts.

    Implications of systems theory include, for example, the idea that no change is made to any individual part of system without analyzing and considering the impact on the whole system. For Deming, that included a statistical analysis of all the components, processes, and people within the system. The point of this analysis, however, is not to judge, blame, or rank the component parts apart from their contribution to the aim of the entire system. In systems theory, the parts are never evaluated separately from the functioning of the whole.

    Another implication, then, is that long-term, cooperative relationships between parts is the best way to structure the internal workings of a system. Deming believed in loyalty both to employees and to suppliers. Single-source solutions were better, in his view, than competitive and adversarial relationships around pricing, materials, and services. Leadership amounts to optimizing these relationships.

  2. Causes of Variation. Deming notes that there are two causes of variation in any system: common causes that occur regularly and special causes that occur exceptionally. Leaders make a big mistake when we confuse the two. If we fail to notice a variation as exceptional, we may not make the necessary adjustments or learn all that the event has to teach us. If we interpret routine variations as special cases, we may start tampering with the system in ways that will only make things worse.

    To illustrate this principle, Deming was famous for his Red Beads as well as his Funnel experiments. In each case, a natural degree of variation occurs, regardless of what people do or do not do. Things get worse rather than better, in such cases, when people start adjusting the experiments on the basis of past results. Such adjustments are ill-advised. Trying to manage essentially random events degrades future performance and creates other problems as well. Yet leaders do this all the time.

    We blame people for things that are essentially outside of their control, and then we think we are doing our job as decisive leaders. such leaders were featured in the movie, Waiting for Superman, when firing bad teachers was identified as the way to save American education. Blaming the victim is no way to lead, however. By knowing the difference between the two causes of variation, which Deming would again use statistics to help identify, leaders can make smarter decisions as to when to do what with whom.

  3. Learning Theory. Deming held that leaders need a clear “theory of knowledge,” but his real concern was that leaders have a clear understanding of how people learn. People think we learn from experience, like an infant touching a hot stove. But adult learning is much more complicated than that. Adults start with hypotheses as to what will happen if we do something. These hypotheses shape our experiences which, in turn, shape our hypotheses. There is an iterative and integral relationship between hypothesis and perception when it comes to the evolution of human knowledge. If leaders fail to understand this relationship, we fail to lead. 20 years of experience may, in fact, be only one year of experience, twenty times over.

    That’s why Deming, ever the statistician, argues that leaders need to become like scientists. We need to become both intentional and smart when it comes to working with data. Going around collecting examples does not a theory make. Scientists learn by postulating a formal theory, often invented with a little help from the imagination, and then testing that theory through experiments. On the basis of those experiments, theories get tweaked, scrapped, or developed. Learning takes place when people come away from their experiments with new understandings as to how things work now and might work in the future.

    Deming is big on the notion that leaders should minimize leading on the basis of our unfounded gut intuition or sense of things. He also doesn’t like eyeballing the data. Deming was trained as a statistician, and he knew how often inklings and surface-level analysis could lead people astray. Deming wanted leaders to formulate hypotheses, conduct experiments, collect data, and work with it properly so that we don’t engage in superstitious learning, confusing the known and the unknown.

  4. Human Psychology. In some ways, this is what our entire book on Evocative Coaching is about. The book reflects the continuation of what Deming had been writing about for many years as to what things work well when it comes to stimulating adult learning. Leading or coaching people with the carrot and the stick, for example, providing lots of extrinsic pressure and incentives, interferes with human psychology. Giving people respect and autonomy, on the other hand, advances that learning exponentially.

    Deming’s concern is that leaders learn how to kick up and bolster intrinsic motivation: the desire to make things better for the pure joy of making things better. Fostering pride of workmanship is one of Deming’s management principles. Instead of micromanaging people or pitting them against each other through rating systems and scorecards, Deming argues for giving people freedom and encouraging collaboration.

    Such approaches tap into the very core of human psychology. People don’t like to be controlled or reprimanded. They don’t like to be treated like commodities. They don’t like to function under in fear of punishment. They don’t like to be cutting corners on quality in order to lower costs and maximize profits. People like to be treated as valuable and contributing members of a team. The more leaders learn to treat people in this way, the more our leadership will grow into something truly wonderful.

These principles represent the kind of knowledge that leaders need to have and apply if we hope to be effective. Profound knowledge, as Deming calls it, generates leadership success. It is also the secret to moving information up and down the ladder so that we are not operating in either a vacuum or a bubble. In so many ways, knowledge matters when it comes to leadership. With the right knowledge, we really can steer things in positive directions. And isn’t that what leadership is always all about?

Coaching Inquiries: How would you describe your knowledge of systems, variation, learning, and psychology? How do you relate to Deming’s assertions as to the nature and importance of each? How might you become more familiar with this profound knowledge? What would be different about your leadership if that were to happen today?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form to arrange a complimentary conversation. To learn more about LifeTrek Coaching programs, Click HereTop

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


I really enjoyed reading the poems this week by Maura and Dave! “Where We Live” reminded me that you are probably getting some great birds flying through your yard this time of year during fall migration! Enjoy.


I read that poem and thought it was beautiful and was wondering if I could use it in the Church Newsletter that I do once a month? I got a lot of comments on the other poem that you allowed me to use and I thought this one was really lovely too.


Thank you for another week of joyful reading. October 1st was a special day for my family as well, since my husbands sister also got married that day. The experience made me realize more than ever that living from the heart, being centered within, so one can be of service to others is where we live. I cherish my family and friends for sharing their values of community and love of life with each other and thank you for reminding us that all this “warm and fuzzy” stuff like caring and relationships is so important in leadership and life. Have a great day!


