By: Lori T. Williams, Owner/Managing Attorney of Your Legal Resource, PLLC
I thought it would be worthwhile to look at the steps involved in reaching goals, since some people may have abandoned their New Year’s Resolutions already. It’s never too late to set a meaningful goal, and with some focus you’ll still have time to achieve your goals this year. Business Coach, Preston True, shares his thoughts on the essentials of goal setting.
Preston, tell us a bit about your business and the type of coaching you provide to professionals
After 15 years of working with large and small organizations, I realized there really is no such thing as a business problem. Instead, there are the challenges, roadblocks and disempowering contexts that humans bring into the workplace that disrupt profitability and organizational success.
I work with professional service providers and their teams (attorneys, CPAs, financial planners and creative firms) to create profitable businesses by helping them have more effective and powerful conversations.
How did you choose this group of people to work with? What common challenges do they face?
We chose one another. I’ve found that many professional service providers have years of expertise and training in how to “do” their work, but struggle consistently to “be” effective leaders, communicators, and sales professionals – for most, these concepts were not part of the curriculum in law, accounting, IT or engineering schools. Additionally, all of us have been highly trained in the industrial-age, production line mindset that has us design our daily operations on the “highest output for the lowest price” model where job descriptions and automation are king. Unfortunately, this mindset decimates the two most important characteristics of business today: humanity and creativity.
What obstacles have you repeatedly encountered with your clients when it comes to goal setting and achieving goals?
Goal setting is a powerful support structure to the ongoing development of not only tangible results, but personal growth as well. Results are almost guaranteed for clients who reliably and consistently set goals for themselves and their businesses. However, the most common obstacle I see is actually in the goal setting itself.
It may sound crazy, but let’s go back to the production line mindset for a moment. This mindset demands that revenue, profitability, time, units, and budget goals are paramount. These examples of external or extrinsic goals are not bad, but if these are the only goals defined, many folks resort to taking shortcuts, cutting corners, sabotaging colleagues, overcharging customers, and doing unnecessary billable work – this is actually documented behavior (see “Drive” by Daniel Pink). The bottom line: focusing solely on external goals frequently leads to unethical behavior. This is NOT the way to effective leadership. Just ask Ken Lay, Jeffrey Skilling, Bernie Madoff or Scott Rothstein.
Describe the process you coach your clients through so they can achieve their goals. What are the essential steps?
Step 1 – Choose not more than four goals to manage at any given time. It’s too easy to move on to “the next goal” when we bump up against the challenges in reaching our important goals. By limiting the number of goals to four or fewer, you will be more focused on and accountable for results.
Step 2 – Understand why you want to produce the goals you say you want to produce. Without distinguishing intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, you will fall away from your goals very quickly.
Step 3 – Write out your goal plan. This is a must! Goals which remain only in your mind are nothing more than wishes. I recommend using a 5-year and 12-month plan that distinguishes domains (or categories) within each goal, as most goals have several components to them.
Step 4 – Create a structure for existence regarding the actions to take. If you don’t establish specific times in your calendar to take action on your goals, you will not meet them. In a culture that seems to value busy-ness over accomplishment, your calendar is your best friend in fulfilling on your goals.
Step 5 – Create an accountability structure. Hire a coach, enroll a colleague, or simply ask a friend to keep you accountable to taking regular action on your goals. Don’t underestimate accountability… it actually creates amazing freedom.
What are some of the common misconceptions about coaching?
I still have folks ask me if I’m a soccer coach. Coaching has been around a very long time; it’s not the “new” thing that many see it to be, but a derivative of consulting that focuses on asking powerful questions of the client rather than having the answers.
Although the coaching industry is full of “the next new trend”, most are just a revised version of something that’s already in existence. Coaching works because of several ancient ideas: (a) partnership, (b) accountability, and (c) communication. Not very trendy… just stable fundamentals at work.
How can people benefit from having a coach?
We cannot see our blind spots or saboteurs. A coach is an objective partner who’s trained to listen at a level most people will never attain. Through this listening, powerful and moving questions are asked of the client which translates to greater awareness of behaviors and beliefs. With greater awareness, new choices come to the surface. When new choices come to the surface, new actions are taken. When new actions are taken, new results happen. Coaching is one of the most reliable and powerful support structures you can find for producing bigger results.
Preston True is a leadership development consultant and executive coach in Royal Oak, Michigan. He works with professional service providers and their teams helping them create powerful and profitable businesses. Companies such as Mellon Smith Pivoz, Macroconnect, T-Systems and the Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company benefit from their powerful leadership development experiences with Preston. Learn more at http://www.trueleadershipLLC.com.
Lori T. Williams is a 22 year attorney based in Birmingham, MI. She owns a legal referral and legal consulting business called Your Legal Resource, PLLC. She assists individuals and small businesses in need of legal advice or representation by connecting them with the right legal specialist for their situation. She also provides consulting services for attorneys and other professional service providers on how to generate more business through effective branding, marketing, networking, and by creating strategic partnerships. For more information, visit www.bestlegalresource.com.