Involve your stakeholders as you BETTER yourself

Involve your stakeholders as you BETTER yourself

Coach Asanda

It is not everyday you hear me confess I am a groupie. Yes I am a huge fan of Dr. Marshall Goldsmith, the number one Executive Coach in the world, according to Global Gurus. So it is no wonder that I have a Dr. Goldsmith Day. On this day, I’ll spend a bit of time reading through his articles or watching his videos. I have also just started reading 'What Got You Here, Won’t Take You There.’ Did I say I was a fan…?

As I was listening to one of his recordings the other day, one struck me in particular. In it he explains the seven-steps of stakeholder involvement in a coaching relationship. The first step being, ASK. A simple good old act of ASKING. Dr. Marshall suggests that when you start on a coaching journey, you need to ask a very simple and yet fundamental question: What can I do to be a better…?’ (Fill in the word as relevant for you). How many times do we ask our employees, our families or our clients how we can best serve them? I know I don’t do it as often as I ought to. Why am I writing about this, you may be wondering?

Well, I find myself at a crossroads. You know when you know you are servicing a client well; you give them your best service, you are always there and most importantly you provide a valuable service and yet you still think there is more you can do…? But instead of asking: What can I do to be a better service provider?’ I simply rely on the standard feedback survey that is revealing but only to a point. It occurred to me after seeing this video that the reason why I have not directly asked this question is because I am anxious of the answer. What if my client tells me something I am defensive over, like the fact that I do not spend enough time over dinners? Most of my clients are Chinese companies so dinning and building relationships outside 8h00- 17h00 is the norm. How would I respond to such an observation? I’ve been quizzing myself on how I would respond to that true observation. And my first response would be ‘I have two young children at home so I do not have the flexibility to go to Sandton every other day’.

What I learned though from Dr. Goldsmith is that the instinct to respond immediately is a no no. Contrary to our instinctive response, when you ask of others, you need to Listen, Think, Thank, Respond, Involve & Change and Follow-up! Just understanding these seven principles brings me to a different answer; a well thought out answer that appreciates the other, and INVOLVES them in the change. Thinking of my instinctive response highlighted above, I realise it is a defensive one and one that is not looking past the surface. Upon careful consideration, I believe my response would be more along these lines: how about we alternate venues for the dinners and limit them to two times a month?

How many times do you take time to think about how you are serving others? Do you think you are a great boss? Do you think you are a great subordinate? Do you believe you are a great parent? Most of us think there is always something we can improve upon BUT we hardly ever ask those on the receiving end what we can do to be better at managing, at being lead or at being a parent.

I am taking on this challenge for my business and myself; I am asking my clients (over dinner) how I can be a better service provider. Are you up for the challenge? If you are, then read on for some tips that I am using for myself:

  • You must WANT to better yourself (otherwise the exercise would be wasted);
  • Open your heart, mind and soul because you cannot receive unless you are OPEN to receiving;
  • Listen to understand and NOT to respond;
  • Be grateful for ANY feedback you get and THANK the person (as my entrepreneur professor back in business school would say, “feedback is GOLDEN”); and
  • Action the change if it makes sense to you and you value the relationship.
  • I sincerely believe there is value in seeking input from the stakeholders in your life. In as much as it’s imperative to do self-assessment (I’m an advocate for this; refer to my previous article for SHE Leads Africa), hearing from others helps to add a different dimension to bettering yourself.

    As Dr. Goldsmith says, ask, listen, think, thank, respond, involve & change and follow-up!