I thought you might enjoy this article by Atul Gawande that a friend shared with me (if you haven’t already seen it)….I still enjoy your weekly Provisions immensely and I hope all is well with you and your family. 


May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #739: Kaizen Matters

Laser Provision

I don’t know of a leader who is not concerned with improving performance. That is, after all, an essential part of a leader’s job description. No leader aims to keep things the same, let alone to make things worse. Leaders are change agents with a single-minded focus on making things better. But how do we actually do that? Although, as you will read, I have some objections to traditional problem-based learning, focused, as it is, on determining and fixing the causes of whatever is impairing performance, I nevertheless appreciate the emphasis on continuous improvement and I especially appreciate the orientation of the Japanese TQM process known as “kaizen.” Never heard of it? Read on to learn more!

LifeTrek Provision


It would be hard for a series of Provisions on evocative leadership to be complete without addressing the notion of continuous improvement and Total Quality Management or TQM. These concepts have entered the leadership lexicon not only in business, where they originated, but in just about every other field of human endeavor. Non-profits, schools, and even religious organizations have adopted elements of this philosophy and approach for both planning and execution of their work.

The concept is simple to describe but hard to practice: everyone in an organization, at every level and at all times, is constantly striving to make things better. Sounds both easy and obvious, right? Who doesn’t want that? In a word: most of us. Most people find it easier to do what we have always done than to shake things up with even small changes, let alone big ones. How does the old expression go? “Better the devil we know, than the devil we don’t know.”

Something there is that’s comforting about an old, familiar rut. Even when that rut has outlived its usefulness, even when it starts to pinch and hurt a bit, even when it becomes more of a toleration than a joy, the familiarity of the routine meets our needs for safety and security, order and predictability. Once we have learned what to do and how to do it, our momentum has a way of carrying us forward. “We’ve never done it that way before!” becomes a justification for never doing it that way in the future. People, like other animals, are creatures of habit.

That’s especially true when you consider the social implications of change. If there is a better way to do something then people assume there must be something “wrong” with the way we are doing things now. At least that’s the way our brains process the notion of making things better. We don’t see it as an amoral and natural part of life; we see it as a matter of evaluating and judging the way we have been doing things as somehow inadequate, deficient, and flawed. From that vantage point, no wonder change is so threatening! It represents an indictment of the status quo.

The first job of any leader, then, who is concerned about continuous improvement and TQM is to detach the status quo from a moral sense of “oughtness” that is linked to our self-worth as human beings. Until we make that shift in our way of being, TQM will never become embedded in the culture of our organizations. When we talk about improvement and quality, people will be nervously watching their backs to get a sense of where the finger is pointing and where the axe may fall. Until and unless we disconnect the prospect of future improvements from the critique of current deficiencies, there is no way for TQM to take hold and take off.

Of all the systems for continuous improvement and TQM, including Six Sigma and Lean Enterprise, the original and still the best hearkens back to the work of William Edwards Deming, an American statistician, professor, lecturer, and consultant who rose to fame through his work with the Japanese manufacturing and business community in the decades following World War II. If Japanese cars and products have a stronger reputation for quality than American cars and products, it’s because of Deming. Ironically, given that Deming was himself an American, it was only after Japanese companies had demonstrated superior quality processes that American companies took note of what Deming had been doing for many decades.

Before World War II, Deming was among those who had called into question Frederick Taylor’s “scientific management” approach to deconstructing manufacturing and business processes into discreet units that could be sampled, measured, and manipulated with time and motion studies so as to improve both their throughputs and their outputs. For management to view and treat workers as disposable parts, without harnessing their power of mind to make things better, was not, in Deming’s view, a tenable approach to either organizational effectiveness or efficiency. Happy employees are more likely to be not only productive employees but to also find ways to improve organizational processes.

Deming did not reject the value of statistical methods for improving production and management. He rather expanded their scope to study not only workers but management and leadership as well. In so doing, he launched a quality movement that continues to this very day. Before World War II, Deming honed his philosophy and put it to work with the US census bureau. During the War, he was part of a team that helped to improve standards and wartime production. After the War, however, in the face of huge overseas demand for American products, Deming encountered a waning interest in continuous improvement and TQM. Why bother to spend money on TQM, when everyone wanted what America had to sell, regardless of its quality?

The Japanese, on the other hand, devastated as they were from the War, could not be so cavalier. To rebuild their society and their economy, they were hungry for what Deming had to offer: a lean way of getting things done through people with ever more efficiency, effectiveness, and quality. The message fell on fertile soil. After more than a decade of work, Deming was awarded the second highest rank in Japan’s Order of the Sacred Treasurer by the Prime Minister and Emperor of the country. The citation on the medal recognizes Deming’s contribution to Japan’s industrial rebirth and worldwide success after the War.

