In this final installment in a three-part article, Baltimore Business Coach Jack Schammel describes how one company's challenge placed him on a path to help other business owners create their ideal business and dream lifestyle.
It was then that I realized that I simply had to become a business coach. While I would be able to leverage my previous years as a management consultant, developmental coaching (my chosen path) would rely on a different skill set and test them every day. Through the RAC Coaching Academy, I learned the new skill set very quickly and put them to use just as quickly, helping a wide range of coaching clients achieve their goals and change their lives.
I have a deep appreciation for the fact that working with a business or executive coach is a highly personal endeavor and that the outcomes can be as varied as the individuals themselves. That’s why I pay particular attention to the uniqueness of people and organizations before recommending a particular path to success. My clients recognize and appreciate that level of attention and their positive feedback provides a daily affirmation that I’ve answered my true calling.
In this second installment, Baltimore Business Coach Jack Schammel describes how one company's challenge placed him on a path to help other business owners create their ideal business and dream lifestyle.
During my first exposure to a Business Coach, I was learning Accountability Coaching from a very lovely, supremely empathetic coach who specialized in family-owned businesses. We were gaining all manner of insight into how to make sure our team would get the right results “no matter what.”
The premise of the program is that one can learn a step-by-step process for creating a culture of accountability in a way that makes people eager to work and enhances trust and respect between managers and employees. Great stuff! And, plenty of companies had succeeded in learning this step-by-step process and were reaping the benefits.
After several sessions of facilitation and role-playing on how to effectively coach employees, that nagging feeling returned. As my colleagues and I began to apply our newfound skills to our direct reports, it became quite evident that our organization had skipped an important step along the way and we were trying to build a functional process without having first laid any sort of foundation. Every company has a different history, and a unique management system or lack thereof. Some companies have systems that are further along the evolutionary scale and are ideal laboratories for the techniques touted by the latest management author. Some companies haven’t evolved to the point where a sufficient foundation exists for these techniques to take root and flourish.
On top of that, the CEO had, in effect, settled on a solution (Accountability Coaching) without first being clear on where we were all headed and how, organizationally, we would all manage to get there. Worse yet, we were all engaged in alleviating a symptom rather than its root cause. We had no plan and we were ill prepared to articulate to the workforce where this would all lead.
I just knew I could do a better job but the odds were against me even getting the opportunity. I couldn’t just sit idly by while the organization squandered a golden opportunity. The CEO clearly understood that the status quo was no longer acceptable and was motivated make some changes. He had decided to invest in the process and had engaged a coach. By all indications an open-minded commitment to improvement existed.
Perhaps I could facilitate both the coach and the management team toward greater awareness without being disruptive or appearing to be anything more than an eager participant. So, I started asking questions which forced us all to engage in deeper analysis of the problems we were trying to solve. It made the coach look like a master facilitator and gave everyone the opportunity to begin to shed light on potential blind spots. It was invigorating.
Although the CEO was still sold on Accountability Coaching, we did pivot and turn our attention to vision and strategy. It was immensely rewarding to see that we would finally be defining the future of the company so that we would better be able to establish goals, metrics and alignment. Then we really would be able to foster true accountability.
Our first planning session ended up producing everything we needed to bring clarity to our vision, strategies, goals and metrics. Enthusiasm ran high and it appeared that the accountability coaching would turn out to be worthwhile because we would have a solid foundation upon which it could function.
To read the conclusion to this story, please see Part III.
Baltimore Business Coach Jack Schammel describes how one company's challenge placed him on a path to help other business owners create their ideal business and dream lifestyle.
Have you ever been a part of a committee or project team and thought to yourself, “Mary is an okay leader, but I know I could do a much better job.”? Admit it, we’ve all had that nagging feeling at some point in our lives.
The difference in my case is that, although, I’ve never expressed those words out loud, my nature led me to be as supportive and constructive as possible to help the group succeed, to the point that it wasn’t long before I was recruited to be the group’s leader.
I first got that feeling when I was still a teenager on a volunteer committee for the Baltimore City Fair, an annual three-day event in Baltimore City—it wasn’t long before I was asked to chair the committee. It happened again when I became a Boy Scout District Committee member. And again, when I attended a meeting of our Homeowner’s Association. And numerous other times, including being asked to facilitate a CEO Peer Group that I had recently joined.
In each case, I was invited to take a leadership role and it just seemed like a logical progression. This time, though, there was no one to ask me to take a larger role. This time, it was up to me.
My consulting career began in the early nineties back when it seemed like the only people who had coaches were professional and Olympic athletes. Certainly, Business Coach was not a role that had much prominence in the minds of most executives. It was a pretty prescriptive atmosphere—I would make recommendations and the client would generally ask for help in getting the rest of the organization to understand and adopt the changes. Rarely did CEOs see that their behaviors needed to change in order to assure the success of the organizational changes they sought. Throughout it, I had a nagging feeling that I needed to do more to guide the CEO but hadn’t yet connected the dots and arrived at a workable approach.
The work was still enormously rewarding. My focus on strategy, quality, and leadership allowed me to work with companies in diverse industries here and abroad. It was heady stuff, guiding a major business unit from losing nearly half a million dollars annually to profitability in less than a year. But there was something missing. Many, if not most, changes seemed to lack any kind of permanence. Where were the behavior changes that would enable the improved ways to survive beyond the first few months? A lot had to do with how attuned the leadership was with the behaviors they needed to model from that day forward. This was a rare occurrence indeed.
