Print Posted 04/25/2016 in Category 1

When people take that one act of courage it gives them tremendous energy and they grow. That’s what is so exciting…

When people take that one act of courage it gives them tremendous energy and they grow. That’s what is so exciting…

Feature Interview with Marlene Chism of Marlene Chism Inc.

Marlene Chism Inc. offers consulting, executive education, leadership development and executive coaching. When executives or business owners call it is either because they want to dramatically improve their leadership effectiveness, or because they are struggling with an ongoing pattern that is affecting their business results or their peace of mind. As an executive coach, it’s my job to help them clarify their objective, get to the root of the problem, and then offer practical tools, techniques and communication skills to transform drama into new potential. We are a consulting firm that helps to dramatically improve the business through a variety of methods, including coaching, retreats, education and training, depending upon the business objectives.  What are some of the biggest issues that your clients are typically dealing with that cause them to seek an Executive Coach?

Marlene Chism: Every problem that I see has three common components: A lack of clarity, relationship problems, and ineffective communication. For example, I’ve had C-suite executives that were afraid of conflict and would not disagree with the CEO. As a result the company was losing hundreds of thousands of dollars each year due to poor decision-making that could have been prevented if the fear of conflict was not the predominant mindset. Another problem I see is that companies promote leaders without giving them the proper development. As a result these new leaders are in what I call an “identity crisis.” They still identify with the front line, or they overcompensate by becoming power hungry. Another big problem I continue to see at all levels is the failure to hold difficult performance conversations. One reasons is because the leader is afraid of conflict. Another reason is that they inherited the problem and don’t want to rock the boat. Yet another reason is due to simply not having a process or the skills to effectively coach others to higher performance.  What is the process you use with your client in a coaching engagement? 

Marlene Chism: My process is a minimum three month engagement. The executive client has full access to me at any time by email, text, or phone calls. For more in depth coaching where we are working on a particular problem, or if I’m coaching on strategic communication, we record the call, and then place the mp.3 in our cloud based system so that the client builds a library to listen to again and again.  We set the objectives of the coaching to ensure that we are a good match to work together. When I coach, I usually wear three hats: coach, teacher, and consultant. I absolutely love my clients. They are brilliant, willing to learn, and we build a strong bond of trust.  What are some of the primary results you help your clients achieve?

Marlene Chism: Clarity, courage, alignment, significantly increased leadership effectiveness, more confidence in their communication and overall higher productivity among their employees. My clients also tell me that they feel either relief or joy after working with me. After about three months, I generally see an increase in happiness, and self-confidence as a side benefit.  What are some common misconceptions about being coached?

Marlene Chism: I always look for red flags.  For example, if my potential client’s goal is to “fix Fred,” I re-direct to see if they are willing to work on themselves instead. Great leaders look within and work on themselves and that is what helps them to know whether they should inspire or fire Fred.  If on the initial call I hear that the client is extremely resistant to ideas or possibilities I know that they probably are not ready for coaching and instead need counseling. I have also learned that what impacts you on a personal level impacts you on a professional level and vice-versa. However I have decided to draw a boundary between the personal and professional. The paradox is that when a person becomes more aligned in their leadership and when they learn how to focus their energy, then their personal life automatically starts to clean up as well. It’s pretty amazing to watch.  What does an executive need to bring to the table to receive the most benefit from coaching?

Marlene Chism: They need to make the commitment to be honest and to be willing to learn. I call this “looking in the mirror instead of looking out the window.” When the executive continues to talk about how poorly everyone else is doing then I know by the language he or she has a pattern of avoiding responsibility by blaming. Real leadership is about alignment and you can’t be aligned if you don’t know how to take full responsibility.

Also, the executive needs to trust the coach, and to be transparent. I have had clients tell a little white lie, for example about taking my advice and acting upon it, when in fact they did not because they didn’t have the courage. When my client trusts me and takes advice (for example to initiate a difficult conversation) they are busting at the seams to call me and tell me of the success.  When people take that one act of courage it gives them tremendous energy and they grow. That’s what is so exciting…to be the witness to someone stepping into their greatness.  What book would you recommend to clients and why?

Marlene Chism: Of course I would recommend No-Drama Leadership and my other book Stop Workplace Drama. Besides that, I would highly recommend the book, Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Dr. Joe Dispenza. This book included neuro-science, quantum physics, and teaches you how our subconscious programming is running the show! It’s a brilliant book for anyone who wants to transform their life and create a different experience.  I also am a big Marshall Goldsmith Fan, and love his latest book Triggers.

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