Deming was so influential that he is credited with launching the Total Quality Movement in manufacturing and business. When American businesses needed to become more competitive in the 1970s and 1980s, they brought in Deming as a consultant to help turn things around. Ford Motor Company, most notably, worked with Deming to develop not only a new image but also a new corporate culture that came to be summarized in their now-famous slogan, “Quality Is Job One.” Deming’s approach to TQM is summarized by his 14 key principles for transforming business effectiveness. First published in the early 1980s, these principles continue to define TQM in ways that stand in stark contrast to many management gurus:

  1. Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive and stay in business, and to provide jobs.
  2. Adopt the new philosophy. We are in a new economic age. Western management must awaken to the challenge, must learn their responsibilities, and take on leadership for change.
  3. Cease reliance on mass inspection to achieve quality. Eliminate the need for inspection on a mass basis by building quality into the product in the first place.
  4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price tag. Instead, minimize total cost. Move toward a single supplier for any one item, on a long-term relationship of loyalty and trust.
  5. Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly decrease costs.
  6. Institute training on the job.
  7. Institute leadership. The aim of supervision should be to help people and machines and gadgets to do a better job. Supervision of management is in need of overhaul, as well as supervision of production workers.
  8. Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company.
  9. Break down barriers between departments. People in research, design, sales, and production must work as a team, to foresee problems of production and in use that may be encountered with the product or service.
  10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the work force asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the work force.
  11. (a.) Eliminate work standards (quotas) on the factory floor. Substitute leadership. (b.) Eliminate management by objective. Eliminate management by numbers, numerical goals. Substitute leadership.
  12. (a.) Remove barriers that rob the hourly worker of his right to pride of workmanship. The responsibility of supervisors must be changed from mere numbers to quality. (b.) Remove barriers that rob people in management and in engineering of their right to pride of workmanship. This means, inter alia, abolishment of the annual or merit rating and of management by objective.
  13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.
  14. Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody’s job.

Those principles are certainly not scientific management in the Frederick Taylor sense of the word. They are not even commonly advocated by many, modern management gurus. Eliminate management by objective? Heresy! Abolish the annual or merit rating system? Impossible! Such tenets have permeated every corner of society, with education being a prominent contemporary battleground. There is more, not less, pressure to set objectives, to evaluate performance on the basis of those objectives, and to mete out rewards and punishments to those who excel and those who fail to measure up.

What’s wrong with that? Read Deming’s principles. Do such high-pressure tactics “create constancy of purpose”? Do they “eliminate the need for inspection on a mass basis”? Do they foster “long-term relationships of loyalty and trust”? Do they inspire everyone to have an equal concern for quality, “improving constantly and forever the system of production and service”? Do they “drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively”? Do they “break down barriers between departments” and people? Do they mitigate “adversarial relationships”? Do they “put everybody to work to accomplish the transformation”?

Of course not! Those organizational qualities cannot be legislated, manipulated, or mandated from above. They can only be inspired through mutual respect and a common commitment to continuous improvement. That was what the Japanese learned from Dr. Deming, and they called it “kaizen.” The word is a Japanese word constructed from two ideographs, the first of which represents “change” and the second “goodness” or “virtue.” Kaizen therefore literally means “good change” and is commonly used to indicate the long-term betterment of something or someone as in the phrase “Seikatsu o kaizen suru” which means to •better one’s life.• It is frequently explained as a “continuous striving for perfection.”

No wonder “kaizen” came to encapsulate that to which Deming devoted his entire life. It is both a philosophy of life and a practice of leadership. The present moment, whatever its shortcomings, is never wrong. It simply is what it is. It is the starting place for all that is to follow, and it is a perfect place to start. Indeed, there is no other place to start! The present moment contains all the ingredients from which we can learn, build, and grow. We need only to appreciate this moment as a gift in order to take our own game, as well as that of others, to ever higher levels of performance and satisfaction.

Those are the twin pillars of continuous improvement. The two drive each other in a never-ending cycle of TQM. The better our performance, the greater our satisfaction. The greater our satisfaction, the better our performance. Those two dimensions are dynamic and interactive. Step by step, however incremental, we strive to make things better.

So don’t wonder what’s wrong with people and get down on them if they fail to demonstrate that attitude. Don’t crack the whip and try to incentivize them with extrinsic motivators. Instead, adopt a philosophy of “kaizen” in your life and in your work. Keep the focus on quality and the rest will follow. It’s not about evaluating what’s wrong with the present moment. It’s about striving together to make the present moment the best it can possibly be. Sometimes, even the smallest of steps can make the biggest of differences. “Kaizen” encourages us to talk about those possibilities together, in quality circles, and then to take the most promising of those steps to see where they might lead.

Coaching Inquiries: How would you describe your approach to leadership and life? Is quality job one for you? What would help you to make continuous improvement one of your core values? What would help you to express that value more fully? How could “good change” • “kaizen” • take shape today? What are three things you might do that would make things better for yourself, your family, and your organization?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form to arrange a complimentary conversation. To learn more about LifeTrek Coaching programs, Click HereTop

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.


As pastors at our church, we are leading a counseling-type course titled “Spiritual Freedom Journey.” We have a battery of personal profile sheets and forms we have developed over the years. As a way of helping the 20-30 people in this 10-week course best express themselves we will be offering them a list of “Feeling Words.” Although your resource, Understanding Needs & Feelings, communicates much the same content as what we currently use, your format and breakdown of the content is very well executed. Would you please consider extending a (written) blessing to photocopy these forms to pass out to those taking the course? That would be such a gift. (Ed. Note: Permission granted! Many blessing to you both.) 


May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #738: eXhaustion Matters

Laser Provision

There is a time and a place for exhaustion. In a few weeks, I plan on leading my annual 4:45 pace team at the Baltimore marathon. Afterwards, and probably at some points during the race, there will be moments of exhaustion. Exhaustion can be a sign of having pushed oneself to get something done that is important, difficult, and/or fun. Leaders have to do that at times. Then it’s time to renew, relax, and restore. But some leaders get addicted to exhaustion • a dangerous trait to be sure. If that sounds like you, if it seems like you are always exhausted these days, then read on.