I eventually accepted a very attractive job offer from one of my clients which led to more than a decade of adventures spanning several industries before my question would be answered.
To read the rest of the story, please see Part II.
Our new video is out today. It is a quick, 30-second spot that will help us get the word out about Baltimore Business Coach Jack Schammel. Please take a moment to view it, like it, subscribe to our channel, and comment on it.
It was fun to produce and we thank Lowell Sheets for such a fine job! Click to watch the first Baltimore Business Coach spot.
This is a favorite question of mine when meeting with potential clients after they express the inevitable frustration that comes with unmet goals or lackluster performance. The answer is often “the economy.”
This reveals a particular blind spot amongst many entrepreneurs and executives. When I delve deeper into their competitive situations, more often than not, I learn that the potential client has competitors who are doing rather well in spite of the economy.
The implication is that, if one or more competitors can thrive, the prospect should also have the ability to do better. While it is true that the opportunity to thrive does exist, the ability to outpace the competition often boils down to the willingness of management to change. This is where the blind spots are often revealed. As a business coach, it is easy for me to see. The challenge then becomes getting the client to recognize those blind spots.
You see, it is quite often the entrepreneur or executive him/herself who is standing in the way. Or, more specifically, it is their failure to see beyond the obvious challenge and identify opportunities for them to gain market share or to improve margins. Don’t get me wrong. One can’t simply pretend the economy isn’t a huge challenge for Americans. It is, but it doesn’t have to end there.
It is disturbing how many business people are simply hunkering down and waiting for customers to start spending again. They don’t allow for the possibility that they can take proactive measures toward improved performance. They know there is nothing more they can do!
I recently had a solo entrepreneur tell me that there was absolutely nothing under the sun that he could do differently to increase revenues. He had been stagnant for three full years and was proud of his loyal customer base. He didn’t allow for the possibility that he had overlooked opportunities to upsell to those customers and that his direct competitors had all increased their market share. It wasn’t until we got deep into the discussion that it dawned on him that he had completely overlooked some key opportunities and that he had been standing in his own way!
If you have an uneasy feeling that you too might be standing in your own way, contact us now for a free initial consultation so that you can go beyond survival mode and actually thrive!
There are actually a lot of things to consider when bringing in outside help. Two things often get lost in the shuffle, though, so I want to help you keep them foremost in your mind when making a selection.
Profitability. All too often, people will try to sell you services that somehow detract from one of your key goals—profitability. Your firm exists for many reasons, not the least of which is to turn a profit. Without profitability, why bother? That is why we team with our clients to leave no stone unturned in seeking to maximize profits.
Uniqueness. Every company and business leader has a unique story to tell, yet some advisors will all but ignore what can often differentiate you from your competitors. We like to see what’s special and unique about your company and your situation, and help you come up with just the right plan of action. Our services are tailored to take full advantage of your uniqueness.
You’ll also want to know the sometimes hard truth about what we’re seeing in your organization, even when it’s tough to hear. We’ll be straightforward about everything so that you can formulate the best strategies and plans for your situation. Make sure you’re getting the straight dope.
What could a business coach possibly do to help you with your company? Let’s face it, you’re already the expert in your business and no outsider could possibly understand your company better than you do. Right?
If you’re like Dave, an auto parts distributor on the East Coast, you’ve already got 18 years of experience and have half of the part numbers and customer phone numbers memorized. You practically grew up in the business and, when the owner was ready to retire, you were able to buy him out and now the business is yours and you couldn’t be more proud. And, if you’re like Dave, you’re getting a crash course in all the other things that every business needs to be successful: payroll, accounting, marketing, human resources, information technology, planning, and leadership to name a few.
When we met Dave, he was having a difficult time balancing all of the demands of his new role and was under a great deal of stress. After taking a step back from the tree to survey the whole forest, Dave quickly realized that a business coach could provide him with:
A fresh perspective. You’ve probably heard the story of the tractor trailer that became stuck under the old railroad bridge. The tow truck operator couldn’t get it to budge and the local police were losing patience until a 10-year-old boy riding by on his bike asked, “Why don’t you just let some air out of the tires?” A business coach can help you see things from a different perspective and identify a whole world of possibilities.
A sounding board. Sometimes business leaders just need to be able to express their thoughts to someone who is on their side and has only their best interests at heart. Often we are so consumed with “auto parts” that we don’t have time to seek out good counsel. A business coach is trained to listen and offer feedback in a meaningful way so that you can test your ideas without risk.
Accountability. When you make a commitment to someone, you make every effort to stand by it, don’t you? Of course, that’s what makes you successful. Often, though, we aren’t as reliable on those commitments we make only to ourselves. We’ve all made excuses for not doing all the things we set out to accomplish. A business coach will help keep you focused on your goals and plans to increase your likelihood of success!
Eighteen months later, Dave is more confident and at ease with his role. His revenue and profitability are growing at a manageable pace while he has made the changes necessary in order for him to free up more time for his family and for fishing. To be more like Dave, visit us at www.leadinglogic.biz.