LifeTrek Provision


So how do you feel right now? If you are like many people I talk with and coach, you are feeling at least some level of fatigue. It may be a low grade sense of never getting enough sleep, of having too much to do, of never getting caught up, of facing too many deadlines, or of never seeing the bottom of your email inbox. You can function, but you are rarely at your best. You don’t have the energy you used to have, but it has become so familiar that you take it for granted. It has become your new steady state.

And then something happens that pushes you over the edge. You go from the background noise of low-grade fatigue to a full-blown case of exhaustion. On the surface it may seem to be something trivial. Someone asks you to do just one more thing. Or it may be something momentous. Like going to your doctor and “discovering” that “somehow” you gained 30 pounds and your blood sugar or cholesterol levels put you at risk for diabetes or coronary artery disease. Yikes! Your stress comes crashing down around you and you feel exhausted.

If and when that happens to us, and I think we all have our moments, the leadership question is, “How do we respond?” Do we double down and push even harder with a “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” attitude? Or do we pull back into recovery mode to renew, regroup, and realign our priorities. The smart leaders pull back, receiving exhaustion as a gift from the universe telling us to get our house in order. But too many leaders do just the opposite. We find ourselves unable to break our performance momentum, to let go of what “must” be done, until the risk of diabetes or coronary artery disease becomes reality.

Then we vow to turn things around, but it’s often too late. Exhaustion, untended, takes a terrible toll. When exhaustion becomes the new normal, all kinds of things suffer. It’s not just our health that declines, it’s also our leadership effectiveness. That’s because the first thing that goes with exhaustion is our emotional intelligence. We lose such critical leadership faculties as empathy, patience, understanding, calm, and perspective. We become grumpy and demanding with people, which is a surefire way to undermine productivity.

That’s why great leaders maintain rhythms that make exhaustion an event rather than a lifestyle. There’s nothing wrong with exhaustion as an event. In fact, any leader who is not, from time to time, exhausted, is not much of a leader. Leadership takes work, and lots of it. More than once I have had to break that news to people as they move up the ladder or venture out on their own as entrepreneurs. Success and ease do not always go hand-in-hand in some perfect semblance of work-life balance.

I have even had to break that news to coaches, who have read an article about coaches who make six-figure salaries and work only a few hours a day, or a few hours a work, from the comfort of their yacht. Such coaches may exist, and more power to them. But all the really successful coaches I know have a tremendous work ethic. They push themselves because they are passionate about what they stand for and what they hope to contribute to the world. Such people, in any walk of life, have moments of exhaustion.

Moments are one thing, chronic conditions are quite another. Depression works the same way as exhaustion. Depression is an appropriate response to certain life events, such as the death of a loved one. Healthy depression resolves as people go through the grieving process and usually, within a matter of 6-12 months, the depression lifts and vitality returns. When depression becomes a chronic condition, however, energy is no longer flowing and treatment can help break the log jam. Through talk therapy, lifestyle changes, and often medication, clinical depression can be released and relieved.

Great leaders don’t wait until exhaustion, like depression, becomes a disabling, chronic condition. We instead take charge of our lives to build in healthy rhythms of rest, recovery, and renewal. We may work hard for the moment, even pushing ourselves, on occasion, to the point of exhaustion. But then we pull back and do those things that restore our bodies, minds, and spirits.

Notice my use of the word “rhythms” rather than “balance.” Long time readers of Provisions may remember that I used the concept of “Vital Rhythms” to conclude my 2009 series on Life-Giving Needs. My point was simply this: balance is not only hard to achieve (think standing still, balancing on top of a seesaw, right in the middle at the pivot point) it is impossible to maintain forever and an undesirable place to be. Animals are not meant to stay still, in balance! Animals are meant to go from one need to the next, in rhythmic patterns of satisfaction and fulfillment.

That’s especially true for human beings. Our curious minds and dexterous bodies are made to move. It’s much more fun and sustainable to seesaw from side to side on that teeter-totter than to hold perfectly still, like equal weights on a balance scale. First we push out and work, then we pull back and rest. First we strike out and discover, then we retreat and recover. First we speak our minds and assert our will, then we listen with our hearts and connect with others. First we tend to our basic needs, then we soar to new heights of self-actualization. 

When our energies are flowing in these dynamic and restorative ways, that’s when we are at our vital best. Vitality reigns not when we are in balance, but when we have rhythm. Have you got rhythm? Are you moving in patterns of renewal and right relationship with yourself and others? if not, then it’s probably time to take charge of your greatest friend on the planet in this regard: your appointment calendar.

Too many leaders have calendars that are filled with only one kind of appointment: those involving other people outside the home. We put down that meeting or conference call, we put down that golf outing or club commitment, and we may even put down a planning period where we close the door and work on a report or a PowerPoint presentation. But we don’t protect the time for ourselves, our families, and our friends in the same way.

I invite you to look at your calendar right now, whether paper or electronic. Step back and ask yourself, what kind of rhythms are reflected here? What kind of person is this? Is this the calendar of a workaholic? Is this a formula for exhaustion? Or is this the calendar of someone with healthy rhythms?

To answer those questions, you are going to have to look at your calendar for more than a day or a week. That’s the difference between exhaustion as an event and exhaustion as a lifestyle. There are going to be busy periods where we perhaps do not get enough sleep and do not take as much time for reflective practices, active exercises, and connective pursuits with family and friends. But when you look out over the next several weeks, do you see busy periods followed by recovery periods or is it just a disaster in the making? Do you get exhausted even by looking at your calendar? Then it’s time to change the rhythm of the dance.

Those calendars can include everything we need to be healthy, happy, and whole. They can include all of our morning practices, so we don’t just dive into work as soon as we wakeup. They can include all of our personal health and hygiene routines, so we get enough exercise and eat the way we want. They can include all of our appointments with ourselves, our families, and our friends • even our play dates and vacations • so that we can see how those vital rhythms will play out, right before our eyes, right on our calendars.

Then, when someone asks if we are free to do just one more thing, it becomes easy to say, “Let me check my calendar. No.” That’s all one has to say. One does not have to explain what’s on our calendar. We’re just not available. “No.”, it has been pointed out, is a complete sentence. But we can only say “No.” when we take charge of our calendars and make healthy rhythms a regular part of our lives.

And don’t get fooled by the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel.” Too many people desire healthy rhythms but never get around to making them happen. We give them lip service, but we never take charge of our calendars and of our lives. How do we know if we’re falling into that trap? Exhaustion. Exhaustion is a gift; it’s a message that we worked hard and it’s time to rest and recover. That has to happen regularly, with a timeframe of weeks rather than months or years. Otherwise, our leadership effectiveness as well as our health are sure to suffer.

Coaching Inquiries: How exhausted do you feel right now? What kind of rhythms are reflected in your daily and weekly patterns? How might you take charge of your calendar in order to better serve yourself and your commitments? Who and what could help you to make it so?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form to arrange a complimentary conversation. To learn more about LifeTrek Coaching programs, Click HereTop

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob
 


Your last Provision, Experiments Matter, reminds me of the book Failure of Nerve: Leadership in the Age of the Quick Fix by Edwin Friedman. He discusses how when a nation becomes more concerned with safety than adventure it is on a downward spiral. He highlights Europe before the Renaissance, that until the explorers dared to defy the cartographers of the day society was stuck in a hopeless rut. I thought you might find it interesting if you are not already familiar with him. Thank you for your Provision.


May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #737: eXperiments Matter

Laser Provision

One might say there are two ways to learn: theory to practice and practice to theory. The first way, known as deductive learning, starts with a set of accepted premises and applies them to particular situations. The second way, known as inductive learning, starts with a set of experiences and generalizes them into a way of doing things. Both ways of learning are constantly at work in both children and adults, but inductive learning • practice to theory • is clearly the original genius and instinct of us all. Young children are insatiably curious and inveterate researchers. They learn by conducting experiments. Great leaders would do well to rekindle that spirit in our people. Don’t be afraid: the benefits far outweigh the risks.

LifeTrek Provision


It’s hard to write this Provision, at least in the USA, on September 11, 2011 and not think back ten years to the moment when I was in a meeting at The Ohio State University, in Columbus, OH, and everything came screeching to a halt. Somehow, word came into the meeting about the planes flying into the twin towers of the World Trade Center and, soon thereafter, about the plane flying into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, near Washington, DC. I remember leaving the meeting to comfort a friend, whose future husband was working for the federal government in DC. His safety and whereabouts were not known at that time.

The meeting could not continue. There was too much confusion, uncertainty, pain, and anger. We urged each other to be safe and then returned home to our families. At the time, my son was in high school and he came home for lunch, as he often did, with some of his friends. I remember watching the horrific scenes coming out of New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania, over and over again, as the news media as well as many officials attempted to make sense of what was happening. Who? How? Why? What next? Those were the top four questions then and, in many ways, they stay with us yet today as the alert levels escalate on this, the tenth anniversary of 9/11.

One of those high school students who was sitting in my family room that day has gone on to serve multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. That was his way of responding and making sense of it all. Others, like my son, went on to college and to careers that have contributed in other ways to our post-9/11 world. Still others, like myself, have wrestled with the ethical and spiritual consequences of framing the world in terms of good guys and bad guys and of filling our minds with so many enemy images. It’s never that simple and it often escalates the spiral of violence when we approach our problems and other people in that way.

So what’s a person to do, let alone a leader? The answer lies in the title of today’s Provision: eXperiment. The French philosopher, •mile Chartier, once quipped, “Nothing is as dangerous as an idea when it is the only one you have.” When leaders become attached to one course of action, to one way of viewing the world, or to one desired outcome, we become much more demanding, much less open to possibility, and even dangerous. That is when all manner of terrible stuff can be done to others, all in the name of such otherwise positive values as loyalty, due process, and patriotism.

Compliance is not the way to excellence. That takes a very different mindset and culture. I have shared with you once before a Dilbert cartoon that illustrates the conundrum that many leaders face as well as the resolution that many of us unfortunately choose in this regard:



That’s not the right balance to strike if we hope to learn from our experiences. Getting punished for mistakes quickly communicates that the environment is not safe and that trying new things is not worth the risk. Today I had a conversation with a banker at a community event that illustrates the point. She was telling me her strong preference for small, community banks. In fact, this preference has prompted her to move multiple times in the wake of the seemingly inexorable march of mergers and acquisitions in the banking industry. Sooner or later, when her small, community bank gets gobbled up by one of the big, national banks, the culture changes and she finds she can no longer happily or effectively do her job.

“What’s the difference?” I asked her. “The big banks don’t let you think,” she replied. “They have policies and procedures that define how everything is to be done. Even if you know a better way, even if the company way doesn’t fit the needs of a particular customer, you’re not allowed to think outside the box and invent a unique solution. If I can’t think, then I’m not happy and I can’t do the job for my customers that they want me to do for them. That’s when I know it’s time to leave, to go back to a small, community bank, where I can figure things out the best way I know how.”

She didn’t use the word, but what this banker was saying was that in big, national banks she was no longer free to experiment. Try this. Try that. Try multiple possibilities until something good emerges that will meet the needs of her customers, her bank, and her own sense of professionalism. Unless she is free to experiment, with no fear of punishment, she is just not able to do the job she wants to do.

I wish all leaders would get that basic truth. Experiments are hard-wired in the human psyche. Ask any parent of infants and toddlers. How do they learn to talk? How do they learn to walk? How do they learn how to do just about anything? They don’t read an instruction manual or search for the information on the Internet. They just try stuff. Sometimes it works. Great! Sometimes it doesn’t work. Fascinating! As long as the experiment doesn’t do too much damage, they recover to try again another day (or even just a minute later).

That’s because experiments are fun and learning through experiments is a great adventure. Young children don’t know anything about “trial and error.” That’s a concept that has to be taught. Young children learn through “trial and correction.” They experiment with doing things one way and if it doesn’t produce a desired result, they experiment with doing things a different way. “Trial and correction.” There is no fear of failure, judgment, or punishment. There is just the natural curiosity of trying to figure out how the world works.

Understanding this, competent and compassionate parents provide their young children with safe and supportive environments where the children can conduct their learning experiments with reckless abandon. We don’t want a young child learning how to walk on the edge of a dangerous precipice. And we also don’t want to blame or shame our children whenever they fall down. What parent, in their right mind, would do that? We instead clap and cheer on our children’s efforts. We want them to be successful with their experiments. And, sooner or later, most children figure things out. 

Unfortunately, something changes as life goes on and we become increasingly less inclined to take risks. Criticism, condemnation, and consequences take their toll on what Tim Gallwey refers to as “natural learning,” in his classic book The Inner Game of Tennis. We develop an inner voice that sounds an awful lot like that of the pointy-haired boss in the second frame of the above Dilbert cartoon. “Watch out. Don’t take too many chances. Remember: ‘Curiosity killed the cat.’ Find out the right way to do this and stick with the playbook. Don’t be a hero. Just do your job.”

The voice in the head goes on and on and on. But it doesn’t have to have the last word. Gallwey writes: “There is a natural learning process which operates within everyone • if it is allowed to. This process is waiting to be discovered by all those who do not know of its existence. To discover this natural learning process, it is necessary to let go of the old process of correcting faults; that is, it is necessary to let go of judgment and see what happens.”

Many people find it hard to believe that suspending judgment, having fun, and conducting experiments is the best way to learn. Don’t we have to analyze what’s wrong in order to solve the problem? Don’t we have to bear down and crack the whip to get things done? Isn’t it easier and better to have an expert just tell us what to do?

That is certainly the stance many leaders take and the way many leaders lead. We walk around like “snoopervisors” instead of supervisors, marking off what people do wrong and requiring them to do things the way we want them to do things. At our worst, such leaders are micromanagers who drive people crazy. With the best of intentions, we undermine both our own effectiveness and the effectiveness of others.

Fortunately, there is a better way to lead that taps into the natural learning of people. By suspending judgment and creating a no-fault zone, people relax and become more creative in their work. By encouraging experimentation and having fun, rather than taking an overbearing, know-it-all attitude, people discover for themselves how best to do what needs to get done. It is a transformational stance that every leader would do well to adopt.

That is why in our evocative coaching model for transformational school leadership we talk about conducting experiments more than about setting goals. Unless your goal is to conduct an experiment, it’s easy to imply that something has to be accomplished or done in a particular way. There is less freedom and learning associated with the word “goal” than with the word “experiment,” and that loss of freedom, experienced by that banker as the loss of the freedom to think, can interfere with not only learning but with performance and enjoyment as well.

Encouraging people to conduct experiments has the advantage of being a great way to communicate our trust in their ability to figure out what needs to be figured out and to get things done. Even when people go about it differently than we might do ourselves, such experiments are more likely to lead to effective action.

Another way to put this, to use Gallwey’s language, is to recognize that there is less tension associated with the word “experiment” than with the word “goal.” It’s possible to fail at a goal; there’s no way to fail at an experiment other than, perhaps, to not conduct it at all. That’s because the point of an experiment is to learn something valuable, and learning is always possible when we go from practice to theory, no matter how things turn out. It is the frame of “trial and correction” rather than “trial and error.”

When we trust the natural learning process, when we allow things to happen rather than force things to happen, then our leadership truly rises to the level of mastery. It empowers people to develop and offer their very best in the service of desired outcomes.

Although written in the context of tennis, Gallwey’s conclusion and recommendation speaks to leadership in every arena of life: “The preceding theory should be tested and not taken on faith,” Gallwey writes. “You must experience for yourself the difference between making yourself do something, and letting it happen. I suggest that you devise and conduct experiments to discover just how much you are willing to trust yourself, both when rallying and when under pressure.”

Coaching Inquiries: How much are you willing to trust yourself in the action-learning process? What kind of experiments would you be willing to conduct in order to find out? How could you become more venturesome in conducting experiments? What is one thing you would like to explore and try out in the week ahead? How could you plan that out right now?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form to arrange a complimentary conversation. To learn more about LifeTrek Coaching programs, Click HereTop

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob
 


I was wondering what you were going to do for Provision titles when you came to the Xs. Now I know! Very creative.


I found Qualms Matter insightful and thought-provoking • most assuredly a worthwhile rumination for leaders and coaches of any sort. I am in the process of introducing myself to your resources. I’ve ordered the book and am looking forward to starting the reading in preparation for the course on coaching in leadership.


I was in Chicago when I read your Provision, Qualms Matter. As you know, my appreciation for you and Megan and all of the creations the two of you produce is immense. Independently, you and Megan shine so bright, but together you light up the world! Your partnership is such an inspiration to me and my husband and I just wanted to say, “Thank You” for all the ways in which you lead and guide us! 


May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services

Provision #736: eXample Matters

Laser Provision

Do you set a good example? If you are a leader in any organization, whether in a school, a corporation, a congregation, a club, or a marching band, then I hope so. People are watching our every move as leaders, and what they see matters. Do we work hard? Do we express caring and empathy for people? Do we make wise decisions in both ordinary and extraordinary times? If the answers to those three questions are all the same • a resounding “Yes!” • then our leadership is sound and will inspire people to greatness. If we fall short at any of those points, then we’re headed for trouble. Want to learn how to avoid that eventuality and optimize your leadership? Read on!

LifeTrek Provision


Did you miss us last week? I know quite a few of you did, because I heard from you when you didn’t receive your weekly Provision. Not to worry: we did not meet an untimely demise in the wake of Hurricane Irene. But we did get a big dose of wind and rain and there was plenty of damage done around our neighborhood. Unlike the last big hurricane, Isabel, which arrived in 2003 on a Thursday night, giving us time to recover a bit before Provisions went out, this hurricane arrived on Saturday afternoon and evening, making a real mess of things just as Provisions was supposed to go out.

For those of you who are curious as to how we made out in the storm, we actually had more damage on our property in Irene than we had in Isabel, even though Irene did less damage in our neighborhood as a whole. We lost a tree in the front yard that fell away from the house and did only minimal damage. In the backyard, however, we had a huge, old oak trees come down and smash up our dock. Fortunately, our house was spared any damage at all. But the dock is out of commission until we figure out how to cut up and drag out a tree that is now largely submerged. A tree company is going to give it a try this week, wetsuits and all, so perhaps that will make good fodder for next week’s Provision!

Last week’s Provision was all written, and you’ll read a revised version next week, but I decided to not make any heroic and perhaps unwise efforts to get things out through the storm. For many reasons, I’m glad I decided to break my record of never missing a week. The message itself needed a little more seasoning, which only the perspective of the “morning after” could provide. The logistics of working around the storm would have been quite frustrating and perhaps impossible. Most importantly, however, giving myself the freedom to skip a week (something I wrote about in June of 2007, when I was feeling rather spent with writing Provisions, and that you affirmed with so many Reader Replies) was refreshing.

So, there! I finally did it. I skipped a week. Hopefully you didn’t have too many withdrawal symptoms. ☺ It was a wise decision, which, of course, is the focus of today’s Provision: eXample Matters. What’s with the capitalized “X”? We have three letters in the alphabet left in my current series on Evocative Leadership: X, K, and U. You try and find three words that start with X for an excellent Provision on leadership! As much as I would have liked to write about xylophones, xenophobia, and your xiphisternum, those words just don’t don’t pass muster, when it comes to leadership, of words like eXample, eXperiments, and eXcellence. So that’s what you have to look forward to today and in the weeks ahead.

The notion of setting a good example should come as no surprise to any leader. Setting an example is, in fact, an essential part of leadership. Leadership is not just a skill set or something we do. First and foremost, leadership is a way of being and something we stand for. Great leaders stand for great values, and that posture • that platform • comes through in the way we carry ourselves in relationship to the work that has to be done, the people who have to do it, and the decisions that have to be made.

Let’s look at each in turn. There’s no getting around the fact that leadership is a lot of work. Any leader who thinks of leadership as a cushy job is going to get in trouble, sooner or later. Leaders who are above the work, who expect our people to work harder than we work, or who would prefer to put our feet up on the desk and to be served by others rather than to walk around and serve others, are the kind of leaders who give leadership a bad name.

Every time I read about a leader who takes that stance, whether in their leadership style or in their lifestyle, I also read about the problems surrounding that leader. The two go hand in hand. When we fail to set an example with our work ethic, we communicate volumes as to what we expect of others.

This works on both ends of the spectrum. In fact, more leaders have gotten ourselves in trouble by overworking than by under working. Leadership, it seems to me, attracts workaholics. We get up early and work late. We send emails at 4 in the morning and at midnight. We stay after hours and make it clear, both explicitly and implicitly, that others are also expected to do whatever it takes to get the job done.

Many organizations come to take this on as their organizational culture. It won’t necessarily come out in a job interview, when people are often told that it’s OK to set boundaries and that everyone has a personal life, but it will fast become apparent after the job has been taken. Those occasional late nights and early mornings become more frequent. “Just this once” starts to happen again and again. Time urgency creeps to where it assumes ever larger and larger proportions. And this may all happen without any specific direction from leadership. Leadership sets the tone and everyone else follows.

That’s not to say that there is not a time and place for hard work. There certainly is! Right now, for example, I know a new school principal who is trying to get her school ready for the first day of school. Over the years, the building has been neglected, as have attention to curriculum and instruction. In addition, there have been resource shortages and other problems. What is this leader doing? Working hard! She has even recruited her husband who took a week of vacation time to help with the work of getting the school building fixed up.

As a result of her efforts and example, others are noticing both up and down the food chain. The superintendent is making new resources available while others are pitching in to help. That’s what happens when leaders work hard in common cause to get important things done. The universe conspires to manufacture success.

Problems develop, however, when overworking becomes the norm rather than the exception. It’s one thing to work exceptionally hard for a good reason and for a limited period of time, it’s another thing when the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is not actually the end at all. It is just a light at a bend in a tunnel that never ends.

Continuous overworking makes for all kinds of problems. I have seen grown men cry over the seemingly impossible and unappreciative demands of their leaders. They don’t quit because they need a job, but eventuality the situation breaks down. It always does. Either physical health problems develop or the environment becomes so toxic as to become dysfunctional and nonproductive or even counterproductive.

Great leaders don’t make that mistake. We strike the right balance when it comes to our work ethic so as, in the words of Jennifer White, to “drive people wild without making them crazy.” Our example has that much power. It can inspire or it can undermine. Great leaders inspire.

One reason great leaders are able to do this, even when there is an enormous amount of work to do, is because great leaders care as much about our people as we care about the work. We don’t view people as expendable or replaceable cogs in a wheel, as though people were a commodity or parts of a machine. We rather view people as having feelings and needs that must be respected and honored in order for them to perform at their very best.

Physical exhaustion is one such feeling, which stems from our need for rest. When we overwork for too long, we not only burnout psychologically we also wear out physically. We literally get sick and die if we don’t tend to the need. Understanding this universal human need is part of what helps great leaders to not only pace ourselves but also to pace our organizations. After a time of great push, it is time to pull back and recover. That is the rhythm of life, and great leaders know how to dance to that rhythm in good times and bad. We can never afford to ignore that dynamic.

But physical exhaustion and the need for rest are only the most obvious of the feelings and needs that have to be recognized, worked with, and respected if leadership is to be successful. When people are frustrated they may need understanding or assistance. When people are nervous they may need encouragement or perspective. When people are embarrassed they may need empathy or space. When people are upset they may need resources or even reconciliation.

Our feelings and needs are in a never-ending cycle of ebb and flow, with an infinite variety of possible combinations that people bring with them into the work place or any other organizational context (including families and other social networks). Everyone knows this to be true, because we are all made of the same cloth. Our brains are all constructed the same way, with brainstems and cerebellums, limbic systems, and cerebral cortices. We may pretend that we have no feelings, or that we don’t bring them to work, but that is just a pretense: we all have them and we all deal with them, one way or another.

The difference between ordinary leaders and extraordinary leaders is how we process our emotions and how we relate to the emotions of others. At another nearby school in a community devastated by Hurricane Irene, the principal inspired her staff with the amount of empathy she expressed for them and for the people in their community who were suffering. The school was being used as a shelter and it was not known how long that would go on or what the condition of the building would be afterwards.

The principal’s message to her faculty and staff? “Even if we don’t get into our classrooms until the first day of school we’ll be OK, because we are a family, we pull together, and we put the needs of our students first.” Now that’s a leader who cares about people. She was not expecting the impossible. She was not expecting teachers to have their classrooms together, no matter what. She was taking the situation into account and making clear her priorities as a compassionate and creative leader. Somehow, things would get done. And no one would be held accountable for anything other than doing their best under the circumstances.

Which brings me to the third way in which leaders are able to set great examples: we not only work hard and care a lot about people, we also make wise decisions. As the Kenny Rogers’ song goes, we “know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away and know when to run.” In other words, we know when to pick up the pace, when to send people home early, and when to just sit down and be with people.

So much of what we do as leaders has to with negotiating the dynamics within and between people. Great leaders are coaching leaders. We are able to listen to and to help people make sense of their stories. We can explore stories from different vantage points in order to experience them in new and life-giving ways. We are also able to facilitate learning through the things we choose to focus on and experiment with.

The attention of great leaders is neither an afterthought nor an accident. It is a choice. That’s because attention is like a spotlight on a stage. What we focus our attention on is illuminated, highlighted, and scrutinized. When we choose to focus our attention on the deficits, weaknesses, and problems of people, then that is what we see. When we choose to look at the assets, strengths, and possibilities, then that becomes our reality.

Great leaders choose to see possibilities. By working hard, caring a lot for people, and choosing wisely, great leaders set an example that can transform the ordinary into the extraordinary. I encourage you to give it a try.

Coaching Inquiries: How would you describe your work ethic? Do you overwork, under work, or is it just right? How would you describe your emotional intelligence? Are you too soft, too hard, or just right? How would you describe your decision making? Do you focus on problems to the exclusion of possibilities, or is it just right? How could you set a more positive example in all three of these regards? Who could help you make it so?

To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form to arrange a complimentary conversation. To learn more about LifeTrek Coaching programs, Click HereTop

LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)

Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob
 


We missed today’s Provision. Assume that was because of Hurricane Irene. Hope you are OK! It just didn’t feel like Sunday without your Provision.


I remember your Provisions in the wake of Hurricane Isabel, in 2003. Apparently this time you weren’t so fortunate. I’m look forwarding to your reflections on this natural disaster! Hopefully it won’t be too long until you’re back with another Provision. (Ed. Note: Interested readers can still read those Provisions in the archive: Lessons from Isabel and Listening to Isabel.)


Hope is went well with Irene! I heard you were without power. How much water did you to take on? (Ed. Note: No water, just trees! See today’s Provision.) 


May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.

Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC

President, LifeTrek Coaching Internationalwww.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformationwww.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coachingwww.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a TimeOnline Retailers

Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
Phone: (757) 345-3452 • Fax: (772) 382-3258
Skype: LifeTrek • Twitter: @LifeTrekBob
Mobile: www.LifeTrekMobile.com
Subscribe/Unsubscribe: Subscriber Services